It's unfortunate that two individuals, Jerry Kent and Norm LaForce are attempting to use the considerable goodwill of the Sierra Club to advance a personal agenda that seems at odds with what the mainstream Sierra Club member believes is right.
These 2 gentlemen are determined to see 3 species of trees eradicated from the Bay Area, eucalyptus, monterey pines, and acacia. They believe that these 3 species don't belong here and have come up with all manner of justification for removing them, none of which have been successful so far.
First it was fire risk, but when that was shown to be an unfounded claim they then retreated to the idea that there is an economic argument for removing these 3 species. Who knows what's next?
Here are some facts. The 1991 Oakland hills fire disaster had almost nothing to do with trees of any sort. This is made clear in the Grand Jury report and the FEMA disaster analysis after the fire. In fact, even one of the proponents of removing these species acknowledged in public EIR comments that neither eucs or any other trees had much to do with the '91 fire.
Second, independent expert wildfire managers, educated, trained, and experienced professionals in this field have gone on record repeatedly saying that indeed, tall trees of any species aren't a significant fire risk. It's the ground fuels that are the real problem, whether they are native or not.
Third. The attempts to scare or just deceive the public into making 10s of millions of dollars available for fire risk mitigation projects that actually increase the risk of fire are shameful. If the proponents of ridding the area of 3 species of trees they don't feel should be here were honest about this, they would ask the public to spend these 10s of millions of dollars on removing these species because they feel strongly they shouldn't be here. But they don't. Why? Because they know that the public wouldn't be willing to spend all this money for this purpose.
Fourth. There are huge environmental consequences associated with removing these trees. If Mr. Kent and Mr. La Force had their way well in excess of 1 million mature trees would be killed. This would have a very significant effect on the local environment. It would release enormous amounts of sequestered CO2, would forever diminish the ability to continue to sequester all the C02 that these trees are capable of, and would require 10s of thousands of gallons of herbicide to be applied to the stumps of these trees and to the resultant explosive growth of hemlock, thistle, broom, and poison oak that invariably take hold once the shade trees are removed.
Additionally, there would be a significant reduction in slope stability, water storage, and shade. The local microclimate would change from what is currently a moist, shaded, fog-drip environment to a predominately dry environment.
Significant habitat would be lost, most notably for raptors. Like it or not, hawks and owls use tall trees, generally eucalyptus as homes. There are constant sightings of nesting red tails and owls in this area. Make no mistake, if these trees are gone, so are the raptors. But then what happens? As was evident in the aftermath of the '91 fire, rodent populations soared once the raptors were gone. It has taken many years for the raptors to come back and the rodent populations to return to equilibrium levels.
Finally, real experts in the field (reports are available) have made it clear that removing 3 species of tall trees will not only cause all manner of environmental problems (including herbicide flowing down the hills into pristine creeks), but it is the most expensive way to manage wild land fire risk in this area. It is far cheaper to remove understory fuels on a periodic basis than it is to embark on a huge scale logging project. But most importantly, if the objective is to reduce fire risk, experts agree, removing tall trees simply does not work. The most fire resistant environment we could have here is one with tall shade trees, reasonably spaced, and with understory fuels managed. In fact there is a growing consensus among the local public agencies that this is the best way to manage the fire risk.
So, what Mr. LaForce and Mr. Kent propose is not cheap, it's not environmentally friendly, will significantly add to the greenhouse gas problem, and it doesn't address the fire risk issue. What it is is nothing more than an attempt to use the goodwill of the Sierra Club to advance a personal agenda that is extremely environmentally destructive.
I think it's high time that Yodeler readers know the truth about this and stop allowing these folks to attempt to use the Club for their own purposes.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Dan Grazzetti's Censored Comments.
Here is the comment by Dan Grassetti that was removed for violating the comment policy of the Sierra Club's Yodeler.