East Bay agencies & municipalities STATUS UPDATES
ABOVE: felling hundreds of trees beyond the 100 ft. Defensible Space requirements for fire safety INCREASES fire danger by: reducing critical, cooling tree canopy windbreaks, shade, and fog; intensifying heat, winds and aridity.
HCN's primary goal is ensuring our community's safety from wildfire by maintaining our forested hills, a critical bulwark against a hotter,
drier local ecosystem — and a fire prone landscape.
Over the years, HCN has successfully challenged and thwarted several clearcutting campaigns which, under various guises as "fire danger mitigation" and "vegetation management" and "habitat restoration," would have increased wildfire danger by cutting down healthy, cooling, fog-generating forests, destabilizing hillsides and making way for fire prone grasslands.
The many and varied projects of several East Bay agencies and institutions, with misleading labels like "fire risk mitigation work" and “vegetation management,” affect us all. We remain actively involved and engaged in discussions with these agencies and institutions, including but not limited to: UC Berkeley, The East Bay Regional Parks Districk (EBRPD), The City of Oakland, and the East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD).
The City of Oakland is currently creating an EIR (Environmental Impact Report) for their Vegetation Management Plan, required by California state law. While it's too early to know what this EIR will look like, early indications are that despite their environmental consultants making science-based recommendation, political pressure from the native plant restoration community has resulted in some non-science-based project recommendations. HCN expects to spend considerable time reviewing all this in the coming months.
READ MORE on City of Oakland PAGE.
East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) is gradually implementing their "Measure CC" plan under the umbrella of the associated EIR that HCN sued and ultimately settled a few years ago. Currently there are no additional EIRs planned and progress is dependent upon funding. While this plan is far from perfect, it's generally a measured effort. We hope to help shape it over the coming years, to maintain its focus on ensuring neighborhood safety, not the destruction of trees in areas far from houses and structures.
East Bay Municipal Utility District (EMBUD) owns only a few parcels above Grizzly Peak Boulevard which they've been effectively managing for years. While they recently bowed to lobbying pressure from the "nativist" community to clearcut a 3-acre parcel, their management efforts have generally been intelligent and thoughtful.
EBMUD understands the value of maintaining tall tree stands, regardless of species, as shaded fuel breaks, and their utility in mitigating wind-driven fires, and instead managing understory vegetation (fine fuels). The agency has enjoyed great success with this approach in recent grass fires near the ridgeline, in which tall trees were not ignited.
Additionally, EBMUD has a laudable policy of zero herbicide use on their properties, instead using hand labor every few years to keep re-sprouts in check.
EBMUD has no significant future projects planned.
Below is a listing and brief description of current 2020 plans and projects in our hills communities, updated regularly. Those with extensive projects have their own page. Stay informed by joining our email list.
UC has been the most problematic of the East Bay hills agencies. Beginning in the early 2000s, UC had been advocating a policy of 100% removal of Monterey pines, acacias and eucalyptus in the entire "hill campus". HCN filed suit against the FEMA Environmental Impact Study several years ago to prevent its implementation which would have destroyed literally thousands of healthy trees. HCN's suit was ultimately settled with FEMA, and the funds earmarked for UC and Oakland were awarded only to EBRPD.
Since then, UC tried to use an outdated EIR (Environmental Impact Report) from their 2020 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) to justify newer, unrelated vegetation management projects. HCN brought a lawsuit against UC to challenge this practice — and won.
Our successful legal action forced UC to create a new EIR that is currently in its early stages. However, coincident with its development of this EIR, UC has released a roadmap for so-called "maintenance" work under the same 2020 LRDP — and has already implemented the first phase on Centennial Drive.
SEE THE DISTURBING PHOTOS & MAPS ATOP PAGE, and BELOW
While HCN generally supports species-neutral egress route maintenance, portions of this effort were far more than that. As a result, HCN will be closely monitoring the other portions of this roadmap to ensure that UC isn't simply attempting to remove large amounts of vegetation without any environmental review.
We are currently working to gain more information from UC as to exactly what they propose for the balance of their "maintenance" projects. GO TO UC Berkeley PAGE.
PHOTOS BELOW show UC's aggressive tree felling along Centennial Drive in the hills campus.
MAPS BELOW, created by the university, show UC's even more extensive future "vegetation management" projects. These appear (photos above) to far exceed the needs of defensible space for fire safety and roads access.
UC's CAL FIRE GRANTS WORK:
UC's ONGOING 2020 "VEGETATION MANAGEMENT" PROJECTS:
FELLING HUNDREDS OF TREES creates hotter, drier conditions and more wind-driven wildfires.