Thursday, June 13, 2013

Berkeley Hillside Club HCN Public Meeting

I went to the HCN meeting tonight. I was a few minutes late, but caught the part of the introduction where they announced that the evidence they would be presenting was based on published scientific research, not anecdotes.

During the anecdotal recital of trying to light eucalyptus leaves on fire, being presented as evidence debunking the commonly held myth by Australian firemen, that eucalyptus spot fires downwind... (must be some other cause for all the spot fires up to 10 kilometers downwind of the fire line in the 2011 fire.) ...I interrupted saying; "IT'S THE BARK NOT THE LEAVES!" The speaker then added that he had also tried lighting the bark. 

I could contain myself no longer. I stood up, said; "YOU'RE TELLING ME YOU TORCHED A 150' TREE AND ANALYZED IT'S EMBER DRIFT! Snorted in disgust, and started walking out. 

Someone told me we all must wait our turn to speak. I said I was done speaking. Tired of listening to lies, and walked on out. I went around the corner, unlocked my bike, and realized I had to go back in for my coffee cup. 

Maybe 4 shots of Peet's before the meeting wasn't the best idea I've had recently, but I was very tired.

When I came back to get my cup, some of the people there asked me to stay and speak, that they were very interested in hearing what I had to say.

So I went back to the greeting table at the entrance and listened for awhile. The gentleman manning the table engaged me in whispered conversation. I gave him a link to my blog.

I then interrupted another anecdotal story, about fires on Angel Island. 

The speaker began the narrative by saying never in history had there been a fire on Angel Island. Which is not true, there have been multiple building fires. Humans are the constant in all the fires, not vegetation. 

If the eucalyptus groves on Angel Island were anything resembling the ones in the Claremont Canyon. Humans would only venture into them with protective gear. They definitely would not be hiking, or camping,  or having a picnic on a carpet of eucalyptus bark and leaves, intertwined with poison oak rhizomes. Without humans in the forest, it is far less likely to burn. IMO, on Angel Island it is worth the risk of introducing human vectors, for the recreational value alone.

The FEMA grant has no bearing on Angel Island, so telling anecdotal stories about fires there is a red herring fallacy, a distraction. Since it was the very people running the meeting who kept making these these specious and fallacious statements, I felt compelled to speak out, just like at their milliontrees blog, the narrative was being very tightly controlled. I wanted no part of it because I experienced how they use dissenters on their blog. The difference here was, the moderator could not censor me from speaking out, all he could do was respond with another fallacy and move on. Any rebuttal would be considered "repetitive". Since he controlled the meeting, it would not be a fair discussion and I wanted no part of it. If they want an open discussion, they should engage in open dialogue, and get beyond these controlled narratives.

The room asked that I be allowed to speak out of turn. They gave me 2 minutes.  I went up to the mike, asked my questions; Is there an EIS covering the other agencies plans, and what is the impact of removing all that debris that native species are using because their native habitat has been taken over by eucalyptus?

I then told the crowd that I had pictures of the restoration site published on my website that show the narrative being presented by HCN and their claim that the restoration site is a disaster to be a lie.

I told them; I am a massage therapist. I will give anyone who goes up the restoration site, takes a picture before the 17th, and shares it with me on Google+,  $30 off a massage, or a free 30 minute massage. 

All they need to do is go and look for themselves, walk the trails, and take a picture that I can share on my blog. 

At least they will have seen the site in person before making their comment to FEMA, or signing any petition. Or if they already have signed or commented, they can change their comment, and/or sign a different petition.

I will make good on this offer to anyone. Limit one per person. 

I believe that once people see the difference for themselves, they will back the gradual eradicate and restore option, over the thin and remove every 5 years option.

Restoration is what is in store for the mixed growth eucalyptus forest across the road from the restoration site. It will undergo the same transformation from eucalypti forest into stunted riparian woodland, and eventually into a mature woodland.  In the coming decades the canyon will be a safer, more accessible, and more enjoyable than the current weed invested tinder box.

So as I turned to walk out, The primary speaker wanted to answer my question about how the species that rely on the eucalyptus litter, since there is little else under a eucalyptus aside from litter and poison oak for habitat, were going to fare when the proposed thin and remove plan removes their habitat every 5 years.  

I said I had heard enough and continued on my way out the door.