On January 23, 2018 HCN was advised that Federal Magistrate Laurel Beeler sided with HCN in denying the Claremont Canyon Conservancy’s (CCC) request to intervene in the UC Berkeley versus FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) lawsuit currently before the court.
The CCC had argued that they were preeminent experts on fire risk mitigation in the East Bay and had standing because of their association with Norman LaForce (and the Sierra Club lawsuit against FEMA).
But Judge Beeler decided against this argument and in favor of HCN’s argument—and wildfire danger mitigation opinions shared by East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). All these agencies joined HCN in our legal argument that cutting down thousands of healthy trees of any species is not an effective or scientifically validated practice of reducing wildfire danger. (In fact it actually INCREASES fire danger. READ MORE.) Thus the court's decision to disallow CCC’s entry and interference in the case.
This victory is critically important because we are set to begin the Alternative Dispute Resolution process with a Federal Mediator late next week (ending March 2, 2018). Had the CCC been allowed to participate, they would have likely shared confidential information with their allies at the local Bay Area chapter of The Sierra Club (e.g., Norman LaForce is a member of both). They would likely have prevented progress on serious negotiations, advocating as they continually do for the “removal” (aka felling) of tens of thousands of trees (aka clearcutting; reducing century-old forests to grasslands).
The underlying issue being litigated is that The UC Berkeley (UC) is attempting to overturn the landmark 2016 settlement agreement between HCN and FEMA which resulted in Strawberry Canyon and Claremont Canyon retaining their healthy forests—tens of thousands of trees that define and enrich our hills, neighborhoods, recreation, wildlife and human lives.
If UC is successful in overturning the settlement agreement it would reopen the possibility of mass clearcutting in the “ Hills Campus”, exactly what the HCN is determined to prevent. We are dedicated to working FOR the preservation of our East Bay forests.
Thank you all again for your financial support in making these legal victories possible. You can support our ongoing efforts HERE.
- Dan Grassetti, HCN boardmember