In a world where climate change is a reality, and trees our only defense (aside from actually reducing carbon emissions), it would seem to be a no-brainer that preserving existing trees would be environmentally important.
The carbon sequestration and storage – particularly in eucalyptus trees, which are large, fast-growing, long-lived, and have dense wood – as well as their benefits in pollution control and moisture capture would seem to encourage preservation and planting. Instead, we see multiple plans to remove hundreds of thousands of trees across the Bay Area.
It’s like a war on trees.
All these projects propose to use pesticides to prevent re-sprouting of the felled trees for up to seven years afterward, and also to spray “invasive” non-native vegetation. The pesticides mentioned include glyphosate (the active ingredient of Roundup and Garlon), triclopyr (Garlon – even more toxic that glyphosate), and imazapyr (an extremely persistent chemical whose breakdown product is neurotoxic).
Needless to say, the dead trees will not be sequestering any more carbon. Nor will they be storing it. The wood from the felled trees will be chipped and left on the ground, except for the pieces too large to chip, which will be left there as logs. These will decay, returning the carbon to the atmosphere.
TREE-FELLING – HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE
We’re aware of three major initiatives to cut down trees in the Bay Area. Though the land managers are different in each case, the projects are remarkably similar: Cut down trees, grind the smaller ones into chips and leave the larger ones as logs, and leave them lying on the ground; use pesticides to prevent regrowth, and to discourage the invasive plants that will naturally follow.
We’ve passed all the deadlines for comments on their Draft Environmental Impact reports. However, this is a good time to show your support by signing the petitions if you haven’t done so already. It’s also a good time to write to decision-makers.
1) In San Francisco and Pacifica the
Native Natural Areas Program plans on cutting down 18,500 trees. This is in addition to hundreds of trees – maybe more, because we’ve lost count – of trees have been and will be felled for projects (such as Glen Canyon and McLaren Park) and for Urban Forestry, where trees ‘in decline’ or having ‘poor suitability for preservation’ are being removed even when they’re not hazardous. (To be clear: We support the removal of trees that are actually hazardous, but not declaring trees to be hazardous as a reason to cut them down.)
The land manager in this case is San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (SFRPD), mainly – but not solely – through its sadly misnamed “Natural Areas Program.”
Where it stands and what you can do: The City will need to respond to the large number of comments they received. We understand that a new consultant has been hired for that purpose. Meanwhile, you can read about the Plan at the San Francisco Forest Alliance website (www.sfforest.net) and write to Mayor Edwin Lee, as well as the Supervisor for your District.
2) In Sutro Forest, the first phase of the project calls for felling 90% of the trees in demonstration areas totaling 5 acres – initially around 3,000 trees. The second phase potentially extends this to a total of 44 acres, with a loss of 27,500- 35,000 trees. The land manager in this case is University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Another 19 acres of the forest is owned by the City and falls under the Natural Areas Program described above.
Where it stands and what you can do: Comments on the DEIR for the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve are also closed, and UCSF is considering how to respond. However, please write to the decision-makers and check this page to see what else you can do.
3) In the East Bay, three separate but connected projects threaten nearly 500 thousand trees. What’s worse, they are asking FEMA to fund it.
- UC Berkeley plans to clear-cut 284 acres in Strawberry Canyon, Claremont, and Frowning Ridge, removing all non-native trees: Eucalyptus, Monterey Pine/ cypress (yes, they’re non-native too), and acacia. That’s about 54,000 trees.
- The City of Oakland plans to remove an estimated 23,000 trees on 122 acres in two areas: the Northern Hills Skyline; and Caldecott Tunnel.
- The East Bay Regional Park District is planning to remove approximately 409,000 trees by “thinning” existing forests on a total of 1653 acres.
Where it stands and what you can do: The comments period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) closed on Monday, June 17th. Until FEMA has had a chance to digest and respond to all the comments it would have received, we don’t expect to know where it stands. They are also raising funds so they can mount a legal challenge if necessary. Go HERE if you’d like to make a donation.
PEOPLE LOVE TREES AND OPPOSE THESE PLANS
Opponents of these destructive plans have put out petitions, and thousands of people have signed them.
- The petition against the Natural Areas Program’s tree-felling has around 3,000 signatures (most were hard-copy, as supporters went and got signatures and mailed them in). The online petition is still live; if you have not signed and would like to do so, click HERE.
- The petition against gutting Sutro Forest has over 3400 signatures as of June 21st, 2013. This is entirely online. If you haven’t signed, and would like to, the link is HERE.
- The Hills Conservation Network petition against deforestation in the Berkeley/Oakland Hills has over 5700 signatures. (Click HERE to sign if you would like to have not done so yet.)