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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Eco Watch

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

Posted by Editor on 07/19/2015 at 7:50 AM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

Yes to Dan Seaman's comment. Thinning, yes, but replace with natives! And keep new euc sprouts from getting big! Eucalyptus is a major water thief and anyone who has really taken the time to regard what grows under eucalyptus and what grows under native species can see the difference. We've definitely lost biodiversity with the introduction of this species.

AND it is a seriously hazardous tree to grow in a high-fire zone. The oils in the leaves and bark are highly combustible. In contrast, native evergreens have a bark that actually resists combustion.

Segue Fischlin, former forest firefighter, Okanagon, USFS.

11 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Segue Fischlin III on 06/30/2015 at 8:58 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

Eucalyptus trees are fine in Australia, but they are a blight on the landscape of California. It is too bad that misguided folks derailed the removal of this invasive non-native from the East Bay hills. We would be safer, more bio-diverse, and aesthetically better off without them. It is great to see how oak, madrone, and bay trees have flourished in some locations where eucalyptus has been removed in Tilden park.
That said, I do agree with the person who stated that tree removal needs to be followed up with plantings of natives to prevent other non-native species such as broom and thistle from moving into the vacuum created by removing trees.
Dan Seamans

10 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Dan Seamans on 06/30/2015 at 2:03 AM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

Eradication of the eucalyptus is a misguided extension of native plant advocacy when the fact that the Bay Area’s native species, the grasses and shrubs that once covered most of the tracts of the East Bay hills, are far more of a fire hazard than what grows now. The chaparral that covered much of the Bay Area depended upon occasional fires to sustain the landscape.

Healthy eucalyptus as well as pine trees are much less likely to burn than what existed before people came to these parts. Eucalyptus are known and respected for their windbreak and fire resistant characteristics, not just in the Bay Area and other parts of the state, but throughout the southwest as well as other parts of the world with hot and dry climates. Without the wind breaking capabilities of the eucalyptus trees, the disastrous wildfire of 1991 would have burned even hotter and would have consumed much larger swaths of land.

The eucalyptus is an important addition to the Bay Area and many other parts of the world. The trees were brought here for a reason. They have been and continue to be bred to grow quickly in the harshest of environments and to provide better and better protection from the elements. Not only do they provide more effective deterrent to fire than do our native species, but they are pleasantly fragrant, aesthetically pleasing and provide us with shelter.

9 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by Charles Wohl on 06/29/2015 at 9:02 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Editor on 06/27/2015 at 9:20 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

Jack, Your link doesn't go to a FEMA report? It goes to something prepared by the cities of Oakland and Berkeley the year after the 1991 Fire. That's ok, it is a good report and I was pleased to see that many of the things recommended in it have been carried out.

I'm not sure you noticed that the quote you give "Do not target particular species such as Blue Gum . . . " was in the section on the urban environment--a recommendation for vegetation management within cities (near homes, schools, stores, etc.) (go look again).

I know this might seem like a minor point but I think the cities were saying not to change their urban tree policies in order to satisfy the needs of large scale wildland policies that were being formed.

In their wildland section, they say "Create and maintain fuel breaks on the wildlands along the urban-wildland interface. Use broad area treatment . . " and set up expert panels to guide the process. I believe this is what we have now with the current FEMA grant.

I enjoyed the link to your website. Great pictures. Thanks.

8 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Marilyn Goldhaber on 06/26/2015 at 5:32 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

There are numerous key omissions in both this article and the comments so far. I hope objective readers new to this controversy will read the following facts, and learn the truth behind the misleading euphemism of “vegetation management” for what will be: The largest SF Bay Area forest clearcuts in 100 years:

1) the scale of these clearcuts is massive - the biggest SF Bay Area deforestation in 100 years. It has nothing to do with fire danger mitigation because, for starters, all the living trees cut WILL NOT BE REMOVED FROM THE HILLSIDES. They will only be chopped into logs and wood chips and LEFT ON THE GROUND TO BURN in any future fire.

2) Fire science has established that, since ALL species of trees contain large amounts of water (ever try to burn a green log in your fireplace?), they are far LESS flammable than dry grasses and low shrubs. Learn fire science facts in a blistering critique of the deforestation plan by a firefighter who served on the Mayor’s Task Force determining the ACTUAL causes of the 1991 fire routinely, ERRONEOUSLY blamed on eucalyptus (because fear works):http://treespiritproject.com/wp-content/up…

3) There will be NO REPLANTING OF ANY KIND. So the truly “invasive” plants like poison oak, thistle and broom will grow where forest canopies are destroyed, then bake in hot, direct summer/autumn sun to BECOME THEIR OWN FIRE HAZARD (what started the 1991 fire);

4) Despite repeating the lie endlessly, eucalyptus are not more “flammable” than “native” bay laurels which also contain volatile oils in their leaves (hold a bay leaf over a lit stove and see). And bay trees grow closer to the ground, and grasses, than blue gums, so ignite MORE readily in a grass fire. But the Big “flammable" Lie is repeated because FEAR the actual agenda...

5) SPECIES ERADICATION, the destruction of ALL Monterey pines, acacia, and eucalyptus trees, no matter how many, even hundreds of thousands which…

6) IGNORES CLIMATE SCIENCE and carbon sequestration — millions of pounds of carbon is sequestered in 450,000 trees — ignoring deforestation’s affect on local climate. Common sense alone tells the average, unbiased person that when you cut down over 2,000 acres of forest canopy, those areas will heat up from direct sun;

7) a contradiction: A) “We’re not clearcutting, we’re thinning trees” and B) “These are dangerous, flammable, gasoline trees.” If B is true, then why NOT cut them all down? Why only thin such dangerous trees? Why NOT clearcut them?

8) the Feb. 1992 FEMA report released after the fire, in its many recommendations, says: “Do not target particular species such as Blue Gum Eucalyptus or Monterey Pine for eradication or exemption from tree regulation policies, but require regular maintenance to reduce fire hazard.” Read for yourself: http://www.hillsconservationnetwork.org/Ad…

Jack Gescheidt, Founder
The TreeSpirit Project
LEARN MORE: http://treespiritproject.com/sfbayclearcut

12 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Jack Gescheidt on 06/26/2015 at 3:39 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

Posted by Editor on 06/26/2015 at 3:17 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

Oh, I just found another good source on the euc situation at Mt Sutro. Its from Bay Nature Magazine, a good source of eco journalism.

https://baynature.org/articles/san-francisco-dying-forest-waits-action/

Posted by Marilyn Goldhaber on 06/25/2015 at 7:02 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

I don't know who "Save Mount Sutro Forest" is, as there is no About Us page. Just a person called "webmaster" who is not identified (not sure why?).

But, I found another group called the "Sutro Stewards" that might be a better source to dig a little deeper into the euc controversy over there. (One person's passion versus a coalition of people and organizations.) Just saying . . .

In any case, the webmaster quoted Joe Mc Bride as saying: “This response is common in blue gum as a mechanism to reduce transpiration rates in order to survive drought years . . . I am not convinced that the trees will die in large numbers” (regarding the withering eucs in the forest there).

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Marilyn Goldhaber on 06/25/2015 at 6:58 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

For information on the drought resistance of eucalyptus trees, see:
http://sutroforest.com/2015/06/19/drought-…
Please note comments in this article by Joe McBride, Prof. Emeritus of UCB, a leading expert on eucalyptus.
Also note that CIPC (California Invasive Plant Council) recently revised its assessment of the invasiveness of blue gum eucalyptus from Moderate to Limited, which happens to be the lowest score it could give it.

7 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Madeline Hovland on 06/25/2015 at 5:08 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

Anyone interested in this subject should walk the Oakland project site at the North Oakland Sports Complex at the top of Broadway. What you will see is a eucalyptus grove that is a weed infested and drought stressed collection of sickly trees. Branches on most trees have broken off and now litter the forest floor and all the new epicormic growth is being eaten by beetles. The eucalyptus are infested with the eucalyptus leaf beetle (Chrysophtharta m-fuscum), which came into Southern California from Australia in 2003 and which is not controlled by any of our native parasites or predators. C.H. Sellers in his book "Eucalyptus: its history, growth and utilization" states that Eucalyptus globulus (Bluegum Eucalyptus) "is a species of no great drought endurance" and this is quite obvious to the casual observer. In comparison, the native bay and oaks are doing quite well.

17 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Fred Booker on 06/25/2015 at 3:31 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

I welcome improved coverage of complex public policy issues as exemplified by Sophie Ho's thorough coverage of dueling lawsuits against the FEMA grant for eucalyptus-thinning (Hills Conservation Network: too much; environmental groups: gradual removal essential). Too many media have focused on the pro-thinning advocates and missed the advocacy for removal espoused by the suit brought by SPRAWLDEF (Sustainability, Parks, Recycling, and Wildlife Legal Defense Fund) with the participation of the Club. I think it's incumbent upon Mr. Gammon to reflect the complexity in future editorializing.

10 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by David Tam on 06/25/2015 at 1:05 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

@ Jim Wiegand: I don't get what the opposition of credible, internally democratic environmental groups to the unscientific and sentimental policy of thinning eucalyptus has to do with what project-specific mitigations such groups may have exacted from wind projects 40 miles southeastward.

7 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by David Tam on 06/25/2015 at 12:52 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

Here is another question for readers. Does the Sierra Club's input in this matter serve towards satisfying mitigation for their support/participation in any wind energy projects? If so they have a clear bias.

1 like, 7 dislikes
Posted by Jim Wiegand on 06/25/2015 at 7:14 AM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

Eucalyptus trees: the pigeons of the Oakland/Berkeley Hills. Why anyone would miss them - and the incredible danger they, and their detritus, pose - is beyond me.

19 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by John Seal on 06/24/2015 at 8:27 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

I have a much better idea. Let's remove every nonnative from the Sierra Club. Far few members would be left leaving our environment much better off.

A case in point is wind energy. Wind energy is an industry that has been producing fraudulent mortality research for 30 years. The Sierra Club (now receiving wind energy related funding) has now been silent about this disastrous wind turbine invasion since 1999.

Here is the last negative wind energy statement (LA Times) I could find relating to the Sierra Club and wind energy........"Ten years ago, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors rejected a proposal to build a wind farm on the same land, siding with a coalition opposing the project that included the Audubon Society, the Sierra Club and Tejon Ranch, the largest contiguous landowner in California with 270,000 acres along Interstate 5 in Los Angeles and Kern counties. The opponents argued that the wind farm would be a visual blight and have a broad impact on the environment, particularly on the condor after it was reintroduced."


The statement above was absolutely true in 1999 but now far truer as more species living in and around wind farms are being annihilated. But you don't hear a word from the Sierra Club about these impacts from these spinning monsters. Now the mass killing propeller style wind turbine is heartily endorsed by the Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club in 2006 even sued the Defense Department in federal court for allegedly halting or crippling construction of wind farms across the United States by failing to complete a study on whether they interfere with military radar.
The public also has to put up with their wind energy nonsense/propaganda about protecting more birds and other species in the future from climate change, while they turn a blind eye to the avian genocide taking place from turbines. I am sure that without any wind energy money they they would be singing a completely different tune.
Mitigation funding and contracts with gag orders attached are helping to keep certain conservation groups and people quiet about turbine impacts.

I have paperwork for an approved repowering wind project at Altamont with mitigation in conjunction with the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) . It actually states that the more eagles that die from the new turbines, the more that will be donated to the conservation fund. Funny thing is that these eagles and other protected species killed by turbines are not theirs to sell off or profit from and conveniently tearing these worthless turbines down is never an (HCP) option.
Most intelligent people educated in the sciences should be able to understand that turbines can do nothing about climate change because there are so many reasons for the changing micro climates across the globe. This includes the deforestation caused by sprawling wind energy developments from transmission lines and clear-cutting. But even if turbines could impact climate and all the destroyed forest ecosystems of the world were restored, turbines would have to be a primary source of energy for society.

This is not possible because so many so many of these sprawling energy inefficient turbines would have to be built. There is not enough room, enough good wind, nor enough time to build the tens of millions of turbines needed. Then there are the many species lost to extinction that will never come this way again.

This is the message that you should be hearing from a credible conservation group. It is time that the public moved past the green washing mindset from of these conservation groups taking wind money because it is insane, incredibly ignorant or corrupt. Take your pick.

4 likes, 21 dislikes
Posted by Jim Wiegand on 06/24/2015 at 7:21 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

The so-called "Unified Methodology," which would require the gradual thinning of non-native trees close to structures, would still have all of the non-native trees in the project areas removed by the end of 10 years. That is what is in FEMA's Record of Decision, and that, among other issues, is what HCN opposes.
See FEMA's Executive Summary, p. 11.

4 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Madeline Hovland on 06/24/2015 at 6:55 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

Kudos Sophie Ho for an excellent article. The first I have read on this complicated issue that gets everything right, all the facts, all the different positions of the groups. And, she doesn't take sides. Refreshing!

16 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Marilyn Goldhaber on 06/24/2015 at 4:56 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

What is missing in the "thinning-only" statements is that a thinned Blue Gum eucalyptus stand won't stay that way. It denses back up.*

That's the reason for targeted removal of some stands around or downwind to vulnerable hillside homes. Also, big euc resprouts need to be prevented and the area can be replanted with lower-fuel, indigenous native oak, redwood, willow, or native bunchgrass stands. There will always be big Blue Gum in the hills, but if FEMA won't fund hazardous euc removal and native revegetation on the edges of Oakland, EB Parks, and UC wildlands, then we all should be concerned.

*Blue Gum observations and source: assessment by California Invasive Plant Council http://www.cal-ipc.org/paf/site/paf/538).

14 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Jim Hanson on 06/24/2015 at 3:29 PM

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