Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Must Reads: FEMA Moves to Chop Down 82,000 Trees in Berkeley and Oakland Hills; Lead Ammunition Ban Clears Assembly

By Robert Gammon
Fri, May 17, 2013 at 7:02 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Officials from FEMA are moving forward with a controversial plan to chop down more than 80,000 trees in the Berkeley and Oakland hills — 22,000 in Berkeley and 60,000 in Oakland — as a fire safety measure, according to the California Progress Report. The proposal would clear-cut large swaths of eucalyptus groves in Strawberry and Claremont canyons, and would pour up to 1,400 gallons of herbicides in the hills to prevent the non-native trees from growing back. FEMA has quietly held two public meetings already on the proposal and is planning to hold a final one tomorrow — Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Claremont Middle School, 5750 College Ave. in Oakland.

California condor
  • California condor
2. Legislation that would ban lead ammunition for use in hunting in California was approved by the state Assembly, along party lines, with Democrats supporting the measure and Republicans opposed, the LA Times$ reports. The legislation, which is backed by environmental groups, is designed to protect condors and other raptors who are poisoned when they eat game that has wounded by hunters using lead bullets. Currently, lead ammunition is only banned for big-game hunting and in areas where condors live. The bill is now headed to the state Senate.

3. The US Interior Department introduced new proposed regulations for fracking that favor the gas and oil industries, environmental groups say, according to the LA Times$. The rules would allow corporations to wait until after they have fracked a well to disclose the chemicals they use — and would be able to withhold information about chemicals they consider trade secrets. The regulations also do not call for monitoring of nearby air or water before fracking and after. The new rules came after industry complained about earlier proposed regulations that were tougher — but industry still contends that the new rules are too onerous as well.

4. Nurses at Alta Bates and Summit hospitals in Berkeley and Oakland are launching a short-term strike today over labor issues at the Sutter Health-run facilities, the SF Business Times reports. Members of the California Nurses Association also plan to strike at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley.

5. Berkeley city officials plan to shut down a section of Telegraph Avenue near the Cal campus on Sundays this summer for large block parties, the Trib reports. Telegraph will be closed to traffic on Sundays from Dwight Way to Durant Avenue starting June 9.

6. And the Golden State Warriors’ surprising season came to an end last night, as the team lost game six of its playoff series to the San Antonio Spurs, 94-82, at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

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