FEMA Plans Clear-Cutting 82,000 Berkeley and Oakland Trees

I had just sat down to read about the Elementals when they drew my attention to the following monstrosity of a plan. Heads up, tree lovers, organic foodies, and Nature lovers, when FEMA wants to chop down 82,000 perfectly healthy trees, cover the ground with two feet of wood mulch and then pour Roundup all over that land … it’s not about improving the soil! It’s about a Monsanto payout — yes, for those who don’t already know, the GMO company brought us Roundup and Agent Orange — and a major attack on Mother Earth and the high proportion of tree-hugging humans inhabiting the Bay Area. While everyone’s out Marching Against Monsanto and demanding GMO labels, Monsanto’s workin’ another angle.

UPDATE: I’m bumping up a comment from Million Trees: “People are concerned about the use of Roundup by this project because they know more about it. In fact, a much more toxic herbicide will be sprayed on the stumps of tens of thousands of trees that will be destroyed. Garlon with the active ingredient triclopyr is less well known than Roundup, but more toxic. If people knew as much about Garlon as they know about Roundup they would be more concerned about this destructive project. Roundup will also be foliar sprayed on non-native shrubs.

Thanks for covering this issue.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Do read the comments below, as some local people are speaking up regarding the pro’s of this plan as well, in terms of returning native trees and vegetation. My main concern is the large amounts of toxic chemicals being released into the environment. The original information was found on RMN.

Info and action tips below (originally seen on RMN):

“The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is moving to chop down 22,000 trees in Berkeley’s historic Strawberry and Claremont Canyons and over 60,000 more in Oakland. This destructive plan is rapidly moving forward with little publicity, and FEMA cleverly scheduled its three public meetings for mid and late May while UC Berkeley students were in finals or gone for the summer.

“UC Berkeley has applied for the grant to destroy the bucolic Strawberry and Claremont Canyon areas, claiming that the trees pose a fire hazard. The school has no plans to replant, and instead will cover 20% of the area in wood chips two feet deep. And it will pour between 700 and 1400 gallons of herbicide to prevent re-sprouting, including the highly toxic herbicide, Roundup. People are mobilizing against this outrageous proposal, which UC Berkeley has done its best to keep secret.

“Strawberry Canyon. Photo credit: Corin Royal DrummondWhen I heard this week that the federal government would be funding the clear-cutting of 85,000 beautiful Berkeley and Oakland trees, including 22,000 in historic Strawberry and Claremont Canyon, my initial reaction was disbelief. I then wondered how the feds have money for this destructive project while Head Start and public housing programs are being cut due to the sequester.

“The trees in Strawberry and Claremont Canyon have been there for decades and hardly constitute a “hazard.” But pouring 1400 gallons of herbicide on the currently pristine hills will create a real hazard, and UC Berkeley even plans to use the highly toxic herbicide “Roundup” to squelch the return of non-native vegetation.

“This is a true horror story that will happen absent public opposition. I know that many will find it hard to believe that this could occur in the pro-environment San Francisco Bay Area, but UC Berkeley may be counting on this attitude to get all the approvals they need before people find out the truth.

“Please read “Death of a Million Trees,” which provides all of the facts, figures and background about the Strawberry and Claremont Canyon proposed clear cutting as well as the tree destruction plans for the East Bay. The last public hearing will be held Saturday, May 18, 2013, 10 AM – 12 PM, at Claremont Middle School, 5750 College Avenue in Oakland.

“The public has until June 17 to submit written comments on the project. You can do so through the East Bay Hills hazardous fire risk reduction project website, or via email.

“There are countless destructive attacks on the environment that Bay Area activists cannot impact. But this is occurring in our own backyard, and activists must make sure that this cannot happen here.”

13 responses to this post.

  1. People are concerned about the use of Roundup by this project because they know more about it. In fact, a much more toxic herbicide will be sprayed on the stumps of tens of thousands of trees that will be destroyed. Garlon with the active ingredient triclopyr is less well known than Roundup, but more toxic. If people knew as much about Garlon as they know about Roundup they would be more concerned about this destructive project. Roundup will also be foliar sprayed on non-native shrubs.

    Thanks for covering this issue.


  2. Posted by Eric Bennett on June 5, 2013 at 2:46 am

    I am for the cutting of the invasive non native Eucalyptus trees spoken of…. they have taken over at the expense of the native Redwoods. My Great geandparents home was lost as was an entire neighborhood in berkeley hills when my father was young. People 50 and over from the bayarea have seen uncontrollable fires and major losses due to.these


  3. The main issue I have with it is the dumping of thousands of gallons of extremely toxic herbicide into the environment. There’s got to be a better way. This Roundup and worse will wind up in all your groundwater, in “organic” gardens, in the air (as it will also be sprayed), and it probably won’t even really solve the issue. There are ways to work WITH Nature — i.e. permaculture — so that human needs and Nature’s way find their own solutions and balance. Whenever an invasive species enters the area, it’s a sign of another prior imbalance. There are ways to regain balance, but this plan with all the herbicides is a disaster waiting to happen. The difference is that it will kill many people in slow, excruciating ways over time via things like cancer, which, due to the time lapse won’t have any “direct” correlation to this terrible policy. I used to live in Sonoma County, and I also lived in Monterey, which has its own eucalyptus groves. I understand the fire risks, but, again … there are other imbalances at work besides just the eucalyptus trees. Humans are the real invasive species. 😦


  4. Posted by John Kelly on June 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    It would be nice if you were more careful about your “facts.” No clear-cutting is contemplated. Only the invasive and non-native eucalyptus, Monterey pine, and acacia are to be removed. Herbicide is to be dribbled on the cut stumps and stems within a minute of cutting (otherwise it doesn’t work). Native vegetation will take the place of the exotics. If you want to see how the same project on a smaller scale actually played out, go up to the top of Claremont Canyon. The eucalyptus are gone, and the buckeyes, bays, and oaks are coming back.
    I also question your assertion that UC and FEMA tried to keep this secret. I think you can’t prove it. I know for a fact that a lot of people showed up at a public meeting last month, a lot of them people who love the East Bay hills and love to walk in them, and at least one of them–a naturalist I know and respect with an encyclopedic knowledge of the flora of our hills–left thinking this was not such a bad idea.
    There’s room for argument about this proposal. Hysterical half-truths do no good.


  5. Well, I’m glad there’s discussion happening, and I’m equally glad I no longer live in the Bay Area, as I would NOT want all these chemicals released near me. I wish everyone well there, and I do hope that whatever solution is implemented, there won’t be long-lasting toxic effects from herbicide spraying and dousing of chemicals on the trees and shrubs. The article I posted was linked to where I found it, not my own words other than the short intro.


  6. http://milliontrees.me/herbicides/
    Info on Garlon and the method of application.

    Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) hired a consulting firm to conduct a risk assessment of herbicides that MMWD was considering for possible use. The risk assessment reports the following risks of triclopyr, the active ingredient in Garlon:

    “Triclopyr poses the highest risk to workers, the general public and most aquatic and terrestrial wildlife. The primary factor contributing to high human risk is dermal exposure from handling the chemical during applications or from vegetation contact.”
    “Triclopyr…[is] inherently more toxic to mammals. Triclopyr is particularly toxic to pregnant animals, causing severe birth defects in the fetus if the mother is exposed during pregnancy…Triplopyr…[is] an order of magnitude more toxic to birds than the other herbicides, and triclopyr is the most toxic of the five herbicides to bees…”
    “Although most of the field studies designed to measure triclopyr water contamination indicate that triclopyr will not run off in substantial amounts, actual monitoring data indicate that triclopyr contamination of waterways is occurring…In California, where triclopyr is used…11.5% of 227 samples contained detectable triclopyr.”


  7. http://sutroforest.com/2011/01/06/pt-reyes-light-an-informed-arborist-and-eucalyptus/

    Information from an informed arborist about the myths of eucalyptus, including “increased fire risks.”


  8. Posted by Susan Harnisch on June 7, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Make sure your Sierra Club chapter is contacted by your organization.


  9. Mr. Bennett is mistaken about eucalyptus “taking over redwoods.” There were few redwoods in the East Bay prior to settlement. They grew only in a few riparian corridors where there was sufficient water to sustain them. They require more water than eucalyptus. They will not/cannot replace eucalyptus trees. There were also few oaks in the hills in grassland savannah.

    Native plant advocates are often unaware of the natural history and horticultural requirements of native plants in the Bay Area. When the non-native forest is destroyed, the land will be occupied by non-native grasses and shrubs. These projects do not intend to plant anything and native plants are no longer competitive in the changed climate, soil, and air quality conditions, especially in urban environments.

    Native plant advocates are also unaware of the fact that the native ecology is fire adapted and dependent. Destroying non-native plants and trees will not reduce fire risk.


  10. […] “environmentalists” in San Francisco’s East Bay Area advocate “painting” Roun…and an even more toxic chemical on clear cut eucalyptus tree stumps as a sustainable way of managing […]


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