Redwoods or red wine?



It's almost too audacious to be true: Two wineries in Northern California's Sonoma County want to clear 2,000 acres of redwoods to make room for new grape farms, reports the Los Angeles Times. Premier Pacific Vineyards, which owns the 20,000-acre ironically named "Preservation Ranch," and Artesa Vineyards want to cash in on the boom for pinot noir, but they need to cut down the trees before they can plant the grapes. "Outraged" doesn't come close to describing environmentalists' reaction; the Sierra Club's Jay Holcomb said that "the big issue for us is that redwoods-to-vineyards conversions are worse than clear-cutting because they are permanent." Adina Merelender, a conservation biologist at UC Berkeley, added, "I don't see a need for more deforestation to have a great wine economy, because there is a lot of cleared land already available." The proposal goes first to the county's land regulatory agency; a planner there admits that the project is "controversial from beginning to end."

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