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UC yet again....

After a period of calm UC is once again attempting to move forward with a new vegetation management plan. The details are available at: https://capitalstrategies.berkeley.edu/hill-campus They also released an EIR for this plan available at: https://capitalstrategies.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/ucb_wvfmp_final_draft_for_public.pdf Please note that the 45 day review period for the EIR has started and comments must be submitted by 9/28. It's important that folks who have concerns about what's proposed get their inputs on the record. HCN will be submitting an extensive comment document outlining concerns with the plan and EIR. Among the concerns are: - The plan is for a fuels management program rather than a fire management program. One has to wonder why the focus on fuels when the objective of reducing risk to the public might be better served by focusing on other areas. - While the University cites the 2017 Grizzly Peak fire as evidence of the need for fuels management, they fail to mention that this fire occurred in an area that had been previously treated by UC to make it more "fire safe". This fire only stopped when it ran out of fuel at the EBMUD shaded fuel break on the East side of Grizzly Peak....a stand of tall eucalyptus trees. One has to wonder why the University would want to create more vegetation that has shown such a strong propensity to burn. And one only has to look at the current California fires as yet more evidence that "restoring" land to "natives" is only going to INCREASE the risk of fire. - While there is much discussion about ground fuels, especially eucalyptus bark, there is no discussion of fog drip and ground temperatures and increased propensity for fire when the shade canopy is removed. The US Forest Service in its AMSET analysis made it perfectly clear that removing these tall trees would substantially increase the risk and voracity of fires. - Once again, this EIR prevents a faulty analysis of the before and after conditions that this plan is designed to address. Rather than compare the "before" conditions to the new equilibrium conditions that would emerge a few years after any vegetation removal happens, this plan instead compares the "before" to the "after" immediately post treatment. While this sort of analysis is used to prove the effectiveness of a treatment, it's all but irrelevant in understanding if what's proposed is actually effective. What needs to be modeled is the "after" condition once the new equilibrium is attained...and this will be very different from the "day after" condition of the site. - The EIR talks about the dense understory as being the real problem for fire risk, but then goes on to attempt to justify removing large trees that form the overstay. Completely non-sensical. - Finally, the HCN alternative is reviewed and is acknowledged as being superior to the UC plan in many ways...yet isn't adopted. More will be forthcoming, but please consider sending your comments to UC as instructed on their website. thanks!

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