|by Brett Wilkison
May 31, 2013
Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Nearly 20,000 acres of remote forest once targeted for vineyard development in remote northwest Sonoma County will be set aside as timberland and wildlife habitat under a landmark conservation deal that closed Friday.
The property commonly called Preservation Ranch near the town of Annapolis is now owned by The Conservation Fund, a national group that specializes in forest protection. It led the $24.5 million purchase – aided by $14 million in state and Sonoma County open space funds . . .
The acquisition… puts a quick end to one of the county’s biggest land-use fights, a dispute that embodied the broader battle over the spread of Wine Country into North Coast forests . . .
Local environmentalists and others rallied for years against the project, generating significant political opposition and regulatory hurdles that ultimately may have forced CalPERS to reconsider.
“We were going to take this to the streets,” said Chris Poehlmann, president of Friends of the Gualala River, one of several local and national environmental groups that led the charge against the project.
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Preservation Ranch Acquisition
Coastal Conservancy staff recommend that the Conservancy authorize the disbursement of up to $10,000,000 to The Conservation Fund to acquire the property known as “Preservation Ranch.”
$24.5 million deal to protect
20,000-acre Sonoma County forest
A national conservation group has reached an agreement to buy nearly 20,000 acres of timberland in northwestern Sonoma County, a move that derails the long-disputed, forest-to-vineyards conversion project pushed by CalPERS, the giant state workers pension fund. February 26, 2013, Santa Rosa Press Democrat
The so-called “Preservation” Ranch is a 19,300 acre development in the heart of the Gualala River watershed. Premier Pacific Vineyards plans to destroy and fragment coastal redwood forest to plant grapes on the ridgetops – and call that “preservation.”
Artesa Sonoma forest-to-vineyard conversion
CAL FIRE has approved the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Artesa Winery’s controversial plan to clear-cut 154 acres of coastal redwood forest to plant a vineyard in Annapolis. The EIR claims that the project will have no significant environmental or cultural impacts.