Legislature Recognizes 50th anniversary of Napa Ag Preserve
The state Senate passed a bipartisan resolution Monday by Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa, recognizing the 50th anniversary of the creation of Napa County’s Agricultural Preserve, the landmark law to protect farmland that was the first of its kind in the nation.
Napa County supervisors adopted the preserve on April 6, 1968, in part to guard the region’s grape-growing heritage against unchecked development and urban sprawl happening elsewhere in the Bay Area. The measure was strengthened by voters in 2008, extending protections to 2058.
“The forward-thinking policy ensures the world-famous wine region will retain its extraordinary agricultural tradition for generations to come,” Senator Dodd said. “Our environment and people across Napa Valley and beyond are better off for it. The Ag Preserve is a testament to our ability to come together and innovate.”
The Board of Supervisors’ innovative act, which now covers 31,609 acres, paved the way for a succession of progressive land-use policies to protect against encroaching growth while setting agriculture as a top priority.
At the time, residents feared Napa could go the way of Santa Clara County, which was exploding with growth as Bay Area residents sought housing. It didn’t happen. Instead of swelling to 250,000 residents as predicted in 1966, the city of Napa remained at about 80,000 residents with the countywide population growing to just 141,000.
Napa property owners have since agreed to place 55,000 acres of farmland into conservation easements, guaranteeing they will retain their rural character forever.
As part of the resolution, Senator Dodd recognized the critical role played hundreds of growers, vintners and local leaders to protect the valley’s beauty and splendor.
“Napa Valley has demonstrated significant community collaboration, including the Ag Preserve and the Napa Flood project, along with many other signs of leadership that combine and enhance the ecological, social and economic aspects of the valley community,” said Dennis Bowker, a board member of the Napa County Resource Conservation District. “The actions have garnered worldwide attention and recognition as examples of holistic thoughts and actions.”