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Despite the clear and unequivocal biological and ecological needs to preserve and restore native plants, you denigrate these needs with comments like, "whether UC's plan to cut down all nonnative trees in Claremont and Strawberry canyons is necessary," "an alliance between UC and the native plant community," and calling the plan to remove nonnatives an "ulterior motive" (the latter two quotes by Dan Grassetti). You also comment that, "Dan Grassetti of the Hills Conservation Network believes UC's project is being driven by a native-plant agenda," as if that were a bad thing. You really should bone up on some ecology and wildlife biology before casting negative aspersions like this.
Second, the article panders to the human fear of fire. Of course fire can destroy homes, kill, and maim, but you did not provide any countervailing facts, such as the fact that natural wildfires are necessary in order for ecosystems that evolved with fire to be healthy. Suppression of natural wildfire leads to all sorts of ecological harms, such as fires that are unnaturally bigger and hotter, and unhealthy forests where there are few, if any, saplings (many conifers need fire in order for the cones to release seeds). No one forces rich people to live in the hills, and if they choose to do so, they should accept the risk of wildfire. What they should not be allowed to do is to harmfully alter natural ecosystems to fit their own desires.
Third, eucalyptus trees are nothing but a scourge outside of Australia. Not only do they replace native trees and other plants, they poison the ground so that nothing but eucalyptus can grow. Many local environmentalists have been working for years to eliminate eucalyptus trees in areas that are large enough where that removal could make a significant difference, such as Tilden Park, and it's a black mark on the East Bay Regional Park District that they gave in to selfish people and eviscertated their plan to remove this scourge.
I'm not a supporter of the University of California. This is a school that helped create nuclear weapons and continues to help propagate them, that runs roughshod over the needs and desires of people and communities near its campuses, and that supported apartheid in South Africa, to name just three things off the top of my head. However, UC is on the right side on this issue. This article seemed to be nothing but provision of a mouthpiece for some rich people who live in the hills, don't give a damn about the natural world (that is, the real natural world, not the artificial one they would create), and want the ecosystem altered to suit them, despite the ecological harm that is still causing. Shame on the Express for publishing this garbage, I certainly hope you'll make amends by publishing an article that makes the case why eucalyptus and other nonnatives should be removed and replaced by native trees and other native plants.
Jeff Hoffman, Berkeley
As a forester it is beyond me to realize the absurdity of the schemes to cut down "non-native" trees. For some reason (unknown) the mania for removing such trees has grown to fantasy proportions requiring fantastic amounts of money. It is time to stop this mania. How? Not known yet.
Dolan Eargle, San Francisco
An Ecological and Health Disaster
I don't think any trees should be cut, not even for thinning. It's not necessary, especially if dry litter is removed periodically. Besides being unnecessary, tree cutting is harmful because it is being followed up by herbicide on the stumps and on "unwanted foliage." No herbicides should be used, ever. All living organisms, including us humans, are already poisoned through and through. This means enormous suffering in the form of illness, disability, and death. It makes no sense to continue poisoning ourselves and all life around us.
The proposed plan would create a definite ecological and health disaster lasting for generations while actually increasing the risk of wildfire — all under the pretext of preventing a fire disaster that might never happen. There are real fire prevention measures, like creating and enforcing better building codes and better landscape maintenance by homeowners, some of which have already been done.
A life-sustaining plan would be to hire unemployed people to clear dry forest litter whenever needed and maybe remove low-hanging branches. Don't give more money to Monsanto and Dow or to logging companies.
Linda Giannoni, Oakland
"Privatizing UC Instruction," News, 6/5
UCB was incredible in 1990 for me simply because of the serendipity of who I met in which classes. The heated debate following us to Cafe Strada. Meeting in person and going to real-time office hours of faculty who I then sought out later as advisors. Relationships matter. Having paid canned instruction just doesn't replace that. My daughter took online remedial math at Cal State East Bay and easily passed. But she had to drop the next class in math ... she wasn't adequately prepared. Keep it public and when online, online with UC faculty to supplement, not replace real in class debate!
Cheryl Theis, Albany
The photo that ran with our June 19 Culture Spy, "For the Love of Color," failed to credit photographer Amelia Sechman.
Our June 19 news story, "Quickly Reshaping Oakland Politics," misstated Desley Brooks' council district. It's six, not five.
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