Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, December 15, 2017, Page 12, Image 12

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December 15, 2017
‘The bottom line is we want to go back to using common sense’
DUVALL from Page 1
visas with a new H-2C program —
which passed the House Judiciary
Committee in late October — Duvall
said there are still some problems to
work out with the proposal, but added,
“We want a workable program that not
only deals with seasonal workers but
year-round workers to bring some sta-
bility to our workforce.”
Duvall went on to talk about “bur-
densome” environmental regulations,
though he was pleased with the Trump
administration’s decision to revoke the
contentious Waters of the U.S. rule.
Landowners worried that WOTUS
would give the Environmental Protec-
tion Agency and Army Corps of Engi-
neers regulatory authority over virtual-
ly any waters, creating uncertainty for
farmers and ranchers.
While the rule has been scrapped,
Duvall said farmers need to keep up
the pressure on lawmakers to ensure
new regulations are clear and work-
“We all know the other side that
opposes us on our effort to rewrite
the rule, they’re going to be ready to
challenge the next rule that comes for-
ward,” he said.
Unlike the previous administra-
tion, Duvall said the current leadership
is much more receptive to the Farm
Bureau’s concerns and interests. He
praised fellow Georgian Sonny Perdue,
President Trump’s secretary of agricul-
ture, as someone who relies on sound
science and data to make decisions.
“I’ve got high expectations for him
doing the right thing,” Duvall said.
Along with Perdue, Duvall said
he has seen plenty of promise from
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.
Together, Duvall said the three men
are committed to putting federal land,
timber and grazing back to work for
rural America.
Duvall specifically mentioned Zin-
ke’s recent proposal to shrink a num-
ber of national monuments, including
the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monu-
ment in Southern Oregon.
“The bottom line is we want to go
back to using common sense,” Duvall
said. “As they create those monu-
ments, it becomes a huge burden on
our farmers and ranchers who have
been there for generations, using those
federal lands to graze.”
On the trade front, Duvall said re-
negotiation of the North American
Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA,
has made for some concerns, though
he remains confident the right people
are in place to minimize the risk to ag-
“(President Trump) swings a big
stick,” Duvall said. “He’s a business-
man. We probably really know his
techniques. We’re just scared of who’s
going to call his bluff.”
Finally, Duvall said the Farm Bu-
reau will be shifting its focus next year
to the 2018 Farm Bill in Congress. The
top priority will be to maintain federal
subsidies for crop insurance.
The Farm Bill is not a safety net,
Duvall insisted, but rather a food secu-
rity act. “Hungry countries and hungry
armies are not very strong,” he went
on to explain.
Barry Bushue, Oregon Farm Bu-
reau president, said the group was
pleased to have Duvall on hand to talk
about national agricultural interests.
Closer to home, Bushue said they an-
ticipate a fight heading into the 2018
Legislature against the proposed cap-
and-invest energy policy, which he
said could dramatically increase fuel
and energy costs for Oregon farmers.
“When you’re hauling product and
you’re running equipment, those costs
add up,” Bushue said.
The annual Oregon Farm Bureau
meeting is a chance for delegates
from each county Farm Bureau to get
together and set their policies for the
coming year. The meeting began Tues-
day and wrapped up Thursday evening
with a reception and banquet.
Duvall said local engagement is
critical moving forward, as state and
county voices eventually echo their
way back to Washington, D.C.
“We have people willing to listen
now,” he said.
Much of this year’s harvest was already finished before wildfires struck
COMEBACK from Page 1
Two months later, Kruse
is renting a house in nearby
Sebastopol while she consid-
ers whether to rebuild or sell
her lot. In the meantime, she’s
poured herself into her work,
helping to get the word out
to consumers that Califor-
nia’s iconic wine country is
still open for business despite
the devastating wildfires that
scorched the region.
Authorities are still calcu-
lating the damage to agricul-
ture from the 21 wildfires in
October that forced 100,000
people to evacuate, destroyed
about 8,900 houses and other
buildings and killed 43 people,
according to the state Depart-
ment of Forestry and Fire Pro-
tection. About 1,800 homes
and other structures were de-
stroyed in the Fountaingrove
area in northeastern Santa
While state officials have
estimated the overall insured
losses at $3.3 billion so far —
among the highest of any U.S.
wildfires in recent decades —
wine industry groups are quick
to note that while a handful of
vineyards and wineries were
destroyed, most others were
spared or only minimally im-
As much as 90 percent
of this year’s harvest was al-
ready finished by the time the
wildfires blackened portions
of Napa, Sonoma and Men-
docino counties, generating
international headlines. Of
the area’s roughly 1,200 win-
eries, only 11 were destroyed
or heavily damaged, the San
Francisco-based Wine Insti-
tute reported.
“I think we’re really lucky,”
said Heidi Soldinger, mar-
keting and communications
manager for the Napa Valley
Grapegrowers. The problem is
the public’s perception that the
damage was more widespread
than it was. Customers are re-
turning, but slowly.
“We are seeing more foot
traffic, although it’s definitely
not to what it was last year,”
Soldinger said.
Tallying damage
Damage to vineyards and
other agriculture was less than
originally reported. According
to grower surveys:
• In Napa County, early es-
timates are that damage could
end up totaling more than $10
million, with vineyards and
tree crops accounting for about
3,500 of the nearly 75,000
acres in the fire zone, coun-
ty agricultural commissioner
Greg Clark said.
• Sonoma County’s con-
firmed crop loss so far has to-
taled $153,000 but grower sur-
vey participation has been low,
Tony Linegar said. According
to early reports, about 1,200
grapevines were damaged and
will likely need to be replaced,
he said. The century-old Stor-
Tim Hearden/Capital Press
Gary King, center, pours wine for patrons in the tasting room at
Chateau St. Jean winery in Kenwood, Calif., on Nov. 24. The winery
reopened in mid-November after being closed because of a wildfire
in October that burned an adjacent hillside and forested area.
Sonoma County Winegrape Commission
The house of Karissa Kruse, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, was destroyed
by flames in the Fountaingrove neighborhood of Santa Rosa, Calif., in October. She is helping the
region’s iconic wine industry attract visitors in the wake of the wildfires. Though a handful of wineries
were damaged or destroyed, most are open for business as usual.
netta Dairy in Sonoma also
had several buildings burned.
• In Mendocino County,
about 65 of the roughly 1,300
acres of vineyards in the fire
zone sustained damage, agri-
cultural commissioner Diane
Curry said. Vintners figure
they lost about 220 tons of
grapes, though it could be
more because of smoke taint,
Curry said.
“There were certainly vine-
yards that were a total loss, but
luckily for Mendocino County
we didn’t see a lot of that,”
she said. “We had damage to
vines — usually the outside
vines. It’s going to be interest-
ing to see if they come back
and whether they’re going to
be OK or if they’re going to
have to go ahead (and remove
The county also lost a sig-
nificant portion of its roughly
30,000 acres of rangeland and
as many as 40 head of cattle
valued at as much as $45,000,
she said. Total losses of fenc-
ing, equipment, employee
housing and other ancillary
structures is preliminarily esti-
mated at $1.9 million, she said.
Devastating fires
Among the most devastat-
ing fires in the wine country
were the 36,807-acre Tubbs
Fire between Calistoga and
Santa Rosa, which destroyed
an estimated 5,300 structures,
and the 56,556-acre Nuns Fire
near Santa Rosa, which de-
stroyed about 1,200 structures,
according to Cal Fire.
Some farms were also hard-
hit, including about a half-doz-
en belonging to members of
the Community Alliance with
Family Farmers whose diver-
sified produce operations were
completely burned, said Evan
Wiig, the organization’s com-
munications and membership
Among those operations is
Oak Hill Farm in Glen Ellen,
Calif., where 700 acres of pro-
duce and flowers on the west-
Tim Hearden/Capital Press
John and Samantha Speck of San Francisco taste wine at the
Chateau St. Jean Winery in Kenwood, Calif., on Nov. 24. Behind
them is a forested area blackened by a wildfire in October that
temporarily shuttered the winery.
ern slope of the Mayacamas
Mountains sustained damage,
Wiig said, but the farm is go-
ing ahead with a cover crop-
ping workshop it had sched-
uled before the fires.
“There’s definitely signs of
resilience” among growers, he
said. “Sales in October were
down 50 percent at the farms
in Sonoma County, and they’re
starting to finally get back to
normal or at least close to it.”
Many of the region’s crops
were in harm’s way. Among
the area’s tree crops are olives,
almonds, walnuts, apples,
pears and other tree fruit, and
timber, which was Mendocino
County’s second-highest value
commodity in 2015 at $83.7
million, according to county
Within the wine industry,
several wineries — including
Signorello Estates and White
Rock Vineyards in Napa and
Paradise Ridge in Santa Rosa
— were destroyed.
While some early news
reports suggested fire damage
in the northern San Francisco
Bay area could create a short-
age of grapes or wines, the
Wine Institute noted that 70
percent of California’s wine
grape harvest by volume oc-
curs in the inland valleys. Only
10 percent of the grapes by
volume are grown in the Napa
and Sonoma regions, accord-
ing to spokeswoman Gladys
Still, the region’s grapes are
the state’s most lucrative, with
annual wine production valued
at a combined $1.4 billion in
Napa, Sonoma and Mendoci-
no counties, according to the
counties’ statistics.
Wineries affected
At Signorello Estate,
winemaker Pierre Birebent
and others were on the prop-
erty trying to fight back the
flames but retreated and made
it out safely when the fire over-
came the building. The build-
ing housed administrative of-
fices, a professional kitchen,
tasting room and a residence,
spokeswoman Charlotte Milan
Signorello has been inter-
viewing architects to build a
new headquarters, which will
likely take about two years,
Milan said.
“We’re not going to have
any way to receive visitors for
the next couple of years,” Mi-
lan said. She added Signorel-
lo’s wines, which were either
stored in bottles off-site or in
barrels that weren’t affected by
the fire, will still be available
in restaurants and wine stores
and by direct sales to custom-
“They actually had a real-
ly good October selling wine
wholesale,” Milan said. “If
there’s any sort of silver lin-
ing, they have been really,
really well supported with the
wholesale community and
restaurants in the last 45 days.
Consumers are excited to see
them rebuild.”
Other wineries saw the
fires come too close for com-
fort. Fire on an adjacent hill-
side and forested area forced
the temporary closure of Cha-
teau St. Jean in Kenwood,
Calif., for cleanup of downed
limbs and other debris. The
winery reopened on Veterans
Day, nearly fully surround-
ed by blackened hillsides and
charred trees.
“We were welcomed by
a line of guests out the door
that Saturday morning,” said
Brent Dodd, the winery’s com-
munications manager. “It was
definitely encouraging for the
team and exciting for them.”
The winery’s business was
also brisk on Nov. 24, the day
after Thanksgiving. John and
Samantha Speck of San Fran-
cisco had already planned a
trip to the winery before the
fires, but they were even more
determined to come afterward.
“I think there’s hardship
(for affected wineries), but
there’s also opportunity” to
rebuild, John Speck said. He
added the couple makes it a
point to purchase California
wines, and said he thinks the
fires may have disproportion-
ately affected smaller winer-
Efforts are underway to
help vintners affected by fires
recover. As Gov. Jerry Brown
issued an order suspending
some fees and rules to speed
up recovery, the California
Association of Winegrape
Growers has pledged to work
with the state’s congressional
delegation, federal officials
and other wine industry orga-
nizations to make sure affected
growers have adequate recov-
ery resources, the organization
stated in a news release.
Regaining tourism
County officials said they
had not determined the eco-
nomic impact of lost tourism
because of the fires as result-
ing road closures and cleanup
restricted access for several
weeks. But many businesses
and industry organizations say
there’s been a significant dip
from a year ago.
Among those comput-
ing the extent of damage is
the Wine Business Institute
at Sonoma State University,
which began its study on Oct.
11 to evaluate the immediate
and long-term effects of the
fires on the North Coast’s
Some damage to tourism
has been indirect. For instance,
a shortage of hotel rooms in
Sonoma County has been
made worse as people who
lost homes have used them for
temporary shelter, the coun-
ty’s Linegar said. Tourists who
want to visit are finding it diffi-
cult to find places to stay.
“It’s going to be imper-
ative that we get these peo-
ple who’ve been displaced
into some form of temporary
housing so we can open up
the hotel rooms so tourists can
come back and stay,” he said.
“The agencies that deal with
tourism are aware of that,
and the county is aware that
there’s a need.”
Visit California, a nonprof-
it organization that promotes
travel and tourism in the state,
announced in early Novem-
ber it would spend $2 million
to urge people to return to the
wine country.
Local tourism agencies are
also urging visits, particularly
by Bay Area residents.
“I think all of our respec-
tive organizations are working
together to get the message out
that the 2017 vintage was in by
the time the fires came, and the
wines on the shelf around the
world are still great to buy,”
the Sonoma County Wine-
growers’ Kruse said.
She and others say a sense
of optimism permeates com-
munities in wine country.
“That is one thing I’m
already seeing — the spirit
of our community coming
together,” Kruse said. “It’s
pretty amazing in conver-
sations. There’s not a lot of
conversation about loss, but
there’s a lot of conversation
about rebuilding and making
it better.”
Oregon is estimated to have more than 100 wolves with numbers expected to climb
WOLF from Page 1
Ranchers would like to see the
agency create management units with
caps on wolf numbers, but these sug-
gestions have been largely disregard-
ed, he said.
Currently, Oregon is estimated to
have more than 100 wolves.
Based on trends seen in Idaho
and Montana, however, that number
can be expected to climb steeply in
the coming years, for which the cur-
rent draft plan fails to account, said
Jim Akenson, conservation director
for the Oregon Hunters Association.
“I don’t know why in the world
we would not look to our neighbors
to see what will happen here,” Aken-
son said.
The Oregon Farm Bureau would
like to see the plan provide a great-
er allowance for lethal wolf control
when they’re near homes or if they
threaten livestock, pets and people,
said Kevin Johnson, the organiza-
tion’s representative.
The agency should also increase
its focus on collaring wolves as their
population increases, so their move-
ments and potential livestock interac-
tions would continue to be monitored,
he said.
Ranchers feel the plan is overly
prescriptive in its wolf management
policies despite expectations of a
surging population, Johnson said.
“They don’t feel like their positions
are being heard.”
Environmental groups, on the
other hand, claim the plan is overly
reliant on lethal wolf control, which
they say is often ineffective.
“Lethal control has often not
stopped depredations,” said Nick
Cady, legal director for Cascadia
The loss of a top pack member
can cause the remaining wolves to
become increasingly desperate and
more likely to attack domesticat-
ed livestock, said Greenwald of the
Center for Biological Diversity.
“There’s increasing science that it
creates more problems than it fixes,”
he said.
The current draft plan doesn’t
benefit anyone “whether they’re
wearing cowboy hats or driving Pri-
uses,” said Rob Klavins, Northeast
Oregon field coordinator for Oregon
“This irresponsible and unscien-
tific plan should be shelved,” he said.
Scientists who the agency found
credible enough to cite in the plan
have objected to how their re-
search was applied, Klavins said.
“Those scientists deserve a direct