FEMA To Replace California Forest With Chemical Wasteland

It’s no secret that wildfires are becoming more common. Residents of states like California, Wyoming, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado have become accustomed to daytime smoke and sudden evacuations. Still, the developers who want their money continue to build homes and businesses in high risk areas.

Now, in California, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and land grant recipients the University of California at Berkeley (UCB), City of Oakland and East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), want to mitigate the threat by chopping down the trees and leaving behind a vacant lot soaked in Monsanto herbicides.

Here’s how FEMA describes the project:

The proposed projects include the removal of non-native trees (primarily eucalyptus, Monterey pine, and acacia), chipping cut trees, and leaving many of the chips in place for sediment and invasive weed control. The agencies would apply herbicides to the cut stumps to prevent resprouting. Additionally, they might reuse large logs to control erosion on slopes and, in some areas, might thin or remove native vegetation such as coyote brush. The agencies might burn cut brush and branches in piles and might use further control measures such as grazing or herbicide spraying on foliage.

According to estimates by MillionTrees.me, a blog project dedicated to saving trees in the San Francisco Bay Area, the project would result in the elimination of over 70,000 trees.

To be clear, many of these trees are invasive species, and especially prone to combustion. As noted in this article eucalyptus contains oils that make it a virtual explosive in the event of a fire. This is especially troubling for those who remember the 1991 Oakland Hills Firestorm, which burned thousands of homes and killed at least 25 people.

Still, even those well versed in wildfire science find the plan to simply cull the trees appalling. David Maloney, a retired firefighter who fought the Oakland Hills Firestorm called FEMA’s clear-cut proposal “a land transformation plan which is masquerading as a fire hazard reduction plan,” in this Oakland Local article. Maloney also noted that, in the Oakland Hills fire, “the radiant heat from the houses caught the trees on fire,” and not the trees igniting the houses.

FEMA claims that, though the area will be left covered in approximately 24 inches of wood chips, it will eventually replant itself with native grasses and plants. There are plenty of reasons to doubt this assumption, however, and they come in bottles made by Monsanto.

“The stumps of eucalypts and acacia will be sprayed with an herbicide (Garlon with the active ingredient triclopyr) soon after the trees are cut down to prevent resprouting,” explains MillionTrees. “An estimated 1 – 2 ounces of formulated herbicide will be required for each stump. Based on an experiment conducted by East Bay Regional Park District, an estimated 5% of the trees will require retreatment of subsequent resprouts. They are therefore predicting that between 633 and 1,266 gallons of herbicide will be required to prevent resprouting if only 5% of the stumps require retreatment as they claim…Herbicide (Roundup with active ingredient glyphosate) will also be sprayed to control non-native vegetation…”

In short, the planet will lose almost 100,000 perfectly healthy trees, and Monsanto will make a tidy profit by providing the government with the toxic chemicals it needs to prevent them from regrowing.

SIGN NOW! Don’t Let FEMA and UC Berkeley Cut Down 70k California Trees!

I’m no expert, but I think it’s hilarious that this has been proposed as a fire reduction plan. By its own admission, FEMA will be spreading hundreds of thousands of pounds of extremely flammable wood chips all over the exact same area they’re trying to fire-proof. Razing the trees will also eliminate the shade and fog drip that moistens the forest floor (providing the dry conditions fire loves) and destroying the natural windbreak that acts as a barrier to the wind driven fires that are typical in California.

Not to mention that killing the trees will release hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the destroyed trees, thereby contributing to climate change (something that California has supposedly committed itself to stopping).

If you live in the East Bay area and are shocked by this devastating plan to raze public lands, it’s not a coincidence that this is the first you’re hearing of it. FEMA, UCB, and the others involved in approving the plan have intentionally kept it quiet. To stop it, residents of California need to make their voices heard.

Comments on the project’s Environmental Impact Statement must be submitted by June 17, 2013. You may submit written comments in several ways:

  • Via the project website: http://ebheis.cdmims.com
  • By email: EBH-EIS-FEMA-RIX@fema.dhs.gov
  • By mail: P.O. Box 72379, Oakland, CA 94612-8579
  • By fax: 510-627-7147
  • You can also express your displeasure at the plan to swap beautiful trees for acres of herbicide-soaked wood chips by signing this petition: Don’t Let FEMA and UC Berkeley Cut Down 70k California Trees!


    Image via Thinkstock


    Bev Jo
    Bev Jo4 years ago

    Beware of what you read about how things were before the Spanish because some who have a clear investment in killing and poisoning our parks are simply lying.

    We actually do not know what there was 150 years ago, in the East Bay Hills, but it certainly was not the open non-native grasslands you propose. The Spanish brought the flammable grasses and the cattle that further destroyed the land. We do know that it's likely the hills were heavily forested. Oakland has that name because it was the largest oak forest in California.

    But what "native biology" are you referring to, now that the native oak species are dying of disease?

    At least the Eucalyptus provide homes and food for the many native animals displaced by the Spanish and later invaders.

    So why should we cut them down and herbicide for ten years for Monsanto's benefit, permanently poisoning the water and land?

    You did read that not one tree is being planned to replace the half a million or more planned for killing? And you realize that the native trees all are likely to die from the disease which is spreading? The beautiful Pinus Sabiniana (Grey Pine) further east are also dying from drought.

    Again, we are lucky that we have any trees here who thrive. We have a beautiful mixture of Monterey Pine and Monterey Cypress (who are endangered in their habitat a few miles away) and Acacias and Eucalyptus, plus wild plums, apples, pears, quince, etc. and a variety of other non-native trees who feed the wild

    Stephanie L.
    Stephanie L.4 years ago

    If you look at the history of the hills, though, it is interesting to see that only 150 years ago they were grasslands and oak shrub lands. Not that we can undo time, but I think there is something to be had in restoring the hills to meet both ecological and cultural needs of the area. In my research, Eucalyptus was introduced to the hills in the mid 1800's by real estate developers that drastically changed the hills ecosystem from open grasslands to a thick, dense exotic forest. Is there someway to restore the hills, get rid of the Eucalyptus to promote native biology, while mitigating the use of poisons?

    Don Swanz
    Don Swanz4 years ago

    JOHN H: KUDOS! Sadly, very few will read your comments in their entirety and many will gloss over the last sentence in your comments. To paraphrase: "Our world is not inherited from our parents; but borrowed from our grand children." Don and I CAN! :-))

    John S.
    Past Member 4 years ago

    That's good. Just the other day I was thinking that we don't have enough chemical wastelands.

    Kate H.
    Kate H4 years ago

    Oh let's just pour more chemicals all over everything, sure. Next thing you know, they'll build some kind of housing on top of the cleared space and not tell people about it, and then people will get sick from it and all that crap. It wouldn't be the first time. (psst, Love Canal et al.)

    Ernie Miller
    william Miller4 years ago

    KILL KILL KILL that is the only answer man has to anything

    Ruth R.
    Ruth R4 years ago

    Opps, I missed signing this petition.

    Ruth R.
    Ruth R4 years ago

    Signed petition !

    Abbe A.
    Azaima A4 years ago

    shameful. Hope the petition helps.

    John Hablinski
    John Hablinski4 years ago

    Genesis M. Republicans are constantly crying & wringing their hands over the nation’s debt and how bad it would be to leave to our next generation. The truth is the country had a much larger debt/GDP ratio after WWII and we managed that quite well. I can’t fail to mention that on day 1 of the Bush43 Administration he was given a budgetary surplus of more than $800 Billion and a roadmap which, had he had the sense to follow it would have had the nation OUT OF DEBT by 2011.
    As we are forced to watch the GOP deny science and cover up after Monsanto & BP & the like & as they themselves push madly for the Canadian oil sand pipeline and coal I have often said it won’t be the debt the next generation will curse us for, that is just money and the term “make money” entered the English language here in America and before any rightwing crazies suggest otherwise I’m not talking about merely printing new money. What our children will hate us for is the broken planet we hand them and we will deserve every curse.