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Author: admin | Category: Fish Tattoo | 21.08.2015

I had a fantastic post-Thanksgiving Saturday with some great friends at Safari West, a wildlife preserve and African Tent Camp just west of Calistoga, California.
We finished the day at the lovely Artesa Winery in Carneros — a beautiful winery from an architectural perspective, with stunning views in all directions, and absolutely delicious wines, particularly their Pinot Noirs.
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But in December 2013, Judge Elliot Daum of Sonoma County Superior Court ruled that the final Environmental Impact Report was flawed, agreeing with some of the main arguments by plaintiffs Friends of the Gualala River, Sierra Club, and Center for Biological Diversity.
So, for the time being at least, the Patchett Creek watershed (tributaryA of the Gualala River Wheatfield Fork) within lands currently owned by Artesa is spared the chainsaw and bulldozer.
This is an important milestone for many reasons.A  First, following the demise of Preservation Ranch and its miraculous rebirth as The Conservation Funda€™s latest major conservation forestry project (a€?Buckeye Foresta€? named after one of the other Gualala tributary creek sub-watersheds), the arrest of the Artesa project is a spectacular chapter ending to serve as a deterrent for any would-be vineyard investors and entrepreneurs with ambitions to clear-cut Sonoma Countya€™s coastal forestlands.
Though the Artesa project was only a few hundred acres in size, its approval represented a huge risk for a project-by-project, piecemeal of vineyard project development with a settled CEQA formula.

The Patchett Creek watershed includes major portions of one of the last undeveloped a€?flat top ridgesa€? in Annapolis that hasna€™t fallen completely to vineyards.
We drove around in Korean War vintage four-wheel drive vehicles, and got up close and personal with giraffes, rhinos, ostriches, cheetahs, monkeys, birds, zebras, and other grazing African animals of all sorts. Initiated in 2001, in the early years of Preservation Ranch, this smaller cousin actually completed its long, circuitous permit and CEQA process in 2012 after more than a decade of stalls and reverses. On Christmas Eve, CAL FIRE sent an official letter to Artesa, instructing them that the EIRa€™s certification and timber conversion permit were a€?set asidea€? (in effect, revoked, invalidated), and further warned them not to conduct any timber operations, and ordered them to a€?suspend all activity that could result in any change to the environmenta€?.
Artesaa€™s vineyard deforestation plan actually was unique: it alone ran the full gauntlet of the regulatory process and courts. It represented a back door for the same kind of forest and watershed loss as the mega-vineyard Preservation Ranch project, but in the form of a€?death by a thousand vineyard clear-cutsa€? one by one, in relatively low-cost second-growth timberland.
Preservation Ranch, despite its more prominent coverage and deep-pockets CalPERS financing, had an aborted regulatory history: it politically imploded (with a modest amount of assistance!) before its draft EIR even made it out the gate.

No doubt Artesa has been stung by the unwelcome and unflattering national and international media attention, tens of thousands of online petitioners, and a lot of indignant email, Facebook, and Twitter commentary. CA has such diversity, you don’t have to go far to find much different lifestyles than the one you live in.
Artesa knows well that proceeding with the project against all odds will come at ever steeper and more treacherous costs, risks, and uncertainty that would make any sober investor nauseous.

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