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Vernal Pools in Oak Woodlands

Vernal pools are seasonal bodies of water that form in shallow depressions following winter rains. Because of an underlying hard pan layer, water may persist for several months providing a wetland oasis for many uniquely adapted species of plants and animals. More prevalent taxa such as waterfowl, frogs, salamanders, dragonflies, and numerous aquatic insects readily use the pools for feeding, breeding, and juvenile development.

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Modeling vineyard expansion in California’s north coast

Many of the policy deliberations on the environmental effects of new vineyard development revolve around the potential application of the California Environmental Quality Act. In particular, some forest and oak woodland conversion has resulted from recent vineyard expansion. Timberland conversions receive CEQA review through the Forest Practice Act (FPA), whereas clearing of oak woodlands and shrub communities generally do not. While a collection of county and city policies target a wide array of oak conservation objectives, these were not generally designed to address land-use conversion resulting from agriculture. In response to the need for more environmental oversight for vineyard development, county governments have developed various regulatory approaches.

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