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Year end update

New Year's Eve, 2020

Dedicated to preserving the East Bay's urban forest, the Hills Conservation Network (HCN), a 501c3 non-profit, has been working for years to prevent massive clear-cutting in the Oakland/Berkeley hills. Your tax deductible donation is urgently needed now to continue the clear-cut fight in court. The Hills Conservation Network wants to stop UC Berkeley, the City of Oakland from using millions of taxpayer dollars to ruin the 150-year-old Hills ecosystem, increase the risk of fire and poison the earth.

For the past decade HCN lawsuits have been the major factor in preventing clear-cutting and environmental catastrophe in the East Bay Hills. While HCN has had numerous victories, the current political environment is making our work that much harder. In many hill areas, brush and weeds that would grow once the trees are removed will be sprayed year after year until nothing grows there. This toxic runoff would contaminate both our watershed creeks and the San Francisco Bay.

Trees, animals, waterways and the earth need your help right now. Your tax-deductible donations are essential to keep the legal challenges going. Please make a donation and share this urgent appeal so we can keep fighting in court

As it stands both UC and the City of Oakland are proposing plans and are developing EIRs that, If allowed to go forward, would DESTROY the ecosystem as it exists today, exposing animals, insects (including bees), young children as well as adults, the earth and waterways to unprecedented amounts of toxic herbicides over a 10 year period. These plans will result in landslides, while wiping out the shade and fog drip that decreases fire risk especially during periods of drought.

HCN has proposed instead a well researched strategy to prevent fire—thinning the close-packed trees to a number that is fire-safe per acre, saving and maintaining large trees in a healthy ecosystem. This strategy would reduce fuel and create fire breaks that would ensure effective fire department response.

The truth is--killing our forests will result in exactly the sort of vegetation that has been burning out of control across California for the past decade. If these deforestation efforts are allowed to happen their would allow fire to rip through the Hills as never before . . .

HCN has established a strong record of accomplishing much with little. Our core group works on a strictly volunteer basis, with virtually all of our donations going to legal expenses. Notable accomplishments have been:

>Lawsuit and subsequent settlement agreement with East Bay Regional Park District that resulted in a significantly less destructive plan, achieving fire risk mitigation concerns while maintaining environmental quality.

> Lawsuit and subsequent settlement agreement with FEMA that resulted in defunding UC and Oakland while providing this funding to EBRPD. Had HCN not initiated this suit, UC would have clearcut the entire Hill Campus years ago.

> Lawsuit against UC in their attempt to circumvent CEQA by using their 2020 facilities EIR as the basis for clearcutting the Hill Campus. As a result of this lawsuit, UC abandoned this effort and instead embarked on some smaller "maintenance" projects along major roadways while beginning work the their major Hill Campus EIR.

> Intervened in the UC versus FEMA lawsuit, where UC attempted to overturn the settlement agreement that had been reached with described above. FEMA and HCN prevailed in this case, with the Federal Magistrate throwing UC's case out.

> Intervened yet again in the UC versus FEMA lawsuit, where UC appealed their prior loss to the 9th District Court of Appeals. We expect a final decision on this matter in mid-February (unless UC decides to appeal to the US Supreme Court)

Currently, HCN is actively involved in both UC and the City of Oakland's new EIRs to deforest the hills. While we hope it's not necessary, we think it highly likely that HCN will file legal challenges against one or both of these EIRs. The first of these is likely to be certified within the next month.

Legal challenges are expensive, but HCN has spent the communities money well, achieving outstanding results with very little funding. We commit to doing the same going forward. Your tax deductible contribution to HCN is money well spent to ensure that the beauty we have all taken for granted isn't reduced to a sea of poisoned stumps.

Please HELP save the trees and all the wildlife depending on them by making a donation today.

In gratitude,


Dan Grassetti


Hills Conservation Network


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