Plan to Decimate East Bay Forests Scheduled to Begin This August
By Jennifer Winograd
FEMA has just announced a grant of nearly $6 million dollars in federal funding to pay for an environmentally catastrophic plan by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, UC Berkeley and the East Bay Regional Parks District to decimate the forests of the Oakland and Berkeley hills in California. When implementation of this plan begins at the end of summer, 100,000 majestic, towering, shade-giving, habitat-creating, greenhouse gas eliminating trees will be clear cut and reduced to mere stumps. In order to prevent regrowth, clear cutting sites will be repeatedly soaked in toxic herbicides for an unspecified number of years to come; chemicals officially classified as “hazardous” which will poison the food and water supply for local wildlife – including several endangered species – and threaten the health and well-being of the people and animals visiting and residing in the region.
Dangerous to Wildlife & Pets
Included among their chemical arsenal is Garlon Ultra 4, an herbicide OSHA defines as “hazardous.” Made by Dow Chemical, Garlon 4 has been demonstrated to cause damage to the kidneys, blood and liver of dogs. Garlon is also a tenacious chemical that can persist in dead vegetation for up to two years after application. Not only will wildlife residing in the areas be subjected to repeated and prolonged exposure to a chemical known to be toxic to acquatic species, birds and other wild animals, so will the many dogs visiting the parks with their families, especially those at the EBRPD off leash areas.
Destroying Our Historical Heritage
While fear mongering about fire is being used to justify this assault on nature, the plan will actually increase the risk of fire. Healthy, green trees are to be chopped down and turned into wood chips which will be spread around clear-cut hillsides at a depth of several feet, creating thick beds of highly combustible dried wood. In reality, this plan has nothing to do with fire abatement and everything to do with promoting the agenda of a small group of irrational, tree hating zealots who are using fire abatement as publically palatable excuse to masquerade their true agenda: returning the region’s public lands to their bleak, barren, clear cut appearance at the end of the 19th century after timber hungry fortune seekers who arrived in the region during the Gold Rush decimated the hillsides. It was at that time that a plan to beautify the hills by planting Eucalyptus, Monterey Pine and Acacia trees was undertaken by celebrated poet and naturalist, Joaquin Miller, and other early Oakland settlers over a century ago. The beautiful, now towering trees they planted, which create shady, other worldly Edens beneath their canopies, provide vital habitat for the millions of animals residing in the East Bay hills, and which have become so iconic and defining of the region, are now the target of deliberate extermination. As FEMA notes in its Environmental Impact Statement about the plan they are funding, the EBRPD’s goal is to destroy eucalyptus and pine forests in order to “promote conversion to grassland with islands of shrub.”
If allowed to proceed in August, this plan will not only displace and poison wild animals, it will radically transform the character and appearance of one of the most beloved natural treasures of the San Francisco Bay Area. Not since the Firestorm tragedy of 1991 has the region been under a similarly devastating threat but for one, crucial difference: this time, the danger to the well being of those residing in the hills and the scars upon the landscape will be deliberately inflicted by elected officials.
Please contact the following Oakland politicians to voice your opposition to this environmentally catastrophic plan to destroy the beauty and historical heritage of the East Bay:
Mayor Libby Schaaf
Oakland City Council Members
Desley Brooks: (510) 238-7006
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