APNewsBreak: Napa growers give up land for salmon

By TRACIE CONE | December 9, 2011 | 9:40 AM EST

The stage is being set along one of the San Francisco Bay's most valuable watersheds for healthy salmon runs to coexist with cabernet sauvignon.

An ambitious project to halt erosion in the heart of California's premiere winegrowing region involves 40 landowners voluntarily giving up 135 acres of some of the most expensive farmland in the nation, so riverbanks along the Napa River can be stabilized and salmon spawns restored.

Many stretches of the 55-mile-long river have filled with silt over the years as floodwaters battered steep banks and eroding soil destroyed habitat. The steelhead run, once as high as 8,000, has been reduced to just a few hundred today.

The first phase of the $22 million project involves removing rows of vines to reshape the riverbank and lessen erosion.