Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Hills Conservation Network's Alternative???

On the 12th of June, I attended a public meeting at the Hillside Club where two members of the HCN presented false narratives and gave specious answers to questions from an issue friendly audience.

I was given opportunity to ask two questions.

I asked if there was an EIS for the HCN alternative proposal?

Dan Grassetti assured me there was.

My second question was; What happens to the native and/or non-native species, living in the thousands of tons of duff and tinder that would need be raked up and removed every year?

I didn't wait for the answer. I had read enough of the milliontrees blog to assess a high probability that the HCN answer would be... unreliable.

If there actually was an EIS for the HCN alternative, I would find the answers there. So I walked out of the meeting, and began looking for the evidence.

The Dov Sax paper, which the HCN touts as proof that eucalyptus are not evil destroyers of native habitat, (just friendly developers come to upgrade the neighborhood) does not specify specific species (tongue twister) except to point out that the type and composition of species, varies greatly between the eucalyptus sites and the bay/oak sites. The Dov Sax research is a study of species adapting to changing environments, not a challenge to the consensus opinion that eucalypti destroy native habitat.
All available field research and evidence over the past few centuries, (not to mention  the evidence before ones own eyes) concludes; eucalyptus are allelopathic, tend to develop into mono-cultures, and are destructive to the native environment and habitat in the East Bay Hills.

The HCN plan calls for removing even the sub-standard habitat provided by the eucalyptus litter on the ground.  Eradication of the eucalypti would allow the stunted riparian woodland to recover.

I don't accept the specious interpretation of the Dov Sax study being propagated by the HCN.

My interpretation is; loss of habitat is forcing more and more species to adapt to the more extreme and competitive environment, created by the presence of the eucalyptus forest.

Comparable to bulldozing your home and replacing it with a yurt. Some may find the yurt more desirable, but try and take out a second mortgage. All habitats are not equal.

Some species are learning to make use of the otherwise barren litter on the forest floor, which is comparable to rats, cockroaches, and pigeons, adapting to human monocultures, IE cities.

Is it a surprise to the HCN, that life struggles to adapt to whatever environments exist?

(Might be, judging by their reaction, to the reaction, to their actions ;-)

Why construct an argument in defense of eucalyptus, using the fact that eucalyptus ground fuel provides habitat for many species???

And then propose to remove the very same ground fuels you argued were necessary for creating wildlife habitat???

(I am eager to see how they overcome the cognitive dissonance.)

The HCN alternative proposal, from a wildlife perspective, is a complete non-starter. The eucalyptus trees are already destroying native habitat. Removing the eucalyptus litter from the forest floor would be removing what little habitat is left; leaving many critters homeless. And right about the time some of them begin to recover, the HCN plan calls for the process to be repeated. And it would need to be repeated endlessly because eucalyptus trees drop a lot of litter and eucalyptus sprouts can grow 80 feet tall in 10 years!

The UC Berkeley, eradicate and liberate plan restores the lost habitat from the eucalyptus invasion, by allowing the native woodland to emerge from beneath the oppressive alien canopy.

The HCN calls this a clear-cut pesticide doused hillside

The HCN has characterized the liberation of the native forest as clear-cutting the canyon and dousing it with pesticides. They have misled thousands with a 15 year disinformation campaign to save the eucalyptus.

And for the record, here is what the EIS says about HCN "Alternative"

3.3.1 Alternative Hazardous Fuel Reduction Program Considered But Not Carried Forward for Additional Study 

Taken as a whole, a substantial group of public scoping comments suggested the following measures as part of an alternative approach to hazardous fuel reduction:

  • Removal of brush and surface fuels
  • Removal of lower tree limbs In areas where trees are thick, species-neutral removal of small trees and in some cases understory trees to remove ladder fuels and to create space between trees while maintaining shade to suppress growth of shrubs and grass
  • Removal of eucalyptus debris that falls off the trees after a freeze
  • Keeping grass short by mowing or grazing, especially along roads
You can read the rest of the consideration in the EIS.  I am skipping/snipping to the evaluation and reason given for not studying the idea further. Combined Alternative Program 

The alternative hazardous fuel reduction program outlined at the beginning of this Section 3.3.1 
has two fundamental weaknesses, as illustrated by the discussions of its components in Sections through First, its species-neutral approach does not adequately address the special  characteristics of eucalyptus and Monterey pine trees that can make wildfires difficult or even  impossible to control (see Section Second, its reliance on continuous removal of ladder  fuels under tall trees on steep slopes would likely be prohibitively expensive and increase erosion  by disturbing soils. For these reasons, this alternative fuel reduction program would not meet the  purpose and need and was eliminated from further study. 
(emphasis mine)

The FEMA EIS says the HCN plan is unworkable. Suffers two fundamental weaknesses.

So the HCN plans to sue any agency who refuses adopt it???

Something is seriously wrong with this logic.