LARGEST Bay Area DEFORESTATION in 100 YEARS — will increase FIRE DANGER.
OVER 450,000 HEALTHY TREES WILL BE CUT DOWN by tragically misguided people, including even self-described environmentalists, who believe destroying forests and letting grasslands and shrubs replace them will reduce wildfire danger — even though trees, compared to grasslands and chaparral, capture more fog, create more shade, and thus cool the land. Trees also sequester more carbon, create windbreaks that drive fires, and are also home for thousands more animals and birds than grasslands. And contrary to a popular misconception, grasses and shrubs started the devastating 1991 Oakland hills fire — not eucalyptus trees, which are often erroneously blamed.
Grasslands and chaparral, not trees of any kind, are what start and rapidly spread many of California’s huge, fast-burning wildfires which made headlines in 2015 and 2016.
SEPT. 2016 UPDATE: Federal court ruling denies $5.7 million in FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) funds to cut down eucalyptus trees for the sake of “fire danger” mitigation.
The court’s decision is a de facto validation of the opinion that living eucalyptus forests are NOT a fire hazard as claimed by UC Berkeley, The City of Oakland, and East Bay Parks (EBRPD) which want to cut down hundreds of thousands of healthy trees and use the fear of wild fire to do it. The court’s judgment denies Federal Emergency (FEMA) money for deforestation masquerading as “vegetation management” and “fire danger mitigation.”
READ: Huffington Post NEWS STORY
by Nathan Winograd, Sept. 28, 2016:
Over 2,000 acres of land in the San Francisco Bay Area will be de-forested; trees cut down and chopped up into logs and wood chips, then left on the ground. Literally tons of dead wood will then dry out in the direct sun and BECOME a fire hazard — since cooling, moisture-capturing, shade-producing forest canopy will have been destroyed.
No replanting is included in the plan. That’s hard to believe, but it’s true. This is not “habitat restoration,” this is simply deforestation, turning thousands of acres of healthy forest into “grasslands with islands of shrubs,” a phrase used in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for this environmentally devastating plan.
Fire danger will also increase dramatically when fast-growing, opportunistic plants like poison oak, French broom and thistle will grow in place of these 120-year-old Bay Area forests. Grasses and brushy plants are nature’s way of healing the massive soil damage done by bulldozers and tree fellings. These smaller plants, growing closer to the ground than trees, act as fire ladders into all species of trees, and spread fire rapidly to houses. Grasses and brush contain much less water than tree trunks, so they dry out in summer and autumn — creating fire season in California. So this deforestation will increase the chance of a devastating wildfire — like the Oct. 1991 Hills Fire that spread rapidly to houses from grasses and brush. (More on that infamous fire below, including official reports not blaming trees.)
Massive, 70,000-acre grass and brush fires, NOT eucalyptus forest fires, are what burn out of control today, in the summer of 2016 (e.g., The Cold Fire in Yolo County, CA), and the autumn of 2015, making headlines in drought-stricken Northern and Southern California. These more ignitable landscapes will be increased by the Bay Area deforestations advanced by “nativists” who target specific tree species for eradication. READ MORE ABOUT WILDFIRE.
• READ: “Cutting Trees Won’t Help Us Live With Fire” by Marg Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 13, 2016. Hall adds to a growing chorus of critics of deforestation-as-fire-safety is both false and destructive: http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/Cutting-trees-won-t-help-us-live-with-fire-9969923.php
Thousands of gallons of poisonous herbicides — including Monsanto Roundup™ (glyphosate) and Dow Garlon™ (triclopyr) — will then be applied to the hundreds of thousands of tree stumps, twice each year, for ten years — or in perpetuity — to kill re-sprouting tree stumps. READ REPORT by World Health Organization, classifying glyphosate (Roundup’s active ingredient) as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” CLICK HERE
• READ “The Case for Banning Glyphosate” by Dr. Jeff Ritterman, M.D.: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/29244-will-richmond-reject-roundup-the-case-for-banning-glyphosate
• GO TO Monsanto Roundup™ PAGE
VIDEO: “The Forest and The Sea of Stumps” by Doug Prose. See what these forests look like now – and AFTER they’re destroyed.
The War on Invasive Species,” Harper’s Magazine, Sept. 2015, by Andrew Cockburn: http://harpers.org/archive/2015/09/weed-whackers
EXCERPT: The supposedly supercombustible eucalyptus, for example, survives fires that consume surrounding plant life — and rather than unfairly appropriating water, the tree actually irrigates soil by absorbing moisture from the coastal fogs through its leaves and funneling it out through its roots. (Though still cited as the prime culprit in the devastating 1991 Oakland firestorm, the eucalyptus was in fact cleared of responsibility in a FEMA report.) Monarch butterflies belie its reputation for repelling wildlife, the eucalyptus being their favored wintering abode in California.
• NBC-TV NEWS STORY, 7.31.15: “Residents Oppose Plan to Cut Down 400,000 Trees in East Bay Hills:” CLICK HERE
• News Story: East Bay Environmentalists at Odds Over Future of Eucalyptus Trees – July 5, 2016 – Two often likeminded, eco-friendly contingents debate whether or not to cut down forests. Local environmental groups call out The Sierra Club for supporting the large-scale deforestation and herbicides plan for Berkeley and Oakland public lands.
STORY, photo by Alex Barreira: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/enviros-vs-enviros/Content?oid=4881548
IN THE NEWS: July 18, 2015, TreeSpirit rally & photo to educate the public of 450,000-tree clearcut:
• KQED News story 7.19.15: CLICK HERE
• CBS News story 7.19.15:
• NBC News story 7.20.15: CLICK HERE
• The Daily Caller news story 7.20.15: CLICK HERE
• Campus Reform news story 7.22.15: CLICK HERE
SEE MORE MEDIA COVERAGE of the making of “Eucalyptus Stand”: CLICK HERE
Three different agencies are promoting this massive deforestation plan, using euphemisms like “vegetation management,”and “tree thinning” and even “habitat restoration” to describe cutting down hundreds of thousands of trees over 2,000 acres of public land.
A lawsuit by the Berkeley, CA based The Hills Conservation Network, a neighborhood environmental group, has successfully challenged the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) and halted the deforestation so far. But UC Berkeley and The City of Oakland are determined to cut down thousands of trees any way they can, driven by the “nativist” agenda of species eradication. UC Berkeley has in the past flouted environmental reviews to cut down forests (e.g., on Frowning Ridge off Grizzly Peak Blvd in Berkeley). Public opposition can alter the political landscape: citizens have been misled and misinformed by the spokespeople for these 3 agencies, and also by the media, downplaying the huge scale of the clearcuts, and what fire science says poses fire danger.
If they, if you, become educated and get involved, these precious public forests can be saved, fire danger and summer’s heat can be reduced, and thousands of gallons of herbicides can be kept out of the environment, and diminishing animal habitat preserved
Recent (2015, 2016) efforts by community environmental and activist groups (including TreeSpirit) have successfully publicized the clearcut plan’s giant scale — revealing what these agencies want hidden: that hundreds of thousands of trees will be cut down and treated with thousands of gallons of toxic herbicides. One of the agencies involved, East Bay Regional Parks (EBRPD), has responded to growing public outrage by denying the official numbers on their own official FEMA grant application:
SEE DETAILED FEMA MAP OF AREAS where trees will be cut down, including in these beloved Regional parklands:
• Tilden Park – 325 acres of trees cut
• Chabot Park – 200 acres of trees cut
• Sibley Volcanic Preserve - 166 acres
• Claremont Canyon Preserve – 152 acres
• Redwood Regional Preserve – 151 acres of trees cut
• Wildcat Canyon Park – 112 acres of trees cut down
The 3 agencies promoting clearcutting East Bay forests are:
1) East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD);
2) The City of Oakland;
3) The University of Calif. (“UC”) Berkeley
All three want to eradicate so-called “non-native” trees — but found no public support for cutting down hundreds of thousands of healthy trees — until they joined other “nativists” repeating the ridiculous claim that the trees they dislike are “flammable.” (Ask an Australian if he thinks eucalyptus trees, native to his country, are “dangerously flammable” as is now regularly claimed by nativists.) LEARN ABOUT “INVASION BIOLOGY”
“Nativists” also now repeatedly claim that only so-called “non-natives” — like the “non-native” Monterey Pine that is “native” only 115 miles away in Monterey, CA! — were responsible for the 1991 Oakland Hills fire. This, despite official reports to the contrary (see FEMA report directly below). No scientific studies exist to back their claims. But a lie repeated often enough, preying on people’s fear of fire and trauma from the ’91 fire, have become, for many, the perceived truth.
Tragically, cutting down hundreds of thousands of trees will actually INCREASE fire danger.
Fire science has repeatedly demonstrated that clearcutting forests, regardless of tree species, INCREASES fire danger because grasses and shrubs replace them and are thinner and drier — retain less water, gather much less fog drip — than trees do. Reversing that, trees, regardless of species are more fire-resistant than grasses and shrubs because they contain more water, are larger and have thicker trunks than small plants like thistle, broom, and “native” coyote brush. (Ever try to burn a green log in a fireplace?)
And with this deforestation plan, the trees won’t be removed from the land, but only become dead logs and wood chips left on the ground, to become what firefighters call “ground fuels” in any future wildfire.
Additionally, shade-making, fog collecting forest canopy will be destroyed, the Oakland and Berkeley hillsides will become overall hotter and drier with thousands of acres of forest gone, again increasing fire danger.
CRITICAL POINT WORTH REPEATING: The 1991 Oakland hills fire began in grasses and shrubs, and then ignited houses. Eucalyptus trees were NOT responsible for its start— although today they are routinely blamed/scapegoated. Eucalyptus, like redwoods, bays and oaks all burned of course, but human error had much more to do with that fire catastrophic result — and all this is detailed in several official reports on that fire. (READ MORE about all this below, under “1st FALSE ALARM: FIRE DANGER”)
The U.S. Forest Service explained why cutting down the eucalyptus forests will INCREASE fire danger in its Sept. 27, 2013 assessment of the deforestation plan:
“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.“ [Emphasis added - Ed.]
SPREADING FEAR…of TREES?! Step back for a moment to a more objective distance and ask yourself: since when are forests trees of any kind something to be afraid of, to feel endangered by?
This is an entirely new phenomenon, stirred by repeated — and largely or even completely unfounded — claims that some trees are “invasive,” and worse, especially flammable (!), or fall over more easily, or crowd out other trees, or don’t support wildlife — myriad and increasingly bizarre claims without scientific substantiation. Simultaneously, the myriad benefits of the “dangerous” trees, like ALL trees offer, are ignored, like O2 production, shade, moisture collection, soil retention, carbon sequesteration, and so on. This is the result of “Invasion Biology” which puts some species of plants (and animals) into simplified, overly broad categories of Good and Bad. No scientific studies support these arguments, just hearsay, false generalized information — and years of repetition. READ MORE ABOUT INVASION BIOLOGY
AND IF EUCALYPTUS TREES in California WERE AS FLAMMABLE as claimed — so-called “gasoline trees” — why has there not been one major eucalyptus fire in 100 years? (The only fire, in fact, sometimes blamed on eucalyptus trees is the 1991 Oakland hills fire, which, as has been oft-repeated on this website, has been officially documented as NOT the fault of eucalyptus trees.)
HOW FEAR CAN OVERRIDE REASON: An April 2015 study by California’s Chapman University, surveying 1,514 random American adults, found 8.5% have kenetimortophobia — a fear of zombies!
Since the likelihood of these people encountering a zombie is, uh, incredibly low, zombie fear exists for reasons for an imagined danger, not an actual one. Presumably from watching pop culture movies and TV shows of attacking zombies. So to, people who fear being killed in a eucalyptus-specific forest fire — or being harmed by so-called “invasive” plants or animals — are programmed by repetition of alarmist words and images (like of forest fires). READ THE Chapman University STUDY ON FEAR.
READ Jack’s blog, “Of eucalyptus trees and the zombie apocalypse”
HOW WAS THE 450,000 TREES NUMBER DETERMINED? Significantly, you won’t find an estimate online nor in any printed materials from East Bay Parks, The City of Oakland, or UC Berkeley on the number of trees they will cut down. They only mention acreage, or numbers obliquely and their public statements vague or misleading (e.g., “just trees on ridgelines”). Numbers are not available to the public, because if people learned the scale of the planned deforestation — hundreds of thousands of healthy trees — they would be outraged and take action.
But a community environmental website has done what done what the would-be tree cutters will not, providing a thorough estimation system to arrive at the 450,000-trees number, based on the only actual documentation, the Environmental Impact Statement. READ THE ESTIMATE: http://milliontrees.me/2013/05/09/nearly-a-half-million-trees-will-be-destroyed-if-these-east-bay-projects-are-approved-revised
LOGGING INCREASES FIRE DANGER, shows fire science. Read “The Maloney Report,” by David Maloney, the former Chief of Fire Prevention at The Oakland Army Base.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) considers all living trees, no matter the species, more resistant to fire than grasses, shrubs, and dead, woody materials on the ground. The NFPA does not draw distinctions between “native” and “non-native” species. Learn how forests act to SUPPRESS fires in many ways. READ REPORT.
Instead, make your house resistant to ignition.
Dr. Jack Cohen, Fire Science Researcher with the USDA Forest Service Fire Lib in Missoula, MT, explains current research on how homes ignite during wildfires, and measures homeowners can take to help their house survive flames and embers.
VIDEO “Wildfire! Preventing Home Ignitions”
VIDEO of Fire Lab ember experiments on structures:
READ how logging damages an ecosystem, by George Wuerthner: http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2016/01/13/how-much-ice-is-right-collaboratives-and-forest-ecosystems
Forests do not need to be “fixed” or “restored” as they are perfectly capable of “restoring” themselves, if indeed, one even agrees that they “need” restoration—an assumption I would question in most instances. — George Wuerthner
IN BRIEF The plan to cut down over 450,000 healthy trees is an environmental disaster and creates multiple safety hazards. It will not achieve its stated objective of fire danger mitigation because:
1) the hillsides will be made MORE likely to catch fire when living trees are cut down into dead, drying wood LEFT ON THE GROUND as logs and wood chips, not removed from the hills.
2) fast-growing, flammable plants like thistle, broom and poison oak will flourish post-clearcuts, dry out in summer/autumn, becoming their own fire hazard;
3) thousands of gallons of toxic herbicides Monsanto Roundup™ and Dow Garlon™ herbicide will be applied twice/year in perpetuity, leaching into soil, groundwater, mammals, birds, plants, and humans;
4) hundreds of acres of 2-foot-deep piles of wood chips (20% of the 2,000+ acres of “treatment” area) will be left on the ground. Forests will be turned into ground fuels, capable even of spontaneous combustion.
5) no replanting of any kind is planned, “native” or otherwise. (Not that saplings could replace large, mature trees anyway.) This is large-scale deforestation, not habitat restoration.
Tragically, the SF Bay Area chapter of the magnificent Sierra Club, which should know better and perhaps soon will, officially supports this environmentally devastating plan to cut down 450,000 trees AND then apply thousands of gallons of Dow Garlon™ and Monsanto Roundup to the stumps of felled trees. These known carcinogens migrate to land, water, birds, mammals — and humans — on these public lands.
Although many chapter members question the “nativist” ideology propelling massive deforestation and herbicides applications, the leadership has yet to reverse their entrenched position which has the venerable environmental group acting as a de facto apologist and booster for — and customer of — the chemical industry, advocating for the widespread use of Dow Garlon™ and Monsanto Roundup™.
Conservation biologist David Theodoropoulus, author of the ground-breaking, “Invasion Biology; Critique of a Pseudoscience” observed this:
THE WHOLE, DISTURBING STORY
As unlikely as this may seem to you at first, there is a completely different agenda driving the clearcuts, by people who ignore decades of established fire science. Have you ever heard of cutting down entire forests because they are fire hazards? Of course not. Which is why the U.S. Forest Service, the California EPA, and FEMA itself (1992 report on the 1991 Oakland hills fire), and firefighters don’t support this plan, which is driven instead by ideology and politics.
This other agenda is that of “native plant” advocates who for decades have wanted to eradicate all Monterey Pine, acacia — and especially all eucalyptus trees — in the state of California. They want to eradicate plant (and tree and animal) species they say don’t “belong,” even if this means cutting down hundreds of thousands of healthy, mature trees, 150-year-old forests, and introducing thousands of gallons of toxic herbicides to the environment. This devastation is often called “habitat restoration.” It is known to its increasing number of scientific, biologist, and lay critics as, Invasion Biology. READ ALL ABOUT IT.
Invasion Biology proponents have found stirring fear of wildfire is an effective method of accomplish their aesthetic agenda of species eradication.
Living forests of ALL species — including the routinely maligned eucalyptus tree — are actually bulwarks AGAINST wildfire because:
1) trees retain huge amounts of water in their trunks and are fire-resistant — much more than houses;
2) trees capture fog which drips to the ground, each year creating 10″ of “rain” in the East Bay hills;
3) trees create cooling shade which keeps the ground and plants moist; cutting down forest canopy makes the hills get hotter and drier, and;
4) raises temperatures in the Bay Arera — by cutting down 1/2-million trees of forest canopy and releasing huge amounts of sequestered carbon
Experts in the field of fire science (as opposed to “vegetation management” personnel who lack firefighting training) know living trees are not a major fire danger. Dead woody materials, dry brush and grasses ARE because they ignite more easily. READ A FIRE EXPERT’S REPORT.
WE LIVE IN AN ERA OF HUMAN-CAUSED CLIMATE CHANGE. 97% of the world’s climate scientists agree on this critical conclusion, as does the overwhelming majority of scientific literature. See the overwhelming evidence on NASA’s Global Climate Change consortium: http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus
CLIMATE CHANGE IS CAUSED IN LARGE PART BY DEFORESTATION, so we desperately need more trees, not fewer, everywhere, not just in tropical rainforests. Trees cool the earth by creating shade, sequester atmospheric carbon, produce oxygen, and also stabilize the East Bay’s steep hillsides and create precious wildlife habitat. Yet about one-half million vital, healthy trees are about to be destroyed. And in the past few years, tens of thousands of healthy SF Bay Area trees have already been killed in similar, smaller clearcuts. WHY?
1st FALSE ALARM: “FIRE DANGER”
The flammability of specific species of trees has been systemically fabricated and exaggerated, for years. You may have heard some of this, and even assumed it must be at least partially true. But it isn’t. This is simply, and terrifyingly, extremists in the “native plant” movement’s most effective tool to get media attention, and frighten and influence the public, and policy.
Think of this: there are literally millions of eucalyptus trees in the state of California. They have been here well over 100 years (some over 150 years). If this many trees are so “dangerously flammable,” why has there not been one single big eucalyptus tree fire?
The only fire now often, erroneously, blamed on eucalyptus trees was the 1991 Oakland hills fire — but numerous official reports debunk this claim. They detail how that was a grasses and brush fire that ignited houses and then trees of all species. So of course eucalyptus trees burned and threw embers — as did redwoods and pines and all trees. All trees burn in a big fire, and any trees with resins and oils (pines, redwoods, bays) can “explode.” Houses, which are drier and burn hotter than any trees, threw more and larger embers — and, for example, burning 2x4s — into the air to spread that catastrophic fire.
FEMA’s own 1991 report, 120 pages long, and 2) the Oakland and Berkeley Mayor’s Task Force report, and 3) a report by the former Oakland Army Base’s Chief of Fire Prevention who was so outraged by “nativists” scapegoating trees to achieve aesthetic eradication efforts, he issued “The Maloney Report.”
READ the official Oct. 1991 FEMA report’s recommendations to reduce fire danger in its “LESSONS LEARNED” page (69) summary: CLICK HERE
“First, the removal of the overstory, is likely to result in rapid establishment of native and non-native herbaceous and brush communities, bringing an increase in available surface fuels. Secondly, removal of the overstory will result in changes to environmental factors which are known to cause increases in fire behavior.“ [Emphasis added - Ed.]
The report continues:
“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. [Emphasis added - Ed.]
In fact, so-called “native” plant advocates have cut down TENS OF THOUSANDS of healthy, mature trees of several species over the past decades — ultimately en route to killing MILLIONS of healthy trees. This ignores climate science and the significance of the huge amounts of carbon all species of trees sequester. To ignore science and common sense and convince the public massive deforestation is necessary, “nativists” must find a reasons compelling than species preference and romantic visions of a long ago landscape.
Yelling “Fire!” loudly and often works, and can, over time, convince people they are in danger…from Monterey Pine, acacia and especially eucalyptus trees. Perhaps you’ve heard or read, “somewhere,” that “eucalyptus are highly flammable?… Which leads to The 450,000-tree Question…
ARE EUCALYPTUS TREES, IN FACT, HIGHLY FLAMMABLE?
The photo above shows eucalyptus trees are not the “highly flammable“ threat “nativists” repeatedly claim they are in order to spread fear and advance a species-eradication agenda. In 2003, a large fire consumed much of Scripps Ranch in San Diego — but left many eucalyptus trees unburned. If eucalyptus were as flammable as reputed, how can this be?
Scripps Ranch is just one of many such examples. Why is the onus on those defending an entire species of oxygen-producing, carbon-sequestering, shade-making, globally cooling tree, anyway? Why don’t people demand proof from those demonizing literally MILLIONS of trees scientific proof of danger instead of only heresay that any living, green, water-filled tree is “flammable” and “hazardous” and as claimed?
The question must be asked repeatedly, until more people delve into both the question and the answer, “How did ANY tree become an enemy, something to fear and to kill?“ The short answer is: “Invasion Biology” – CLICK TO LEARN WHY.
• Angel Island’s (SF Bay) biggest recorded fire occurs only AFTER cutting down eucalyptus tree canopies. This fire science textbook-worthy example of how trees of all species provide cooling shade, suppressing the growth of low-growing, more flammable “native” grasses and brush occured in Oct. 2008 after years of systematic forest destruction.
Eucalyptus trees’ thick, water-filled, fire-resistant trunks resist burning in grass and shrub fires like this one. Of course, nativists, unceasingly determined to eradicate certain species of trees they don’t like, ignoring contradictory evidence, argue that trees would have burned too — even though the fire stopped at the base of the few eucalyptus trees not cut down.
READ MORE: HCN blog
• “A fast-moving brush fire atop Angel Island shot flames high into the air…”: SF Chronicle 10.13.08
• READ MORE EXAMPLES of eucalyptus trees NOT burning in fires: http://milliontrees.me/2010/11/14/trees-withstand-the-firestorm
Did you know that “native” California Bay Laurel trees contain twice as much volatile oil as “non-native” eucalyptus trees? (Hence the characteristic pungent odor of a torn bay leaf.) And because bay trees grow closer to the ground than blue gum eucalyptus, bay trees are more likely than eucalypts to be ignited by grassland and shrub fires typical in the East Bay hills. This fact is ignored by “nativists” who fan the flames of fire fear in the public in order to advance their agenda of “non-native” species eradication.
Did you know that the fire science guiding firefighters — note distinction from “vegetation management” workers — does not distinguish between species of trees, and considers all living trees, because of their high moisture content, are considered resistant to fire?
• READ the former Chief of Fire Prevention at Oakland Air Force Base, David Maloney’s, blistering critique of the clearcut plan (East Bay Regional Parks District’s portion). Maloney also served on the Task Force on Emergency Preparedness & Community Restoration formed to investigate causes of the 1991 Oakland-Berkeley Hills Fire — and prevent its recurrence. CLICK HERE TO READ REPORT.
Some people have it backwards. They want to give a high fire hazard rating to green (living) trees and cut them down, because they did not originate in California, when it has been shown over and over again that green trees, regardless of where they originated, are a bulwark against wildfire because of the moisture they contribute to the ground fuels and because they act as windbreaks.
Nowhere in the twenty editions and tens of thousands of pages of the Fire Protection Handbook is there a mention of the leaves or bark of the Eucalyptus trees. The only aerial fuel singled out for mention because of its high flammability and volatility are the needles of coniferous trees. The oils and resins of Eucalyptus leaves and barks are not mentioned because they are not as flammable as the oils and resins of the needles of coniferous trees. [The Fire Protection Handbook is published by the National Fire Protection Association – Editor]
If the leaves and bark of Eucalyptus trees were more of a fire hazard than the thousands of other species of trees that are in California it would be noted in the Fire Protection Handbook.
• CLICK TO READ FULL “Maloney Report,” HERE.
READ FIRE ARTICLES, LEARN FIRE SCIENCE
• READ New York Times Op-Ed, “More Logging Won’t Stop Wildfires,” by ecologists Chad Hanson, Ph.D. and Dominick A. Dellasala, Ph.D, another opinion and explanation, perhaps counter-intuitively for you, why cutting down forests doesn’t make us safer from wildfire: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/23/opinion/more-logging-wont-stop-wildfires.html?_r=1
Just as they did in 2013, supporters of this legislation are using the public’s fear of forest fires to advance their agenda. They argue that overgrown and “unhealthy” forests raise the risk of wildfires, and that the government has been hampered by litigation and environmental reviews from allowing timber companies to thin forests to reduce the risk of fire.
Chad Hanson VIDEO: Chad Hanson explains why NOT to log after a forest fire — it increases future fires and does ecological harm, including to wildlife. (It’s often driven by timber industry profits, as well as U.S. Forest Service profit, as the USFS derives its operating budget from so-called “salvage” logging to timber industry, a systemic conflict of interest.)
READ “The War Against Wildire,” by George Wuerthner: http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/eij/article/the_war_against_wildfire
…for nearly a century now, the US Forest Service has been waging a war against wildfires in the West, spending billions of dollars to put out fires on public lands and supporting commercial logging projects to thin out forests in order to prevent fires from spreading and “destroying” the forestlands. …despite the overwhelming body of new research that points to its futility as a fire retardant as well as to the immense ecological harm it causes…
Rather than reduce a wildfire’s reach, thinning can sometimes actually increase a fires spread by putting more fine fuels like needles and cones on the ground and opening up the forest canopy, which in turn dries out these fuels and allows greater wind penetration. It is fuels like needles, grasses, and shrubs that sustain blazes.
• READ “Reducing the Wildland Fire Threat to Homes,” by Jack Cohen: CLICK HERE
Jack D. Cohen is a Research Physical Fire Scientist with the USDA Forest Service Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory in Missoula, MT. Cohen is the pre-eminent researcher on wildfire and home ignitions, and a founder of the Firewise Communities/USA recognition program. Jack crystallized the concept and coined the phrase “Home Ignition Zone” which is how we can protect houses and structure without cutting down forests out of misplaced fears.
• VIDEO: Jack Cohen, Research Physical Scientist, U.S. Forest Service FIRE SCIENCES LAB, Missoula, MT:
• READ “Study finds logging increased intensity of Black Saturday fires” (of Australia, Feb, 2009), CLICK HERE.
In a landmark two-year study of the Kilmore East and Murrindindi Mill fires, which destroyed Marysville and severely damaged Kinglake, scientists from Melbourne University and the ANU examined satellite images of hundreds of thousands of trees burnt on Black Saturday. The scientists say the study showed conclusively that logging in the decades prior to Black Saturday made the deadly blaze much more extreme.
The scientists believe the increased fire risk in logged areas is due to several factors. Regrowth forests have more trees packed more closely together and contain large amounts of flash fuels allowing fire to build in severity, the study found. Old-growth forests usually have wet rainforest understorey canopies, which do not burn as well as the drier understory canopies of regrowth forests.
• READ NFPA (Nat’l Fire Protection Association) tips for Wildfire Preparedness. This is done without cutting down forests, which only increases fire danger by destroying forest wind breaks and cooling canopies and moisture-collecting properties: http://firewise.org/wildfire-preparedness.aspx
• READ George Wuerthner, wildlife biologist, botanist on protecting houses from wildfire by making them fire resistant and creating defensible areas around them, NOT thinning forests: CLICK HERE
• READ George Wuerthner: “Fire Fighting Wastes Money”: http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2015/08/17/fire-fighting-wastes-money
The solution is not to give more money for fire fighting–it will just be wasted on useless attempts to control fires. By far the best solution is to zone people from building in fire plains and to create defensible spaces around homes.
• READ George Wuerthner’s, “Wilderness Advocates Must Address Wildfire Misinformation”: http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2015/12/03/wilderness-advocates-must-address-wildfire-misinformation
And unfortunately conservation organizations have not invested enough time and energy in countering the misinformation and educating the public about what constitutes a healthy forest ecosystem (hint: a healthy forest ecosystem has lots of bugs, disease and fire) and why common prescriptions like thinning are unlikely to preclude large fires.
• USE GOATS (!) TO TRIM GRASSES and reduce fire danger. Grasses and brush and shrubs are far more ignition-prone than than ANY tree species. All fire experts and fire science (see articles above and more below) explain this. Grasses should be kept trimmed to reduce fire danger. Grasses are what started and rapidly spread the 1991 Hills fire, not eucalyptus trees.
Herds of goats are less expensive and far less toxic than herbicides the clearcutting plan (and the Sierra Club!) endorses, and far less dangerous than prescribed burns. And they’ve already been used in the East Bay hills for exactly this purpose! Why are they not now being recommended for fire danger mitigation work? Is it because there is more profit in using Monsanto and Dow Chemical company products? Is it because those who wish to eradicate eucalyptus trees want to keep the focus on them, and not other, more effective and reasonable treatments?
CHECK OUT family-owned business “Goats R Us”: http://www.goatsrus.com
2nd FALSE ALARM: “INVASIVENESS” or… KILL THE INVADERS, KILL THEM ALL – Invasion Biology
Tragically, some “native” plant proponents perpetuate and popularize myths, misconceptions and monster stories about certain species of living, moist, fog-capturing trees, especially demonizing eucalyptus trees. These tall tales, repeated for years, become popularized, like Donald Trump’s picking on Mexicans and Muslims, and become justifications to enforce the aesthetic biases — and then advocating…cutting them all down. (Like tossing out entire ethnic, cultural or religious groups out of the U.S. because “we all know they’re bad, dangerous, you-name-it.”
And since cutting down hundreds of thousands of trees for ANY reason would alarm reasonable people, especially in the environmentally-minded SF Bay Area, the clearcutting agencies methodically downplay the huge numbers involved, eschew estimates, say, “we’re not cutting them all down” and, more recently as the public is informed and asks questions, simply lies about the numbers in the Environmental Impact Statement which is, fortunately, public record.
Without public outcry, there is little or no analysis of the myths and fallacies behind these deforestation or species eradication efforts.
You may have heard that eucalyptus, brought here from Australia about 150 years ago are considered “non-native” (as if that label alone is reason enough to kill them all), but did you know that Monterey Pine and often Monterey Cypress are labeled and killed for being “non-native” too? Apparently even traveling a few hundreds miles north within the state of CA justifies killing thousands of mature, healthy trees.
As with the term “weed,” there is no scientific basis for the nativist terminology, starting with the key labels, “native,” “non-native,” and “invasive”. At what date does “native” end, and “non-native” begin? With European introduction to American shores, as many say? Why then? Seeds, spores, plants, and trees have traveled vast distances before and since then, with and without human help. Birds, e.g., have for thousands of years carried seeds across oceans. Hence the quotations used around their terminology on this website.
Increasingly, scientists, researchers and environmental journalists are challenging the nativist perspective, labeling it Invasion Biology since it assigns simplistic, non-scientific values of good & bad, right & wrong, and of course “native” and “non-native” to the world’s continual, endlessly mixing flora and fauna.
Value judgements are projected onto the plant and animal kingdoms, e.g., innocent native plants and animals being assaulted by destructive, even evil, invading species. These subjective evaluations are made even though species migrations have always occurred, long before humans and human technology.
Read why Invasion Biology — the so-called “native” plant agenda to wipe out arbitrarily labeled “non-native” organisms by branding them “invasive” — is increasingly being debunked in both scientific literature and mainstream reviews:
•READ new, mind-opening book, “The New Wild,” by respected environmental journalist Fred Pearce.
Amazon REVIEW: “…dares to tackle the “science” behind some of the popular quotes which get tossed around with minimal scrutiny and perhaps most telling of all…gives the reader a glance into the absolute atrocities perpetuated on nature in the name of wiping out invasives. All in all, a very well written book that is both accessible and informative.
• READ essay: NATIVES vs. EXOTICS: THE MYTH OF THE MENACE: Non-Native Species as Allies of Diversity by J.L. Hudson: http://www.jlhudsonseeds.net/NativesVsExotics.htm
EXCERPT: “There is an idea, popular in some circles, that ‘non-native’ species are somehow harmful, that ‘aggressive exotics’ can invade ecosystems and destroy ‘native species’. It surprises me to see the public and biologists alike uncritically accept this absurd notion.”
• READ Harvard evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould’s critique of “native” plants concept: “An Evolutionary Perspective on Strengths, Fallacies, and Confusions in the Concept of Native Plants.”
EXCERPT: …this notion [of "native plants"] encompasses a remarkable mixture of sound biology, invalid ideas, false extensions, ethical implications, and political usages both intended and unanticipated.
MYTH #1: the targeted species, like eucalyptus, is especially “invasive,” that it doesn’t co-exist with other species — yet they do. And some “native” species like our beloved redwoods also create their own unique environment. It’s not nearly so simplistic as “native good, non-native bad.” Even the California Invasive Plant Council revised its invasiveness assessment of blue gum eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) from “moderate” to “limited” in March, 2015.
MYTH #2: the “invaders,” especially eucalyptus, are more flammable than native species — but they are NOT. “Native” bay laurel trees contain as much volatile oil (hence their pungent smelling leaves), and burn as “easily,” arguably MORE easily because they grow closer to the ground — but are not targeted for so-called “hazardous fuels reduction” because nativists like them aesthetically.
“Native” grasses and coyote brush are ALSO more flammable than eucalyptus AND play larger roles in Bay Area wildfires but, contradicting fire science, are ignored in the clearcut plan. NOTE: the clearcut plan will leave hundreds of acres of flammable downed trees and wood chips on the ground where they can be ignited by common grass fires. (See BEFORE & AFTER photo below.)
Clearcutting hundreds of thousands of mature, shade-producing, fog-drip rain-making trees, ignores basic fire science and established fire mitigation practices which show living trees of ALL species DECREASE fire danger by blocking winds, storing water, and moistening ground fuels beneath their canopies.
YELL “Fire!” IN A CROWDED FOREST TO SPUR CLEARCUTS
Living forests, including eucalyptus forests, are LESS likely to burn than the East Bay hill’s grasses and dry chaparral shrubs like coyote brush that “nativists” prefer and would cut down forests in an attempt to recreate. These smaller plants ARE extremely flammable in the dry season compared to large eucalyptus trunks that hold far more water and are thus comparatively fire resistant. NOTE: The infamous 1991 Oakland Hills fire was ignited by grasses and brush — not trees — then spread to houses, which burn hotter than any trees. Only then did trees of ALL species ignite.
READ “Trees Withstand the Firestorm”: http://milliontrees.me/2010/11/14/trees-withstand-the-firestorm
READ MORE: http://sutroforest.com/eucalyptus-myths/native-plants-are-more-fire-prone-than-eucalyptus In contrast with dry chaparral, East Bay eucalyptus forests create cooling shade, and annually produce 10″ of fog drip rainfall, especially in the hot, otherwise dry summer months.
Stripping away tens and hundreds of thousands of trees will leave the land hotter, drier, and MORE prone to fires of existing grasses and low vegetation. Eucalyptus trees are often condemned for having volatile oils in their leaves (they don’t have oils in their stout, fire-resistant trunks). The “nativists” won’t mention other Bay Area (“native”) species, like California bay laurel and coyote brush that also contain volatile oils in their leaves. In fact these “native” plants burn more readily than eucs because they grow closer to the ground than eucalyptus, thus igniting more easily from common grass and brush fires.
• READ a firefighter’s report, by former Chief of Fire Prevention at Oakland Army Base, David Maloney: CLICK HERE
• READ MORE “NATIVES-ARE-FIRE-PRONE” MYTHS: http://sutroforest.com/eucalyptus-myths/native-plants-are-more-fire-prone-than-eucalyptus
CREATING A FIRE HAZARD BY CUTTING DOWN FORESTS: After clear cutting, the trees will be chipped and left on the ground. Thousands of cubic yards of dead, drying wood chips will BECOME the fire hazard proponents claim to be cutting down forests to prevent. This is hard to believe, but it’s the plan. It only makes sense if the actual agenda is eradication of all trees of certain species, not reducing fire risk.
NO PLANT RESTORATION of any kind, “native” or otherwise, is planned. Even if the plan DID include re-planting, 2,000 acres of 100-year-old forest can’t be “replaced.” The decades of time this requires is what we no longer have in our era of unprecedented, rapid climate change. Large, dense, living moist tree trunks will be turned into vast piles of tiny, dead wood chips and big logs strewn over the hillsides. Months and years later, low vegetation like thistle, broom and poison oak will grow.
In summer and autumn, all this dries out in direct sun since the forest’s cooling canopy has been destroyed — and this dry brush becomes a fire hazard greater than the moisture-filled, fog-capturing forest it replaced. Even the California Native Plant Society’s own website says: Logged-over lands are frequently invaded by non-native plants such as pampas grass and brooms, which prevent establishment of seedling trees.
THEN ADD POISON
Have we learned nothing since Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” was published in 1962 and revolutionized our understanding and conceptualization of the environment as an interconnected web of life? You can’t poison one living entity without affecting others, since all life is linked — don’t we all learn this now in grade school?
A 1993 UC Berkeley study found glyphosate (Monsanto Roundup’s™ active ingredient) to be the most common cause of pesticide-related illness among CA landscape maintenance workers, and the 3rd most common cause among agricultural workers.)
The clearcut plan includes applying thousands of gallons of carcinogenic herbicides to the hundreds of thousands of tree stumps to prevent re-growth. Twice each year for ten years, or as needed, to keep the stumps from re-sprouting. These well-known toxic chemicals — Dow Garlon™ (triclopyr) and Monsanto Roundup™ (glyphosate) — end up poisoning the land, the water, the birds, the rodents, then the raptors and owls, and of course us humans when we visit these lands, our parks and open space.
The manufacturers, of course, claim they are completely safe, despite causing tumors in laboratory animals (to name just one result of numerous peer-reviewed studies), but a wealth of scientific literature documents otherwise. See articles below:
• READ “The Case for Banning Glyphosate” by Dr. Jeff Ritterman, M.D. Monsanto’s Roundup™ active ingredient causes birth defects, spontaneous abortions in animals: (Jeff Ritterman, M.D. is VP of the Board of Directors of the SF Bay Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, retired chief of cardiology at Kaiser [hospital] Richmond, CA: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/29244-will-richmond-reject-roundup-the-case-for-banning-glyphosate
• READ “Roundup and glyphosate Toxicity Grossly Underestimated,” an overview of glyphosate toxicity, by Dr. Joseph Mercola (osteopath): http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/07/30/glyphosate-toxicity.aspx
• READ “Enough To Make You Sick,” an overview of Monsanto’s Roundup™, by Rational Opinions Blog (Common Sense Thoughts, Opinions, and other Contemplations): http://rationalopinionsblog.com/2015/06/21/monsantos-roundup-enough-to-make-you-sick
• READ The World Health Organization (WHO) report classifying glyphosate (Roundup’s active ingredient), “probably carcinogenic to humans” in March 2015 report: READ REPORT.
• READ Reuters news report, Aug. 19, 2015, “Scientists call for new review of herbicide, cite ‘flawed’ U.S. regulations”: http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN0QO28D20150819
• READ “Nearly 300 experts agree GMOs not proven safe”: http://www.gmwatch.org/index.php/news/archive/2013/15210-nearly-300-experts-agree-gmos-not-proven-safe
• READ “What’s Wrong With Roundup?”: http://www.eastbaypesticidealert.org/glyphosate.html
VIDEO: Monsanto lobbyist says he’ll drink Roundup™ — but his bluff is called:
THE 1991 OAKLAND HILLS FIRE is often falsely blamed on eucalyptus trees. That terrible blaze roared out of control and destroyed houses and killed people — but eucalyptus were NOT the cause — lack of preparedness and planning was. This included: 1) inadequate radio communications between different agencies; 2) pumps running out of water soon into the fire fighting; 3) fire trucks unable to access narrow streets; 4) non-universal hydrant hookups; 5) wood houses with wood roofs that turned the fire into a conflagration (bigger and much hotter).
• READ October 1991 FEMA REPORT (Federal Emergency Management Agency) that determined a host of factors contributed to the disaster: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/tr-060.pdf
• READ Oakland Local article by Laura McCamy with comments by retired Oakland firefighter David Maloney who served on the Task Force on Emergency Preparedness & Community Restoration after the 1991 Oakland Hills fire.
He [Oakland firefighter David Maloney] called the EIS “a land transformation plan which is masquerading as a fire hazard reduction plan,” adding, “It stands fire science on its head.” Maloney noted that, in the Oakland Hills fire, “the radiant heat from the houses caught the trees on fire,” not the other way around.
Most people don’t know that a (“native”) grass fire, not completely extinguished the Saturday before, re-ignited and started the blaze. Valiant firefighters had a tough fight on their hands, with high winds, steep slopes and poor accessibility. The money spent on this deforestation plan would be better spent on improved fire preparedness in the many ways listed above and in the 1991 FEMA report.
READ ABOUT the 1991 Oakland Hills fire & its cause:
• “Remembering the Oakland Firestorm”: http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Remembering-the-Oakland-Firestorm-132282138.html
• Oakland Hills Fire Survivor Remembers Conflagration that took his mother: http://oaklandlocal.com/2013/06/oakland-hills-fire-survivor-remembers-conflagration-that-took-his-mother
“Native” Plants, Invasion Biology, and The War on Nature “Native” is a term without scientific or botanical basis, like the term “weed,” which is also used to describe eucalyptus trees by people who dislike or even hate them. Hating a tree so much you want to kill all of them is actually more revealing about the person doing the hating than the tree. In reality, the term “native” was coined by people with an aesthetic agenda. Eucalyptus, acacia and even Monterey pine trees are labeled “non-native” by choosing an arbitrary date for when these plants they want to kill “invaded” America (well, actually brought here and planted). Usually this is with European settlers, arguably the most invasive non-natives of all. This static snapshot in time is idealized as being best. Habitat “restoration” is then clamored for — even if it means cutting down entire forests of healthy, mature trees co-existing with myriad plant and animal species.
• GO to: INVASION BIOLOGY page
Even thousands of gallons of poisons, the carcinogenic herbicides Roundup™ and Garlon™ made, respectively, by Monsanto and Dow, are used for the killing. This is the plan for the East Bay hills.
Plants, land, water table, wildlife and inevitably humans in an ecosystem are interconnected, so all will be poisoned over time. Confoundingly, even environmental groups like the Sierra Club have endorsed using these toxins to “restore” habitats. But restore them to what, and to what snapshot in ever-moving time?
EXCERPT: “Restoration ecology” is a euphemism for a kind of gardening informed by an almost cultish veneration of the “native” and abhorrence of the naturalized, which is commonly characterized as “invasive.” Let me make this clear: neither “restoration” nor conservation can be mandated by science—only informed by it. The decision of what actions to take may be motivated by many things, including politics, esthetics, economics and even religion, but it cannot be science-driven.
This clearcutting and poisoning is ongoing in the SF Bay Area, for years. This, in our era of human-caused global warming when we need more mature trees of all species, not so many fewer. In the East Bay hills, as elsewhere, this will mean destruction of hundreds upon hundreds of acres of precious animal habitat. And then applying thousands of gallons of the toxic herbicides which will poison not just tree stumps, but then unavoidably the land, the rodents, the owls and raptors that feed on rodents, the groundwater, and inevitably us humans who are connected to it all. Didn’t we learn all this decades ago?
Tragically, this practice is even approved by many who call themselves environmentalists, who speak of “sustainability” and “habitat restoration,” including The Sierra Club and The Audubon Society. They should know better. Clearcutting forests and massive herbicide applications are no answer, they are the problem. This is habitat destruction.
“Nativists” ignore myriad examples of how eucalyptus have integrated into and benefit California’s ecosystem: providing shade, animal habitat, carbon sequestration, hillside stabilization, etc. Eucalyptus, introduced here from Australia over 150 years ago, now co-exist beautifully with numerous species of flora and fauna. For instance, over 100 species of birds live in CA eucalyptus trees. Nature, by design, does a perfect job determining what works, often better than humans do when we imagine ourselves separate from nature, often by applying abstract mental constructs like native and non-native, as if plant and animals species haven’t always migrated and mixed.
• READ MORE on INVASION BIOLOGY PAGE
• READ Huffington Post essay,
“The Jewels in Oakland’s Crown: In Defense of Eucalyptus Trees”
by Nathan Winograd, Director of The No Kill [Animal] Advocacy Shelter, Oakland, CA.
• LEARN MORE ABOUT EUCALYPTUS in The Bay Area.
• READ “Mother Nature’s Melting Pot” by anthropologist Hugh Raffles: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/03/opinion/03Raffles.html?_r=3&ref=todayspaper
• READ Nathan Winograd 4.16.15 essay, “Rejecting Arbitary Labels That Enable Great Harm:” http://milliontrees.me/2015/04/06/rejecting-arbitrary-labels-that-enable-great-harm-fighting-the-oakland-uc-berkeley-east-bay-regional-park-districts-war-on-nature
Eucalyptus have thrived in California for over 150 years, long enough to integrate into our ecosystem, and provide numerous and substantial benefits including habitat for numerous birds, mammals, insects and other species. They have become “naturalized” species, meaning they are self-sustaining and healthy ecosystems. Nativists rarely use this term because it won’t advance their kill-them-all agenda. Hence the labels “invasive,” “weeds,” and “non-native” which DO reinforce their clearcutting agenda. They longer see the forest for its trees and advocate for complete extermination.
A FIRESTORM OF MISINFORMATION, misdirection and exploitation of fear of fire has coalesced into a consortium. These three agencies, influenced by the nativist agenda to eradicate all trees they don’t like, are lobbying aggressively for the destruction of over 2,000 acres of productive, carbon-storing, shade-producing eucalyptus, pine and acacia forest:
1) UC Berkeley (The University of CA Berkeley);
2) The City of Oakland, CA;
3) East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD)
In the educated, environmentally aware San Francisco Bay area, with numerous parks and greenbelts, you’d think we’d know better; that in this era of anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change mature, living trees are one answer, not a problem. Tragically, human fear and ignorance are the problem, as in evidence here. And the stakes have been raised to…
NUMBERS TOO BIG TO VISUALIZE
To adapt the trenchant words of a famous killer of humans:
“One death is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.” - Joseph Stalin
Can you even picture 450,000 trees being cut down? Are you willing to experience just one? People who casually advocate for the destruction of hundreds of thousands, even millions of trees — including many who call themselves environmentalists — toss out huge numbers (if they talk numbers at all) and “removing” trees, devoid of emotion. And of course it must be this way. To be willing to be feel the actual, present-moment world in which trees and birds and animals live (and humans when they’re not lost in thought), you must be willing to be in touch with your own feelings. If you do sense that a tree, and an entire forest is alive, then it’s a very different experience to watch just one tree being chainsawed to its death.
We humans are interconnected with trees in an ancient web of life. We have been for millennia. The species doesn’t matter; if it’s a weathered oak, or a stout, 100-year-old eucalyptus, or a Monterey pine or cypress that has danced in more windy days than any human ever will. Be quiet and still on the inside, and tune in as its centuries of life are ended in minutes. Bureaucrats call these killings “removals,” even “hazardous fuels reduction,” either to hide the feeling of it, or simply because they can’t (i.e., choose not to) feel it. Maybe some people labeled it “bad” or “hazardous,” or the “wrong” type of tree. If you allow yourself to feel such things, then lobbying for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of healthy trees becomes a serious affair, approached with the solemnity of how we humans go to war.
TreeSpirit’s Jack Gescheidt’s telephone conservations about the number of trees to be cut down is all about being hard to believe: http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2015-07-17/article
If you repeat a lie long enough it becomes real. Then the lie no longer exists and you’re left with is your version of the truth. - Irfan Master
WMDs Q&A – Weapons of Mass Deception
MYTH: The oil in eucalyptus trees makes them more flammable than most trees, and “native” trees?
REALITY: FALSE. The leaves of “native” California Bay Laurels and coyote brush also contain volatile oils that make them equally or even more flammable than eucalyptus leaves. But since they are “native,” nativists don’t target them for destruction by labeling them dangerously flammable. And since bay trees grow much closer to the ground than eucalyptus, their leaves are more likely to ignite in ground fires common in the Bay Area. (As opposed to crown fires in tree tops caused by lightning strikes common in, e.g., the Sierra Mts.). In fact, eucalyptus trunks are more dense and fire resistant than those of bays or oaks.
MYTH: Eucalyptus tree bark litter is a tremendous fire hazard?
REALITY: COMPARED TO WHAT? No simple yes or no answer here. Some alternate fire mitigation plans (to cutting down entire forests) are to remove (rake or burn or “goat”) bark litter out. This is less expensive than cutting down hundreds of thousands of trees and then twice every year, for ten years, applying carcinogenic herbicides — the current plan, believe it not it’s true. This will reduce the ground fuels load.
But removing all understory vegetation leaves the ground exposed so it won’t hold as much winter rain or summer fog drip, and therefore dries out — which makes ground fires more likely. NOTE: If you cut down the trees to end leaf and bark litter forever, then fast-growing, opportunistic plants like thistle, broom and poison oak will fill the void — and become their own fire hazard. Eucalyptus forest canopies, like all tree canopies, help suppress the growth of other, more flammable plants.
NOTE ALSO: Fire authorities don’t consider ANY living tree species a fire hazard necessitating destruction. Nor “ground fuels” Forests retain moisture beneath their canopies and within their trunks and are therefore considered.
“Fire Science has proven that every living tree — regardless of its species — due to its moisture content and canopy coverage of ground fuels, contributes to wildfire hazard mitigation.” – David Maloney, Chief of Fire Prevention, Oakland Army Base
READ firefighter David Maloney’s FULL REPORT on eucalyptus trees in the East Bay hills and how the plan to cut down East Bay forests will INCREASE fire danger. Healthy, dense, green forests of ANY species are living, green plants that don’t burn as readily as dead materials — like wood chips and logs the clearcut plan would create and leave on the ground in abundance. The thick water-filled trunks of eucalyptus trees are, compared to these dead ground fuels, fire-resistant.
And the East Bay’s eucalyptus forests capture fog and create 10″ of rain-drip fog each year, particularly significant in the dry summer months. Their forest canopy shades the earth, thus cooling it, and take the place of dry grasses which are what caused the 1991 fire and currently (summer 2015) creating wildfires all over California. Living eucalyptus trees stabilize steep hillsides, and create bird and animal habitat, too.
NOTE AGAIN: The deforestation plan will NOT remove any wood from the hills, only turn it from wet, living wood (trees!) into dry, dead brush, chips, and logs left on the gorund (not removed from the hillsides), thus increasing fire danger.
These disturbing facts point to the actual goal of the clearcutting driven by the “native” plant agenda of species eradication, not fire risk reduction. READ MORE on “Invasion Biology” page.
MYTH: Firefighters and other fire experts say eucalyptus are dangerous, flammable and should all be removed.
REALITY: Some do and some don’t. Many fire scientists don’t draw distinctions between tree species, degrees of flammability, and fuel loads. Its complex and not, uh, clearcut.
“Native” bay trees and “native” coyote brush also contain flammable oils, as eucalypts do, and arguably more likely to ignite in the grass fires common in the Bay Area, because they grow closer to the ground. Bay Area fire marshals know that ALL living, green trees are NOT fire hazards — only dead materials are.
The best fire defense is simpler: cut defensible areas around houses and buildings, from 30-100 feet, depending on the structure, the trees, the wind, the forest, etc. And if you really fear forest fire, why live next to them? Or at least be consistent and advocate cutting down all trees, not just species targeted by the nativists. Nativists fan fire fears to leverage their species-specific extermination agenda.
The nativists, and also the agencies promoting cutting thousands of acres of trees, also repeatedly avoid discussion of the huge numbers of trees the plan will fell. They also ignore the massive amounts of carbon stored in these forests that would be released into the atmosphere. The 1991 Berkeley Hills fire — so often falsely blamed on eucalpytus trees — raged out of control for these human reasons. This isn’t as simplistic as demonizing eucalypts as dangerous invaders — but it’s true.
MYTH: Eucalyptus trees were responsible for that 1991 Berkeley Hills fire that destroyed homes and took lives.
REALITY: It’s not true. Eucalyptus were NOT the origin of the fire, nor responsible for its infamous intensity. In fact, the fire began the day before, on Saturday, Oct 19th, in dry brush, grass and (“native”) scrub oak on a steep slope above Buckingham Blvd. It was extinguished by firefighters by nightfall. But the next day, Sunday, Oct. 20th, the fire restarted as (“Diablo”) winds (from the east) increased flare-ups in grasses, dry brush within and just beyond the burned area. It then spread into oak trees which ignited houses which burn hotter than any trees. By the time flames reached the first grove of eucalyptus (1/6 mile away, just above Charing Cross), the fire was no longer just vegetation; it was a higher-temperature, structure/house-fueled conflagration that consumed everything in its path.
MYTH: Cutting down hundreds of thousands of trees assures safety from another wildfire. Because everyone knows forests burn.
REALITY: NO, and again, compared to what? The plan for the Oakland and Berkeley Hills is to leave all the wood on the hillsides as acres of mulched trees — wood chips — in piles up to 2 feet deep. That’s it. These will dry out and become their own flammable hazard. Millions of pounds of drying, oily and now DEAD, combustible wood is not only more flammable than a living, green, wet forest, but also, obviously, far less desirable. These forests create shade, produce oxygen, and make water: creating an annual average 10″ of fog drip in the dry CA summer. The eucalyptus forests provide animal habitat. And the steep hillsides, without trees, will more likely collapse when there IS rain. Picture West Virginia coal mining landscapes. To contemplate a plan this extensive, destructive and drastic only shows how out of touch with nature’s living systems we’ve become, how driven by fear and aesthetic (“native plant”) agendas.
MYTH: Clearcutting makes us safe from forest fires.
REALITY: There is a simpler, less expensive solution that is also healthier for humans, animals, and our environment: a) more fire hydrants at edges of forests and communities; b) all hydrants with universal hook-ups; c) better, faster fire response planning; d) better communications; e) making defensible areas around structures; f) making houses and structure “ignition resistant.” Had these systems and strategies been in place in 1991, the blaze would not have done the damage it did. LEARN MORE.
MYTH: Eucalyptus trees harm birds, even kill hummingbirds by “gumming up” their beaks and suffocating them.
REALITY: Once people have decided eucalyptus trees are monstrous, they search for — and create — myriad ways to demonize them. It would be laughable if it weren’t so non-scientific and harmful. There is no end to the tales being told, and repeated, and via repetition believed. READ how this especially nasty and bizarre “bird-killer” rumor, now perceived by many as factual, got started and spread, on Million Trees.me. CLICK HERE
MYTH: Eucalyptus forests are monocultures where few if any other plants or animals can grow.
REALITY: COMPLETELY FALSE. Even a July 1, 20016 Bay Nature Magazine article with a strong “nativist” bias illustrates both the extent of the maligning, and then evidence and studies to show life flourishes among these exotic trees:
EXCERPT: Writing in the early 1970s, James Roof, then-director of the [San Francisco] East Bay Regional Park District’s botanic garden, called eucalyptus “horrible water suckers” that concentrate moisture underneath their canopy, leading to the growth of “thickets” of blackberries, poison oak, ivy, and wild cucumber: “The end result is the rendering of once open, sunny, wildflower-bearing land into foreboding and pestilential jungles, of no earthly use to man, bird, or beast.” Red-tailed hawks and great horned owls often nest in eucalyptus, especially if they are the only large trees available. Small birds feed on the nectar, and reptiles and amphibians live in the understory. A recent study by biologist David Suddjian counted more than 90 bird species that make regular use of Monterey County eucalyptus habitats, including at least 59 species that nest in them. Eucalyptus trees on the shores of San Leandro’s Lake Chabot host a large heron rookery. In Santa Cruz County, Suddjian found that great egrets, great blue herons, and double-crested cormorants nest exclusively in eucalyptus. A 1975 study by UC Berkeley professor Robert Stebbins found that in terms of vertebrate life, East Bay eucalyptus groves are less diverse than chaparral or oak woodland habitats, but more so than nearby stands of Monterey pine or redwoods. He said that small animals use the thick litter underneath the trees for cover, and that the trees’ nectar, pollen, and seeds provide food. In fact, the nectar is a valuable winter food for hummingbirds and monarchs.
Again, the only 100% fireproofing solution is to cut down ALL the trees, and ALL the shrubs, and ALL the grasses on ALL the hills and PAVE EVERYTHING. Then there is nothing left to burn. No one advocates this plan because it is extreme to the point of absurdity. But so is cutting down 1/2-million healthy, green trees that shade and cool the earth, stabilize steep hillside in the East Bay hills, and sustain us and our environment, especially now in our era of human-caused global warming.
What’s become of us as a society that we can even conceive of projects this environmentally devastating? Have we learned nothing since Rachel Carson’s 1962 “Silent Spring” taught us the role nature plays in sustaining us, and its interconnected web of life? About our responsibility to be wise stewards of the land and ecosystems to which we are linked?
EUCALYPTUS FORESTS DO MUCH MORE GOOD THAN HARM
California’s eucalyptus trees provide tremendous benefits, as all trees do, including:
• sequestering carbon in our era of human-caused global warming. Killing huge numbers of large, mature eucalyptus trees, which are storing huge amounts of carbon, is the LAST thing we should be doing;
• producing oxygen at a time when we desperately need cleaner air;
• creating 2,000 acres of shade in our heating climate (caused in part by deforestation); mature eucalyptus forests create far more than the grass-covered hills and occasional oaks of 200 years ago;
• stabilizing hillsides; the massive clearcut plan will result in landslides and pesticides run-off (poisons applied to tree stumps to supress re-sprouting);
• filtering and cleaning ground water; • providing precious habitat for tens of thousands of birds and mammals — precious sanctuary from ever-advancing human developments like this apocalyptic one.
READ about the HISTORY & BENEFITS OF California’s EUCALYPTUS FORESTS, by Joe McBride, retired Professor of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning, Dept. of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, UC Berkeley.
In the educated, environmentally aware San Francisco Bay area, with numerous parks and greenbelts, you’d think we’d know better; that in this era of anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change mature, living trees and forests are the answer, not the problem. Ironically and tragically, human fear, greed, and ignorance are the problem, as in evidence here. Instead, the stakes have been raised to…
• READ Nathan Winograd’s essay, “The Jewels in Oakland’s Crown: In Defense of Eucalyptus Trees”
NUMBERS TOO BIG TO VISUALIZE
Can you picture 100,000 or 200,000, or as many as 400,000 trees being cut down? The trenchant words of a famous killer of humans come to mind:
“One death is a tragedy. One million deaths is a statistic.”
– Joseph Stalin
TreeSpirit Founder Jack Gescheidt’s telephone conservations about the number of trees slated for slaughter are all about being hard to believe: http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2015-07-17/article
WHAT WE LOVE, WE PROTECT; WHAT WE FEAR, WE KILL
Our current local, national and global predicament of climate change is caused in part by deforestation projects like this one, and of course much bigger projects worldwide, as in the Amazon Basin. And if you believe climate change is caused largely by humans — the consensus of 95% of the world’s climate researchers and scientists, not the 5% trotted out by oil and gas interests to maintain the status quo — we can do something about this.
Now, right now — not a year from now, not 20 years from now, is the time to stand up for forests everywhere, for animal habitat, for living in partnership with the natural world, for sanity…for living free from terror of what lies beyond our cities…and chainsawing and bulldozing it all down.
READ NY Times Op-Ed: “More Logging Won’t Stop Wildfires” by Chad Hanson & Dominick A. Dellasala, July 23, 2015: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/23/opinion/more-logging-wont-stop-wildfires.html?_r=0
“Invasion Biology” VIDEO – What is “native?” WATCH this eye-opening presentation dissecting the pseudo-science of so-called “native species,” and challenging popular misconceptions. By conservation biologist David Theodoropoulus @ the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, Eugene, OR, March 5th, 2011:
ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER
Like never before in human history, we are on an edge of our own destruction — or salvation. Like never before, we need more green, life-giving forests of all kinds. One reason we’re in the environmental mess we’re in is because we’ve cut down so many of our forests — about 50% of what we homo sapiens started out with on Earth when we began our reign. We need forests ecologically, emotionally and spiritually — woodlands, parks and living, unpaved places, so WE feel alive and awake to the wonder and preciousness of our own aliveness, our own wild nature.
• IN THE NEWS: TV COVERAGE from Oakland City Hall, 6.2.15: CLICK: http://kron4.com/2015/06/02/4-million-fire-prevention-grant-ignites-passions-in-oakland
• KPFA 94.1FM Radio INTERVIEW with Jean Stewart, disability rights and environmental activist, speaks about the 450,000-tree clearcut plan, the herbicides involved, and her own disability from herbicide exposure. “Pushing Limits” 30 min. program, produced and hosted by Adrienne Lauby: CLICK: http://archives.kpfa.org/data/20150821-Fri1430.mp3
LEARN MORE from these environmental groups working to save our forests:
• DONATE $10, $20 $50 or more TO SUPPORT TreeSpirit’s campaign of educational outreach. Right now, and in the years ahead, literally millions of healthy, beneficial, desperately needed trees will be clearcut because of misinformation, ignorance and human xenophobia projected onto plants without scientific rigor. TreeSpirit is devoted to bringing more sound, less malicious, and more scientifically valid information to the masses. CLICK TO SUPPORT THIS ONGOING CAMPAIGN
• CALL/WRITE PUBLIC OFFICIALS: http://www.saveeastbayhills.org/take-action.html
• DONATE TO THE LAWSUIT challenging the clearcut plan’s science and reasons, by The Hills Conservation Network; environmental issues are rarely resolved without a successful lawsuit challenging them in the courts;
• SIGN MoveOn.org PETITION to The Sierra Club (SF Bay Area chapter) to cease its efforts to INCREASE (!) deforestation and herbicide use (including Monsanto Roundup™, Dow Garlon™). This venerable environmental org is currently on the wrong side of environmental science and history, supporting the 450,000-tree clearcut and herbicide application plan — and sueing FEMA for additional logging! Why? The Club, tragically, supports “Invasion Biology”: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/sierra-club-must-stop.fb51?source=c.fb&r_by=14041501
• SIGN PETITION to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to save 450,000 trees from being clearcut under the false pretext of “fire danger mitigation” that will INCREASE fire danger in the Oakland hills.
• SHARE THIS WEBPAGE and news of this environmentally disastrous clearcut with all your friends. Citizens have been intentionally misled about the huge numbers of trees — almost 1/2-million — to be cut down, and the amount of Roundup™ and Garlon™ herbicides to be used, since the truth will create public outrage. THIS PAGE’S URL: http://treespiritproject.com/sfbayclearcut
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
– Margaret Mead