Andrew Christie pointed out the obvious in his Oct. 1 letter: that agriculture and wine industry opposition to the county’s temporary ban on future subdivisions over the critically low Paso Robles groundwater basin was driven by self-interest. That’s hardly an attack on all ranchers. Not all ranchers and farmers want to subdivide their land and build speculative houses. But many do. So what put burrs under the Sintons’ saddles? (“Hardly speculators,” Oct. 19).
As the Sintons point out, conservation easements can help, but the devil is in the details. Because the Sintons think the Hearst Ranch conservation easement “now protects that priceless property from subdivision forever,” I must remind them that the Hearst deal in fact allows agricultural cluster subdivisions scattered across the ranch, and that “the few” who joined the Sierra Club in demanding a better conservation easement in exchange for public funds included The Nature Conservancy, Audubon California, Natural Resources Defense Council, California League of Conservation Voters, and more than 30 other local and state organizations. When somebody tries to sell you “conservation,” you’d best look in the package before you lay your dollar down.