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Letter to CalPERS


To the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, January, 2003

January 10, 2003

Dr. William Dale Crist, President,
CalPERS Board of Administration
Lincoln Plaza
400 P Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Dr. Christ:

Friends of the Gualala River (FoGR) has read with dismay that CalPERS is considering an investment in a venture led by PPV that would convert of 5,000 acres in the Gualala and Garcia River watersheds from redwood forest and oak woodland to vineyards.

There are many reasons this is a bad idea. Vineyard conversion can lead to pollution. Experiences along the Navarro River teach us that the pollution caused by the use of pesticides and herbicides can have a detrimental effect on fish and other wildlife dependent upon the streams and rivers of the watershed.

Vineyard conversion leads to a “leaky” watershed with little capacity to capture and stabilize soil nutrients in organic matter, compared with forests and woodlands. Nutrients not bound and stabilized, or nutrients added as fertilizer, flow into streams/tributaries through groundwater as well as runoff. Nutrient-rich spring-summer stream waters produce excess algae that can be lethal to salmonids and other species.

Vineyard conversion can lead to sediment washing into the watershed’s streams and rivers. The Gualala River is already impaired by heavy sediment loads. The proposed conversion would increase the cumulative effects of sedimentation. Sedimentation, of course, is bad because it reduces the habitat suitable for raising salmonids and other aquatic life.

Vineyard conversion destroys habitat. Even forests that are over-logged can recover as forests, so that forest habitat is not lost permanently. Vineyard conversion, however, does lead to permanent loss of habitat. Further, the remaining habitat is fragmented so that animals cannot move naturally from one part of the forest to another.

Friends of the Gualala River requests that CalPERS not invest in a project that will degrade the natural splendors of the State as this vineyard conversion scheme will.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Yours sincerely,

James A. Jordan, Jr.
Friends of the Gualala River