More public comments on FEMA projects in the East Bay Hills

We are publishing a few more of our favorite public comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the FEMA projects in the East Bay Hills which will destroy nearly a half-million trees if implemented as presently described.

Over 13,000 public comments were submitted to FEMA.  FEMA estimates that 90% of the comments are opposed to the project.  We have selected a few which demonstrate expertise as well as knowledge of the areas that will be irreparably harmed by the destruction of hundreds of thousands of trees and the spraying of toxic herbicides.  All of the comments are in the public record and can be read HERE.

You can help to prevent this project from being implemented as presently planned by making a contribution to the suit of the Hills Conservation Network.  Visit the HCN website HERE to make a contribution.

clearcut-East-Bay-hills-Jack Gescheidt


From:                    [Name redacted by Million Trees]

To:                          EBH-EIS-FEMA-RIX

Subject:               Berkeley Hills

Date:                     Friday, June 14, 2013 11:52:35 PM

I am a resident of Berkeley, California. I oppose the use of FEMA funds to cut trees in the Berkeley and Oakland Hills. I am an environmental science teacher at Berkeley High School. We know that these trees provide important habitat for many kinds of wildlife, and cutting them down will not prevent fires. Clear-cutting in the Berkeley and Oakland Hills is a very bad idea. It may cause mud slides, destroy the landscape, harm wildlife, destroy hikers’ aesthetic enjoyment of our wildlands; the planned use of pesticides is unconscionable. Please do not fund any of this clear-cutting. It is a waste of money, will not prevent fires, and will cause harm.

From:                    [Name redacted by Million Trees]

To:                          EBH-EIS-FEMA-RIX

Subject:               FEMA “fire hazard reduction” NO!!!!

Date:                     Friday, May 17, 2013 11:45:15 AM


As a trained wildlands firefighter, I am familiar with the management techniques of wildland fires. Clear-cutting is not one of them. I could potentially support implementing a permanent firebreak of the standard size: about the width of a road. Cutting more than that is unnecessarily destructive, and destroys natural heritage which belongs to our children. Applying herbicide is likewise completely unrelated to standard, approved wildlands fire management, and presents unknown environmental dangers. I recommend consulting the county fire department for their recommendations, which based on my experience, will likely consist of bringing out a CCC or convict crew to cut a firebreak seasonally.

My family and I STRONGLY OPPOSE the current plan.

[Name redacted by Million Trees]

Berkeley resident

From:                    [Name Redacted by Million Trees]

To:                          EBH-EIS-FEMA-RIX

Subject:               Halt the land clearing!

Date:                     Friday, May 17, 2013 2:30:22 PM

Absolutely do not go forward with plans to clearcut the Strawberry and Claremont Canyons. These trees provide far more beneficial ecosystem services, like cooling, attracting moisture, and providing beauty, oxygen and habitat.

Do not use Round up on this land, it is an extremely hazardous toxic pollution.

The proposed management is extremely misguided and very irresponsible destruction, and would cause far greater ecological harm. The loss of this forest would be a great impoverishment to all the surrounding communities. Leave these trees alone!!

[Name redacted by Million Trees], Natural Areas Manager

6 thoughts on “More public comments on FEMA projects in the East Bay Hills”

  1. 90% of the comments oppose this destruction. It would be interesting to see a sample of those in favor and if any of them mention the use of herbicides and how they justify this.

    1. I have read all the public comments on this project and they are available for anyone to read. I hesitate to characterize all the public comments which are in favor of this project. However, I don’t recall many people actually endorsing the use of pesticides.

      The most prominent theme among supporters of the project is fear of fire based on their personal experience with the 1991 fire. If people saw eucalyptus burning, they tend to believe they were the cause of that fire. There are also many 1991 fire survivors who are opposed to this project, based on their personal experiences during the fire. Some report watching the fire stop when it reached the windbreak provided by the eucalypts and many saw predominantly homes and other species of plants and trees burning. This is as I would expect, i.e., people are heavily influenced by their personal experiences.

      Among supporters there are also comments from people who frankly admit that their primary interest in this project is the desire to eradicate non-native species based on their preference for native plants. That motivation is more difficult to justify, IMO. I am more sympathetic to those who sincerely believe they will be safer if non-native trees are eradicated. They are mistaken, but they are sincerely afraid.

      1. I haven’t clicked on the link you provided but will.

        Fear of fire is a strong motivation but as you point out eucalypts are not he only trees that burn. From what I know about the native plant communities in that part of the country their ecology is to a large extent fire driven much like prairies and boreal forests.

        1. Yes, the native ecology in California is fire adapted and fire dependent, which is true of all Mediterranean climates in the world. Winter rains produce copious vegetation which is dry and dormant during dry summer months. When the vegetation is dry it is easily ignited. Plants that are not able to survive periodic fires are not adapted to Mediterranean climates. Jon Keeley of USGS studies fire cycles in Mediterranean climates. He reports in his book on that subject that over 200 species of California native plants require fire to germinate and they disappear from the landscape after 3-5 years if there is not another fire.

          Ironically, these summer fires are raging now all over California. We see them virtually every evening on the local news. They start in dry grass which is easily ignited and they spread to native scrub and chaparral. I guess those who believe that non-native plants are more flammable than native plants are not watching the nightly news or they turn a blind-eye to the reality of wildfires in California

          1. Yes, I was thinking in particular about the chaparral and its need to burn. There are scrub oak and jack pine forests here on very sandy soils. These frequently burn. The jack pine’s cones can remain closed for years but the heat of the fire opens them up, the seeds then have newly cleared soil ideal for germination. The scrub oaks re-sprout from buds on the root collar. All adaptations to fire. In addition, most of the herbaceous plants are either prairie species or from fire-prone boreal forests. An interesting mix of two distinct plant communities. And jack pine is covered in resiny sap that just burns like crazy, the red oaks hold their dead leaves which also burn, and the big bluestem grass is the tinder that can start it all. Plants, whatever continent they come from, that have evolved in dry climates or drought-prone soils are plants adapted to fire and probably even create conditions that will increase the chances of fire which thus ensures their own survival. I don’t like fires but some fires are necessary for the existence of species, whether native or introduced.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: