Napa county’s progressive land use policies and preservation efforts would be strengthened even further if the recipient of this year’s Earl Thollander Environmental Award has his way.
Grape grower and vintner Volker Eisele accepted kudos from the Napa chapter of the Sierra Club, telling more than 100 supporters gathered at the Christian Brothers Mt. LaSalle conference center that he intends to work to make the county’s Measure J permanent.
“It’s the firewall we’ve been able to build against development,” Eisele said of the 1990 voter initiative. Measure J requires a vote of the citizenry to make a change to any land zoned for agricultural use. The measure is currently scheduled to sunset in 2020, but Eisele said he hopes to help place a county measure on the ballot next year, making the law permanent.
As the Napa Valley Register reported, this is the sixth year the Thollander Award has been presented by the local Sierra Club. A parade of well-wishers, including former county supervisors, grape growers and political activists, praised Eisele’s work dating back to the 1970s.
Thollander was a well-known artist and an ardent environmentalist who died in 2001.
“You can see Volker’s fingerprints on the county’s open space and preservation efforts,” said Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht.
Ed Matovcik, former chief of staff to Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, noted Eisele’s long friendship with the lawmaker and said, “Volker’s never been afraid to take a position that’s not popular.”