Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Support Tree Cuts To Prevent Wildfires Around Oakland

Center Wildfire Mitigation Program

The Center supports a proposal by the East Bay Regional Park District, the city of Oakland and the University of California, Berkeley to fell tens of thousands of eucalyptus and Monterey pine trees on more than 1,000 acres of parkland.  Officials at the park district, the city of Oakland and UC Berkeley say wildfire prevention is the main intent of the plan. The Claremont Canyon Conservancy is in favor of the tree-cutting plan.

The local officials cite what they call the high fire risk the non-native trees pose on a roughly 25-mile-long swatch of hilly land that stretches from Pinole to Lake Chabot, most of which is owned by the park district. In 1991, a wildfire in the Berkeley Hills destroyed more than 3,000 homes and killed 25 people.

Eucalyptus trees are especially flammable because the oil in their leaves is combustible and the bark takes so long to decompose. The eucalyptus trees in the East Bay were planted around the turn of the 20th century by logging speculators who intended to chop most of the trees down every two decades or so for lumber, he says.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to make a decision this summer on up to $5.6 million in funding for the project.   In May, FEMA issued a draft environmental impact statement evaluating the hillside tree clearing proposal, and is now accepting public comments until June 17. (WSJ, 6/12/2013)

No comments: