For over a decade, literally thousands of healthy trees have been systematically cut down in our precious Berkeley and Oakland public lands, on hillsides across several jurisdictions including the East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD), the City of Oakland and under UC (University of California) Berkeley stewardship.
In addition, thousands of gallons of carcinogenic herbicides like Dow Garlon are applied annually to "manage" vegetation. These of course migrate or wash into soil, non-targeted plants, streams, lakes, and then fish, rodents, raptors and songbirds, and inevitably into us humans and our pets. Rachel Carson documented all this over 50 years ago in her seminal, "Silent Spring," in 1962, sparking the environmental movement. Disturbingly, routine applications of these poisons are applied to stumps of felled trees (often repeated, semi-annually, for years) and plants labeled as "weeds" or "invasives." This despite countless regulatory agency and university studies in the U.S. and abroad demonstrating herbicide dangers (despite manufacturer's claims to the contrary, as with the tobacco industry's decades of denying its products' toxicity). READ MORE ABOUT HERBICIDES.
So why are our public parks and open spaces being deforested and poisoned? There are many reasons for it, including: 1) institutional ignorance of sound fire mitigation strategies and land management policies; 2) exploitation of wildfire fears by native plant extremists determined to kill so-called "non-native" species, especially eucalyptus and Monterey Pine (and to a lesser extent Monterey Cypress and acacia) trees; and 3) in the case of UC Berkeley, profitable campus development becomes possible once forests are cleared.
The tragedy of these practices is manifold. For one, when forests are destroyed (called "removal" and even "restoration" by their Orwellian advocates), wildfire danger actually increases. Forest canopies shade and cool our hillsides and generate fog drip rain to moisten drought-stricken lands. After deforestation, the brush, grasses, chaparral and other, smaller vegetation that grows afterward produces far less shade and fog drip. Hotter and drier, and then drying out in summer and autumn, these smaller plants become the "fine fuels" that catch fire much more easily than do any trees, regardless of species. LEARN MORE about wildfire.
As if all this weren't bad enough, cutting down stands of trees means a loss of animal and bird habitat. And more landslides when winter rains come and hundred-year-old root systems no longer retain steep hillsides.