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Nearly a HALF MILLION trees will be destroyed if these East Bay projects are approved

May 9, 2013

This is a revision of an article that was published on May 5, 2013.  In our haste to inform our readers of these projects during the public comment period, we published before we had read the entire Environmental Impact Study.  We are forced to revise our estimates based on further reading of the document.  We apologize for the confusion and thank you for your patience.

On May 29, 2013, we found an error in the number of trees that will be removed at Frowning Ridge.  We show our corrections so as not to mislead our readers.  Again, our apologies.

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been considering grant applications for “fire hazard mitigation” in the East Bay since 2005, when the first of these applications was submitted. After years of debate about whether or not the projects achieve the stated purpose and at what cost to the taxpayers and the environment, FEMA finally agreed to resolve the controversial issues by mandating an environmental impact review, which began in 2010. Although FEMA paid for the environmental review, the grant applicants conducted it and it represents their opinions of their projects.

This eucalyptus forest at the North Oakland Sports Facility will be entirely destroyed.

This eucalyptus forest at the North Oakland Sports Facility will be entirely destroyed.

These are the projects for which the Million Trees blog was created and for which it was named. Our opinion of these projects is unchanged by the environmental impact review. These projects will not achieve their stated objectives. Instead they will damage the environment and endanger the public.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for these projects was published by FEMA on April 25, 2013. It is available here. This is a brief description of the projects, our initial assessment of the DEIS, and information about how you can participate in the decision-making process which will ultimately determine the fate of these projects.

Description of the projects in the East Bay

Three different owners of public land have applied for these grants: University of California at Berkeley (UCB), City of Oakland, and East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD). The projects of UCB and Oakland are similar and they are different from the projects of EBRPD, so we will describe them separately. These are the locations of the projects of UCB and Oakland, their acreage, and the estimated number of trees that will be removed by these projects:

Project Area

Project Acreage

Estimated Tree Removals*

UCB    
  Strawberry Canyon

56.3

22,000

  Claremont

42.8

  Frowning Ridge (in Oakland)

185.2

38,000 32,000

Sub-Total

284.3

60,000 54,000

Oakland    
  North Hills Skyline

68.3

 
  Caldecott Tunnel

53.6

 
Sub-Total

121.9

25,735 23,161

TOTAL

406.2

85,735 77,161

*UCB estimated tree removals are provided by the DEIS; Oakland estimated tree removals are extrapolated assuming the same number of trees per acre (60,000 54,000 ÷ 284.3 = 211 190 trees per acre X 121.9 acres = 25,735 23,161 trees removed by the projects of the City of Oakland)

UCB and Oakland plan to remove all non-native trees (eucalyptus, Monterey pine, acacia, etc.) and vegetation from the project area. All non-native trees up to approximately 24 inches in diameter at breast height (DBH) will be cut into wood chips and scattered on the ground of the project area. They estimate that 20% of the project area will be covered with wood chips to a depth of 24 inches. The DEIS estimates that the wood chips will take from 5 to 10 years to decompose. Larger trees will be cut up and scattered on the site.

Although UCB and Oakland do not intend to plant the project areas (unless erosion subsequent to tree removals demands seeding of native grasses and herbaceous plants), they predict that the project area will eventually become native grassland, scrub, and forest of coast live oak, California bay laurel, big-leaf maple, California buckeye, and California hazelnut. They predict that this conversion from non-native to native vegetation will be accomplished by “recruitment” from areas where these plants exist, into the areas where non-native plants and trees will be removed.

The stumps of eucalypts and acacia will be sprayed with an herbicide (Garlon with the active ingredient triclopyr) soon after the trees are cut down to prevent resprouting. An estimated 1 – 2 ounces of formulated herbicide will be required for each stump. Based on an experiment conducted by East Bay Regional Park District, an estimated 5% of the trees will require retreatment of subsequent resprouts. They are therefore predicting that between 703 633 and 1,407 1,266 gallons of herbicide will be required to prevent resprouting if only 5% of the stumps require retreatment as they claim. Monterey pines will not require herbicide treatment which reduces this estimate proportionately, although we are not provided with enough information to make this calculation. Herbicide (Roundup with active ingredient glyphosate) will also be sprayed to control non-native vegetation, but no estimates of quantities required for that purpose are provided by the DEIS.

The fire hazard mitigation projects of the East Bay Regional Park District were described in detail in its “Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan” of 2009. EBRPD has applied for FEMA funding for about one-third of the “recommended treatment areas” in that plan. The FEMA DEIS considers all recommended treatment areas on EBRPD property, including those for which FEMA funding has not been requested. The recommended treatment areas for which FEMA funding has not been requested are called “Connected Action Acres.” The “Connected Action Acres” have undergone environmental review under California law (CEQA) and are therefore approved for implementation, which has already begun.

Project Area

Project Acres

Connected Action Acres

Total Acres

Estimated Tree Removals*

EBRPD        
Sobrante Ridge

4.1

0

   
Wildcat Canyon

65.6

46.6

   
Tilden Park

132

194.2

   
Claremont Canyon

35.3

130.4

   
Sibley Volcanic

47.5

118.4

   
Huckleberry

17.8

.3

   
Redwood Park

58.4

92.8

   
Leona Canyon

4.6

0

   
Anthony Chabot

200

478.2

   
Lake Chabot

4.8

0

   
Miller-Knox

22.2

0

   
TOTAL

592.3

1,060.7

1,653

400,602 409,176

*Estimated Tree Removals: Neither the DEIS nor EBRPD’s “Wildfire Plan” provides an estimate of the number of trees they plan to destroy. Furthermore their plans for tree removals are complex and variable. All non-native trees (eucalypts, Monterey pines, acacia) will be removed in some recommended treatment areas, but in most they will be thinned to spacing of 25 to 30 feet. The final Environmental Impact Report for the “Wildfire Plan” provides an estimate of the existing tree density of existing eucalypts on EBRPD property (page 392). Acres of eucalypts in the entire project area are provided by the DEIS (page 4.2-6).  Our estimate of tree removals is based on those figures (1).

This eucalyptus forest at Chabot Park will be thinned to about 60 trees per acre.

This eucalyptus forest at Chabot Park will be thinned to about 60 trees per acre.

This estimate does not include the Monterey pines and acacia that will be removed by EBRPD, for which inadequate information is available to provide an estimate.

EBPRD plans to cut the trees into wood chips which will be scattered to cover 20% of the project to maximum depth of 4-6 inches. The remainder of the wood will be burned in piles. Other non-native vegetation will be destroyed with herbicides and/or prescribed burns. These prescribed burns will not be funded by FEMA.

EBRPD’s plans to convert the project area to native vegetation are similar to the plans of both UCB and Oakland. EBRPD also does not plan to plant project areas with native vegetation. EBRPD also plans to use herbicides on the stumps of eucalypts and acacia which we estimate will require a mind-boggling 3,286 3,356 to 6,572 6,713 gallons of herbicide.

Million Trees’ assessment of these projects

We have surely exhausted your patience with the mind-numbing detail needed to describe these projects accurately. Therefore, we will provide only a brief outline of our assessment of these projects:

*  These projects are more likely to increase the risk of wildfires than to reduce that risk.

     By distributing tons of dead wood onto bare ground

     By eliminating shade and fog drip which moistens the forest floor, making ignition more likely

     By destroying the windbreak that is a barrier to wind driven fires typical of wildfires in California

     By expanding the oak-bay woodland being killed by Sudden Oak Death, thereby adding more dead wood

*  These projects will damage the environment by releasing hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the destroyed trees, thereby contributing to climate change.

*  These projects will endanger the public by dousing our public lands with thousands of gallons of toxic herbicides.

Erosion is likely on steep slopes when the trees are destroyed and their roots are killed with herbicides.

Non-native vegetation such as broom, thistle, and hemlock are more likely occupants of the unshaded, bared ground than native vegetation which will not be planted by these projects.

Prescribed burns will pollute the air and contribute to the risk of wildfire, endangering lives and property.

*  These projects are an inappropriate use of the limited resources of the Federal Emergency Management Agency which are for the expressed purpose of restoring communities destroyed by disasters such as floods and other catastrophic events and preparing communities for anticipated catastrophic events. Most of the proposed projects in the East Bay are miles away from any residences.

How to participate in this decision-making process

The Hills Conservation Network has created a petition to oppose these projects. It is available HERE.

You can also participate in this decision. FEMA will host three public meetings in May 2013:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Richard C. Trudeau Center, 11500 Skyline Boulevard Oakland, CA 94619

Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Richard C. Trudeau Center, 11500 Skyline Boulevard Oakland, CA 94619

Saturday, May 18, 2013, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Claremont Middle School, 5750 College Avenue Oakland, CA 94618

Comments on this document must be submitted by June 17, 2013. You may submit written comments in several ways:

  1. Via the project website: http://ebheis.cdmims.com
  2. At the public meetings listed above
  3. By email: EBH-EIS-FEMA-RIX@fema.dhs.gov
  4. By mail: P.O. Box 72379, Oakland, CA 94612-8579
  5. By fax: 510-627-7147

These public lands belong to you and the money that will be used to implement these projects is your tax dollars. So, please tell the people who work for you what you think of these projects.

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(1)           Calculation of estimated tree removals by East Bay Regional Park District,  Update:  We understand the weakness of this estimate.  Unfortunately, the DEIS does not provide sufficient information to improve its accuracy.  Again, our apologies.

  Existing average density of eucalypts 650 trees per acre
minus Planned average density of eucalypts 60 trees per acre
equals Number of eucalypts removed 590 trees per acre
times Total acres of eucalypts in project areas 824.3
equals Total number of eucalypts removed 486,337
minus Trees removed by UCB & Oakland 85,735 77,161
equals Eucalypts removed by EBRPD 400,602 409,176
89 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2013 4:07 pm

    leave the trees alone, you chemico-nuts, The Eucalypts are not native, neither are any other trees, Everyhting came from somewhere else across the centuries. “Native” plants flourish just fine with the eucalyptics, better than with Redwoods that allow no sun into their groves.. It’s the pesticide industry looking for imaginary problems to justify the use of their toxic products and their lucrative contracts.
    What a disgrace.

    Webmaster: Well said!! You are right on all points.

    We don’t like to bad-mouth any trees, so we have never reported the considerable scientific evidence that the redwood forest supports little plant and animal life. Professor Stebbins counted species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians in different vegetation types in East Bay parks. He found the number of species lower in redwood and pine forests compared to the eucalyptus forest. The number of species was highest in the oak-bay woodland. Obviously the nativity of the forest is irrelevant with respect to the wildlife it supports.

    • Dahlia Foley permalink
      May 17, 2013 2:42 pm

      All species are being squeezed of any place to live. The working class of animal life (insects, reptiles, amphibians, rodents) can’t get any support to do what they need to do to get everyone else fed. Is FEMA looking to create a disaster to create jobs??? More money to the Kochs who own Roundup. Sent my email to register a complaint with this action. Agree with all the Webmaster says in these comments. (Just for the sake of saying, it is now well documented that the canopies of redwood forests support a huge diversity of plant and animal life. Here’s a list on a basic search: http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=diversity+in+redwood+canopy&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8)

      The non-native argument is more “green washing” and a move to use environmentalist language in order to confuse the issue and make it seem like anyone against this is just ill informed and nostalgic for some no good trees which just continue to get in the way of economic growth and suburban sprawl. Roundup indeed.

      As a 7th gen northern Californian can I just say the devastation I’ve personally witnessed to wildlife here, even the most common and once ridiculously abundant (red-legged frogs for example) in the last 20 years. May I also give personal testimony as a witness to the massive use of pesticide and herbicide dousing hundreds of thousands of acres as member of a conservative farming family. The stubborn argument has been to “feed the world” and the result has been the glib genocide of countless species who do all the ground work on our ever gluttonous food chain.

      This whole project is nauseating.

    • jacqui permalink
      May 24, 2013 12:37 pm

      I can think of a few million humans who aren’t native to this continent, and no one’s suggesting that we kill them off…

      Webmaster: Actually, some native plant advocates do seem to be suggesting just that. The leading guru of native plant advocates in San Francisco, Jake Sigg, published this in his on-line newsletter of May 15, 2013:

      From John Aspinall, THE BEST OF FRIENDS (NY & SF: Harper & Row, 1976, The Epilogue, p. 139). Mr. Aspinall died several years ago. A professional gambler, he was founder and director of the Howletts Zoo in England.

      “No longer can it be said that peace, plenty and plurality are worthy ends. The billions blown on medicare are monies ill-spent and worse than wasted. As Julian Huxley has it, Homo sapiens is in uncontrolled, cancerous growth and medical research has merely exacerbated this condition. Unfortunately its efforts to neutralise our time-honoured, natural beneficial predators like bubonic bacillus, the anopheles mosquito and the typhoid bacterium have proved only too successful. If an animal renders ineffective its own evolved cullers, then it has signed its own death warrant. Remove natural selection and the genes run amok. An irreversible process of genetic drift steals upon the species and guides it to the shambles. Eugene Marais, the pioneer ethologist, saw this fifty years ago, when he stated that any species that allowed deviants and aberrants to breed without restraint was doomed to extinction. Man is in the extreme condition of this laxity. Medical research should be funded into abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and birth control. Forms of unnatural eugenic selection should be studied, on the basis that unnatural selection is better than no selection. The question really is, whether we wish to save our species or not, for time is running out on us. The choice before us is a qualitative life for 200,000,000 humans in perpetuity in a partially restored paradise, or a quantitative countdown to Armageddon on a raped planet gutted of most of its resources. That we still have a choice or a chance may itself be an illusion. If one is dying of thirst in a desert even a mirage is welcome. Better to die stumbling forward lured by hallucinations than be wind-buried by the sands of despair.”

      Readers of his newsletter are treated to a regular diet of anti-immigration and population control diatribes, but this particular post seems to go beyond that into extermination.

  2. dianedraytonbuckland permalink
    May 13, 2013 2:25 am

    These maniacs are absolutely insane – poisoning everything and everyone, somehow these chemical criminals have to be stopped !!!

  3. umberto chavez permalink
    May 16, 2013 12:15 pm

    Eucalyptus trees are an invasive species, they dessicate, poison, and crowd out all other native, resulting in a sterile monoculture ecosystem with little wildlife, and on top of that, they are incredibly flammable in a dangerously fire-prone area. This should have been done years ago.

    I challenge the writers of this article to focus their efforts less on preventing the removal of these trees, and more on their replacement with more environmentally-friendly alternatives. Trees = good. Oak trees = even better!

    Webmaster: These are the firmly held beliefs of native plant advocates for which there is no scientific or experiential evidence.
    1. Eucalypts are not invasive. There are aerial photographs of open spaces in the San Francisco Bay Area taken over a 60 year period that show that the eucalyptus forest has not expanded. There is also the opinion of scientists in the Encyclopedia of Biological Invasions that they are not invasive. References to these studies are available here on Million Trees.
    2. Perhaps by “poison” you mean that eucalyptus leaves are allelopathic. Again, the Encyclopedia of Biological Invasions says they are not.
    3. Eucalypts are not more flammable than the native bay laurel that has more oil in its leaves than does eucalyptus. And any tree is far less likely to ignite than the grassland that is native to the San Francisco Bay Area and fire spreads much more slowly through any forest.
    4. There are several studies which quantify the species of wildlife in the eucalyptus forest. One local study found equal numbers of species of plants in the understory, birds, and amphibians in oak woodland and eucalyptus forest and significantly more insects in the eucalyptus forest in the spring. Another local study found more wildlife in the oak woodland than in the eucalyptus forest, but more wildlife in the eucalyptus forest than the redwood forest.
    5. I like oak trees more than eucalyptus and would be happy to have more. Unfortunately, they will not grow in many of the places where eucalyptus thrives because they don’t tolerate wind and they require more water. And, sadly, they are being killed by Sudden Oak Death which is spreading rapidly in the East Bay hills.

    All of these statements are supported by scientific evidence which is documented on this blog. If native plant advocates would do a little more reading and less sharing of misinformation amongst themselves, they may learn something useful.

    • Skeptic permalink
      May 16, 2013 2:09 pm

      To say eucalypts result “in a sterile monoculture ecosystem with little wildlife,” only reveals that the commenter has done no reading on the subject. This blog has offered a number of scientific papers to you that demonstrate clearly that you are wrong, e.g. the Sax and Stebbins papers. As usual, the eucalyptus haters, while talking a lot about “ecology,” offer absolutely no evidence in support of their dogma.

      • sunnycali permalink
        May 20, 2013 9:17 pm

        Skeptic – did you actually read the ‘Sax and Stebbins’ papers? It doesn’t appear that you did. If you had or if you had researched a bit more you would have seen that G. Ledyard Stebbins was a botanist and geneticist who contributed “…to scientific thought and botany by developing an intellectual framework for studying plant evolution including modern concepts of plant species and plant speciation.”

        From the source of the citing regarding the Sax and Stebbins papers, the following is also said about Eucs:

        “Eucalyptus globulus can threaten native vegetation in a variety of ways. In coastal California where E. globulus receives enough moisture to propagate from seed, a coastal grove has the potential to spread 10 to 20 feet in diameter a year, eliminating the diversity of native species as it colonizes new ground. This aggressive Tasmanian species releases phytotoxins not only from its litter but also directly from its leaves (see previous Biology-Ecology section under “Allelochemicals”).”

        • Skeptic permalink
          May 21, 2013 11:01 am

          My reply is a new comment, much later in this list.

    • Tim permalink
      May 17, 2013 12:50 pm

      I am troubled by the citation of sources found unreliable by peer review to make an argument to protect these trees. The peer-reviewed and approved science is quickly observed by hiking through the various forests, where on can see that eucalyptus are indeed allelopathic – native plants do not, in fact, grow underneath eucalyptus.

      Webmaster: You provide a novel, if mistaken, definition of “peer-reviewed and approved science.” There aren’t enough hours left in this day to define “science,” but I can tell you quickly that “peer-reviewed science” is when a scientist conducts a study which tests hypotheses with empirical tests and the draft of his/her conclusions is circulated to other qualified peers in his/her field for review. Scientific journals routinely carry out such reviews before accepting papers for publication.

      “Peer-reviewed science” is not a walk in the woods. In contrast to a walk in the woods, scientists actually quantify what they find in a specific location before attempting to describe it. Although we walk in the woods and our perception of what we find there is quite different from yours, here on Million Trees we speak primarily of studies that have been published in scientific journals and have therefore been peer reviewed.

      We can agree with you that sometimes there isn’t much growing under eucalyptus. Sometimes there isn’t much growing under oaks either. The understory varies depending upon the moisture, soil conditions, density of canopy, etc.

      Simply doing gardening, as I’ve done professionally in the east bay for over thirty years, shows one that the targeted trees are, in fact, invasive. When native plants are pushed out, so is the native insect population that pollinates them, and those species, both plant and insect, become endangered.

      The practice of clearing invasive trees from the east bay hills has been going on for a number of years now, with good results. Native plants re-establish in a natural way without needing to be replanted. And invasive humans get the additional benefit of preventing tragic loss of life and property through fire prevention techniques that were done naturally before the intervention of Europeans.

      I understand the emotional attachments to the hills as they are now, but emotions are no substitute for good science.

      • Skeptic permalink
        May 19, 2013 7:32 am

        Hey, Tim: What “citation of sources found unreliable by peer review?” I don’t see any, and you haven’t identified any. I do find lots of citations on this blog to peer reviewed scientific journals and to books by scientists. By contrast, you have offered no citations at all, peer reviewed or otherwise.

    • Dave PRobert permalink
      May 19, 2013 2:22 am

      But if you suppress fire, you need to compensate somehow. Remember the Oakland fires? This is a complicated issue and this blog’s one-sidedness undermines its arguments.

      Webmaster: This is actually a fire suppression project. In an attempt to suppress fire, they will encourage a more flammable landscape by distributing tons of dead wood on the ground. They believe that native plants and trees will be “recruited” into the bare ground. They are apparently unaware of–or choose to ignore–the fact that the native ecology is fire adapted and dependent for long-term survival. However, since they do not intend to plant anything, the plants that are most likely to occupy the bare ground are weedy grasses and other herbaceous material which is much more likely to ignite than any forest, either native or non-native.

      Yes, the ecology of fire is very complex.

      • sunnycali permalink
        May 20, 2013 9:41 pm

        I think that native trees have adapted to fire differently than Eucalyptus. Often there is grassland beneath native trees either because natural fires (lightening) or human-made fires (historically, indigenous peoples started fires to aid in food gathering). When there is a fire in grasslands, the meadows burn and scorch trees but unless there is an abundance of undergrowth, there isn’t as much devastation. Eucalyptus, on the other hand, drop a huge amount of biomass which is very flammable which in turn fuels the fire of the tree itself. Because of the oils in Eucs, they can virtually ‘explode’ in fires.

        The grove of Eucs just south of San Juan Batista experienced a devastating fire not that long ago. Instead of clearing the area of the Eucalyptus grove (most of the Eucs were burned to the ground), the fire provided the means for the grove to come back even more densely. That’s how they work.

        Webmaster: Oaks and eucalyptus have a lot in common because both are adapted to a Mediterranean climate. The Mediterranean climate exists in four different ecosystems in the world and they all have a lot in common. The definition of a Mediterranean climate is that one season is rainy and the other season is dry. The rainy season promotes the growth of vegetation which is then fuel for the dry season. Fire is an essential feature of the ecology of a Mediterranean climate. All this is explained clearly by a world-renowned expert on fire ecology, Jon E. Keeley of the US Geological Service in his recently published book, Fire in Mediterranean Ecosystems.

        The plants and trees in Mediterranean climates have a lot in common. They are adapted to fire which means that most species will resprout or regenerate after fire. That is true of both oaks and eucalypts. Keeley would also inform you that many species of native plants in California require fire for germination and native annuals that require fire for germination disappear from the landscape within about 5 years in the absence of fire.

        In other words, most accusations about eucalyptus are equally true of some species of native plants and trees. The native landscape is equally flammable and much of it won’t persist without periodic fire. This is one of many reasons why those who oppose the destructive FEMA projects find the arguments in favor of them fundamentally dishonest or at least misguided. There is no point in destroying one landscape to benefit another if the risks of fire are essentially unchanged. FEMA should not be using their limited resources for the sole purpose of changing the landscape if it does not reduce fire hazards.

  4. Willie permalink
    May 16, 2013 12:44 pm

    I am puzzled by the assertion that “nativity of the forest is irrelevant with respect to the wildlife it supports”. The removal of Eucalyptus on Angel Island seems to have been a success. How is this plan different? I am not trying to defend this plan but it seems that the knee-jerk reaction to removing non-native trees is dominating the discussion. Many more thousands of gallons of the same herbicides are used every year by untrained homeowners. That said there are alternatives to chemical herbicides. They tend to cost a bit more but maybe the project could be scaled back to include fewer acres.

    Webmaster: The statement about the wildlife living in the eucalyptus forest compared to the redwood forest is based on a study by Professor Robert Stebbins of UC Berkeley (now deceased). He was hired by the East Bay Regional Park District to quantify several orders of animals in the different types of vegetation in their parks. EBRPD published his report, “Vertebrate use of habitats” in 1976.

    However, you would find the same opinion regarding the lack of wildlife in the redwood forest in Colin Tudge’s book, The Tree. And experienced birders would tell you the same.

    Not everyone would share your opinion that the removal of 80 acres of eucalyptus from Angel Island was a success. For one thing, there have been two major wildfires in the grass since the trees were removed. For another, those who camp on Angel Island tell us it is now a miserably windy place. And finally, much of the road around the island eroded into the bay after the trees were removed.

    I am not consoled by your observation that more pesticides are used by homeowners than will be used by this destructive project. For one thing, I doubt that is true. But if it were, why would we think that adding thousands more gallons of pesticides to our public lands would therefore be OK? We don’t have anything to say about private property, but we do have the right to object to the poisoning of our public land, particularly parks that are visited by children.

    • Skeptic permalink
      May 19, 2013 7:49 am

      Let’s review the “success” of removing eucs from Angel Island. For 100 years the eucs existed on Angel Island without ever burning. Then, a few years after the eucs were clearcut, we had a spectacular fire on the island which roared through the grass, shrubs, and oaks. The fire stopped on its own at the edge of the remnant euc forest. Now native plant fans try to twist this into evidence for alleged extreme flammability of eucs.
      Some may consider that a “success.” To me, it’s the most extreme refusal to look at real world evidence I have seen in many years of observing the war on eucs.

  5. TreeGuy permalink
    May 16, 2013 2:36 pm

    Great information here! I’m going to print out 1000 copies of this!

  6. May 17, 2013 12:55 am

    For decades, huge blue gum eucalyptus trees have surrounded an oil and gas processing plant at Gaviota, California: http://i85.photobucket.com/albums/k75/4af/chevron.jpg Obviously these trees would not be allowed there if they were truly “gasoline trees”. Indeed, these trees did not “explode” in June 2004 when a serious offshore wind blown wildfire swept across that area of the coast including the oil plant. In fact, the native oak and sycamore trees burned more completely during that fire than the blue gum eucalyptus did.

    Webmaster: Thanks, Paul, for this new example of how eucalypts resist ignition. Claims of their flammability are greatly exaggerated. Undoubtedly some people believe those stories, but they are also used as strategy by native plant advocates who understand that the native ecology is highly flammable. This Million Trees post explains that strategy: http://milliontrees.me/fire-the-cover-story/.

    And this article gives another example of how eucalypts did not ignite when everything else around them was burning: http://milliontrees.me/2010/11/14/trees-withstand-the-firestorm/

    Thanks for your interest in the Monarch butterfly, which probably would not migrate through California if it weren’t for the eucalypts that provide them with the nectar they need when they emerge from diapause. Have you read Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior? What a great little book.

  7. Dano permalink
    May 17, 2013 6:16 am

    How short their memories are! Oakland Hills fire in ’91 was exacerbated by eucalypts. If you don’t want fire, then something has to be done.

    One good way to start is to fix your headline to: Nearly a half-million non-native trees to be removed for fire protection.

    Best,

    D

    Webmaster: I suggest you read the FEMA Technical Report about the 1991 fire which is available here: http://milliontrees.me/fire-the-cover-story/

    Yes, eucalypts burned in that fire. So did everything else in the path of that wind driven fire: native plants and trees and homes. The FEMA report would inform you that the fire started in grass, jumped to shrubs, and did not engage any trees until the hot wind turned it into a firestorm.

    The FEMA report also informs you that the deep, prolonged freeze the winter before the fire caused eucalypts and other exotic vegetation to die back. If that dead leaf litter had been cleaned up—as we should expect of basic fire hazard mitigation—eucalypts would not even have been mentioned in the FEMA report as being a factor in that fire.

    Such deep freezes are rare in the Bay Area. The freeze prior to the freeze in 1990 was in the early 1970s. There has not been such a freeze since 1990. The climate is warming and is expected to continue to warm. There may not ever be another such freeze, especially if we destroy most of our trees which are storing thousands of tons of carbon which will contribute to climate change.

    You are repeating a strongly held belief that can be easily refuted with a little reading. Conventional wisdom is sometimes collective ignorance.

    • Bruce John Shourt permalink
      May 17, 2013 10:15 pm

      One statement term is incorrect. The Oakland fire was a conflagration not a firestorm. It did not produce its own winds to turn it into a firestorm. Despite the fire department explaining the difference (the winds were the result of weather conditions, not a central column of hot air causing localized low pressure) most mentions of it thereafter still use the misnomer. Even the people who designed the outside exhibit/display along side of Highway 24 in Oakland got it wrong. And, as a general rule, about half of what is found on the Internet (e.g., in Wikipedia) usually contains some inaccuracies.

      • Ted E. permalink
        May 19, 2013 11:21 pm

        Thank you Bruce John Shourt for the clarification, Please continue to post, because you clearly comprehend the facts and dimensions of these issues.

    • May 29, 2013 11:23 am

      Dear Webmaster,

      I am grateful for your site’s thorough and detailed discussions about eucalyptus trees. I’d like to share some of this information on my environmental artist’s website, http://www.TreeSpiritProject.com

      Please let me know if this might be acceptable to you. I will gladly credit and reciprocally hyperlink to HalfMillionTrees.me

      Sincerely,
      Jack Gescheidt
      The TreeSpiritProject
      jackATtreespiritproject.com

      Webmaster: I would be honored to have a link on your site and I will add a link to your site as well. You are welcome to anything on my site that may interest your readers. I admire your photographs very much. Thank you for worshipping our trees with your beautiful photographs.

  8. Dano permalink
    May 17, 2013 6:49 am

    You are repeating a strongly held belief that can be easily refuted with a little reading. Conventional wisdom is sometimes collective ignorance.

    I have a specialized degree in forestry and horticulture from a UC school (complete with fire ecology field work), and a masters in environmental planning specializing in urban ecology. You made me laugh with the knee-jerk!. thank you for the chuckle this morning!

    But to be clear, I would prefer that this work be done over, say, a decade. But government doesn’t work that way (and The Market doesn’t do this at all), so we have to settle for this far-less-than-perfect plan to eradicate non-natives.

    That’s right: this is also a project to eradicate non-natives. Which is an excellent thing.

    Best,

    D

    Webmaster: Thanks for the clarification. Since you have the credentials to understand that the native ecology is highly flammable and you believe that non-natives should be eradicated, that explains your support for this destructive project.

    Those who are opposed to this project do not consider your preference for native plants sufficient justification for destroying our urban forest which is performing valuable ecological functions, such as storing the carbon that would otherwise contribute to climate change.

    • Skeptic permalink
      May 17, 2013 8:49 am

      With all that academic background, Dano cites absolutely no studies to support his belief that eucalypts are more flammable than native vegetation. But then his motivation seems to be an ideological preference for native plants rather than concern for alleged fire hazard.

  9. Anon permalink
    May 17, 2013 9:03 am

    99% of Americans are not native — does that mean they should all be killed?

    • Haterade permalink
      May 17, 2013 1:36 pm

      Yes. Or have you not noticed what we’ve done to the place and people?

    • sunnycali permalink
      May 20, 2013 3:29 pm

      Could you please cite your source? Thank you.

  10. Willie permalink
    May 17, 2013 10:08 am

    Mature redwood forest are not ecological dead zones. A review of research from the last decade will reveal that many species live in the canopy. Colin Tudge himself states in his book “Last Animals at the Zoo” that “the second most significant cause of extinction, worldwide, is the introduction by human beings of alien species to new habitats.” I have a feeling Mr. Tudge would support the careful removal of invasive Eucalyptus trees from the East Bay hills.

    Webmster: I don’t think the redwood forest is an “ecological dead zone.” I said it does not support as much wildlife as either oak woodland or eucalyptus forest. Here’s what Colin Tudge says in The Tree about the redwood forest: “There are few birds. You rarely hear such silence as in a coastal redwood forest.” (page 315)

    This is a typical dialogue with a native plant advocate. We are citing studies and scientists. You are expressing your “feelings.”

    How many experienced birders have seen a Pileated Woodpecker in a Eucalyptus grove?

    Webmaster: I don’t know, but then, neither do you.

    Also, I was not hoping to comfort you with the fact that many more gallons of pesticides are sprayed by homeowners but it is undoubtedly true. The Center for Biological Diversity has released a report indicating that as much as 300,000 pounds of pesticides are used in Alameda County every year. We should work to reduce all pesticide use. I work at a school where pesticides are sprayed and it bothers me very much. I am certainly concerned by the amount of pesticide use that is proposed by FEMA plan.

    Webmaster: Private property owners are not required to report their pesticide use by California law. Only counties are required by law to report pesticide use in California. Therefore, the huge quantity of pesticide use you quote has nothing to do with what home owners are doing. I’m glad to hear that you are concerned about the huge amount of pesticide that will be used by this project.

    Overall it seems that this plan has some major shortcomings. The overall goal of removing invasive species is one that I support but it must be done in such a way that results in the return of non-invasive species.

    Webmaster: Since these projects do not intend to plant anything to replace the plants and trees they will destroy, it is extremely unlikely that anything but the plants that occupy that ground now will return. To believe otherwise is to believe in magic.

  11. Earl permalink
    May 17, 2013 11:45 am

    Interesting to look at historic pictures of the Berkeley Oakland Hills even as late as a century ago……

    • Dano permalink
      May 17, 2013 2:03 pm

      Exactly. The native vegetation was grasses, forbs. and some oak in the folds between hills. The eucalyptus was planted for wood. Time to harvest and to alleviate fire hazard as well. I’m sure that folks that understand the public comments will receive the expected plaints about loss of trees, but they’ll do the smart thing and harvest the plantation.

      Best,

      D

  12. May 17, 2013 1:15 pm

    I was raised to believe in moderation and concern for fire hazard. But why clear cut when selective cutting could do? Let science decide the merits of all trees. I am concerned that unblocked sunshine will speed global warming in our area even faster…how about the fauna? I love the rare songbirds and butterflies and ladybugs in my garden. Shouldn’t the natural balance of wild creatures be sacrosanct? Can’t goats continue their good (and picturesque) work?

    But the ultimate travesty is FEMA’s plan to use Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide (not familiar with other one) to kill off the remaining growth; Roundup has been suspect in our declining health (long-term testing for human safety is not allowed). Monsanto heavily influences UC Berkeley academic research…This huge victory in the face of public objection to what their chemicals are doing to the environment, and the run-off to the oceans, reflects the appalling ignorance and willful refusal to allow scientific study of effects on human safety. My instant gut reaction was who will monitor my water? I can only fear the toxic destruction of this precious commodity.

    Suppose this all mute with our refusal to accept we’ve hit 400 ppm CO2 in our air, and we don’t even discuss the more destructive and ubiquitous Methane! Tempest in a broken teapot.

  13. Foster Boondoggle permalink
    May 17, 2013 1:26 pm

    Why bother to mandate an EIS, then pay people to produce it, if we’re just going to disregard the findings in favor of our own preconceived biases. In the EIS executive summary, there’s a comparison (table ES-3 on p. ES-14) giving a comparison of the consequences of the proposed action vs. doing nothing. Under “Biological Resources”, the “No action” summary says:
    “Greater potential for large and intense wildfire and resulting destruction of vegetation, wildlife, and wildlife habitat.
    Continued spread of invasive non-native vegetation in the project areas.” The “Proposed action” summary lists as a positive outcome:
    “Improved conditions for preserved native vegetation and Improved conditions for native wildlife that benefits from native habitat
    Enhancement of Alameda whipsnake habitat
    Improvement of growing conditions for pallid manzanita, a threatened plant”

    Maybe you think this is all BS. But then why bother with an EIS in the first place? Why not just mandate that no one do anything anywhere ever?

    Webmaster: Questions for FEMA.

    As for the “pesticides” – actually herbicides – again, reading the proposed plan, the applications are highly limited and controlled, restricted to be far from water and only when the weather conditions are such as to minimize dispersal.

    Webmaster: Pesticides is a global term which includes herbicides, insecticides, fungicides etc. Since every eucalyptus and acacia tree will have to be sprayed with 1 – 2 ounces of Garlon and tens of thousands of trees will be destroyed, thousands of gallons will be required to kill these trees. Every 64 to 128 trees will require one gallon of Garlon, plus whatever retreatments are required. I would not call that “limited” use.

    I have to confess to despising eucalyptus, so maybe I’m biased. But for all the people here who seem to love it, a question: why do UCB, EBRPD, Oakland and FEMA all seem to think it’s an especially severe fire hazard? Why are they all misled, while you alone have the truth? Is Monsanto going to make billions off its eradication? (Before you get started, let me just point out that glyphosate is off-patent…)

    Webmaster: No, I don’t claim to have the truth and I don’t love eucalyptus. But they are healthy and they are expected to live for another 200-300 years. I consider it a matter of priorities: Is eucalyptus more flammable than the native ecology that is also very flammable or the dead oaks that are likely to be killed by Sudden Oak Death? Is our fear and/or hatred of eucalyptus so great that we are willing to release thousands of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a time when climate change should be our top priorty?

  14. Lindsay permalink
    May 17, 2013 1:28 pm

    If these trees proved to be a true fire hazard, we would have seen destructive fire after destructive fire. We need to learn to live with nature rather than assume its our enemy. I would bet that the real motive behind this entire scam is that someone stands something to gain–be it future developments or the removal companies themselves.

    And as someone who spent 20 years of her life in Ventura County, let me tell you the trees aren’t the problem–it’s dry unmitigated brush. All our fires have been causes as a result of that, not native trees. Don’t let the name “Thousand Oaks” fool you–they really don’t have any left.

    So what were you claiming again, UC Berkeley?

    • sunnycali permalink
      May 23, 2013 2:26 pm

      You may not agree with what is proposed but it is not a ‘scam’. I’m assuming (and I could be wrong) that if this project moves forward, it would go through a government bid process. Given that, vegetation removal companies really aren’t on board until that bid process.

      There may have been a ‘Thousand Oaks’ at one time. If there aren’t that many remaining, it’s because of development, not fires. Historically, fires have occurred naturally (lightening) or by arson or fire management (I’m group the fires started by indigenous peoples in this arson category since they used fire management).

      The city that is the center of this controversy is named Oakland. It was named Oakland because of the predominance of Oaks. Nathan Spaulding was Mayor of Oakland in 1871 and 1872. While Mr. Spaulding was mayor, he was instrumental in preserving the city’s old and venerable oak trees. Contrary to what ‘historians’ claim about Nathan Spaulding and his love for Eucs (because of the row of Eucs planted on Boronda and Carmel Valley Roads in Carmel Valley), it would be very surprising if there was a love affair with that tree. Historians claim that he planted the Boronda/Carmel Valley Eucs, but he did not. His brother-in-law did. But his brother-in-law didn’t have the same (mayoral) credentials and he had a funny name – Kinzea Clinkinbeard – which just doesn’t sound as good when a ‘historian’ is trying to obtain State of California historical status for the Eucs.

      • May 25, 2013 7:59 pm

        Neither side in this debate seems to be grasping the most important financial motivation for this ridiculous, dangerous, oxymoronically labeled ‘fire prevention’ plan. The point is to clear the land to make way for billions of dollars of real estate development.

        Webmaster: There are some strange sentences in the DEIS that imply that is the case: “The 43-acre Claremont-PDM site is largely a eucalyptus forest. UCB proposes to eliminate all eucalyptus trees from the site. This would remove a physical barrier to development of the site but would also encourage expansion of native vegetation on the site. The site is probably less likely to be developed if dominated by native vegetation than if dominated by eucalyptus.” (DEIS: 4.13.3.3.7. UCB)

        So, we went to the UC’s Long Range Development Plan which was cited as the source of this information. We found the references to building on this site too long-range and too vague to be considered motivation for this project. Also, the LRDP says that if and when it is developed it would be for activities related to the campus, not housing.

        We stick very close to the documents on Million Trees. As it is, we are frequently accused of lying by the “other side.” If you have hard evidence of development plans by all means share it with us.

  15. Million Trees permalink
    May 17, 2013 3:32 pm

    We are receiving comments that are repetitive and we are being forced to be repetitive in order to respond to them. It’s a waste of time for us to repeat the same citations to each commenter. We will not continue to post comments from the same people with nothing new to say, and with no evidence offered to support them. The day is not long enough. On the other hand, if you have some science to offer, please do so.

  16. Erik permalink
    May 17, 2013 5:05 pm

    I would encourage you to look to South Florida for a similar situation. A wholesale campaign was undertaken to eradicate the Australian pine, which had colonized extensive areas of dune and coastal woodland ecosystem. Entire forests were cleared and treated with herbicides, resulting in desolate landscapes that required constant reapplication of herbicides to control regrowth. The results were really ugly and barren, but 10 to 15 years on the landscape has become richer, more diverse and much more beautiful. It won’t happen overnight, but I think you’ll end up with a healthier, more resilient, and more beautiful end result.

    It sounds like the real problem is that FEMA is cconsumed with fire prevention when the landscape requires fire to exist.

    • Ted E. permalink
      May 19, 2013 11:15 pm

      Erik, how do you quantify a “landscape [that] has become richer, more diverse and much more beautiful?” In San Francisco, the Natural Areas Program is using that exact argument to remove Eucalyptus from Mount Davidson. But if you are familiar with San Francisco Mount Davidson was a windswept, barren hill with very few if any trees before 1800. This whole turn-back-the-botanical clock to some idealistic past point in time is absurd and to argue that grass will attract all sorts of critters for diversification is pointless. We will have removed thousands of trees at a critical point when our planet needs trees and the harm to the wildlife that depend on the current healthy ecosystem will be irreparable. And by the way, who paid for your South Florida wholesale restoration ecology? In San Francisco, the plan is tens of millions of dollars and mainstream folks don’t want their money spent so foolishly for some fad that no longer has the support of the scientific and academic communities.

      • Erik permalink
        May 21, 2013 11:42 am

        I’m not saying that any point in time should be frozen or viewed as the ideal. I have nothing against invasive species and firmly believe that the history of our world is one of colonization of new habitats by invasives.

        For that very reason, my metrics for the success of a landscape are strictly human-based: are they more beautiful, more varied, more pleasurable, or safer. Do they reinforce the things that are priorities for the people that use and enjoy the landscape.

        It sounds as if many people enjoy the eucs and I think that’s fine. However, many people seem to be reacting from a hyperbolic starting point( ie, killing any trees is bad) or are using extreme language to make their case (ie, herbicides will be dumped everywhere). The reality of the situation requires more nuance, I think. Nothing I’ve read indicates that herbicides will be widely applied; it will be spot treatment on stumps, which seems reasonable to me. The euc forests I’ve seen tend to be strong monocultures, whereas the pre-euc landscape appears to contain more species of plants (ie, it’s richer) and I happen to find that more pleasing than stands of eucs.

        In Florida, the Australian pine forests that were removed were monocultures as well. They were nice in that they provided a lot of shade at the beaches where they tended to dominate, but the post-removal landscape is dramatically more enjoyable aesthetically.

        Webmaster: Aesthetic criteria may have been appropriate in the project in Florida. They are not appropriate in this case because the project will be funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There is therefore only one primary criterion and that is whether or not the project will reduce fire hazard. It will not. The native landscape is fire adapted and dependent. It is not less flammable than the existing vegetation. See Jon E. Keeley’s Fire in Mediterranean Ecosystems.

        There are secondary considerations all related to the question of “at what cost?” But, first the sponsors of this project must prove that their projects will reduce fire hazard. If they will not, the limited funding of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) should not be used for these projects. FEMA money is intended to restore communities such as the devastation that we witnessed yesterday in Oklahoma or the billions of dollars of damage done by Hurricane Sandy on the east coast last fall. Would you take money from the victims of those disasters for the purpose of creating a more beautiful landscape? Even if we accepted your premise that the result would be a more beautiful landscape—and we do not—we think that is an inappropriate—even outrageous—use of taxpayers’ money.

        Herbicides will be sprayed on the stumps of the hundreds of thousands of trees that are destroyed and it will also be foliar sprayed on non-native shrubs. If you would read the DEIS—and it seems that you have not—you would see that we have not exaggerated the use of herbicides. There is no need to exaggerate the destruction of this project. It speaks for itself.

        Finally, your assumptions about California’s ecology are perhaps based on Florida’s ecology, which I do not presume to know. You are mistaken in your assumptions. David Nowak of the US Forest Services studied the historical vegetation in Oakland, California and reported that it was significantly less diverse than the current landscape: “Historical Vegetation Change in Oakland and its Implications for Urban Forest Management,” Journal of Arboriculture, 19(5) September 1993.

        • sunnycali permalink
          May 23, 2013 7:59 am

          The historical vegetation of Oakland may have been less diverse because there weren’t as many non-natives as there are today.

          Eric – you make valid points. Thank you.

  17. May 17, 2013 11:42 pm

    If this is such a great plan, why has it been kept so under wraps? I only found out because a friend from Canada tipped me off to an article on it. I listen to KPFA every day and there has been absolutley nothing on this.

    Thin it out if you have to-dont clear cut it!

    Also-who in their right mind would be OK with dumping thousands of gallons of Round-up in the Berkeley Hills-only a Monsanto lacky with no children living in the vicinity-sickening!

    • sunnycali permalink
      May 20, 2013 3:37 pm

      I don’t think they’re ‘clear cutting.’ They are keeping a certain number of the Eucs per each acre.

      Webmaster: UC Berkeley and the City of Oakland plan to destroy all non-native trees in their project areas. East Bay Regional Park will destroy all eucalypts and Monterey pine in some areas and thin in other areas from 25-30 feet between trees. That would leave on average about 60 trees per acre. The park district reports in its response to the EIR on their “Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan” that the density of the eucalyptus forest is now on average 650 trees per acre.

  18. Claudia permalink
    May 18, 2013 9:39 pm

    HOW CAN I HELP? What can I do to get involved to save these trees? I am a East Bay Native and this is a nightmare. It is monstrous to cut these beautiful groves that have lived among us for generation after generation. Even more sickening, the wood chip/poison combo, not to mention ALL THOSE BEAUTIFUL CREATURES THAT ALREADY HAVE NOWHERE TO GO…I have literally seen deer walking around at the top of 73rd Ave in Oakland because they have been encroached upon by suburban sprawl. I’m ready to help save these trees!!!!

    Webmster: Claudia, please sign the petition and write a public comment as explained in this article. Your comment should be very specific about the ways in which this project will damage the environment.

    If you want to do more, prepare a one-page flyer with the facts about this project and information about how to comment on it. Post that flyer at the entrance to as many of the specific locations of the project areas as you can. (You can find maps of the project areas in the EIS.) Or if you have a favorite place that will be damaged by this project, spend some time there distributing flyers to people who visit it.

    Thanks for your interest in this issue and for your offer to help.

    • Marg Hall permalink
      May 21, 2013 5:34 pm

      This is a great suggestion. I’m working on this with a friend. We have to get the word out about this hazardous plan to “mitigate hazard”. Let’s hit the trails!!

      I do have a question: don’t they need a permit under the Clean Water Act? Or are UCB and EBRB exempt?

      Webmaster: In section 4.5 of the DEIS, all federal, state, and local laws regarding water quality are listed. I don’t know if the list is complete. After each law is described, the DEIS claims that the law will not be violated. I have no idea if that is true. If there is a way to determine if it is true, I don’t know what it is. Like most issues in the DEIS, the public does not have the information, the tools, or the time to challenge these claims.

  19. May 19, 2013 6:49 am

    East bay bees and beekeepers depend on eucalyptus to provide nectar and pollen during pollen dearth the happens several times a year.
    Honey bees also may not be native, but California had very little agricultural success until the honeybee was introduced.
    Additionally, Buckeye pollen is toxic to bees. In dry years I lose COLONIES to Buckeye pollen poisoning and plant and advocate year round pollen source to avert bees from grazing on Buckeye.
    Poisoning the watershed with defoliant is homeland terrorism. Already I pay over $100/month to pay for drainage and repair to Oakland homes damaged by winter rain and mudslides while non native liquid ambers PLANTED BY THE CITY OF OAKLAND invade the sewage system where I live on the flats.
    Even though diseased, replacement of these trees for a better choice is next to impossible.
    As Eucalyptus is removed, Scotch broom flourishes. Scotch broom is definitely an invasive alien with a strong allergetic pollen.
    The loss of this much foliage is going to affect CO2 levels as well.
    Serious re-evaluation is needed immediately.

    Webmaster: Yes, indeed, these projects will be disastrous for our honeybees. But they will be equally disastrous for native bees. Most native bees nest in the ground and they will not be able to penetrate 2 feet of wood chip mulch or the 4-6 inches of mulch in the park district’s projects. That story is told here: http://milliontrees.me/2011/08/17/mulch-madness-and-other-restoration-mistakes/.

    This is one of many reasons why these projects are doomed to fail. The colony of pollinators will be decimated by the loss of nectar and the loss of access to nesting sites.

    Please engage the community of beekeepers to write a detailed public comment about the impact of this destructive project on our pollinators. Thank you for your comment.

  20. Nelson Kirk permalink
    May 19, 2013 12:01 pm

    Monarch Butterfly populations will suffer! Leave the trees alone. People have more reasons to remove trees than planting them. If you remove the trees, you then disrupt the community of plants and wildlife. By replanting the trees, you don’t replant the community. You’re just planting trees.

    People want to remove trees because of allergies, leaf drop raking duties, fire fuel, surface rooting, utility encroachment. People also like to top trees to control growth :). Trees are a nuisance to the nuisance of human short comings. Nature has been bred out of people.

    The proposed projects want to remove too much canopy. These trees are sequestering carbon.

    The wood chips will increase the gopher populations and they will compromise some of the new plantings.

    Webmaster: These projects do not plan to plant anything to replace the trees and vegetation they will destroy. Sponsors of these projects claim that native plants and trees will be “recruited” into the areas that are cleared of non-natives. Based on observations of similar projects and scientific studies that report on natural succession after removal of non-natives, we think this is an unlikely scenario. We think that non-natives such as broom and weedy grasses are more likely to occupy the ground that discouraged their growth when it was shaded.

    The trees also are part of the watershed and promote clean water. The project would remove the watershed effect. Erosion and landslides potentials..

    It takes decades to achieve this growth and it would all be gone. Talk about an environmental impact!

    Why can’t they produce a model of natives plantings as a fire break surrounding the eucalyptus and acacias?

    Why don’t they use this money to increase tree plantings and drip irrigation, dry water, tree savor inoculation and add more canopy?

    Most of the people behind this project. I would bet most of the plants around their homes and facilities are non-native.

    Start the new native plantings now and farm them to encroach the proposed area over the next hundred years, create long term jobs to reforest as old non native trees phase out..

    • sunnycali permalink
      May 20, 2013 3:36 pm

      Considering that Monarchs have existed on the west coast for way longer than Eucalyptus trees I would assume that they’ll do just fine if some of the Eucalyptus are removed.

      Webmaster: We asked an expert on the butterflies of California where Monarchs over-wintered before eucalypts were planted. This is his reply to our question: “There are NO, and I mean NO, descriptions of overwintering Monarchs in CA before the planting of Eucs., and believe me, people competent to look have looked. That isn’t to say they only began wintering here BECAUSE OF the planting of Eucs. The fact is, we just don’t know. Equally mysterious is that Monarchs have NO pre-Columbian cultural resonance in Mexico at all. The two-tailed swallowtail, Papilio multicaudatus, is a ubiquitous artistic subject with strong mythological/religious significance; the Monarch never appears, and even the locals seemed not to know about its wintering grounds near Mexico City until Urquhart’s people found them. All very odd indeed. This and other oddities led Richard Vane-Wright of the British Museum, to suggest in a famous book chapter not available on-line, that there WAS no mass migration before about 1865 and that it developed as an epiphenomenon of land-use changes in North America–the “Columbus Hypothesis.”

      • Skeptic permalink
        May 20, 2013 4:42 pm

        Hey, sunnycali: Could you please cite your source. Thank you.

      • sunnycali permalink
        May 20, 2013 8:49 pm

        Please cite the name of the expert. Just because there are “…NO, and I mean NO, descriptions of overwintering Monarchs in CA before the planting of Eucs…” That is a patently incorrect statement. Having lived on the Central Coast of CA for over 60 years (having been born here) – the annual migration of Monarchs occurred for many decades. Pacific Grove, CA has been holding an annual Butterfly Parade since 1939 to celebrate the annual return of the Monarchs. Monarchs have traditionally gathered in Monterey Pines (Pinus radiata) in Pacific Grove until fairly recently when Eucalyptus were introduced. Monterey Pines are native to Pacific Grove and Central California. Pacific Grove volunteers are restoring the Monarch habitat but there is still ongoing debate about whether Eucs should be planted. “Historically, most of the western population of Monarchs settled in the fog-shrouded Monterey pine forest of Pacific Grove. These trees provide the microclimate that they need: proper humidity, light, shade, temperature, and protection from wind.” (from the Pacific Grove Museum website)

        Webmaster: The existence of a Monarch butterfly parade in 1939 does not contradict what the professor is saying. Eucalyptus existed in California long before then. The native range of Monterey pines is very narrow. All the Monterey pines were planted in the San Francisco Bay Area and the projects we are discussing are planning to destroy them because they are not native here. Nothing you say contradicts what the professor has said about the historical evidence of the Monarch migration prior to the arrival of eucalyptus.

        In February of 1998 two young men died as the result of falling Eucalyptus trees at Pomona College. It was found through depositions that Pomona was negligent regarding their aging Eucalyptus trees. They had been planted at the turn of the last century (like most Eucs). It was found that inspections of large trees set in urban areas should be inspected by arborists annually. James Clark, regarded as the most knowledgeable person in his field, considered Pomona College’s care and maintenance of its Eucs to be grossly inadequate.

        Webmaster: For every example you cite of the failure of eucalyptus, we can cite examples of another species of tree that failed. The most recent “death-by-tree” in San Francisco was a woman who was killed by a redwood branch in a city park in 2008. That redwood branch was evaluated as hazardous by Jim Clark of HortScience 5 years before it killed that woman. Unfortunately, the Recreation and Park Department chose to ignore the evaluation of the trees in Stern Grove and this woman paid for their negligence with her life. The hazardous trees that Jim Clark had evaluated in 2003 were not removed from that park until 2010.

        So, let’s step back from anecdotal evidence to look at the big picture. UC Berkeley maintains a database of tree failures in California which is available here: http://ucanr.edu/sites/treefail/CTFRP_Statistics/. Their on-line report of February 2013, reports that 22.8% of tree failures reported in California were oaks. Failures of eucalyptus were almost half that at 12.1%. Furthermore, Professor Joe McBride of UC Berkeley published a study comparing windthrow of three different species of trees in two major windthrow events in California and reported that eucalyptus is more wind hardy than both Monterey pines and cypress. (McBride & Leffingwell, “Assessing windthrow potential in urban forests of coastal California,” Society for American Foresters newsletter, 2006.)

        Skeptic, please note that I provided verifiable sources to back up my responses. There are many more available for you to explore.

        http://magazine.audubon.org/incite/incite0201.html
        http://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?special=calflora&where-calrecnum=3534&one=T
        http://www.prbo.org/cms/docs/observer/focus/focus45eucalyptus1996.pdf

  21. Hal permalink
    May 20, 2013 7:29 pm

    Have you been to Claremont Canyon lately?

    Webmaster: Yes, we were there just last week. We drove up Claremont Ave. It is a tunnel of oaks overhanging the road. I couldn’t help thinking that a fire on that road would prevent anyone from escaping the fire. It is a good example of how this money will be wasted where it is not needed when there is serious fire hazard elsewhere.

    Where there used to be a monoculture of invasive Blue gum Eucalyptus there is a thriving diverse environment of native Oak, bay, willow and other flowering trees. They used chemicals there to keep the gums from sprouting from the stumps which is necessary to control the spread of this, yes beautiful but invasive, potentially dangerous and highly volatile (flammable) tree. Please remember that the Oakland hills fire twenty or so years ago killed over 30 people and destroyed hundreds of homes in the mater of a few hours. Unmanaged eucalyptus forests are known to be a major contributing factor in this fire spreading so rapidly.

    Webmaster: I suggest you read the FEMA Technical Report about the 1991 fire. Key points and a link to it are provided here: http://milliontrees.me/fire-the-cover-story/. Eucalypts were only a factor in that fire because a deep freeze the previous winter had caused them, and other exotic vegetation, to die back. There has not been such a freeze since, so cleaning up after one would rarely be required. BTW, the fire killed 25 people and it burned a few thousand homes.

    It is no wonder that FEMA is interested in removing and managing these trees, likely based on some very sound science.

    Webmaster: I’m sorry to say that the FEMA DEIS is not based on “sound science.” Here is a new post about one of many important issues that is not even acknowledged or discussed by the DEIS: http://milliontrees.me/2013/05/21/fema-projects-could-result-in-a-treeless-landscape-in-the-east-bay/

    Please do not let people frighten you into thinking that the removal of these trees will result in a barren hillside of dirt and wood chips. Go and visit claremont canyon and see the results of a well managed and very diverse (mostly) native forest. I am in no way connected to the claremont canyon conservancy. I am just an avid east bay hills hiker and nature lover, and a conservationist.

    • Ted E. permalink
      May 21, 2013 4:48 pm

      Here is the problem, Hal. I too am a conservationist. I cherish a diverse, thriving canyon. But that is not the role of FEMA disaster aid, and you know that. The fear of fire in Oakland Hills is being exploited to drive a native plant agenda. I am an East Bay native. I love plants and trees indigenous to Claremont, Tilden, Briones, Mount Diablo…you name the East Bay hill. But eradicating trees that are part of a thriving ecosystem is absurd. It will have devastating effects on the environment and wildlife. Can you point to wholesale restoration ecology on the scale that is planned here that has been successful? Of course you can not. In the days of yore environmentalists fought polluters, developers and loggers. Today they fight trees. If you want to argue diverse, well managed native forests, you have my ear. If you want to argue fire mitigation strategies, you have my ear. If you want to couple them together leading with the native plant agenda, which is exactly the lead talking point of Claremont Canyon Conservancy, then take a hike. It’s possible to achieve both, but not with this plan. Not when the planet desperately needs trees and not in an area where people cherish nature, like you say you do.

      Webmaster: That is very well said, Ted. Thanks very much for your visit and for your comment.

      Please read today’s new post about one of the most egregious omissions in the FEMA DEIS: http://milliontrees.me/2013/05/21/fema-projects-could-result-in-a-treeless-landscape-in-the-east-bay/

      And, more importantly, PLEASE write a public comment by the deadline of June 17, that expresses these concerns about the ecological damage this project will do to our environment.

  22. Skeptic permalink
    May 21, 2013 11:25 am

    Sunnycali: Yes, I read the Sax paper (Dov Sax, “Equal diversity in disparate species assemblages: a comparison of native and exotic woodlands in California,” Global Ecology and Biogeography, 11, 49-52, 2002.), the Stebbins paper (Robert C. Stebbins, “Use of Habitats in the East Bay Regional Parks by Free-living Vertebrate Animals, submitted to EBRPD August 11, 1975), and the Stebbins citation in Eucalyptus Globulus by the Global Invasive Species Team. It appears you didn’t. Your phrase “the source of the citing regarding the Sax and Stebbins papers” is incomprehensible. There are three separate citations in Million Trees to each of the three separate sources. If you had read at all carefully, you would have noticed that Million Trees clearly and accurately cites Robert C. Stebbins, not G. Ledyard Stebbins—a completely different person.
    Sax and Stebbins were cited by Million Trees, and then by me, to counter the “eucalyptus as biological desert” myth. Allelopathy and “invasiveness,” the subjects of your quotation, are different topics discussed in depth elsewhere on this blog. Your quotation in no way responds to my use of Sax and Stebbins.
    You still have provided no citations of any sources for your statement “Monarchs have existed on the west coast for way longer than Eucalyptus trees.” Recall that was the statement for which I asked a citation.

  23. Skeptic permalink
    May 21, 2013 11:28 am

    No, sunnycali, you didn’t provide any sources to back up your statements. You still haven’t. Maybe you don’t know what “citing a reference” means. It is not the same as a bibliography. From the “citation” entry in Wikileaks: “Bibliographies, and other list-like compilations of references, are generally not considered citations…” (There, that’s a citation, a quote with the source identified.) You’re supposed to identify which of your statements is supported by which source. You don’t.
    You should also know that your four linked documents are not sources of anything. 1) The Audubon link is to the “Incite” rant (note it’s “incite,” not “insight.”) by Ted Williams. Williams is not a scientist; he just hates eucs. 2) The calflora link basically just tells us what a eucalyptus is and where it is found in California. It does note that Cal-IPC rates their impact on native systems as “moderate.” 3) The prbo link only gives Stallcup’s old speculation that “eucs kill birds.” That story has been around a long time (and repeated in your Audubon citation of Williams) but has never been verified by any scientist. 4) Is the Amazon.com entry a joke? It’s just an offer to sell a book; it has no content.

    • sunnycali permalink
      May 23, 2013 8:03 am

      I have tried replying but my responses are not being posted.

      No, the Amazon entry is not a joke. It is a source. As a registered arborist it is one of the ‘source’ books that I have used. I’m not shilling for the author(s) but it is an excellent book about trees in an urban setting.

  24. Jennie Duggan permalink
    May 21, 2013 5:30 pm

    I am confused, are the eucalyptus dying and therefore need to be removed? Is this an effort to create a buffer zone against wildfires? There has to be a better way to manage the environment. I can only imagine the terror of wildlife (and lesser species) as their homes and environments are destroyed. And should we even look at the disgraceful use of FEMA monies? (Didn’t we just have a tragic tornado incident in Oklahoma?)

    Webmaster: Good questions!! No, there is nothing wrong with the eucalypts. The predominant species of eucalyptus in the Bay Area is the Tasmanian Blue Gum. It lives in Australia from 200-500 years, toward the longer end of the range in mild climates such as the San Francisco Bay Area. We don’t know how long they will live here because they have been here less than 200 years. So far, they are doing just fine.

    In San Francisco, where there is no fire hazard because of the mild climate, native plant advocates claim they are unhealthy. Native plant advocates will use whatever argument they think will be most effective to justify the destruction of non-native trees. In the East Bay they prey on the fear of fire because there was a horrendous fire here in 1991.

    Here in Los Angeles, we are trying to plant 1,000,000 trees. I have always admired the tree covered hillsides of northern California, but perhaps our parched brown hillsides are more to everyone’s liking?

    And the worst part is the idea to saturate any surviving living plant with pesticides. I am not acquainted with these poisons, but I know about 1/2 lives and roiling clouds of invisible poisonous gases that will surround the hills and drift anywhere the wind blows. Or once the gases rise into the atmosphere then they are free to go anywhere it rains. Please don’t do this, children, elderly, immune compromised and pets will be the first to be affected and by then the damage will no doubt be too far gone.

    Come on Berkeley, stand-up for your future.

    • sunnycali permalink
      May 21, 2013 10:21 pm

      “In San Francisco, where there is no fire hazard because of the mild climate, native plant advocates claim they are unhealthy. Native plant advocates will use whatever argument they think will be most effective to justify the destruction of non-native trees. In the East Bay they prey on the fear of fire because there was a horrendous fire here in 1991.”

      I find this reply rather surprising. Claiming that “native plant advocates will use whatever…” implies that you are not doing the same. I think that you’ll agree that ‘native plant advocates’ are not trying to justify the destruction of non-native trees. The discussion is mainly about Eucalyptus globulus.

      Webmaster: The projects being discussed intend to destroy Monterey pines and acacia in addition to eucalypts. The plans of UCB and Oakland also say that they will remove “all non-native trees.” Other similar projects in San Francisco have also destroyed Monterey cypress.”

      I think that you’re using the same scare and fear tactics that you’re claiming native plant advocates are using. And you’re using ‘native plant advocates’ in a pejorative manner to prey on the fears of people who enjoy trees and wildlife. That’s a shame.

      Webmaster: I make that statement about justifying the destruction of non-native plants and trees based on 15 years of experience in the San Francisco Bay Area with the native plant movement. I realize that it may look extreme to those who haven’t had that experience, so here’s a brief list of the many excuses I have heard over the years from native plant advocates about destroying our urban forest:

      (1) “Carbon stored in non-native trees doesn’t count. Only carbon stored in native trees counts.” (a scientifically ridiculous thing to say)
      (2) “The Blue Gum eucalyptus is dying in the Bay Area because they get more rain here than they do in Australia” (They are not dying)
      (3) “We are only removing hazardous trees.” (Not true according to the written plans of San Francisco’s Natural Areas Program that are being implemented)
      (4) “We will replace every tree with a native tree.” (Not true according to the same written plans to convert the urban forest to grassland and scrub)
      (5) “Grassland stores more carbon than trees.” (Not scientifically true)
      (6) “Grassland will reflect more light and therefore cool the earth more than the shade under the canopy.” (Not true)
      (7) “Eucalyptus trees kill birds.” (Not true)

      I could go on (and on, and on, and on) with more examples of the absurd things that native plant advocates have said in the past 15 years to convince the public that they should accept the destruction of their urban forest. Unfortunately some of these absurd statements have actually worked on many members of the public because they don’t have time to read thousands of pages of written plans and environmental impact reports.

      P.S. My definition of repetitive is saying the same thing over and over again without providing any evidence or new information. Repeating the same statement does not make it true.

      • sunnycali permalink
        May 23, 2013 8:28 am

        I agree with you, most of the statements you listed ARE ridiculous. Do you have a source for them in the context in which they were made?

        Webmaster: Most of these statements were made in writing. You would find some of them in the comments on this blog, but most are verbatim quotes from the environmental impact reports of the projects. A few were made verbally in an “ecology” class at UC Berkeley in which one of the sponsors of these projects was recruiting students to volunteer to destroy non-native vegetation.

        I have had decades of experience with native plant advocates. Some make narrow-minded statements. Others make somewhat narrow-minded statements but adjust their beliefs over time as new information is gathered. And others are always open-minded about natives vs. non-natives.

        I have also been aware of Eucalyptus globulus for decades. As I’ve stated, I’m a knee-jerk tree hugger. There are trees that I would strap (or nail) myself to if I even got a glimmer of a chain saw in their vicinity. And as I said, I would even be a E. globulus hugger in the appropriate setting. BTW – there are many outstanding and incredible Eucs that don’t have the ‘qualities’ of E. globulus.

        I have seen Eucs take over areas of native vegetation. I have never seen Oak trees do that.

        Webmaster: The project we are debating predicts that oak-bay woodland will expand from 320 acres to cover the 824 acres of eucalyptus and 157 acres of Monterey pine that will be removed. Sounds “invasive,” doesn’t it? Doesn’t seem likely, but that’s what they claim.

        I have never seen much vegetation growing under Eucs, yet I’ve seen much diversity beneath Oaks (not so much under Monterey Pines).

        Webmaster: My experience has been different. Sometimes there is an understory in the eucalyptus forest and sometimes there isn’t. I assume moisture and soil conditions account for the variability. I suggest you take a look at the Save Sutro website for an example of a eucalyptus forest with a thriving understory. I see the same variability under oaks. They have in common deep shade and leaf litter that decomposes slowly which retards the growth of any understory.

        I wrote the landscape and fire management section of the CC&R’s for one of the most exclusive developments on the Central Coast. The area of the development was virtually untouched by humans. Nature stands of Monterey Pines, Valley and Live Oaks, some of the largest Buckeyes that exist, Toyons, Ceanothus, Manzanita, sages, irises, lilies, maybe the only stand of Yadon’s Piperia, native grasses, and many more. It’s like Disneyland for plant nuts. Stands of mono-cultural Eucs are so much less than Disneyland – they’re a one-trick pony.

        Again, I think the application of Round-Up is ill-advised.

        Webmaster: This project will use Garlon (with active ingredient triclopyr) to prevent the trees from resprouting. It is much more toxic than Roundup and one of the formulations they plan to use (3A) is rated as flammable by the MSDS.

        The chipping and placing of the Eucs and Acacias is ill-advised. I’m on the fence regarding Monterey Pines because over time they might have extended their range up to Berkeley and Oakland.

        Webmaster: There is fossil evidence that Monterey pines existed in the Bay Area. Because of the arbitrary date used to assign native status (1769 when Portola laid eyes on the bay), they are considered non-natives here.

        However, on the Central Coast, we (humankind) have created a mono-culture of Monterey Pines which has proved disastrous.

  25. Marg Hall permalink
    May 21, 2013 5:43 pm

    Both EBRP and UCB already apply pesticides in the hills. This funding will allow them to expand their already unfettered, irresponsible, careless practices of poisoning our parks. I wonder how many gallons of roundup they apply each year. Is there any accountability here? How can I find this out?

    Webmaster: This is a link to the 2010 pesticide use report of the East Bay Regional Park District: http://www.ebparks.org/Assets/files/stew_pest_report_10.pdf

    In the past few years it has taken EBRPD several years to publish their annual pesticide report. EBRPD reports that they used 96 gallons of Roundup and 20 gallons of Garlon in 2010. They use other pesticides as well, but these are the pesticides that will be used by this project. They report using imazapyr for the project to eradicate non-native Spartina marsh grass, but no amounts are reported.

    The removal of each eucalyptus and acacia will require between 1 – 2 ounces of Garlon to prevent them from resprouting and 5% of them will require retreatment. In other words, one gallon of Garlon will be required for every 64 to 128 eucalyptus or acacia that is destroyed and hundreds of thousands of them will be destroyed.

    The public seems to be reacting more to the use of Roundup than the use of Garlon, probably because more is known about Roundup because it is used so frequently. Garlon is actually more toxic than Roundup and the public should be more concerned about its use.

  26. May 23, 2013 12:45 am

    and what kind of trees will they plant?

    Webmaster: They aren’t going to plant anything…trees or plants. They claim that native plants and trees will be “recruited” into the ground now occupied by non-native plants and trees. This seems very unlikely. The predominant native is now oak-bay woodland. The oaks are likely to die of Sudden Oak Death which is explained here: http://milliontrees.me/2013/05/21/fema-projects-could-result-in-a-treeless-landscape-in-the-east-bay/, A treeless landscape populated with weeds is the more likely outcome.

    • soilat permalink
      August 26, 2013 6:52 am

      The Eucalyptus was not planted for “wood”, it was planted by the railroads (Stanford, et al) in the 1800′s to provide the ties for the railroad. But when they used them, the oily Eucalyptus spit out the spikes. All for naught.

      Webmaster: Nor have we said in this article or any other on Million Trees that eucalyptus was introduced for wood. Eucalypts were introduced for many reasons. They are valuable as a windbreak partly because there were few trees in many places in California. They still provide a windbreak for many agricultural crops in California. Many of them were planted by people who like trees and missed them in places where there were few trees, such as the San Francisco Bay Area. The trees that are native to that area will not grow in most of the places where eucalypts are thriving. Eucalypts are more drought tolerant than our native trees in California.

      Although I have heard your theory about eucalypts being introduced to provide wood for railroad ties many times, I have never read that in a reputable history of that period. I have read, however, that some people who planted them believed they would be useful as timber in a place with inadequate supplies of timber. As you say, they are not suitable for that purpose.

Trackbacks

  1. Nearly Half a Million Trees Threatened in East Bay | San Francisco Forest Alliance
  2. FEMA Plans Clear-Cutting of 85,000 Berkeley and Oakland Trees
  3. The last public meeting for the FEMA projects in the East Bay is Saturday, May 18, 2013 | Death of a Million Trees
  4. FEMA Plans Clear-Cutting 85,000 Berkeley and Oakland Trees - | Intellihub.com
  5. Forbidden News » FEMA Plans Clear-Cutting 85,000 Berkeley and Oakland Trees
  6. Nearly a half million trees will be destroyed in the east Bay if FEMA project is approved - City-Data Forum
  7. FEMA Plans Clear-Cutting 85,000 Berkeley and Oakland Trees « Document The Truth
  8. FEMA Plans Clear-Cutting 85,000 Berkeley and Oakland Trees | Pakalert Press
  9. FEMA Plans Clear-Cutting 85,000 Berkeley and Oakland Trees | Earth First! Newswire
  10. FEMA Plans Clear-Cutting 85,000 Trees | Nalonmit's Blog
  11. Most People Oppose the East Bay Tree-felling Plan | San Francisco Forest Alliance
  12. Banoosh » » FEMA Plans Clear-Cutting 85,000 Berkeley and Oakland Trees
  13. FEMA Plans Clear-Cutting 85,000 Berkeley and Oakland Trees
  14. FEMA projects could result in a treeless landscape in the East Bay | Death of a Million Trees
  15. U.C. to Strawberry Canyon Trees: Drop Dead – Hot Ideas for a Cold Economy – The Frying Pan
  16. Will UC Berkeley Cut 85,000 Trees? | MediaUpdate
  17. Will UC Berkeley Cut 85,000 Trees? | Elm River Free Press
  18. Sick Puppies In The News | qcmississippimud.com
  19. FEMA Plans Clear-Cutting 85,000 Berkeley and Oakland Trees. | The Truth is Where?
  20. Environmental consultant evaluates UC Berkeley’s FEMA project | Death of a Million Trees
  21. AHHH!! READ THIS!!! | Araelysia
  22. FEMA projects in the East Bay deny carbon loss | Death of a Million Trees
  23. FEMA To Replace California Forest With Chemical Wasteland | Care2 Causes
  24. Feds’ Solution To California Forest Fires: Chainsaws And Herbicide?
  25. Media coverage of FEMA projects: The good, the bad, and the ugly | Death of a Million Trees
  26. Action Alert TODAY: Comments Due on the East Bay Tree-Felling Plan | San Francisco Forest Alliance
  27. Action Alert: TODAY is Deadline for East Bay Tree-felling Comments | Save Mount Sutro Forest
  28. BREAKTHROUGH: Separating fuel management from resource management | Death of a Million Trees
  29. Day of the Dead Trees | Death of a Million Trees
  30. Monarch butterflies in California need eucalyptus trees for their winter roost | Death of a Million Trees

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