Is UC Berkeley's Plan to Cut Down 54,000 Trees Necessary? 

A respected environmental contractor has questioned the university's controversial fire-prevention proposal and contends that it could create a new fire hazard.

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Yet Klatt also acknowledged that the university's long-range plan calls for 100,000 square feet of expansion in the hills.

As other news outlets have noted, opponents to the FEMA plan also take issue with the use of herbicides that will be used on cut eucalyptus stumps to prevent regrowth, and in the loss of habitat for raptors, which nest in the tall trees. Grassetti of the Hills Conservation Network said it's unclear what effects herbicide use will have on habitat, and it's possible that rodents may become a problem in the absence of hawks and owls that live in the trees that are to be cut down. There's also the concern that cutting down all nonnative trees will leave a partially barren landscape, and thereby diminish the aesthetic value of the canyons, which is used extensively by many hikers, walkers, and joggers.

But Grassetti is most concerned about the plan achieving its original goal: "If all is said and done and we didn't improve the fire risk, that would be a travesty," he said, adding that if FEMA does not address his group's concerns and amend the final EIS, his group will file a lawsuit.

Public comments for FEMA's draft Environmental Impact Statement will be accepted until June 17. For more info see

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