East Bay: Intent to file a Petition

(Edited to update the information in the post)

Hills Conservation Network has decided to file a petition under California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) against the East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD) and its Board of Directors.  It’s sent a notification through its lawyers, Lozeau Drury.

The legal notice challenges the actions of EBRPD in (1) adopting the Wildfire Hazard and Resource Management Plan and (2) certifying the associated Environmental Impact Report in violation of CEQA requirements. (This Plan intends to cut down hundreds of thousands of trees – mostly eucalyptus but also acacia and Monterey Pine – over a large area in the East Bay, and use toxic herbicides to prevent regrowth.)

Here’s more information from HCN:

The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) plans to destroy more than 500,000 trees adding some 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and a massive amount of pesticides to the environment.

The East Bay ridgeline from Castro Valley in the north to Pinole in the south is in danger of being forever altered by a misguided vegetation management program adopted last month by the East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD).

The Hills Conservation Network (HCN) filed suit challenging EBRPD’s vegetation management program. The lawsuit alleges numerous violations of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). If implemented, EBRPD’s program will irreparably harm the beautiful, vibrant and diverse ecosystem of the East Bay hills.

HCN is comprised mostly of survivors of the 1991 Oakland/Berkeley fire, people deeply concerned that the East Bay Regional Park District, using parcel tax receipts from 2004’s measure CC, will create an environmental nightmare.

EBRPD’s vegetation management program will destroy critical habitat by drastically reducing the tree canopy; release enormous amounts of sequestered carbon dioxide and; poison the environment with the widespread and long-term application of pesticides known to increase health risks to people, pets and wildlife.

Large scale removal of pine, eucalyptus and acacia trees is a radical plan to restore the landscape to the way it may have looked 200 years ago. Removal of thousands of trees eliminates their ability to absorb carbon dioxide, a main culprit in global warming. This is poor forest management and ineffective fire prevention — and it harms the environment. Taxpayer dollars could be put to better use by thinning the trees and clearing debris under them instead of removing vast numbers of mature, healthy trees.

Despite HCN’s repeated attempts to achieve a more moderate plan at a lower cost and without the substantial negative environmental consequences, EBRPD has refused to engage in meaningful dialogue. The result is the current lawsuit.

The suit, filed May 25, 2010 in Alameda County Superior Court seeks an injunction preventing any tree removal, and asks that the EIR adequately analyze the impacts of this 20-year project, which it currently does not do.

(For more information contact HCN’s Dan Grassetti at (510) 849-2601)

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