“Restoration” projects in the Bay Area are more destructive than constructive

I began studying the native plant movement and the “restoration” projects it spawned over 20 years ago when I learned about a proposal to change my neighborhood park in San Francisco in ways that were unacceptable to me.  Virtually all the trees in the park were non-native and the original proposal would have destroyed most of them.  The trees provide protection from the wind as well as a visual and sound screen from the dense residential neighborhood.  A treeless park in a windy location is not a comfortable place to visit.

The original plans would have made the park inhospitable to visitors for several other reasons, particularly by reducing recreational access to the park.  The prospect of losing my neighborhood park turned me into an activist.  I eventually learned there were similar plans for most major parks in San Francisco.  My neighborhood organized to prevent the destruction of our park and to some extent we succeeded.  However, we were unable to prevent the city-wide plan from being approved in 2006, after fighting against it for nearly 10 years.

When I  moved to the East Bay, I learned that similar projects are even more destructive than those in San Francisco,  I have spent the last 20 years informing myself and others of these plans, visiting those places, and using whatever public process that was available to oppose the plans.  The following paragraphs are brief descriptions of the projects I have studied for over 20 years.

Tree Destruction Projects in the East Bay

East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) is the public utility that supplies our water in the East Bay.  To accomplish that task, EBMUD manages 28,000 acres of watershed land.  Like most open space in the Bay Area, the vegetation on EBMUD’s land is a mix of native and non-native species.  EBMUD destroys non-native trees which it believes to be a fire hazard.  EBMUD uses herbicides to “control” non-native vegetation, but it does not use herbicides on tree stumps to prevent resprouting.  EBMUD reports using 409 gallons of herbicide and 6 gallons of insecticide in 2019.  Of the total amount of herbicide, 338 gallons were glyphosate-based projects.  EBMUD says “minor amounts of rodenticide were applied by contractors.”

The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) approved the “Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan” and its Environmental Impact Report in 2009.  This plan is removing most eucalyptus, Monterey pine, and acacia from several thousand acres of parkland.  Forests are being thinned from an average density of 600 trees per acre to approximately 60 trees per acre.  These plans are being implemented and funding for completion of the project has been secured.  Herbicides are used to prevent the trees from resprouting and to destroy vegetation deemed “invasive.”

UC Berkeley clear-cut over 18,000 non-native trees from 150 acres in the Berkeley hills in the early 2000s.  UCB applied for a FEMA grant to complete their clear-cutting plans.  The FEMA grant would have clear cut over 50,000 non-native trees from about 300 acres of open space in the Berkeley hills.

Frowning Ridge, UC Berkeley, 2010

In 2016, FEMA cancelled grant funding as a result of a lawsuit and subsequent appeals from UCB were defeated several years later.  In 2019, UCB revised its original plans.  With the exception of clear-cutting ridgelines, the revised plan will thin non-native forests.  Herbicides will be used to prevent the trees from resprouting.

The City of Oakland applied for a FEMA grant in collaboration with UC Berkeley to clear cut non-native trees on over 120 acres in the Oakland hills.  That FEMA grant was cancelled at the same time UC Berkeley lost its grant funding.  Oakland has also revised its plans for “vegetation management” since the FEMA grant was cancelled.  The revised plan will thin non-native forests on over 2,000 acres of parks and open space.  The plan is undergoing environmental review prior to implementation.  Herbicide use to implement the plan is being contested.

Tree Destruction Projects in San Francisco

The Natural Areas Program (now called Natural Resources Division) of the City of San Francisco has destroyed thousands of trees in 32 designated areas of the city’s parks since the program began in 1995.  The management plan for the Natural Areas Program was approved in 2006, after 10 years of opposition.  The plan proposes to destroy an additional 18,500 trees over 15 feet tall and untold numbers of smaller trees that the plan chooses not to define as trees.   Herbicides are used to “control” non-native vegetation and prevent trees from resprouting after they are cut down.

Sutro Forest 2010

University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) began its effort over 20 years ago to destroy most non-native trees on 66 acres of Mount Sutro.  UCSF applied for a FEMA grant to implement those plans based on their claim that the Sutro Forest is a fire hazard.  UCSF withdrew the grant application after FEMA asked for evidence that the forest is a fire hazard.  San Francisco is cool and foggy in the summer, making fires rare and unlikely.

Sutro Forest with resprouts of destroyed trees. November 2019

UCSF’s plans to destroy most trees on Mount Sutro were approved in April 2018.  Many trees on Mount Sutro have been destroyed since the project was approved and more will be destroyed before the project is complete.  UCSF made a commitment to not use pesticides in the Sutro Forest.  Many of the trees that have been destroyed have therefore resprouted.  Unless the resprouts are cut back repeatedly, the forest is likely to regenerate over time.

  Tree Destruction Projects on Federal Lands

The federal government is one of the largest landowners in the Bay Area.  Golden Gate National Recreation Area (75,500 acres), Point Reyes National Seashore (28,800 acres), and Muir Woods National Monument are operated by the National Park Service.  The Presidio in San Francisco is a National Park that is presently controlled by a non-profit trust.  These parks have engaged in extensive tree-removal on the public lands they control.  Information available on their websites does not enable us to quantify the acres or number of trees that have been removed or are planned for removal in the future.  Therefore, we will describe those projects in the broad terms available to us.

There are two main categories of tree-destruction projects on these federal lands.  There are many large-scale “restoration” efforts that have required the removal of all non-native vegetation, including trees.  These attempts to eradicate non-native plants are based on a misguided belief native plants will magically return.  Herbicides are used by National Park Service to destroy non-native vegetation, although specific information is difficult to obtain because NPS is not responsive to inquiries and the federal public records law can take years to respond.

Eradication efforts fail regardless of method used

In “Lessons learned from invasive plant control experiments:  a systematic review and meta-analysis,” scientists analyzed 355 studies of attempts to eradicate non-native plants from 1960 to 2009.  The scientists determined the methods used and the efficacy of those methods.  More than 55% of the projects used herbicides, 34% used mechanical methods (such as mowing, digging, hand-pulling), 24% burned the vegetation, and 19% used all three methods.  The study found that herbicides most effectively reduced “invasive” plant cover, but this did not result in a substantial increase in native species because impacts to native species are greatest when projects involve herbicide application.  Burning projects reduced native coverage and increased non-native coverage. In other words, it doesn’t matter what method is used, eradicating non-native plants does not result in the return of native plants.   We didn’t need a study to tell us this.  We can see the results with our own eyes.

Flammability of plants is unrelated to nativity

The other, larger category of tree-removal projects on these federal lands are the so-called “fuel management projects.”  The flammability of non-native plants and trees is exaggerated in order to justify their destruction.   Native plants are not inherently less flammable than non-native plants.

In fact, native vegetation in California is fire adapted and fire dependent for germination and survival.  The California Native Plant Society recently revised its “Fire Recovery Guide. The Guide now says, “California native plants are not inherently more likely to burn than plants from other areas.”  This statement is the mirror image of what defenders of our urban forest have been saying for 25 years:  “Non-native trees are not inherently more flammable than native trees.”  Both statements are true and they send the same message: flammability is unrelated to the nativity of plants.  “Think instead about characteristics of plants,” according to the CNPS “Fire Recovery Guide.”

There are undoubtedly many other similar projects of which we are unaware.  I report only on projects that I have direct knowledge about and that I have visited.

Why I opposed these projects

The San Francisco Bay Area was nearly treeless before early settlers planted non-native trees.  Non-native trees were planted because they are better adapted to the harsh coastal winds than native trees.  The treeless grassland was grazed by deer and elk and burned by Native Americans to promote the growth of plants they ate and fed the animals they hunted.  Grazing and burning maintained the grassland, preventing natural succession to shrubs and trees.

Native Americans setting grass fire, painting by Frederic Remington, 1908

Modern land use and management policies have suppressed fire and reduced grazing in the Bay Area.  Consequently grasslands are naturally converting to chaparral and scrub.  Although managers of public lands often describe these changes in the landscape as “invasions,” Jon Keeley (Ph.D. biologist, USGS) considers them a natural succession“These changes are commonly referred to as shrub invasion or brush encroachment of grasslands.  Alternatively, this is perhaps best viewed as a natural recolonization of grasslands that have been maintained by millennia of human disturbance.” 

Early settlers planted trees to protect their residential communities and their crops from wind.  The urban forest also provides sound and visual screens around parks that are surrounded by dense residential neighborhoods.  Urban forests are storing carbon that is released as greenhouse gas when they are destroyed. They also reduce air pollution by filtering particulates from the air.

When trees are destroyed, the unshaded ground is quickly colonized by weeds that are then sprayed with herbicide.  Even environmental organizations that support the destruction of non-native trees agree about the results of these projects:

  • The California Native Plant Society predicted the post-project landscape in its written public comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) of the FEMA project in the East Bay hills with this rhetorical question: “What mechanism is being instituted by FEMA in this DEIS to guarantee a commitment of money and personnel for management of greatly increased acreages of newly created annual weedy grassland?”
  • The Audubon Society predicted the post-project landscape in its written public comment on the DEIS: “There is no support for the conclusion that native vegetation will return on its own.  This plan may not result in an increase in native trees and plants…Heavy mulching will delay or prevent the growth of native species.”

To summarize:  I am opposed to destroying our urban forests because they perform many important ecological functions, including providing habitat for wildlife.  Furthermore, the herbicides used to destroy the forest and control weeds that thrive in the absence of shade, damage the soil and create unnecessary health hazards to humans and other animals.

Vote NO on Measure FF!!

A vote against Measure FF on the ballot for the November 6, 2018 election is a vote against pesticide use in the East Bay.  If Measure FF passes, it will renew a parcel tax for 20 years.  For the past 15 years, the parcel tax has funded the destruction of thousands of trees on thousands of acres of public parks in the East Bay.  The renewal of the parcel tax will increase the percentage of available funds for tree removals and associated pesticide use from 30% to 40% of funds raised by the parcel tax.

Post-election update:  Measure FF passed easily.  In Alameda County 85% of voters approved Measure FF.  In Contra Costa County 80% of voters approved Measure FF.  These were the vote tallies on the day after the election, on November 7th.  

Tree removals increase pesticide use because herbicides are required to prevent the trees from resprouting.  Also, when the shade of trees is eliminated, the unshaded ground is soon colonized by weeds that are then sprayed with herbicide.  The destruction of trees has put public land managers on the pesticide treadmill.

The public tried hard to convince the East Bay Regional Park District to stop destroying healthy trees and quit using pesticides in our parks.  We attended public hearings and wrote letters to Park District leadership and its governing board.  We made many suggestions for useful park improvements that would be constructive, rather than destructive.  Our requests and suggestions were ignored.

After making every effort to avoid opposition to Measure FF, we reluctantly take a stand against it.  The parks are important to us and we would much prefer to support park improvements.  Unfortunately, Measure FF will not improve the parks.  Rather, it will continue down the destructive path the Park District has been on for the past 15 years. In fact, Measure FF would escalate the destruction and poisoning of our public lands.

On Friday, August 31st, the Forest Action Brigade participated in a press conference rally at Bayer headquarters in Berkeley. Bayer is the new owner of Monsanto, the manufacturer of glyphosate. The rally was sponsored by a labor organization that is concerned about exposing workers to glyphosate, which is probably a carcinogen.  The President of the Forest Action Brigade, Marg Hall, spoke at the rally.

The Voter Information Guides in Contra Costa and Alameda counties have published the following argument against Measure FF that was submitted by the Forest Action Brigade.  We hope you will read it and take this important opportunity to protect our public parks from being needlessly damaged.

Million Trees

Argument Against Measure FF

“We love public parks, and we support taxation which benefits the common good. Nevertheless, We urge a NO vote. East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD) has previously used this measure to destroy, unnecessarily, thousands of healthy trees under pretexts such as “hazardous tree” designations and “protection against wildfires”. But fire experts point out that tree shade retains moisture, thereby reducing fire danger. The measure has also funded so-called “restoration”—destruction of “non-native” plants, in a futile attempt to transform the landscape back to some idealized previous “native” era.

EBRPD’s restoration and tree-cutting projects often utilize pesticides, including glyphosate (Roundup), triclopyr, and imazapyr. We agree with the groundswell of public sentiment opposing the spending of tax dollars on pesticides applied to public lands. Not only do pesticides destroy the soil microbiome; they also migrate into air, water arid soil, severely harming plants, animals, and humans. Because EPA pesticide regulation, especially under the current administration, is inadequate, it is imperative that local jurisdictions exercise greater oversight. While EBRPD utilizes “Integrated Pest Management” which limits pesticide use, we strongly advocate a no pesticide policy, with a concomitant commitment of resources.

Given the terrifying pace of climate change, it is indefensible to target certain species of trees for eradication. All trees—not just “natives” —are the planet’s “lungs,” breathing in carbon dioxide and breathing out oxygen. When a tree is destroyed, its air-cleansing function is forever eliminated, and its stored carbon is released into the atmosphere, thus worsening climate change.

Throughout history, plants, animals, and humans have migrated when their given habitats became unlivable. Adaptation to new environments is at the heart of evolutionary resilience. To claim that some species “belong here” and others do not strikes us as unscientific xenophobia.

Until EBRPD modifies its approach, we urge a NO vote.”

Forest Action Brigade

Do not be misled

The arguments in favor of Measure FF are misleading.  East Bay Regional Parks District attempts to portray a destructive agenda as a constructive agenda.  Please look beneath these pretty-sounding euphemisms for the destructive projects of Measure FF:

·       EBRPD claims Measure FF will “protect against wildfires.”  Destroying harmless trees miles away from any residential structures and replacing the shaded, moist forest with dry grassland that easily ignites will NOT “protect against wildfires.”

·       EBRPD claims Measure FF will “enhance public safety” and “preserve water quality.”  Spraying thousands of acres of open space in our water shed with pesticides will endanger the public and contaminate our water supply.

·       EBRPD claims Measure FF will “protect redwoods and parklands in a changing climate.”  Destroying hundreds of thousands of healthy trees, storing millions of tons of carbon, will exacerbate climate change.  Our redwood forest in the East Bay was confined to less than 5 square miles prior to settlement because of the restrictive horticultural requirements of this treasured native tree.  Because redwoods require more water than most of our urban forest, it is a fantasy that they can be expanded beyond their native footprint.  Where they have been planted outside of that range, many are already dead.

·       EBRPD claims Measure FF will “restore natural areas.”  Our pre-settlement landscape in the East Bay was predominantly grassland in which fire hazards are greatest.  A landscape that has been sprayed with pesticide cannot be accurately described as “natural.”  Previous attempts to convert non-native annual grassland to native grassland have consistently failed, partly because the soil has been poisoned with herbicide.

You can help

The Forest Action Brigade is offering yard signs in opposition to Measure FF (shown below).  Request your yard sign by contacting the Forest Action Brigade: forestactionbrigade@gmail.com or call (510) 612-8566.  Please state how many signs you would like and the neighborhood where you plan to place them.  These are the East Bay cities in which Measure FF will be on the ballot:  Oakland, Alameda, Piedmont, Berkeley, Emeryville, Albany, Richmond, San Pablo, El Cerrito.  These cities are the top priority for yard sign placement.

Million Trees

TAKING ACTION: The Forest Action Brigade requests correction of the public record regarding lifespan of eucalyptus

The Forest Action Brigade (FAB) has given Million Trees permission to publish their letter to the Park Advisory Committee of the East Bay Regional Park District.  FAB asks that the public record be corrected regarding the lifespan of eucalyptus and related issues.  The Park Advisory Committee was given misinformation regarding the status of eucalyptus trees in the parks by the Acting Fire Chief.  

The Park District does not have a single certified arborist or forester on staff.  The Park District needs such expertise to inform the park staff and to avoid making mistakes, such as destroying healthy trees and planting trees where they will not survive because the horticultural conditions for the trees are not suitable.

When the public was given the opportunity to make suggestions for projects to be included in the renewal of Measure CC parcel tax, hiring a qualified arborist was one of the suggestions that park advocates made.  That suggestion was ignored, as were most of our suggestions.  The Park District is responsive to a narrow constituency, such as the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, and California Native Plant Society.  

Please join us in objecting to the unnecessary destruction of healthy trees in our parks:  Park Advisory Committee c/o sclay@ebparks.org; Board of Directors c/o ybarial@ebparks.org.


June 20, 2018

Park Advisory Committee
East Bay Regional Park District

Dear Members of PAC,

On May 21, 2018, Acting Fire Chief Aileen Theile explained the park district’s strategy regarding eucalyptus removal and its justification for that strategy to the Parks Advisory Committee:

“Tsutsui asked about the life cycle of the eucalyptus plantation. Theile replied they have a lifespan of 50-60 years, and most of the trees were planted about 50-60 years ago. Those planted 50 years ago are failing on a regular basis. Theile continued eucalyptus trees actually do not do well in plantations. They need to compete for sunlight and the trees within the grove are weak. If the outer trees begin to fail, the inner trees are unable to withstand the wind because they have historically been protected by the outer trees. The Park District is trying to remove the fuel ladder, by creating a break between surface fuels and fires that get up into the tree canopy. Tsutsui asked how long is mitigation needed. Theile explained there will probably not be many eucalyptus plantation trees left in the next 50 years.” (Minutes of PAC meeting, 5/21/18)

We are writing to correct several misstatements of fact in Chief Theile’s testimony to the Park Advisory Committee:

Theile:  “[eucalyptus] have a lifespan of 50-60 years…”

That statement is not accurate.  It is an extreme underestimate of the lifespan of eucalyptus.

Blue gum eucalyptus and all other species of eucalyptus are native to Australia.  They were brought to California shortly after the Gold Rush of 1849.  Since they haven’t been in California 200 years, we don’t know how long they will live here.  But how long they live in Australia is obviously relevant to answer that question because longevity is specific to tree species.  We can expect some variation by climate, but not much, and the climate of Australia is similar to the climate in California with wet, mild winters and hot, dry summers.

We know that blue gums live in Australia about 200-400 years because Australian scientists tell us that:

Growth Habits of the Eucalypts by M.R. Jacobs, (Institute of Foresters of Australia, 1955, 1986): Blue Gum eucalyptus lives in Australia from 200-400 years, depending upon the climate.” In milder climates, such as San Francisco, the Blue Gum lives toward the longer end of this range.

That reference was corroborated by John Helms, Professor Emeritus of Forestry at UC Berkeley and an Australian who said in response to our question about blue gums in California, “Blue gums would commonly live for 200 – 400 years, although I presume that some might live longer.”

We also asked the Australian National Botanic Gardens.  They said, “It’s possible that the average lifespan of a native species growing in the wild in Australia would differ to the average lifespan of the same species introduced in northern California, since introduced plants can often “escape” their natural predators when such introductions occur.”

In other words, since eucalyptus trees have more predators in Australia than they do in California, we should expect them to live longer here.  This is called the “predator release” hypothesis.  Ironically, that hypothesis is used by nativists to support their claim that eucalyptus is invasive in California. It’s only logical to apply that hypothesis to the question of how long blue gums will live in California.

However, using actual experience in Australia to predict the future of blue gums in California requires some speculation.  Therefore, we turn to the question of how long they have lived in California for guidance.  There are countless examples of eucalyptus in California over 150 years old that are still very much alive and well.  Here are a few local examples:

  • Eucalyptus, Mills College, Oakland 2015

    The Grinnell Eucalyptus Grove on the UC Berkeley campus was planted in 1877. Most of that grove is still alive and well.  https://www.berkeley.edu/news/multimedia/2004/01/trees.html

  • Eucalyptus was planted as a windbreak at Mills College shortly after it relocated to Oakland in 1871.  Those trees are very much alive.
  • Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in the 1860s.  Like most of the East Bay, the site was treeless. Olmsted’s design was an eclectic collection of mostly non-native trees, including blue gums.  The cemetery is on steep, windward facing hills, where the windbreak provided by blue gums is particularly valued.
  • There are equally old blue gum eucalyptus on the Stanford Campus and many other places on the San Francisco peninsula. 2.2 miles of El Camino Real planted with blue gum eucalyptus in the 1870s were put on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

Cal Poly maintains a website that evaluates trees in California, called SelecTree.  SelecTree states that the lifespan of blue gum eucalyptus is “greater than 150 years.”  That estimate is the longest category for longevity on the SelecTree website. (https://selectree.calpoly.edu/)  It is the same estimated lifespan for Coast Live Oak and many other trees, according to SelecTree.

Theile:  “…most of the [eucalyptus] trees were planted about 50-60 years ago.”

That is also an inaccurate statement.  The Park District’s “Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan” (2009) states, “In the early 1900s, plantations of eucalyptus and pine were planted for hardwood production and to forest the primarily grass-covered hills in preparation for coming real estate development.”  (page 5)

The first master plan for the Park District was published in 1930:  “Proposed Park Reservation for East Bay Cities.”  That publication contains photos of eucalyptus at Lake Chabot, Skyline Ridge and Wildcat Canyon.  https://www.ebparks.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=23514

Theile:  “Those planted 50 years ago are failing on a regular basis.”

Sibley Volcanic Reserve. Photo by Larry Danos, March 2018

If that statement is accurate, we have no evidence of its accuracy.  In the past 9 months, eucalyptus trees have been destroyed throughout the Park District.  When visitors inquire, they are told the trees were hazardous.  In some cases, the areas were supposed to be thinned in accordance with the Park District’s “Wildfire…Plan.”  At Sibley Volcanic Reserve, for example, large areas of over an acre were clear cut in March 2018 where the plan was to thin.  We know the trees weren’t dead because the stumps of the trees were sprayed with herbicide, as indicated by blue dye.  If the trees were in fact dead, it would not have been necessary to spray the stumps with herbicide to prevent their resprouting.  We asked for an arborist’s evaluation of the condition of the trees before they were destroyed.  We received no response to our request for this information.  In other words, claims that eucalyptus trees are dead or dying are unsubstantiated.  Available evidence suggests that healthy trees are being needlessly destroyed.

Tree failures are most likely to occur where the Park District has thinned the trees.  The trees that remain are subjected to more wind.  The herbicide that is used to prevent the destroyed trees from resprouting is mobile in the soil and it damages the soil by killing beneficial microbes and the mycorrhizal fungi that are essential to tree health.  The roots of the trees are intertwined, enabling the herbicide to damage the roots of the trees that remain.  If, indeed, there are tree failures, they are undoubtedly being caused by the Park District’s tree removals and associated herbicide use.

Theile:  “…eucalyptus trees actually do not do well in plantations.”

This is an inaccurate statement.  In fact, densely planted trees protect one another from the wind and they share available resources.  Peter Wohlleben in The Hidden Life of Trees explains:

“…in nature, trees operate less like individuals and more as communal beings. Working together in networks and sharing resources, they increase their resistance…This is because a tree can be only as strong as the forest that surrounds it…Their well-being depends on their community, and when the supposedly feeble trees disappear, the others lose as well.  When that happens, the forest is no longer a single closed unit.  Hot sun and swirling winds can now penetrate to the forest floor and disrupts the moist, cool climate.”

“Theile explained there will probably not be many eucalyptus plantation trees left in the next 50 years.”

That is apparently an expression of the Park District’s willful intentions.  The eucalyptus trees will be gone in 50 years because the Park District apparently intends to destroy them all, not because they are dead or dying.  Rather because that’s what the Park District wants to do.

For the record, we state our purpose:

Monachs in eucalyptus, Pacific Grove Museum

We are opposed to the unnecessary destruction of healthy trees, because it serves no useful purpose.  Trees deep inside our parks pose no fire hazard to residential areas.  They are storing thousands of tons of carbon that will contribute to climate change when released into the atmosphere.  Wildfires are becoming more intense and frequent because of climate change.  Therefore destroying hundreds of thousands of trees causes wildfires rather than mitigating them.  The trees perform many other useful functions.  They provide food and habitat for birds, bees, and butterflies.  They reduce air pollution.  They provide shade and protection from wind, making visitors to the parks more comfortable.  The herbicide use associated with tree destruction damages the environment and is an unnecessary health hazard to wildlife and the public.

[redacted]

Please add this letter to the record of the Park Advisory Committee meeting of May 21, 2018.

Thank you.

Forest Action Brigade

CC: EBRPD Board of Directors; Aileen Theile

Oyster Bay: A firehose of public funding supplies a firehose of herbicides

Oyster Bay is one of several East Bay Regional Parks along the east side of the bay that is a former garbage dump built on landfill.  We visited Oyster Bay for the first time in 2011 after a former Deputy General Manager of the park district told us that it is a “beautiful native plant garden” and a model for a similar project at Albany Bulb, another former garbage dump being “restored” by the park district.

When we visited seven years ago, we found a park in the early stages of being destroyed in order to rebuild it as a native plant museum.  Since there were never any native plants on this landfill, we can’t call it a “restoration.”  We took many pictures of the park in 2011 that are available HERE.

We recently decided it was time to revisit the park when we noticed pictures of it in the recently published annual report of the park district’s Integrated Pest Management program, indicating recent changes in the development of the park.  My article today is about what is happening now at Oyster Bay.  It is still not a “beautiful native plant garden.”

“Restoring” grassland

Non-native annual grassland. Oyster Bay April 2011

Seven years ago, most of Oyster Bay was acres of non-native annual grasses.  Since then, most of those acres of grassland have been plowed up and are in various stages of being planted with (one species?) native bunch grass (purple needle grass?).

Stages of grassland conversion. Oyster Bay May 2018

On our May 1st visit, there were at least 8 pesticide application notices posted where the native bunch grass has been planted.  Several different herbicides will be used in those sprayings:  glyphosate, Garlon (triclopyr), and Milestone (aminopyralid).

Herbicide Application Notices, Oyster Bay May 2018

Grassland “restoration” in California is notoriously difficult.  Million Trees has published several articles about futile attempts to convert non-native annual grassland to native grassland:

We wish EBRPD good luck in this effort to convert acres of non-native annual grass into native bunch grass.  Frankly, it looks like a lot of public money down the drain to us.  It also looks like an excuse to use a lot of herbicide.  Who benefits from this project?  Not the taxpayer.  Not the park visitor who is now exposed to a lot of herbicide that wasn’t required in the past.  Not the wildlife, birds, and insects that lived in and ate the non-native vegetation. (We spotted a coyote running through the stumps of bunch grass.  Was he/she looking for cover?)

Redwing blackbird in non-native mustard. Oyster Bay May 2018

Destroying trees and replacing them

P1010129
Pittosporum forest was an excellent visual screen, sound barrier, and wind break. It was healthy and well-suited to the conditions on this site. It was probably home to many animals. Oyster Bay April 2011

When we visited Oyster Bay in 2011, many trees had already been destroyed, but there was still a dense forest of non-native pittosporum.  That forest is gone and the park district has planted one small area with native trees as a “visual screen” of the Waste Management Facility next door.  We identified these native trees and shrubs:  ironwood (native to the Channel Islands), coast live oak, buckeye, toyon, juniper, mallow, holly leaf cherry, and redbud.

Native trees planted at Oyster Bay, May 2018

Ground around trees is green with dye used when herbicide is sprayed. Oyster Bay, May 2018

We also saw a notice of herbicide application near the trees.  The ground around the trees was covered in green dye, which is added to herbicide when it is sprayed so that the applicator can tell what is done.  There were men dressed in white hazard suits, driving park district trucks, apparently getting ready to continue the application of herbicides.

Will the trees survive this poisoning of the soil all around them?  There are many examples of trees being killed by spraying herbicides under them.  Herbicides are often mobile in the soil.  Herbicides damage the soil by killing beneficial microbes and mycorrhizal fungi that facilitate the movement of water and nutrients from the soil to the tree roots.

Herbicide sprayed around newly planted trees. Oyster Bay May 2018

Not a fun day at the park

It wasn’t a fun day at the park and it isn’t fun to write about it.  I decided to tell you about this visit after reading the most recent edition of the Journal of the California Native Plant Society, Fremontia (Vol. 46 No. 1).  The introductory article of this “Special Issue on Urban Wildlands” is illustrated with a photo of Oyster Bay.  I nearly choked on this statement in that article:  “In order to control invasive plants, agencies and volunteers have sometimes resorted to using herbicides as a step in integrated pest control.  While use of herbicides is contentious, the use for spot treatments has enabled small groups of volunteers to successfully eliminate invasive weeds in some areas where future herbicide use will not be needed.” 

That is a PATENTLY FALSE statement.  The California Invasive Plant Council conducted a survey of land managers in 2014.  Ninety-four percent of land managers reported using herbicides to control plants they consider “invasive.”  Sixty-two percent reported using herbicides frequently.  The park district’s most recent IPM report for 2017 corroborates the use of herbicides to eradicate plants they consider “invasive.”  The park district report also makes it clear that they have been spraying herbicide for a very long time.  For example, they have been spraying non-native spartina marsh grass (in the bay and along creeks) with imazapyr for 15 years!

Attempting to eradicate non-native plants is NOT a short-term project.  It is a forever commitment to using herbicides…LOTS of herbicide.  To claim otherwise is to mislead, unless you are completely ignorant of what is actually being done. 

You are paying for this

Another reason why I am publishing this article is to inform you that you are paying for these projects.  The park district recently published a list of 492 active park improvement projects in 2018 (scroll down to page 71), many of which are native plant “restorations.” The majority of them are being paid for with grants of public money from federal, State, and local agencies as well as a few parcel taxes.  Taxpayers had the opportunity to vote for the parcel taxes.  They will have the opportunity to vote for new sources of funding for these projects:

  • Proposition 68 will provide $4.1 BILLION dollars for “park and water” improvements. It will be on your ballot on June 5, 2018. Roughly a third of the money will be allocated for “protection of natural habitats.” (1) Although the project at Oyster Bay does not look “natural” to us, that’s how the park district and other public agencies categorize these projects that (attempt to) convert non-native vegetation to native vegetation.
  • Measure CC renewal will be on the ballot in Alameda and Contra Costa counties on November 6, 2018.  The park district has made a commitment to allocate 40% of the available funding to “natural resource projects.” Although the anticipated revenue (about $50 million) seems small, it is used as leverage to apply for big State grants, which require cost-sharing funding.  Measure CC is essentially seed money for the much bigger federal and State funding sources.

I would like to vote for both of these measures because our parks are very important to me.  If voting for these measures would actually improve the parks, I would do so.  But that’s not what I see happening in our parks.  What I see is a lot of damage:  tree stumps, piles of wood chips, dead vegetation killed by herbicides, herbicide application notices, signs telling me not to step on fragile plants, etc.

Stay out of Oyster Bay to avoid unnecessary exposure to herbicides and keep your dogs out of Oyster Bay for the same reason. Unfortunately wildlife doesn’t have that option. They live there. Oyster Bay, May 2018


  1. “States big bond for little projects,” SF Chronicle, May 5, 2018

Nativist fantasies about redwoods

I love redwood trees.  I doubt there is anyone who doesn’t.  So, you might wonder why I am going to tell you why planting more of them in our public parks in the San Francisco Bay Area isn’t a good idea.  Read on…

History of redwoods in California

The native range of redwoods is very small.  According to the US Forest Service, “The redwoods occupy a narrow strip of land approximately 450 miles in length and 5 to 35 miles in width.  The northern boundary of its range is…in the Siskiyou Mountains within 15 miles of the California-Oregon border.  The southern boundary of redwood’s range is…in the Santa Lucia Mountains of southern Monterey County, California.” 

Many redwoods were destroyed for timber and many to clear land for other purposes, such as roads, agriculture, and development.  However, the primary reason for its small native range is the demanding horticultural conditions required by redwoods.  They don’t tolerate wind, particularly salty wind from the ocean.  They require a lot of water.  Where there isn’t enough rain, summer fog compensates for inadequate water.  They need well drained soil and plenty of space to grow to their prodigious size of over 200 feet.

Because of these horticultural requirements, there weren’t many redwood trees in the San Francisco Bay Area prior to settlement by Europeans in the 19th century.  There were no redwoods in San Francisco where the soil was sandy and strong wind from the ocean is salty.  In the East Bay, the pre-settlement redwood forest was less than 5 square miles. (1) In fact, only 2.3% of pre-settlement Oakland was forested and redwoods were a small fraction of the tree cover. (2)

Trying to defy nature

Despite their demanding horticultural requirements and the historical evidence of these limitations, redwoods are often planted where they cannot survive because they are beautiful, popular, and “native” to California.  As the climate changes, rising temperatures and drought have killed many of the redwoods that were planted in the past.  As the climate continues to change, the future of redwoods in California becomes even more doubtful. 

San Francisco’s 2017 Annual Report of the Urban Forestry Council reports that redwoods planted on public land in San Francisco are dying:

“Agencies such as SFO [San Francisco Airport], Zuckerberg General Hospital, and SFSU [San Francisco State University] reported concerns with declining health of redwood trees under their care.  This iconic California native tree is not drought tolerant and current research shows that specimens planted in landscape settings outside their native areas are suffering from water restrictions and irrigation with non-potable water throughout the Bay Area.  Redwood trees’ water and other cultural needs should be considered when planning future plantings since periods of extreme drought are expected to continue as the climate continues to change.”  (page 11)

Dead redwoods, Lake Temescal, March 2018

We see similar examples of planting redwoods in East Bay Regional Parks, where they are dying.  Redwoods were planted at Lake Temescal about 5 years ago.  Despite the fact that many of them are dead, the Park District continues to plant new redwood saplings adjacent to their dead relatives.  Although it is a relatively sheltered area, the trees may have been killed by salty irrigation water.

The growing gap between science and public policy

On March 10, 2018, I attended a conference about resiliency in Davis, California: “Deepening our Roots:  Growing Resilient Forests.” I went to hear Greg McPherson speak because I have read many of his scientific publications and I admire his work.  McPherson’s research at the US Forest Service about the economic value of ecosystem services provided by urban trees (carbon storage, reduction of energy use for heat/cooling, increased property values, removal of particulate pollution, etc.) has been vital to those who defend our urban forest.

McPherson lives in Davis, where he is conducting a 20-year study about the urban forests of the future, i.e., those that will survive predicted changes in the climate. Three years into the study, his research team has made some preliminary recommendations for the trees that are likely to survive anticipated changes in the climate.  None is native to Northern California. Most are foreign, particularly Australian.

McPherson also showed photos of trees being planted now that are destined to die in the near future. One was a densely planted row of redwoods in a median strip in Davis. Professor Arthur Shapiro, who lives in Davis, made this comment when I told him about McPherson’s presentation, “Redwoods are the walking dead here. I’ve known that forever and a year.”  McPherson said redwoods have no long-term future in most of California. None of the public land managers in the Bay Area seems to know that.

East Bay Regional Park District ignores reality

East Bay Regional Park District is making a big investment in expanding redwood forests into places where redwoods did not exist in the past and where they are unlikely to survive in the future.  They are clear-cutting non-native trees and creating visual screens on the periphery of the clear-cuts by planting redwoods along the trails.  This photo was taken in Sibley Volcanic Reserve in March 2018 (the area is larger than shown in this photo):

Sibley Volcanic Reserve. Photo by Larry Danos, March 2018

These are areas that were a part of EBRPD’s “Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan.”  The Fuels Management Prescription for this Recommended Treatment Area was supposed to thin the eucalyptus trees to spacing of 25 feet by removing only small trees with trunks less than 10 inches in diameter.  The original plan for this area did not include any replanting of trees.

The recent implementation of this project suggests that EBRPD’s strategy for tree removals has changed.  At least in this instance, the trees have been clear-cut, not thinned.  And redwoods were planted where none were originally planned. 

It is always risky to speculate about the motivations of other people, but I will venture a guess about this new strategy.  The Park District’s commitment to destroying non-native trees seems to have escalated from thinning to clear-cutting.  And the public’s opposition to the destruction of trees seems to have convinced the Park District that they must plant native trees to replace the trees they have destroyed.

Unfortunately, the Park District does not seem to have taken the changing climate into consideration.  The redwoods may survive long enough to placate the public, but they are unlikely to survive in the long-term.  It is a good public relations strategy, but not a good strategy for a landscape in transition in a changing climate.  It is also not a responsible strategy, given that the carbon stored by the trees being destroyed will contribute to the changing climate and won’t be replaced by dead redwood trees. 


(1) Sherwood Burgess, “The Forgotten Redwoods of the East Bay,” California Historical Society Quarterly, March 1951.

(2) Nowak, David, “Historical vegetation change in Oakland and its implications for urban forest management,” Journal of Arboriculture, 19(5): September 1993

Parks for the future, not the past

East Bay Regional Park District is preparing to put a parcel tax on the ballot in 2018 that will extend the funding of park improvements for another 15 years.  The public has been invited to tell the park district what improvement projects should be funded by the parcel tax in the future.  We are publishing a series of such public comments that we hope will inspire the public to submit their own suggestions to the park district. 


TO:         publicinformation@ebparks.org

CC:         Board of Directors

FROM:  Park Advocate

RE:          Suggestion for Measure CC Projects

Climate change is the environmental issue of our time.  The climate has changed and it will continue to change.  If park improvement projects are going to be successful, they must have realistic goals that take into consideration the changes that have occurred and the changes anticipated in the future.

The restoration of native grassland is an example of a project that is not realistic, given current environmental conditions.  Grassland in California has been 98% non-native annual grasses for over 150 years.  Mediterranean annual grasses were brought from Mexico to California by the cattle of the Spaniards in the early 19th century.

David Amme is one of the co-founders of The California Native Grass Association and was one of the authors of East Bay Regional Park District’s “Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan” while employed by EBRPD. In an article he wrote for Bay Nature he listed a few small remnants of native grasses in the East Bay and advised those who attempt to find them, “As you go searching for these native grasses, you’ll see firsthand that the introduction of the Mediterranean annual grasses is the juggernaut that has forever changed the balance and composition of our grasslands.”   That article is available HERE.

The park district seems to understand the futility of trying to transform non-native annual grassland to native bunch grasses.  Here are two signs in two of the EBRPD’s parks that acknowledge the reality of California’s grassland.

Serpentine Prairie, April 2017

Tilden Park, Inspiration Point, October 2016

Yet, despite this acknowledgement, the park district continues to expand its efforts to transform the parks into native grassland.  Park visitors recently observed a failed experiment to introduce native grasses to one of the parks.  Six plots of ground were fenced.  Two of the plots were control plots in which whatever non-native weeds had naturalized were allowed to grow unmolested.  Two of the plots were mulch/seeded with native grasses and two of the plots were fabric/seeded with native grasses.  There was no observable difference in plant composition or abundance between the seeded and unseeded plots.  There was no observable difference in the outcome of the two different seeding methods that were used.  In other words, native grasses were not successfully introduced to this park.  My correspondence with the EBRPD employee who was responsible for this project is attached.

Albany Bulb, April 2017

Albany Bulb, April 2017

The park in which this experiment was conducted is Albany Bulb.  Albany Bulb is the former garbage dump of the City of Albany.  It was built on landfill in the bay.  The soil is not native and there were never any native plants on it.  It does not seem a promising candidate for a native plant “restoration.”  Unfortunately, Albany Bulb is not an atypical park along the bay.  There are many other parks along the bay that were built on landfill and in which the park district is attempting to establish native plant gardens.  This does not seem a realistic objective for these parks.

 

 

 

 


Albany Bulb April 2018

Update:  One year after the experimental planting of native wildflowers at Albany Bulb, there is no evidence of that effort.  The trail-sides are mowed weeds and the upslope from the trail is studded with blooming non-native oxalis and wild radish. 

Albany Bulb. Non-native wildflowers. April 2018

Albany Bulb will soon be closed to the public for a major “improvement” project.   Albany Landfill Dog Owners Group and Friends expects the park to be closed for about one year.  They are unsure if the park will allow dogs off leash when the park re-opens.  More information about the “improvement” project is available on their website:  http://www.aldog.org/announcements-2.  They suggest that you sign up on their website to be notified of the progress of the project and the status of the re-opening of the park.

 

 


 

This is not to say that there aren’t many worthwhile park improvement projects that are both realistic and needed.  Dredging Lake Temescal is an example of a worthy project.  As you know, Lake Temescal was a popular place for people to swim until recently.  In the past few years it often has been closed to the public because of toxic algal blooms.  The algal blooms are caused by two closely related factors.  The water is warmer than it was in the past because of climate change and the lake is shallower than it was in the past because of sediment deposited into the lake.

Black crowned night heron in algal bloom, Lake Temescal, April 2017

The park district has tried to address this issue by using various chemicals to control the growth of the algae.  Although that has occasionally been successful for brief periods of time, it is not a long term solution to the problem.  Furthermore, it is a good example of why the park district uses more chemicals than necessary.  If the park district would address the underlying cause of the problem—that is, the depth of the lake—it would not be necessary to keep pouring chemicals into the lake.  Dredging Lake Temescal should be a candidate for Measure CC funding.

And so I return to the point of this suggestion for Measure CC:  Please plan projects that take into consideration the reality of climate change, that address the underlying causes of environmental issues, and that have some prospect for success.

Thank you for your consideration.


Send your comments regarding Measure CC renewal to publicinformation@ebparks.org

Send copies to staff and board members of East Bay Regional Park District
Robert Doyle, General Manager rdoyle@ebparks.org
Ana Alvarez, Deputy General Manager aalvarez@ebparks.org
Casey Brierley, Manager of Integrated Pest Management cbrierley@ebparks.org

Board of Directors:
Beverly Lane, Board President blane@ebparks.org
Whitney Dotson wdotson@ebparks.org
Dee Rosario drosario@ebparks.org
Dennis Waespi dwaespi@ebparks.org
Ellen Corbett ecorbett@ebparks.org
Ayn Wieskamp awieskamp@ebparks.org
Colin Coffey ccoffey@ebparks.org

Measure CC: It’s not over ’til it’s over

The public meetings held by East Bay Regional Park District about the renewal of Measure CC are over. Thanks to everyone who attended.  Our viewpoint was well represented.  We patiently waited in line to get our wishes on their flip charts and when they were read to the crowd, our message was loud and clear:  “QUIT destroying healthy trees, DON’T use pesticides.”

If you weren’t able to attend the meetings, you can still tell the park district what you are hoping for in the renewal.  Voters will be given an opportunity in 2018 to vote to continue for another 15 years the parcel tax that has been used for park improvements.  The park district is inviting the public to submit written public comments about the projects they want to see funded by Measure CC.  We will publish a series of such comments that we hope will inspire you to write your own comments. 

Send your comments to publicinformation@ebparks.org.  Depending on the subject, copies to specific members of the Board or the staff are also appropriate.  You will find a list of staff and board members at the bottom of this post. 


TO:        Rick Seal, EBRPD Fire Chief rseal@ebparks.org

CC:        publicinformation@ebparks.org

FROM:  Park Advocate

RE:         Renewal of Measure CC

I understand that you are responsible for implementing the park district’s “Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan.”  Much of that plan has already been implemented and most of it was funded by Measure CC.  Therefore, I am writing to ask that the plans to reduce wildfire hazards be revised, as required by the plan’s commitment to “Adaptive Management.”

Adaptive Management is the sensible strategy to make needed adjustments in plans as required by changes in conditions and in response to the results of completed portions of the projects.  There are two significant changes in conditions that require adjustments to the plans:

  • The consequences of climate change are significantly worse than were evident when the plan was written in 2009. For example, a severe drought killed 102 million native conifers in California.  Higher temperatures and other changes in the environment are altering our landscape.  Plants and trees that lived here prior to European settlement are no longer adapted to the changed climate and further changes are anticipated in the future.
  • Sudden Oak Death has killed between 5 and 10 million oak trees in California and the pathogen causing Sudden Oak Death spread exponentially in 2016 and 2017 because of heavy rain. There are significant SOD infections throughout the park district, including in urban areas.  HERE is a map of those infections in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

These changes in the environment require the park district to revise its strategies for fire hazard reduction because dead trees are significantly more flammable than living trees that contain more moisture. HERE is a San Francisco Chronicle article that explains how Sudden Oak Death contributed to recent fires in the North Bay.

Removing trees infected with or killed by Sudden Oak Death should now be a higher priority than continuing to destroy healthy trees, as the park district has done in the past.  Protocols for removing the dead wood must be developed because the wood is fuel when left on the ground; presently, the official protocol for the wood of trees killed by SOD is to leave it on the ground, in place.  That practice is not consistent with EBRPD’s commitment to reduce fire hazards.

Scientists tell us that wildfires are becoming more frequent and more intense all over the world because of climate change.  Therefore, addressing the causes of climate change should be the top priority of a program designed to reduce fire hazards.  Since deforestation is the second greatest source of the greenhouse gases causing climate change, the park district should reconsider its program of destroying healthy trees storing carbon.  The park district should also plant more trees, which have a future in our changed and changing climate and that will sequester carbon and reduce air pollution.

Thank you for your consideration.  I will be looking for appropriate revisions of fuels management projects when making my decision about voting for renewal of Measure CC.


Send your comments regarding Measure CC renewal to publicinformation@ebparks.org

Send copies to staff and board members of East Bay Regional Park District
Robert Doyle, General Manager rdoyle@ebparks.org
Ana Alvarez, Deputy General Manager aalvarez@ebparks.org
Casey Brierley, Manager of Integrated Pest Management cbrierley@ebparks.org

Board of Directors:
Beverly Lane, Board President blane@ebparks.org
Whitney Dotson wdotson@ebparks.org
Dee Rosario drosario@ebparks.org
Dennis Waespi dwaespi@ebparks.org
Ellen Corbett ecorbett@ebparks.org
Ayn Wieskamp awieskamp@ebparks.org
Colin Coffey ccoffey@ebparks.org

East Bay Regional Park District fuels management projects

Sibley "fuels management" 2012
Sibley “fuels management” 2012

On Thursday, August 29, 2013, the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the East Bay Regional Park District will consider the District’s plans for fuels management in 2014.  In April 2010, the District’s Board of Directors approved the “Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan” and its Environmental Impact Report.  That plan provided for an annual progress report as well as budget and project planning for each forthcoming year. 

Here is the District’s report of what has been accomplished so far and the projects planned for completion by the end of 2013:

“In 2012, initial entry work was undertaken at Anthony Chabot and Sibley, for a total of 153 acres, including 140 acres of eucalyptus thinning in and around the Anthony Chabot Family Campground and 13 acres of eucalyptus thinning in the steep slopes of Sibley Triangle.  Approximately 1,500 tons of hazardous wildland fuels were treated.

 The District’s resource management prescribed broadcast burn program is continuing in 2013.  Approximately 50 acres of native prairie grassland in Point Pinole and 80 acres of invasive plants in Round Valley are scheduled for burning this year.

By the end of 2013, a total of 160 acres of initial entry work are expected to be completed at Anthony Chabot, Claremont Canyon, Kennedy Grove, Lake Chabot, Sibley, Tilden, and Wildcat Canyon. Approximately 900 acres across 16 parks will be maintained using goat grazing, prescribed burns, and chemical, mechanical, and hand labor as described in the 2012 report, and in accordance with the prescriptions and treatment protocols adopted in the Plan.” (1)

We would like to be able to tell our readers about the pesticides required to accomplish these tasks.  Unfortunately, the District has not posted an annual report of its pesticide use since 2010.  The District says it does not expect to complete the annual report of pesticide use for 2011 until late in 2014.  Meanwhile, you can see the latest report for 2010 that is available here.

Here are the District’s plans for implementation of fuels management projects in 2014 (Attachment B of report available here): 

Project Description

Estimated Cost

Estimated Acres

Annual maintenance of light, flashy fuels and eucalyptus sprouts in Fuels Plan area

$500,000

671

Annual maintenance of light, flashy fuels OUTSIDE of Fuels Plan area

$175,000

268

Periodic maintenance of heavy fuels (brush and ladder fuels) in Fuels Plan area

$250,000

70

Sub-Total Fuels Maintenance

$925,000

1009

Initial treatment of heavy fuels and eucalyptus in Fuels Plan area (Chabot, Claremont Canyon, Huckleberry, Leona, Redwood, Sibley, Sobrante Ridge, Tilden, Wildcat)

$1,200,000

544

Initial treatment OUTSIDE Fuels Plan area

$50,000

15

Sub-Total Initial Treatment

$1,250,000

559

Resource/habitat prescribed burns

$25,000

126

 

 

 

TOTAL FUELS MANAGEMENT

$2,200,000

1694

You can see exactly what will be done and where by looking at Attachment C of the report (available here).  All the “recommended treatment areas” are listed where the work is planned.  There are maps of the “recommended treatment areas” in the “Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan” which is available here.

The District expects to complete initial treatment on all 3,000+ acres of the fuels management project in 2019.   The District estimates that the annual cost of maintaining those treated acres will be between $2,055,000 and $5,400,000 per year in perpetuity. If you read our recent post about the Marin County Parks and Open Space “Vegetation and Biodiversity Management Plan” you know that all managers of public land in the Bay Area report the mounting costs of maintaining the fuel breaks they have created because when vegetation is cleared, the ground is quickly occupied by non-native weeds.  Our readers will recall that the author of that report recommends that fuels management projects be sharply curtailed so as to reduce the maintenance problems that are created by them.  The report also states that fire hazards will not be increased by curtailing vegetation management projects as recommended.  The projected costs of maintaining fuel breaks in the East Bay Regional Park District are an example of the maintenance nightmare that is being created by these projects. 

The meeting of the Board Executive Committee will take place at 12:45 pm on Thursday, August 29, 2013, at District headquarters:  2950 Peralta Court, Oakland, California.  The public has an opportunity to comment at these meetings.  You could, for example, ask why the District’s annual report of pesticide use hasn’t been made available to the public since 2010.   Your tax money is being used to fund these projects.  So, you have a right to know how your money is being spent.

********************************

(1)    Background Information for the August 29, 2013 Board Executive Committee Meeting, 2014 Fuels Management Program of Work and Fuels Cost Analysis.