Local environmental activists fire up to protest East Bay tree removal

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Ben Shenouda/Staff

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Stationed in front of the Sierra Club’s local chapter office in Berkeley, a group of about 70 demonstrators gathered in protest of the club’s support of non-native tree removal in the East Bay hills.

Protesters defended non-native trees, including eucalyptus trees, in local urban forests, but the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA — which funds fire mitigation efforts for UC Berkeley, East Bay Regional Park District and the city of Oakland — have disagreed over the best policy for managing these non-native, flammable trees.

The club had supported FEMA’s plans to remove all flammable, non-native plants over time. But after the public voiced concern that cutting these trees would not only disrupt the environment but also displace wildlife, FEMA decided to strike a compromise and fund a plan that would thin, rather than completely remove, flammable non-natives.

Arguing that eucalyptus trees pose a hazard for the spread of wildfires and that their presence prevents native plants from growing, the local Sierra Club chapter disagreed with FEMA’s compromise and sued the agency, which led protesters to push back against the chapter Tuesday evening.

Waving signs and chanting, “We will, we will, stop you,” the demonstrators — a group composed of several local environmental groups collectively called the Forest Action Brigade — rallied against the local chapter’s lawsuit against FEMA, which plans to adopt a phased approach: removing a specified number of trees over a 10-year period.

Later in the protest, Sierra Club chapter director Michelle Myers opened the door of the building to the demonstrators, who then handed over a stack of documents outlining the protesters’ concerns.

After protesters questioned Myers, some of them shouting, she decided to return inside. Myers said their differences and the vast number of protesters would not foster a healthy debate.

“I don’t think the Sierra Club should be telling us what to do with public land,” said Silke Valentine, one of the protesters.

The FEMA-funded projects in the area remove flammable trees and promote native vegetation without replanting. The protesters took issue with these plans, along with planned herbicide use to prevent regrowth.

From 2005-10, UC Berkeley, along with the city of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Park District, jointly applied for federal grants that would help fund the removal of trees. This year, FEMA approved about $5.67 million to help support local tree-cutting projects aimed at reducing the risk of wildfire outbreaks.

“Fire mitigation and safety in the hills is something that has been, is and will be important to the campus,” said Christine Shaff, spokesperson for UC Berkeley’s real estate division. “We have a regular program in place and will continue. We have done a lot of work for it already this year.”

According to FEMA’s environmental impact report, about 998 acres in total will be subject to thin cutting. UC Berkeley is responsible for overseeing two FEMA-funded projects of about 99 acres in Strawberry Canyon Recreational Area and Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve.

UC Berkeley manages approximately 800 acres in a fuel-fire-management program, which operates outside FEMA funding. One such project is at Frowning Ridge, which sits in the Berkeley hills just above the Lawrence Hall of Science.

The tree-removal project at Frowning Ridge was originally slated as a FEMA project but was ineligible for funding after fuel-removal work was done in the area without FEMA’s permission.

Shaff said there are currently no plans to replant non-native trees once they are removed. She said, however, that areas in Claremont Canyon where the campus removed eucalyptus trees have naturally repopulated with native plants.

 

Contact Jamie Nguyen at [email protected].

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article referred to the East Bay Regional Park District as the East Bay Regional Parks District.

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  • defenderofwildlife

    I do not live in California and do not know much about eucalyptus trees. But based on what I know about Milliontrees and her followers, I urge Sierra Club to stand firm against their lies, propaganda and intentional misinformation.

    They try to compare the fight against invasive, non-native vegetation as xenophobia……ridiculous, humans are all of one species, vegetation is not. Like climate change deniers, they reject accepted science. They insult and defame lauded ecologists such E.O.Wilson, Doug Tallamy, Peter Raven, etc. If you have proof of biodiversity loss caused by invasive, non-natives, Milliontrees will ignore your photos. If your argument is too irrefutable, Milliontrees will ban you from commenting on her website.

    These are not people interested in truth. They are singularly devoted to their misguided agenda, which is not just to save eucalyptus, but to spread the belief that invasive, non-native vegetation does no harm anywhere. Which is a flat-out lie.

  • defenderofwildlife

    I do not live in California and do not know much about eucalyptus trees. But based on what I know about Milliontrees and her followers, I urge Sierra Club to stand firm against their lies, propaganda and intentional misinformation.

    They try to compare the fight against invasive, non-native vegetation as xenophobia……ridiculous, humans are all of one species, vegetation is not. Like climate change deniers, they reject accepted science. They insult and defame lauded ecologists such E.O.Wilson, Doug Tallamy, Peter Raven, etc. If you have proof of biodiversity loss caused by invasive, non-natives, Milliontrees will ignore your photos. If your argument is too irrefutable, Milliontrees will ban you from commenting on her website.

    These are not people interested in truth. They are singularly devoted to their misguided agenda, which is not just to save eucalyptus, but to spread the belief that invasive, non-native vegetation does no harm anywhere. Which is a flat-out lie.

  • julierl

    A little late to this thread and not sure if my comment will be read but it’s worth mentioning that no interested party- UC Berkeley, City of Oakland, or Native Plant Society – has even suggested planting the Coast Redwood, a certainly native tree. But the Bay Laurel, a shrub which contains 20x the flammable oils of eucalyptus, is one of the darlings of the re-wilding set. Possibly, just possibly, the thought of replacing trees with more trees, and “sensitive” trees such as redwoods, would not be in step with UC Berkeley and City of Oakland’s long-game of eventually developing this real estate. And Dan Spitzer, you need to calm down and be civil; the people who give a flying f*ck are the ones on this thread, Oh, by the way, I was born in Berkeley, grew up in Oakland and live in SF near Glen Canyon, which has been “thinned” and looks pathetically dry due to the thinning happening here as well, including in Sutro Forest, which is coincidentally located adjacent another branch of UC. Even Dan Spitzer might see a pattern here. And yes, it does involve class warfare, but not the kind he’s talking about.

    • SkyHunter

      Bay laurel does not contain 20 times the oils of eucalyptus. You are confused.

  • Mather_Matters

    I notice that you continuously refer to “flammable trees” or “non-native flammable trees”. Perhaps you could be even more correct and call all the hoped for native grasses, and bushes “even more flammable native vegetation”.

    In the East Bay fire the eucalypts were the LAST to burn, after the grasses (where the fire started), the bushes, and the houses. And in recent grass fires in San Francisco, the fires burned out when they came to the line of eucalypts. The grasses and bushes rapidly fueled and fed the fire.

    As we learned from 9/11, anything, even a concrete and steel building, will burn if enough fuel is applied.

    Eucalypts actually slow and stop fires. Your prose is more incendiary than the trees you erroneously describe.

    • Dan Spitzer

      Some people will stoop to any falsehood to buttress their opinions. This certainly is the case with Mather_Matters. Yes, when there is a fire native grasses and bushes are indeed flammable. But nothing fueled the last great fire in greater measure than did the Eucalyptus trees. Some 69 people lost their lives, hundreds of others lost their homes. And these were not simply the more affluent hill dwellers. Many were students who resided within in-law apartments and other dwellings. These people and some members of the lower middle class lost everything.

      Again, when it comes to some loony left issues, the truth all too often takes a backseat to ideology. And that is surely the case here…

      • Well informed, huh? Here are the facts about losses in the 1991 fire from the FEMA Technical Report on that fire: “Twenty-five lives were lost and more than 3,000 structures were destroyed…” http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/tr-060.pdf

        • Dan Spitzer

          FEMA has unfortunately proven less than credible in its analysis. Among the most blatant manifestations of this was FEMA’s New Orleans hurricane debacle. For those seeking the facts rather than class-based ideology, please read the following:

          http://wildfiretoday.com/2015/05/29/sierra-club-argues-against-femas-plan-for-the-eucalyptus-trees-in-oak

          BTW, this protest vs the Sierra Club is familiar to all those who have observed the idiocy of KPFA ideological lefty crazies over the years. Brookse32 (in a post above) even compared those who support cutting fire catalyst Eucalyptus trees to the anti-immigrant movement. What sheer, unadulterated nonsense, oh so typical of what the far left regularly excretes in these parts…

          • Keith McAllister

            In response to a comment you posted earlier which is no longer visible: The Sierra Club is not in a position to claim that the majority of its members support its advocacy for deforestation and pesticide use in the East Bay Hills and its suit to demand even more tree destruction than presently planned. The Sierra Club has not asked its membership this question. Nor has the Sierra Club published any of our letters of opposition in its newsletter or posted our on-line comments on its on-line blog.

            However, opponents of this project know that over 2,300 people have signed a petition to oppose the Sierra Club’s policy and its suit: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/sierra-club-must-stop.fb51?source=c.fb&r_by=14041501. We also know that many of the people who signed that petition are members of the Sierra Club or former members who quit the Club because of its policy.

          • Mather_Matters

            Dan, name calling is a facile way to advocate without research. What do you think of the FEMA document that says:

            “The east face is exposed to the more arid climate of the inland valleys and is predominantly covered by grasslands and brush. These particular trees and brush are highly vulnerable to rapid fire spread and release massive amounts of thermal energy when they burn. They also create flying brands, which are easily carried by the wind to start new spot fires ahead of a fire front. The extreme fire hazard of these fuels is greatly exacerbated by the steep terrain and by adverse humidity and wind conditions.”

            “The northeast portion of the fire area had more wildland fuels, while in the south and western areas, the homes were the major fuels. In effect, the more severe slopes in the north and eastern portions of the fire area required the use of native species. The more moderate slopes and deeper soils in the south and southwest areas allowed for the introduction of more ornamental type species.
            Fuel Distribution – Natural vegetation types through most of the fire area included some grassland, brushland, mixed broadleaf forest, and eucalyptus and conifer plantations. Species found in the grassland areas include various types of needle grass and perennial bunch grasses. Heavy grazing in the areas in the past resulted in the introduction of various annual grasses, such as wild and slender oats, barleys, soft chess, other bromes, and an array of associated annual and perennial herbs. Additionally, thistles, mustards, and wild oats dominate some of the area. With the discontinuation of grazing, coyote brush has become established throughout the grassland area.”

            i know it’s a lot to read, and it shows all sides, but if you have the time, why not read a non-partial report that has no axe to grind regarding natives vs. non-natives?

            http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/tr-060.pdf

          • Dano2

            Indeed, it is an interesting read:

            Additionally, the introduction of vegetative species which are not native to the area has dramatically impacted fuel loading. This is particularly true of the introduction of eucalyptus . Fuel accumulations in some areas under eucalyptus plantations have been estimated between 30 and 40 tons per acre. Monterey Pine was also introduced into the area and contributed significantly to the fuel loading. [emphases added]

            Interesting read, surely.

            Best,

            D

          • Bev Jo

            Both Eucalyptus Blue Gum and other varieties and Monterey pine prevent fires because they add so much moisture to the land around them from fog drip, and because they are less flammable than native bay trees.

            Once it’s hot enough, anything burns, but notice how the houses burned in this fire and the Eucalyptus didn’t:

            https://www.facebook.com/savetheeastbayhills/photos/a.896529253726891.1073741828.896100850436398/940078662705283/?type=1&theater

          • Dano2

            Any actual empirical evidence (besides no )?

            Best,

            D

          • Bev Jo

            Plenty. Read firefighter David Maloney’s report, which I just posted here.

          • Dano2

            Both Eucalyptus Blue Gum and other varieties and Monterey pine prevent fires

            I like how you pretend to present valid references in another comment, then just make stuff up here in the guise of valid reference.

            Precious.

            Best,

            D

          • Dano2

            (BTW, all these sockpuppets post the same thing, This foto is one of the things they always post, robot-like.)

            Best,

            D

          • Bev Jo

            Sockpuppets? If you’d gone to our barely advertised short notice demonstration at Sierra Club on Tuesday, you would have seen over 80 of us, but I’m sure you know that.

          • Dano2

            The same 9 people have several sockpuppets each. To figger that out is easier than figgerin out the middle phrase that Vanna turned yesterday, or the price of that lovely quilt that the new Bob Barker is pitching.

            Best,

            D

          • Bev Jo

            I post only as myself, so you keep trolling.

          • Dano2

            …and you keep making unsupported assertions. Coincidentally just like several other sockpuppets flooding the zone on this issue.

            Best,

            D

          • Dan Spitzer

            Mather, FEMA has been less than convincing in many of its stances and sometimes lets facile analysis supplant facts. The most blatant example of this was the Katrina debacle, its prologue and aftermath in New Orleans. The Sierra Club piece I cited is infinitely more credible…

          • Mather_Matters

            Just out of curiousity, are you a Bay Area resident? Will this impact you?

          • Dan Spitzer

            Yes, the great fire came within 1 1/2 blocks of my home. So the impact of future fires in my residential area would potentially impact me and many people for whom I care greatly. Do please see Dano’s informative commentary below…

          • Keith McAllister

            You can rail against FEMA all you like, but the blog you link (you don’t cite) says just what FEMA said: 25 lives lost, not 69. You’re just making numbers up. That doesn’t make you or the Sierra Club “infinitely more credible.”

          • Keith McAllister

            Dan, do you read what you write? The link you provide here gives exactly the same numbers FEMA gives. So your numbers seem to be the ones that are just made up, and you are the one who is “less than credible.” Really, where did you get that number of “69 lost their lives?” From someone at the Sierra Club?

        • Dano2

          From the link Million Trees provided:

          Additionally, the introduction of vegetative species which are not native to the area has dramatically impacted fuel loading. This is particularly true of the introduction of eucalyptus. Fuel accumulations
          in some areas under eucalyptus plantations have been estimated between 30 and 40 tons per acre. Monterey Pine was also introduced into the area and contributed significantly to the fuel loading.

          Eucalyptus was first introduced to the East Bay Hills with extensive planting in the early 1900s. The eucalyptus has a tremendous production of both leaf and bark litter, which is not readily consumed or broken down in the normal decomposition process and leads to the presence of high volumes of fuel…

          Fuel Loading – The heaviest fuel loading would probably have occurred in the untreated eucalyptus stands. Some estimates indicate fuel loading in these areas from 30 to 50 tons per acre. Additionally, heavy fuel accumulations would have occurred in the location of the brush lands.

          Sounds highly flammable.

          Best,

          D

    • Dano2

      Eucalypts actually slow and stop fires.

      Even the highly flammable ones, like blue gum in the Oakland Hills?

      Best,

      D

      • Mather_Matters

        Maybe they only stop grass fires in SF, but I’ve seen it!

      • Bev Jo

        Yes, it’s a myth that Blue Gum Eucalyptus are particularly flammable. This is all about money and those wanting it playing on people’s fears. It’s been 24 years with no fires in the hills or Bay Area other than those constantly in the grasslands.

        You want more fire to endanger houses? Keep cutting down our trees.

        Comments from a fire fighter, David Maloney

        Tuesday,
        June 2, 2015

        These
        comments were originally submitted for the EBRPD Measure CC EIR, but they are
        more relevant than ever today.

        October
        29, 2009

        FROM:

        David
        Maloney
        PO Box 475776
        San Francisco CA 94147
        E mail: [email protected]

        TO:

        Brian
        Wiese
        Chief, Planning and Stewardship East Bay Regional Park District

        Dear
        Mr. Wiese:

        I
        retired from the Oakland Fire Department in 1988. In 1989 I was appointed by the
        United States Department of the Army to be Chief of Fire Prevention at the
        Oakland Army Base. In 1991, I was appointed to serve on the Task Force on
        Emergency Preparedness and Community Restoration. This task force was formed to
        investigate the causes of the most destructive wildland/ urban interface fire in
        the history of the United States; the Oakland-Berkeley Fire of 1991, and make
        recommendations to prevent its recurrence.

        Following
        are my comments about the East Bay Regional Park District’s Wildfire Hazard
        Mitigation Plan (the Plan), and EIR.

        An
        inordinate amount of the Plan is an attempt at land transformation disguised as
        a wildfire hazard mitigation plan. If it is implemented it will endanger
        firefighters and the general public; and it will be an outrageous waste of the
        taxpayer’s money.

        1
        Maloney
        response to Wildfire Mitigation Plan

        The
        objectives of a land transformation plan are different than the objectives of a
        wildfire mitigation plan. The only way a land transformation plan can succeed in
        masquerading as a wildfire mitigation plan is if it treats important data needed
        to compose a sound wildfire mitigation plan in a superficial manner, or ignores
        such data or circulates misinformation.

        The
        Plan submitted to the East Bay Regional Park District (herinafter referred to as
        the Park, or EBRPD) does all three. It omits important Fire Science principles,
        disseminates misinformation about selected fuels, and ignores data that would be
        contrary to its aim of land transformation.

        CLEAR
        CUTTING

        Section
        IV: Fuel Treatment Methods; subsection A.2 of the Plan advocates clear cutting
        of trees. Not only does it advocate clear cutting with the phrase “…completely
        removing an overstory canopy;” it justifies this by standing fire science on its
        head by ignoring the significant role that tree canopies play in facilitating
        moisture which dampens ground fuels, and ignoring that volatile grasses will
        grow on the ground below the canopy gaps.

        Clear
        cutting is anathema to the Fire Service. Clear cutting to effect wildfire hazard
        mitigation violates every Fire Science principle relative to wildfire
        mitigation. Clear cutting dramatically increases the chance of a wildfire. It is
        a tool of land transformation. Therefore the Plan has a prominent self
        contradiction

        2
        Maloney
        response to Wildfire Mitigation Plan

        Fire
        Science has proven that every living tree – regardless of its species – due to
        its moisture content and canopy coverage of ground fuels, contributes to
        wildfire hazard mitigation.

        “The
        shade and protection afforded by timber stands influence fuel type ratings due
        to favorable fuel moisture conditions that are created. In a dense forest,
        ground fuels are protected from the sun and wind. Temperatures and wind
        velocities are lower so that moisture does not evaporate as readily from the
        dead fuels situated beneath dense timber canopies.”
        The Fire Protection Handbook, (20th edition, 2008) published by the National
        Fire Protection Association, Volume II, pg. 13-63.

        “If
        too much wood was in the forests, it seemed intuitive, to some people, that
        cutting down tress must help the situation. Many pointed to the massive fires in
        the 1990’s as evidence that not enough logging was going on. Yet, throughout the
        [20th]
        century large fires had followed logging.” Burning
        Questions: America’s Fight With Nature’s Fire, pg. 253, by David Carle.

        (It
        was the logging of the trees on Angel Island in 1999 that caused the Angel
        Island Fire of 2008.)

        “While
        fuel is a key ingredient for any blaze, and fuel accumulations can exacerbate
        fire intensity, most large blazes result from drought and wind – not fuels. Yet,
        because fuel treatments are emphasized in management prescriptions, the general
        public is led to believe that fuels are the driving force in large blazes and,
        by inference, that fuel reduction by tree thinning will prevent large
        fires.” Wild
        Fire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy. Pg. xiii, part of the section entitled
        ‘Myth: Big Fires Are the Result of Too Much Fuel.’ Edited by George
        Wuerthner.

        3
        Maloney
        response to Wildfire Mitigation Plan

        There
        is not one single fire science authority who supports clear cutting for the sake
        of wildfire hazard mitigation.

        MOISTURE

        “Two
        conditions of fuel moisture have major influence on the rating of fuel types.
        One concerns the greenness, or curing stage, of vegetation. The other relates to
        the shade and protection furnished by green timber.” The
        Fire Protection Handbook, previously cited, pg. 13-63

        The
        Plan ignores the relationship between specific tree moisture, amount of canopy
        protection afforded to ground fuels by copses of trees due to the shade and
        windbreak these trees provide, amount of ground moisture which is created and
        dependent on the tree canopy above the ground, and ground moisture created by
        the size and type of the leaves of trees. (One of the major contributions leaves
        make to wildfire hazard mitigation is collecting moisture and dripping it onto
        the ground.)

        Even
        though moisture is a critical key element in evaluating wildfire hazard, there
        is no mention of use of a hygrometer to evaluate how much moisture, according to
        season, is present in the various sections of the EBRPD, especially those
        sections where clear cutting might be considered.

        Additionally,
        there is no mention of the specific hygroscopocity, according to season, of the
        various species of trees within the Park, especially of those species of trees
        for which clear cutting is recommended.

        4
        Maloney
        response to Wildfire Mitigation Plan

        There
        is no discussion, or even a mention, of the average daily, weekly, and monthly
        dew, dewfall and dew point in those sections of the EBRPD affected by the
        Plan.

        The
        Plan confuses cloud cover and precipitation with moisture. Moisture is different
        than cloud cover and precipitation. Cloud cover and precipitation contribute to
        moisture levels, but they are not the sole determinants of moisture. The Plan
        barely mentions the moisture content of the lands and sections of the East Bay
        Regional Park District. Again, it cannot be over emphasized, moisture content is
        one of the most important factors in determining wildfire risk.

        The
        EBRPD is located in a moisture rich environment. Its location is the envy of
        wildfire managers across our nation. Yet, there is not one chart or graph that
        shows the average weekly and monthly moisture content within the Park’s
        boundaries or within specific sections of the Park, especially within those
        sections where it is proposed that clear cutting of trees take place. There is
        not one chart that compares the amount of moisture in the holdings of the EBRPD
        with the moisture content of other areas in California and the United
        States.

        Are
        these omissions because showing the moisture content of the EBRPD, would lead to
        a downsize of the Plan, thereby negatively impacting land transformation?

        (It
        was the moisture laden air coming from the Pacific Ocean through the Golden
        Gate, crossing San Francisco Bay and interfacing with the Oakland Hills Fire of
        1991 that lowered the temperature of the fire sufficiently to halt its spread
        and allow firefighters to contain it. The fire began in grasses, spread to the
        rooftops of houses, where it attained sufficient heat to dry out the

        5
        Maloney
        response to Wildfire Mitigation Plan

        moisture
        in the trees of the East Bay Hills, and then caught the trees on fire.)

        PRESCRIBED
        BURNING

        The
        Plan recommends prescribed burning in a cavalier manner. Prescribed burning is a
        very serious and dangerous undertaking. It is only to be used narrowly and
        judiciously. It is only to be used to effect wildfire hazard mitigation by
        clearing underbrush and ground fuels, and even then it is used sparingly. It is
        never to be used to effect land transformation by preventing trees from
        sprouting.

        Due
        to the fact that so many prescribed burns have “escaped” the boundaries to which
        it was thought they would be confined, there is more and more momentum in the
        Fire Service to use prescribed burns less and less. A moratorium was put on
        prescribed burns after the Bandelier National Monument Fire in the year 2000.
        That fire was a prescribed fire that got out of control and burned 47,650 acres
        and destroyed 235 homes. The moratorium was lifted after new, more stringent
        guidelines governing prescribed burns were promulgated.

        Still,
        prescribed burns continue to get out of control with alarming frequency. In
        August of 2009 the Big Meadow Fire in Yosemite began as a prescribed fire which
        was planned to burn 91 acres. It got out of control and burned 7,425 acres. That
        same month a prescribed burn in Scofield, Utah, got out of control and almost
        burned down 50 homes.

        The
        Plan states in Appendix G page 5, “The California Invasive Plant Council has
        published a manual on the use of fire as a tool

        6
        Maloney
        response to Wildfire Mitigation Plan

        for
        controlling invasive plants that should be referred to for further information
        than that provided here.”

        The
        California Invasive Plant Council is not a fire prevention or a fire suppression
        organization. Its primary goal is land transformation. Why is an organization
        that is not a fire service organization, but primarily a land transformation
        organization, being used as a reference for the very dangerous undertaking of
        prescribed burning? Is it because the objective is not wildfire hazard
        mitigation, but land transformation?

        Again,
        this Plan treats prescribed burning in a cavalier manner, which is inconsistent
        with safe wildfire hazard mitigation.

        INVASIVE
        SPECIES

        Sound
        wildfire hazard mitigation does not make a distinction between whether a species
        was here before or after Columbus landed in the Caribbean. Sound, effective,
        wildfire hazard mitigation does not determine that a plant or species is a fire
        hazard because of where it originated.

        Such
        a determination is putting idealogical or economic considerations ahead of the
        safety of firefighters and the public, and gives rise to propagandistic
        statements which are designed to scare the public, but which have no basis in
        fire science. Below are several examples of such statements from the Plan.

        “Eucalyptus
        is well known for its long distance ember distribution, casting firebrands miles
        from the flaming front to ignite spot fires in grass, brush or roofs ahead of
        the main fires.”

        7
        Maloney
        response to Wildfire Mitigation Plan

        “The
        presence of volatile oils in the trees increases the speed of fire spread, total
        output and overall ignitability. Ignited leaves and bark are easily lofted into
        the air by heavy winds and increase the potential for starting new fires long
        distances from a fire.”

        “The
        size of leaves and bark from mature eucalyptus trees are typically large enough
        to ensure that the ember is still burning (versus small particles that could be
        extinguished in flight) when it lands. Heat output from mature eucalyptus fires
        is high when sufficient fuel has accumulated in the area.”

        To
        refute these statements it is worth quoting extensively from Vol. II, page 13-62
        of the Fire Protection Handbook.

        “Aerial
        Fuels: Tree Branches and Crowns. “ The live needles of coniferous trees are a
        highly flammable fuel. Their arrangements on the tree branches allow free
        circulation of air. In addition, the upper branches of trees are more freely
        exposed to wind and sun than most ground fuels. These factors, plus the volatile
        oils and resins in coniferous needles, make tree branches and crowns important
        components in aerial fuels.”

        Nowhere
        in the twenty editions and tens of thousands of pages of the Fire Protection
        Handbook is there a mention of the leaves or bark of the Eucalyptus trees. The
        only aerial fuel singled out for mention because of its high flammability and
        volatility are the needles of coniferous trees. The oils and resins of Euclyptus
        leaves and barks are not mentioned because they are not as flammable as the oils
        and resins of the needles of coniferous trees.

        If
        the leaves and bark of Eucalyptus trees were more of a fire hazard than the
        thousands of other species of trees that are in California it would be noted in
        the Fire Protection Handbook.

        8
        Maloney
        response to Wildfire Mitigation Plan

        (Any
        tree, no matter what its species, that is close to ignition point, or is on
        fire, is going to have its sap, resins, and oils boiling.)

        Again,
        from Vol. II, page 13-62 of the Fire Protection Handbook,

        “Snags,
        or tree stumps, are one of the most important aerial fuels that influenced fire
        behavior. Although green trees greatly outnumber snags in most forests, more
        fires start in snags because they are drier and are arranged for easier
        ignition.”

        “Burning
        embers blown from shaggy-barked snags are prolific starters of spot fires.”

        There
        is no mention of any particular species of tree. The entire passage concerns
        dead fuels. Some people have it backwards. They want to give a high fire hazard
        rating to green (living) trees and cut them down, because they did not originate
        in California, when it has been shown over and over again that green trees,
        regardless of where they originated, are a bulwark against wildfire because of
        the moisture they contribute to the ground fuels and because they act as
        windbreaks.

        From
        page 13-63 of the Fire Protection Handbook: “As the amount of flammable
        materials in a given area increases. The amount of heat a fire produces also
        increases. The hottest fires, as well as those most difficult to control, occur
        in areas containing the greatest quantity of fuel.”

        The
        statement from the Plan: “Heat output from mature Eucalyptus fires is high when
        sufficient fuel has accumulated in the area” is misleading and disingenuous. It
        strongly, and erroneously, implies that the heat from a Eucalyptus forest fire
        is greater than the heat from a forest fire involving other species of trees. In
        fact, the heat generated by a forest fire is not dependent on the species of
        tree

        9
        Maloney
        response to Wildfire Mitigation Plan

        involved
        in the fire, but on the quantity of fuel in the area of the fire.

        The
        Fire Protection Handbook on page 13-63 of volume II addresses the issue of spot
        fires.

        “The
        development of spot fires depends not only on topographic and weather factors
        but also on the character of the fuels in the main fire and fuels beyond the
        main fire. In the main fire, rotten, shaggy barked snags, such as broken-topped
        hemlock snags, and large quantities of ground fuels, such as heavy logging
        slash, are the fuels most likely to cause spot fires.”

        No
        species of living tree is singled out as being more likely to cause spot fires
        than ground fuels or dead fuels, because ground fuels and dead fuels are more
        likely to cause spot fires than living trees no matter what their species.

        On
        page 13-64, Vol. II, of the Fire Protection Handbook is a section dealing with
        the characteristics of crown fires. None of the various species of Ecualyptus
        tree is mentioned in this section. Why not? Because any species of living tree
        that has had the moisture dried out of it by a fire, and then catches fire, can
        “throw burning embers far out ahead of the main fire.”.

        Table
        13.5.3 on page 13-63 vol. II of the Fire Protection Handbook gives the time lag
        relationship to fuel size for dead fuel moisture. This table should have been
        used as a reference point by the authors of the Plan, and coordinated with the
        moisture levels of the land holdings of the EBRPD.

        The
        fuel hazard ratings relative to the Eucalyptus trees are idealogically driven
        and therefore cannot be trusted.

        10
        Maloney
        response to Wildfire Mitigation Plan

        In
        fact one of the Eucalyptus species mentioned, the Blue Gum, is very fire
        resistant.

        As
        S.T. Michaletz and E.A. Johnson showed in their article “Heat Transfer Processes
        Linking Fire Behavior and Tree Mortality,” the three characteristics that
        determine a tree’s ability to withstand fire are the thickness of its bark, the
        height of its branches from the ground and its bark water content.

        The
        Blue Gum has a thick bark, branches that are high from the ground, and because
        it evolved in the arid and fire rich climates of northern Australia and
        Tasmania, an astounding ability to retain moisture, which ability gives it a
        high bark water content.

        The
        Plan makes no mention of the ratio of surface area to volume of a wildfire fuel.
        This is an important ratio in contributing to determining the flammability of a
        wildfire fuel.

        RECOMMENDATION
        ON HOW TO IMPROVE THE PLAN:

        Prepare
        a grid map for EBRPD land holdings. Set up a rotational schedule so that every
        four or five years ground crews have gone into each section and removed ground
        fuels and ladder fuels. This is ecologically safe and will cost the taxpayer a
        fraction of what the other methods and schedules in the proposed Plan will
        cost.

        Pay
        attention to the causes of wildfires as listed in the Fire Protection Handbook,
        Vol II. Page 13-56, table 13.5.2:

        1)
        Arson: 25-39% of wildfires are caused by arsonists. 2) Trash Burning –
        18-23%
        3) Careless Smoking – 17-19%
        4) Miscellaneous/unkown- 10-14%

        5)
        Lightning- 9%

        11
        Maloney
        response to Wildfire Mitigation Plan

        6)
        Machine use – 7-8% 7) Railroads- 5%
        8) Campers- 3-6%

        Develop
        programs that will specifically address and preclude fires due to the above
        reasons.

        CONCLUSION:
        The Plan has serious flaws that need to be addressed and rectified. Among these
        flaws are erroneous explanations of fire dynamics.

        These
        erroneous explanations lead the public to believe statements such as, “The
        leaves of Eucalyptus trees are oily and so are highly flammable,” which simplify
        and reduce fire science and fire dynamics to a highly inaccurate sound bite; and
        apparently are designed to mislead the public, and thereby enlist public support
        for a fundamentally flawed wildfire hazard mitigation agenda, which, if
        implemented, will have major negative ecological and financial repercussions on
        the taxpayer.

        There
        is nothing wrong with advocating for native plant restoration. There is nothing
        wrong with advocating for land transformation. There is everything wrong with
        trying to effect either one or both under the guise of wildfire hazard
        management. It injures the reputation of the fire service; endangers the
        firefighters, who will be called to fight the fires that will be caused by
        improper wildfire hazard management due to putting idealogy ahead of fire
        science; and imperils the public.

        12
        Maloney
        response to Wildfire Mitigation Plan

        13
        Maloney
        response to Wildfire Mitigation Pl

        • Dano2

          Yes, it’s a myth that Blue Gum Eucalyptus are particularly flammable.

          Ludicrously false.

          Best,

          D

          • Bev Jo

            There is plenty of information available, including common sense, but you seem prefer to keep trolling. How much are they paying you?

          • Dano2

            I’m merely pointing out that despite your assertion that There is plenty of information available, the sockpuppets either don’t show any, or show a paper that doesn’t back their assertion.

            Weird.

            Best,

            D

          • Bev Jo

            The information is there, if you bother to read it, but you want us to post lies that fit your agenda? A firefighter’s information isn’t enough. But then you must be getting paid enough to keep trolling. A lot of money is being made by cutting down our parks without even a vote.

            http://milliontrees.me/

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathan-j-winograd/biological-xenophobia-the_b_3385265.html

            https://www.facebook.com/savetheeastbayhills?fref=ts

            http://harpers.org/archive/2015/09/weed-whackers/

          • Dano2

            Yes, not a single empirical reference, just the very same links all the same sockpuppets use (but nooooooooooo, you’re not a sockpuppet, nuh-uh). You gots science on your side, yo.

            Tiresome to play whack-a-mole with these notclever sockpuppets.

            Best,

            D

          • Bev Jo

            You’re avoiding telling us how much you’re being paid to troll. My name and photo are public. But not you, so it seems like well-rewarded projection.

          • Dano2

            I’m not paid. And if you need to characterize my pointing out your specious assertions as ‘trolling’, that’s your weak rhetoric.

            Best,

            D

          • Bev Jo

            The important thing is that the information is here about our parks being clearcut and poisoned, for those who care and who won’t be benefiting by the destruction. (The lies are easily disproved by going into the parks, seeing the fire photographs, etc. Those who are too terrified by the myths to think clearly will never be convinced until our parks have become hot barren grasslands, and they see the resulting firestorms destroy the houses in the hills. Of course the increase in cancer and chronic illness by those exposed to Monsanto’s glyphosate and Dow’s garlon won’t be noticed at all.

            Again, for those who do care, the photo of the Eucalyptus who didn’t burn, though the houses did:

            https://www.facebook.com/savetheeastbayhills/photos/a.896529253726891.1073741828.896100850436398/940078662705283/?type=1&theater

            from Save The East Bay HillsThe Scripps Ranch fire of 2003 burned 150 homes, but — as can be seen in this NY Times photo — not Eucalyptus trees abutting many of those homes. When Angel Island erupted in flames in 2008, it was in the areas where they had cut down all the Eucalyptus that burned, burned to the very edge of the Eucalyptus forest, then stopped for lack of fuel: “At the edge of the burn belt lie strips of intact tree groves…a torched swath intercut with untouched forest.” (See http://goo.gl/f8OyGE) A 1991 Oakland Firestorm survivor writes: “I was a student at Cal during the 1991 fires. I lived in the Berkeley hills above campus near Strawberry Canyon. The eucalyptus and other trees saved the houses on my street by serving as a barrier between us and the fire.”

            According to David Maloney, former Oakland firefighter and Chief of Fire Prevention at the Oakland Army base, “Fire Science has proven that every living tree — regardless of its species — due to its moisture content and canopy coverage of ground fuels, contributes to wildfire hazard mitigation.”

            The U.S. Geological Survey noted that about 3% of fires occur in forests. The remainder — 97% — burn mostly in shrublands and grasslands (and urban areas), the exact environment in which the 1991 Firestorm ignited and which native plant ideologues want to recreate in the hills. Says Chief Maloney, “If it is implemented it will endanger firefighters and the general public; and it will be an outrageous waste of the taxpayer’s money.” In fact, the stated aim of the deforestation effort is to replace the East Bay’s Eucalyptus and Monterey Pine forests with shallow grasses, grasses that are highly susceptible to fire and which even the EBRPD has admitted on their website are “one of the most dangerous vegetation types for firefighter safety due to the rapid frontal spread of fire that can catch suppression personnel off guard.”

            Learn more: http://goo.gl/UTa1rp

          • Dano2

            Standard misleading phraseology the same 9 people use over and over.

            The Scripps Ranch eucs are not highly flammable blue gum. I guess you “forgot” to mention that.

            Blue gum are highly flammable, but no one advocating for their interests seems to ever tell us that. Why is that, do you think?

            In comparing wildfire parameters in blue gum stands versus native oak woodland (a comparable native habitat structure) fuel loads are significantly greater. E. globulus stands can accumulate significantly higher fuel loads than native woodlands. One study found fuel loads of 31 tons/acre in E. globulus stands as compared to 19 tons/acre in California bay forest and 12 tons/acre in coast live oak woodlands (National Park Service 2006). (Factors of ignition and relative flammability are not considered here.) Wildfire in grasslands is typically more frequent and less intense than wildfire in heavily wooded areas (whether native or non-native). Higher fire intensity can impact soils as well as seed mortality in the soil seed bank.

            Change the deceptive phrasing, as we’ve seen it a million times. Aren’t these people clever enough to change it up once in a while???

            Best,

            D

          • julierl

            Bev Jo, possibly the fire stopped at the start of the eucalyptus stand because the ground was wet. As in the Sutro Forest here in San Francisco, it’s always wet. The tall trees pull fog moisture down and because of that, there has never been a fire in Sutro Forest. UCSF was using the same fire-scare tactics, with limited success. They only want the land to develop. The naivete of the anti-eucalyptus set, who see UC Berkeley, COO etc. as only having human safety as their concern, would be charming if it weren’t so – dense.

          • SkyHunter

            The fire stopped because is was not hot enough to burn a mature eucalypti that had the ground fuels removed.

          • julierl

            So, cutting the eucalyptus makes no sense.

          • SkyHunter

            Wrong. The trunk is fire resistant, but the rest of it creates optimum conditions for catastrophic fire.

  • brookse32

    The clearcutting plans that a small handful of incredibly misguided ‘environmentalists’ are supporting (the removal of 60% of a forest’s trees in a 15 year period is a clearcut) have nothing to do with fire hazard and everything to do with both real estate development, and an irrational desire of some of these so called environmental leaders to return the California landscape to the way it was 500 years ago, paired with their irrational hatred of eucalyptus and other ‘non-native’ trees. They hate these trees, not because they are more fire prone (they are not) but because they are not original to the area.

    But the reality is that the California landscape has been repeatedly and radically altered for over -15,000- years ever since the first humans migrated to North America, and used fire and other methods to completely change the land in order to promote game animals for hunting, and agriculture.

    Real estate developers and the UC system have capitalized on these irrational desires and fears about ‘non-native’ plants to justify large scale mass removal of trees so that they can make profits on developing the open land.

    And this handful of deeply misguided ‘environmentalists’ have fallen for being manipulated toward this end.

    Many of the statements that they make are very similar to, and often echoed openly by the anti-immigrant community, reflecting a fundamental neurotic mentality of despising the ‘other’ – any plant, animal or person who is seen as being an ‘invader’.

    The truth is this. The arguments that the ‘anti-invasive’ obsessed are using to promote the clearcutting of these trees are -exactly- the same arguments that the timber industry uses to justify clearcutting in our wild Sierra, Redwood, and Cascade forests – specifically, utterly false claims that fire danger, pests, disease and lack of forest ‘health’ will overwhelm the forests if humans do not ‘manage’ them with logging – thereby literally justifying cutting down the forest to ‘save’ it.

    This neurotic tree hating nonsense has no basis in actual ecological or evolutionary science, and a -strong- basis in timber industry and Monsanto propaganda, and it needs to stop.

  • Pietro Gambadilegno

    These are not environmental activists. They are crazy extremists trying to stop the removal of invasive non-native trees that damage local ecosystems and native species and that cause a fire hazard.

    • Mather_Matters
    • Bev Jo

      Our native trees are dying. The healthy and enormous, magnificent introduced tree species each bring 16 inches of water out of the fog each year, preventing fires and increasing many plant and animal species. No one can be doing more damage to our local ecosystems than those making money from destroying our parks with clearcutting and herbicides. Almost a half a million mature trees cut down will be environmental devastation. Wait for the landslides….

      Native species do fine with these beautiful trees, while countless native animals die horrible deaths from the herbiciding. (Like the California Newt on Sierra Club’s misleading sign.) EBRP’s bad management has destroyed some of their only wildflower areas left in the East Bay Hills.

      If you really care, just watch to see where eagles, hawks, owls and other raptors prefer to nest: Eucalyptus.

      • julierl

        And I might add, the monarch butterfly’s preferred overwintering place is the eucalyptus. The severely declining and endangered monarch.

        • SkyHunter

          The monarchs will use other trees when the eucalyptus are gone. The monarchs were here before the trees, they will be just fine without them. The greatest threat to monarch butterflies is weddings. People release them at weddings, without understanding the different migration paths. It is not the butterfly that is endangered, it is the generational migration.

          • There is no evidence of the monarch migration in California prior to the mid-19th century according to this study: Richard Vane-Wright, “The Columbus Hypothesis: An Explanation for the Dramatic 19th Century Range Expansion of the Monarch Butterfly,” in Biology and Conservation of the Monarch Butterfly, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 1993.

            This study reports that the monarch migration in California is using almost exclusively eucalyptus, Monterey pine, and Monterey cypress: Dennis Frey and Andrew Schaffner, “Spatial and Temporal Pattern of Monarch Overwintering Abundance in Western North America,” in The Monarch Butterfly Biology and Conservation, Cornell University Press, 2004. Seventy-five percent of the monarch migration in California is using eucalyptus in the 300+ sites where they are over-wintering. Unfortunately, both Monterey pines and Monterey cypress are being eradicated in the San Francisco Bay Area because nativists say they “don’t belong here.” The native range of the Monterey pine and cypress is very small. Therefore the claim that monarchs have alternatives to eucalyptus to spend the winter is more theoretical than real.

            The theory that weddings are the main threat to monarchs is ridiculous. It is based on the theory that the monarchs that are released are carrying pathogens that will be spread in the local monarch population. Again, that is another nativist theory not based on reality. There are many real threats to the monarch migration, including the eradication of milkweed by the widespread use of glyphosate by agriculture, loss of habitat, and the eradication of trees perceived to be non-native.

          • SkyHunter

            “The theory that weddings are the main threat to monarchs is ridiculous. It is based on the theory that the monarchs that are released are carrying pathogens that will be spread in the local monarch population.

            That is not the theory, that is just more evidence of your bias and ignorance. The different groups have different migratory patterns. The threat is from interbreeding and confusing the future generations.

            There is no evidence that Monarchs will not use other trees, in fact, the study you cite says that 25% use other trees. Evidence that they will.

            It is your motivated reasoning and confirmation bias that leads you to the wrong conclusion with confidence.

          • SkyHunter

            There is no evidence of any Monarch migration prior to the mid-19th century.

            Why do you make it sound like it is unique to the California Monarchs?

            They eat milkweed and breed in the mountains, then the last generation migrates to California to hibernate in the trees. There is no evidence that they need any particular species of tree.

          • Michael Stone

            Come back and help out,,,, we need you and you are the best.

          • SkyHunter

            The tide is turning. Republicans and evangelicals are accepting reality. Most of the deniers left are paid propagandists.

          • Michael Stone

            I understand Sky… It’s time to pack it up.

          • SkyHunter

            I was primarily interested in learning the science and studying the phenomenon of denial with science as a reality check.
            Now I have other focuses.

          • Permaculture obviously ought to be orders of magnitude more rewarding than dealing with deniers

          • Michael Stone

            In the process of your scientific “reality check”, you managed to do a great deal of important good in helping many learn the science of global warming and in my opinion altered the false thinking of many who were ignorant skeptics of the most serious issue humanity has ever faced.

            When you decided to just stop, it was like losing the leader of a small army of people who were trying their best to fight the rich dictators who have no care for anything except their financial bottom lines and would allow the planet to be destroyed to satisfy their selfish needs.

            Your support and leadership were priceless….. Over the centuries major differences for the good of all life have been the result of one person, a Thomas Paine, a Robin Hood, a Rachel Carson.

            You have time, a few hours a week. Besides; sometimes it is fun and relaxing and you often also learn important things that you didn’t know.

          • julierl

            I think pesticide and herbicide use added to habitat loss trump the weddings threat every time.

  • Thank you for this article about the opposition to destroying over 400,000 trees in the East Bay Hills. The “documents” protesters delivered to the Sierra Club on Tuesday was a petition to the Sierra Club to “stop advocating for deforestation and pesticide use in the San Francisco Bay Area.” There were over 2,200 signatures on the petition when it was delivered on Tuesday. Many of the signers are members of the Sierra Club who object to the Club’s policy on this issue. The petition is available here: http://milliontrees.me. Click on the purple button to sign the petition. The petition has not yet been delivered to the national leadership of the Sierra Club. Therefore, it is still possible to sign the petition.