East Bay CURRENT STATUS, an overview
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 to ensure our community's safety from wildfire while maintaining its precious, forested, ecosystem which is an irreplaceable bulwark against a hotter, drier local ecosystem, and a more fireprone landscape. We have been largely effective, having successfully challenged and ended several clearcutting campaigns over the years which, under various false pretenses, would have increased wildfire danger by converting healthy, cooling, fog-generating forests into unstable hillsides fire prone grasslands. READ ABOUT OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS, made possible with your support.
The many varied projects of several East Bay agencies and institutions, given various names including "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 is going to look like, early indications are that while the environmental consultants did a good job, political pressure from the native plant restoration community has resulted in some non-sensical project recommendations. HCN expects to spend considerable time on this in the coming months.
East Bay Regional Park District is gradually implementing their "Measure CC" plan under the auspices of the associated EIR that HCN sued and ultimately settled a number of years ago. At this time there are no additional EIRs planned and progress is dependent on funding. While this plan is far from perfect, it's a generally measured effort that we hope to help shape over the coming years to have a greater use of ensuring neighborhood safety that removal of trees in areas far away from homes.
East Bay Municipal Utility District owns a relative small number of parcels at above Grizzly Peak Boulevard that they have been effectively managing for many years. While they recently bowed to pressure from the nativist community and clearcut a 3 acre parcel, generally their management efforts have been intelligent and thoughtful. EBMUD values the maintenance of shaded fuel breaks (keeping tall trees and aggressively managing understory fuels) and has demonstrated great success with this approach in recent fires near the ridgeline. Additionally, EBMUD has a policy of zero herbicide use on the properties, instead using hand labor every few years to keep resprouts in check. There are no significant EBMUD projects planned for the foreseeable future.
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 this. The HCN suit was ultimately settled with FEMA, with the funds that would have been awarded to UC and Oakland instead being awarded to EBRPD. Since that time 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 the development of this EIR, UC has released a roadmap for "maintenance" work under the 2020 LRDP...and has already implemented the first phase on Centennial Drive.
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 with essentially zero environmental review. We are currently attempting to gain more clarity from UC as to exactly what they propose for the balance of their "maintenance" projects.
THE PHOTOS BELOW show UC's aggressive tree felling along Centennial Drive in the hills campus.
THE MAPS BELOW, created by the university, show UC's even more extensive future "vegetation management" projects which appear (as in the photos above) to 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.