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At the Corner of Redwood and Vine:Perspectives on Forest-to-Vineyard Conversion Conflicts in Sonoma County

At the Corner of Redwood and Vine:
Perspectives on Forest-to-Vineyard
Conversion Conflicts in Sonoma County

by Monica Dimson
Sonoma State University
Spring 2012

Abstract
Two large vineyard projects in the Gualala River Watershed in northern California propose converting over 1,800 acres of coastal redwood forest to grape vines. Located in the remote northwestern corner of Sonoma County, the forest-to-vineyard conversion projects are often perceived as a war between redwood and grape vine, environmentalist and wine grower. But opposition to these projects is not necessarily anti-wine.

Environmentalists and local residents are opposed to clear-cutting forests, an alteration of the landscape that severely degrades watershed health. Many growers in the county also object to the projects and are concerned that conversions like these taint the entire industry, which contributes considerably to the county’s economy.

This study analyzes the conflict over forest-to-vineyard conversion in Sonoma County through the perspectives of four groups: local environmentalists, wine growers, residents of Sonoma County, and residents within the Gualala Watershed region.

Using a survey to examine perceptions of landscapes and land-use, the study finds a consensus among these groups regarding the important cultural value of redwoods and oak woodlands, concern over the environmental degradation caused by vineyard conversion projects, and opposition to clear-cutting.

These sentiments are especially strong among the communities in the secluded Gualala region. Their local perceptions of the landscape affect its composition, and the landscape itself ultimately helps shape their identities. The study discusses whether county land-use decisions account for their perspectives.


Download the complete study:
At the Corner of Redwood and Vine:
Perspectives on Forest-to-Vineyard
Conversion Conflicts in Sonoma County



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