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What Role Can Vineyards Play in Conserving California's Biodiversity?

Some grape growers are committed to regenerating the land and protecting native species—and they hope wine drinkers will be willing to support their efforts.

At Gamble Family Vineyards in Napa, California, the beavers are becoming a problem. “I’m speaking about it calmly right now,” Tom Gamble laughs. “On my worst days, I’m more like Bill Murray in ‘Caddyshack.’”

For years, Gamble Vineyards has worked to create a more biodiverse habitat on vineyard land, including establishing animal sanctuaries throughout the property and donating acreage to the Napa River Restoration project. Now the river’s growing beaver population is chewing the trees that Gamble has planted over the last 20 years.

“It’s interesting to see that we solved an issue, but it’s creating another issue,” says Gamble, the vineyard’s founder. Giving back habitat to native species is a matter of fine-tuning, of getting the ecosystem in balance—and this sometimes takes some effort. “But the biodiversity is worth it,” Gamble says.

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