UC's plans using Cal Fire money
We fully expect UC to in the next few weeks release their EIR for the entire "hill campus". While we are hoping that what they propose is less destructive (and ineffective) than what they have done so far, this is probably unrealistic. We say this because the Claremont Canyon project, while effective in removing ground fuels, resulted in mowing down all the tall trees on the north side of the road (where the non-natives are), leaving nothing but stumps and a few scraggly natives.
While other land managing agencies in the area have recognized the benefits of tall tree canopy that can create a "shaded fuel break", not UC. UC, for whatever reason, seems to be wedded to the discredited idea that simply replacing non-natives with natives will solve the fire problem. Not only is this simply not true (just look at what's been burning in California over the past decade.....it's not eucalyptus forests), but in addition to being expensive and environmentally disastrous, it will actually increase the proliferation of ground fuels, resulting in a more dangerous fire regime.
Don't believe it? Just look at what the USFS said when the FEMA grants were being considered:
"Removal of the eucalyptus overstory would reduce the amount of shading on surface fuels, increase the wind speeds to the forest floor, reduce the relative humidity at the forest floor, increase the fuel temperature, and reduce fuel moisture. These factors may increase the probability of ignition over current conditions.
Furthermore, complete removal of the eucalyptus overstory would result in increases in wind speed which result in a more severe range of fire behavior effects as previously mentioned above. The following illustration is an example of predicted or anticipated flame length for a partially sheltered and an un- sheltered brush fuel model to illustrate lower wind speeds for a thinned stand versus higher wind speeds found with complete removal of eucalyptus trees."
But in spite of the problems with the UC approach, and the fact that what they propose will have a significantly negative impact on carbon emissions and ongoing carbon sequestration capacity, Cal Fire has awarded them $3.6 million dollars to do more of the same.
We think it's time for those opposed to this craziness to expect Cal Fire to NOT fund projects that clearly violate Cal Fire's own guidelines. The responsible person is Natalie Burke...email@example.com
Cal Fire grant guidelines specify that projects should reduce carbon emissions, but what UC proposes clearly increases them, both in the short term and the long term.
The whole purpose of Cal Fire grants is to reduce fire risk, not achieve native plant restoration, yet the UC project actually increase the amount of flammable fine fuels available to burn, increasing the fire risk to the public.
Public moneys should be spent advancing the interests of the public, not some narrow constituency with outsized influence. In this case $3.6 million of Cal Fire money will be used as partial funding for a $5.7 million program that will most likely increase fire risk. To make matters worse, cutting down tall trees is the most expensive fire risk mitigation methodology possible....UC could achieve far better fire risk mitigation with far less money and far less environmental damage if they would only abandon this craziness.
More information on this can be found at:https://milliontrees.me/2021/01/18/cal-fire-grant-has-created-fire-hazards-in-the-east-bay-hills/
Please send Ms. Burke (or her designee) an email asking that the balance of this UC grant be immediately rescinded pending UC coming up with an approach that doesn't violate Cal Fire guidelines and actually makes good use of public funds and results in a lessened fire risk rather than an increased fire risk.