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“Worse than a Clearcut”

Sierra Club, Redwood Chapter Press Release

Preservation Ranch Video
For immediate distribution: May 8, 2007

The Redwood Chapter of the Sierra Club has just released a short video designed to educate the public and decision-makers about the proposed Preservation Ranch vineyard development project.

The short video clip, “Worse than a Clearcut” is the first use of YouTube by the local Sierra Club to educate the public about the environmentally destructive Preservation Ranch project. The video highlights the role of CalPERS, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, in facilitating this project through an investment of $200 million with Premier Pacific Vineyards.

Distribution of this short video clip through YouTube is one component of a wider public education campaign. Similar videos about Preservation Ranch will be distributed through other web sites, and on DVD in order to inform key decision-makers.

Preservation Ranch is the latest in a long series of environmental assaults on western Sonoma County forests. After years of environmentally destructive logging, Sonoma County forests now face the additional threat of permanent development and conversion to vineyards. Numerous western Sonoma County forest conversions have been approved in the past, but the Preservation Ranch proposal is more than twice as large as all previous proposed and approved conversions combined since 1989.

Soon after acquiring 19,000 acres of western Sonoma County, (an area almost twenty times larger than Golden Gate Park in San Francisco), Premier Pacific Vineyards announced the Preservation Ranch project. Important aspects of the proposed project appear to have changed over time, but recent proposals have included conversion of some portion of the 19,000 acres of forest to vineyards. The current proposal includes 1,665 acres of vineyard development, more than 200 acres of vineyard development on other land, and 90 “vineyard estates”. Beyond its 19,000 acres, Preservation Ranch will set a dangerous precedent of development for the rest of western Sonoma County and the North Coast.

Redwood Chapter Chair Margaret Pennington expressed confidence that public education can stop this destructive proposal. “The people of California care about protecting the environment. I don’t believe that the public employees who are members of CalPERS want their investment being used to permanently destroy California forests. This video is one important tool for getting the message to the larger community.”

Previous discussions between the Redwood Chapter and CalPERS concerning Preservation Ranch have been unfruitful. CalPERS has defended the Preservation Ranch project on the grounds that Preservation Ranch will comply with the state and local law. In response to this assertion, Jay Halcomb, the Chair of the Forest Protection Committee noted that, “Not everything that is legal is a good idea. Surely CalPERS has a higher environmental standard than the bare minimum required by law. CalPERS should demonstrate responsible environmental stewardship, not just what they can get away with legally.”

The CalPERS Board of Administration is found at: www.calpers.ca.gov/index.jsp? bc=/about/organization/board/home.xml.

The Redwood Chapter of the Sierra Club has 10,000 members in Sonoma, Mendocino, and other North Coast counties, 5,000 of whom live in Sonoma County. Opposition to the Preservation Ranch project follows an earlier successful campaign to establish some forest protections in the Sonoma County general Plan. For more information about the video or the ongoing forest protection campaign, please contact the following:

Jay Halcomb
Forestry Protection Committee Chair
Redwood Chapter
707-869-3302
halcomb@sonic.net

Margaret Pennington
Chair
Redwood Chapter
707-829-2294
penningt@sonic.net

More information is at:

Download the video
in WMV format (7 MB)

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