In early summer 2014, the Walt Ranch Draft EIR was presented to citizens of the County for their comments and input. This event was the driving force which spurred people to action. People from Circle Oaks, Atlas Peak, Soda Canyon and places in the County as far away as Calistoga were driven to make their views known on the impact of the Walt Ranch project as the project is envisioned in the Draft EIR.

Volunteers rallied to defend their communities and the County from what are seen as extreme, negative impacts of the Walt Ranch project. A new group was formed: Defenders of the East Napa Watersheds (DENW). Between August 1, 2014 and November 21, 2014, DENW applied for and received an IRS status as a 501(C)(3) public benefit corporation. Also during this short period, several committed volunteers reached out to their neighbors to inform them of the contents of the Draft EIR and how the Walt project will impact their lives.

DENW receives donations from concerned citizens, some of which has been used in order to hire experts to review and comment on the Draft EIR. Additional donations are being considered to help those organizations that have already spent several thousands of dollars to hire attorneys and experts to address the inadequacies of the Draft EIR. DENW is committed to the task of educating citizens and decision makers on the impacts of the proposed Walt Ranch project. In the process, DENW has learned of much larger issues affecting all residents of Napa County.

The proposed Walt Ranch project has served to highlight a county-wide problem. There are numerous groups in the County that are making their opposition to other projects known. There are currently efforts to draw these groups together in a coordinated effort to oppose projects in the County that will benefit a few at the expense of many. The new Vision 2050 Coalition is attempting to exert political power by making many voices heard on the issues of growth in Napa County. The Walt Ranch project is just an indicator of more universal problems we face as residents of the county.

What can you do?

Volunteer time. This effort began with a handful of people. The work that must be done will require more people with more and varied talents. Come to meetings, write blogs, talk to your neighbors, lend your expertise, and make connections.

Donate. Lawyers and experts are very expensive. Unfortunately, in the battles that must be fought, lawyers and experts are absolutely necessary. No one in DENW receives anything for their service. The money raised pays for necessary operational expenses such as postage, printing, and the like. All the rest of the funds raised are used for the lawyers and experts that are critical to success.

Educate yourself. All documents formally filed with Napa County may be found here:  www.countyofnapa.org/PBES/WaltRanch. These include the original DEIR, all letters, and formal legal responses.

Napa Register website: Many articles and letters with extensive conversations in the comments are available via the archives.

Defenders of the East Napa Watersheds (DENW) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

DENW’s mission is to provide our community of concerned citizens with accurate information; organize efforts to respond to the challenges we face; coordinate with other interested groups; and make sure our representatives in county government pay attention. DENW also raises funds for legal defense and for scientific analyses needed to inform and mount that defense.