Wildfire season in California started early this year, and researchers say the fires are burning stronger because of the dry winter. The news is adding urgency to the effort to prevent fires like the 1991 Oakland Hills blaze that killed 25 people and destroyed more than 3,000 homes. But a proposal to cut 100,000 eucalyptus trees or more has stirred up controversy, and now, a long-running battle over the plan is coming to a head.

Rooting Out Non-Native Plants
One hot late-spring morning Tom Klatt, the environmental projects manager for University of California, Berkeley, brings me to a piece of the school’s land he’s particularly proud of, at the top of Claremont Canyon in the Berkeley hills. The university has logged all the eucalyptus trees here, and is removing other non-native plants in an effort to reduce the risk of wildfires.

Update:  The city of Oakland has clarified their language in the EIR and has decided to pursue a thinning approach similar to East Bay Parks.
Update: The city of Oakland has clarified their language in the EIR and has decided to pursue a thinning approach similar to East Bay Parks.

Klatt’s wearing a business suit, but he’s not above pulling up a few weeds as we walk. He yanks out poison hemlock that’s growing along the trail into the canyon.

“When we started this, this was a dark and shadowy tunnel of eucalyptus trees,” Klatt says. Now, it’s a sun-dappled spot; the hiking trail weaves through oak, bay and redwood trees. Those are native trees, as opposed to the eucalyptus, which are originally from Australia.

“We still have a forest, and this forest still can burn, but it doesn’t have the contribution of the eucalyptus litter. It doesn’t have the very tall trees that can ignite in crown fires and throw burning embers,” says Klatt.

An unkempt eucalyptus grove is a fire hazard, Klatt says. The oils in the trees burn easily, and when burning leaves and bark catch the wind, they can spread the fire rapidly. That’s why, more than ten years ago, the school began removing the eucalyptus from this piece of property, and why it wants to cut down about 50,000 more trees here and in two other locations in the hills.

UC Berkeley, along with the city of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Park District, is applying for a $5.6 million grant from FEMA to remove eucalyptus. The project covers almost 1,000 acres on park, university and city land. There are already fire mitigation projects going on here, like the one Klatt showed me, but this grant would expand the work. All told, 100,000 trees or more would be cut under the plan.

Tom Klatt, environmental projects manager for UC Berkeley. (Molly Samuel/KQED)
Tom Klatt, environmental projects manager for UC Berkeley. (Molly Samuel/KQED)

Fire in the Hills
The East Bay hills are susceptible to fire, and whether or not eucalyptus are there won’t change that. The summers are dry and hot, and the Diablo winds — the East Bay’s version of the Santa Ana winds — can whip a spark into a wildfire. The wind was a major player in the 1991 fire. A FEMA report found a host of factors contributed to it being the disaster that it was: lack of coordination between the agencies fighting the fire, lack of water, people getting trapped on the narrow winding streets and wood roofs bursting into flames.

But Mike Martin, a battalion chief with CalFire who fought that fire, says the eucalyptus played a role, too.

hdpublicplaces-mod“Early on in the fire, it hit some eucalyptus coming out of the Marlborough Terrace area, and it just put out a huge barrage of burning embers downwind from the fire,” Martin recalls.

Those embers spread the fire, catching on vegetation and roofs. Martin says a single eucalyptus isn’t necessarily a fire hazard. It’s when there’s a bunch of them, shedding leaves and bark into heaps on the forest floor, that there can be disastrous results.

“When something like that is burning, there is nothing in our arsenal that can compete with it,” says Martin. “You’re not gonna find any firefighters saying eucalyptus aren’t a problem.”

Backlash Against the Plan
“It’s unfortunate that the ’91 fire is used as justification of this project because what really went wrong is not trees,” says Dan Grassetti, the founder of the Hills Conservation Network, a group opposed to the plan. They sued the park district over a related eucalyptus removal project, and is happier with the tactic East Bay Parks is taking now — thinning the eucalyptus groves on their land, rather than cutting them down wholesale. But Grassetti’s group has been fighting UC Berkeley’s plan to remove all the eucalyptus on its property since 2005, and has commissioned a report responding to FEMA’s draft environmental impact statement on the plan.

“The community’s been given a false choice,” he says. “The choice that UC’s put out there has been, either do what we want to do, or we do nothing. And that is just totally bogus as far as we’re concerned.”

Dan Grassetti, founder of the Hills Conservation Network. (Molly Samuel/KQED)
Dan Grassetti, founder of the Hills Conservation Network. (Molly Samuel/KQED)

Grassetti brings me to a spot in Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve that he thinks is a good example of how to limit fire risk — and keep the eucalyptus. A red-shouldered hawk calls behind us as we look down a shady hill at a forest of eucalyptus trees.

“You know, we’re standing here right now, and I would argue that it smells pretty good. And it’s kind of a pleasant environment. It’s shady. It’s cool. It’s good habitat,” Grassetti says. There’s space between the trees, and the ground below them is mostly clear of bark and leaves. “This is probably our ideal of how a eucalyptus grove could be maintained in the hills here.”

Grassetti argues, if UC Berkeley maintained its eucalyptus groves like this one, they wouldn’t be a fire hazard. But Klatt says keeping any of the trees isn’t sustainable.

“As long as you leave a single eucalyptus tree here that drops 20,000-plus seeds per year, you can be assured that you’re going to have regeneration of the species. So thinning it doesn’t get you out of the eucalyptus management business, doesn’t get you out of cleaning up the forest floor business and it isn’t really a solution.”

Grassetti and Klatt are on either end of the spectrum here. The Sierra Club has endorsed the plan. But when it comes to cutting the eucalyptus, many community members fall somewhere in the middle.

“I realize that the eucalyptus are a fire hazard, and for that reason it’s hard to object to that,” says Barbara Bauer. She lives near Claremont Canyon where she walks her dogs, Pal and Tempo. She was there for the ’91 fire; she had to evacuate and watched the hills burn. But she’s not on board with the plan to remove other trees, including acacia and Monterey pine. “I have real feelings for the trees that don’t necessarily have to go, for any good reason.”

And there are other concerns. Jeannie McKenzie raises goats and chickens in the backyard of her Oakland hills home.

“The thing I am most concerned about is these herbicides in our hills at the top of our watershed that is coming down through our properties,” says McKenzie.

The herbicides would be applied directly to the stumps of the eucalyptus as soon as they’re cut, to prevent regrowth. But Klatt says there would likely be some spraying, too, to control other weeds, which isn’t described in the draft environmental impact statement.

Klatt says he’s not surprised the plan’s been so controversial.

“We’re never going to get a consensus on environmental issues in the San Francisco Bay Area. We pretty much accept that,” he says.

FEMA plans to begin working on the final environmental impact statement this summer. That will decide what – if any – elements of this plan they’ll fund. Klatt says the money would help them move faster, but either way, they’ll continue cutting, to try to limit the risk of another catastrophic wildfire in the hills.

  • William McClung

    This eucalyptus-management controversy has been interesting to those of us who live in the Berkeley Hills and care about how the thousands of acres of wildland/urban intermix are managed, but has become COUNTERPRODUCTIVE.

    It is time for FEMA and the disputants to COMPROMISE, which appears from this report is possible as EBRPD has done.

    Realistically, all eucalyptus are not going to be removed on our public lands, ongoing management/stewardship will be necessary, and very limited use of herbicides is rightly required of those who do this difficult and important work.

    William McClung, Founding member

    Claremont Canyon Conservancy

  • Million_Trees

    The Environmental Protection Agency has submitted a public comment about this project that might help the public evaluate it. The EPA says, “The EPA review has identified environmental impacts that should be avoided in order to fully protect the environment.” The EPA says it is very unlikely that the project will result in a native landscape because nothing will be planted and climate change has made native vegetation less competitive than the weeds that are likely to be the result of destroying the tree canopy that shades the ground, suppressing weed growth.

    The EPA is also very concerned about the huge amount of herbicide that will be required by the project in the short run to kill the roots of the trees and in the long run to control the non-native vegetation that will result from destroying the tree canopy.

    KQED’s report is fairly balanced, but your audience might find it useful to know that the ground will be covered with 2 feet of wood chips of the trees that are destroyed, creating a far more flammable landscape than any living tree.

    And those who prefer a native landscape should be aware of the epidemic spread of Sudden Oak Death that is expected to kill most oaks in California within 25 years. So, try to imagine a treeless landscape as the final result of this project.

    • SkyHunter

      Why did you put:

      “The EPA review has identified environmental impacts that should be avoided in order to fully protect the environment.”

      Who are you quoting? The EPA review does not say that anywhere.

      What they say is:

      In the attached detailed comments, we recommend providing additional information regarding nature resource impacts and more information in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) about the location, type, amount, and application method for herbicide use.

      The ground will not be covered with two feet of wood chips. Up to 20% of the area will be mulched with up to 24 inches of wood chips. Catchments to control erosion will have up to 48 inches of wood chips.

      The coast live oaks have been here for at least 20 million years. They are also exhibiting strong signs of resiliance.

      our study shows that coast live oaks in northern California exhibit substantial resistance to P. ramorum.

      All lies aside, the Project will decrease the risk of catastrophic fire, mitigate the effects of climate change, provide more native habitat, and improve the environment.

      • Million_Trees

        That is a verbatim quote from the EPA website which provides the definitions of the EPA’s rating of this project: “Environmental Concerns – Insufficient Information.” These are the definitions of those terms:

        “Environmental Concerns: The EPA review has identified environmental impacts that should be avoided in order to fully protect the environment. Corrective measures may require changes to the preferred alternative or application of mitigation measures that can reduce the environmental impact…”

        “Insufficient Information: The draft EIS does not contain sufficient information for EPA to fully assess environmental impacts that should be avoided in order to fully protect the environment…”

        That’s good news about the mortality rates of infected live oaks. Unfortunately, the infection rates are increasing. In its latest report, the California Oak Mortality Task Force reported these findings from the 2012 SOD Blitz:

        “The USDA FS 2012 annual aerial detection survey for California mapped 376,000 new dead oak (Quercus agrifolia) and tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus) over 54,000 acres in areas impacted by SOD.”

        “Most of the Bay Area locations sampled had increased levels of infection, with the East Bay infestation found to have transitioned from a newly arrived status (in 2011) to epidemic levels on California bay laurel (Umbellularia californica) (in 2012).”

        The SOD Blitz doesn’t sample oaks for the disease because bark samples are required for diagnosis. The scientist leading the SOD Blitz in the East Bay told participants that oaks within 200 feet of infected bay laurels would eventually be infected.

        You’re right that only 20% of the project area will be covered in 2 feet of wood chips, plus large branches and logs of trees over 24” in diameter. That’s a lot of dead wood.

        The EPA does not think native habitat is the likely outcome of this project. Nor will spraying thousands of gallons of herbicides “improve the environment.”

        • SkyHunter

          It is not exactly verbatim, the quote does not include the word EPA, and it is from a general policy document, not the specific Project, as your message infers. The EC-2 rating is the most common rating for a draft EIS. It is one step, or two small steps, depending on how you want to measure it, above LO-1 (Lack of Objection, adequate information)

          The EPA concerns can be mitigated by adding a detailed description of how the Project will positively help to mitigate the challenges of climate change, adding contingencies for the areas where the native woodland has been competely wiped out by eucalyptus, and the native seed bank is depleted, add more detail in how, where, when, and by whom the herbicides will be applied, and make the other corrections outlined in the review.

          All in all it is an 8 page punchlist to a complex document, thousands of pages long. It won’t take long to meet the concerns and release the FEIS.

          • Such senseless quibbling. The EPA rating is specific to this project. The EPA comment about the project that assigns the rating attaches the EPA document that spells out the definition of that rating. The description of the rating is quoted verbatim. The ratings are available for everyone to see on the EPA website.

          • SkyHunter

            It is not quibbling to point out how you are distorting the narrative.

  • Rocky Bay

    Single factor thinking never produces a good solution. This concept of naming a scapegoat is completely antithetical to good, sustainable, environmental practices. Claremont Canyon, where UC clear cut is now thick with weeds, a verdant undergrowth of a fire hazard of a different ilk. Tom Klatt represents the UC arrogance, of there is only one way, UC’s way.

  • Helen Kozoriz Shoemaker

    “Removing all eucalyptus, Monterey pine, and acacia trees will be a severe site disturbance. Such catastrophic site disturbances that include extensive canopy removal do not favor the less invasive native species such as oak or bay trees, but rather favor more invasive species. As noted above, this phenomenon has been documented on numerous mechanical fuel treatments in the California Bay Area that are similar to actions proposed in the DEIS [Draft Environmental Impact Statement]. In my opinion, that without further long-term maintenance that includes extensive planting of other species, the proposed actions will not differentially favor native species, but will simply favor invasive, highly flammable brush species, both native and non-native, leading to dangerous, intense, and destructive wildfires. It is further my opinion that the actions proposed in the DEIS will lead to dangerous, intense, and destructive wildfires. The net effect is essentially trading one fire hazard for another, at a significant dollar cost and detriment to the local ecosystems.”

    — Kelly Close, Fire Behavior Analyst, Fire Progression, LLC, Hazardous Tree Reduction DEIS, East Bay Hills, CA, Fire Behavior Commentary, June 17, 2013 (Page 5-6):


  • Keith McAllister

    Your reporter mentions that the FEMA Technical Report on the 1991 fire found that “a
    host of factors” contributed to the destructiveness of the fire, including wind, lack of fire-fighter coordination, lack of water, people trapped on narrow streets, and flammable house roofs. She should have also mentioned that the FEMA report did not identify specifically eucalyptus as one of the factors. Nor did the FEMA report advise
    targeting species specific eucalyptus eradication as a mitigation measure. The “Lessons Learned” section of the report doesn’t mention eucalyptus.

    Of course eucalyptus burned in the fire. Everything burned in that conflagration: oaks, bays, telephone poles, grass, brush, and houses. Eucalyptus are a convenient scapegoat; they deflect attention from human action and inaction. Now eucalyptus are targeted by an entrenched “native plant” restoration movement. Native plant restoration and fire hazard mitigation are two entirely different projects, despite the attempt by Mr. Klatt to pretend they are the same.

  • Hannah

    How are wildfires managed in Australia, where eucalyptus are native? I gather it would be smarter to adapt our techniques rather than destroy this “new” ecosystem.

    • seanyb

      lots of preventative back burning to create breaks in the trees to stop any fires from jumping containment lines

      • SkyHunter

        Eucalyptus have been known to spot fires 30 kilometers ahead of the fire front.

    • SkyHunter

      No it would not be better. Watch the 2011 Australian wildfire.

      Eradicating the eucalyptis does not destroy the ecosystem, it heals and restores it.

  • Monkey_pants

    “You know, we’re standing here right now, and I would argue that it smells pretty good. And it’s kind of a pleasant environment. It’s shady. It’s cool. It’s good habitat,” What BS. Eucalyptus is an absolute plague in the Berkeley hills. If they cut down 90% of the eucalyptus in the entire area, it would still be overwhelmed with this messy weed tree. It’s not “good habitat.” Good habitat would be to introduce more native species into the acres and acres currently occupied by this invasive species. It’s not even the variety that koalas eat, so it’s not like we can mitigate the problem by introducing millions of koalas into the Berkeley hills (j/k).

    • Million_Trees

      These projects are not going to plant anything. It’s not a choice between non-native trees and native trees. It’s a choice between trees and no trees. Also, these projects are destroying ALL non-native trees, including Monterey pines and acacia.
      There are two scientific studies that report that eucalyptus forest in the East Bay hills is providing habitat to just as many species of birds, mammals, and insects as oak-woodland. The myth that eucalyptus forest does not provide habitat is not supported by any scientific studies.

      • saucetin

        Native trees would be replanted. Acacia’s allergens aren’t welcome. And, ‘just as many species’ is quantitative, not qualitative, for right objectives. Invasive species (like eucalyptus), we do not need.

        • Million_Trees

          There is a WRITTEN plan which anyone can read. It is a matter of public record. There are NO plans to plant ANYTHING….plants or trees. READ the plans. See for yourself.

        • SkyHunter

          The native trees are already there, being oppressed by the eucalypti. Once the eucalypti are eradicated, the native woodland recovers beautifully.

          I walked this trail and photographed all the eucalyptus stumps.


          There is a link to all the pictures on the webpage.

    • SkyHunter

      Just look at all the this habitat.

  • saucetin

    Since the firefighters are the ones who’ve got to run toward the fire to put it out to save your homes, why don’t we let them have a deciding vote? Your property’s on the line while their families are the ones who’ll have to hold funerals. Buy a diffuser and flavor it that way if you must enjoy your eucalyptus.

  • Trulahn

    Cut the eucalyptus down! They are simply giant weeds that actually reduced biodiversity rather than increased it. Cut them down and replace them with less competitive native species will help restore the natural biodiversity that had been lost since the introduction of this weed. Eucalyptus is meant to burn, that’s part of their life-cycle. They belong to dryer climates like Southern California, which is more similar to their original habitat, not the foggy, fertile Bay Area. Let’s replace the grass on Grassetti’s lawn with dandelions and forbid him from trimming the dandelions down because they “smell good.” See how he likes that.

    • Keith McAllister

      “Weeds” is just name calling, demonstrating nothing but prejudice. It doesn’t say anything about how a plant functions in its environment. In fact, several studies in the East Bay hills (e.g. Sax, Stebbins) have shown diverse ecosystems in our eucalyptus forest. The “no diversity in eucalyptus” myth is just a myth, not supported by evidence.

      Eucalyptus in Australia live in environments ranging from desert to wet tropical
      forest. They do just as well here as in Southern California.

      • SkyHunter

        They are weeds in the East Bay Hills.

        The Sax study was documenting species adaptation to changing environments. It does not support your contention that eucalypti are not allelopathic. There is plenty of published research in the scientific literature over the past century or so, documenting the fact that eucalypti create near monocrop environments.

        I have been documenting these trees and the stunted woodland they are oppressing with pictures and publishing them on my blog.

        All the misrepresented abstracts in the world do not alter the evidence before the eye.

        • Keith McAllister

          All the carefully selected photos in the world do not alter the conclusions of careful scientific studies. Sax’s study says he found equal species diversity in ecucalyptus forest and oak forest in the East Bay Hills. He doesn’t compare, one way or the other, allelopathy of eucalyptus with allelopathy of oaks.
          Like I said above, calling them “weeds” is just name calling. Repeating that eucs are “weeds” is still just the same name calling. It doesn’t tell anyone anything about the plants.

          • SkyHunter

            You cite two studies that show that some species of wildlife adapt to the litter and debris. Wildlife that evolved to a riparian woodland, not an exotic forest. Restoring the riparian woodland is better for the Hills than converting to a Tasmanian Blue Gum, French broom and poison oak paradise.

            Besides, the HCN alternative would remove all that wildlife habitiat provided by these invasive weeds, every few years.

            How do you think that will effect a study of wildlife diversity where they only took samples twice a year.

            And my photos are not carefully selected, like milliontrees doers on his website. I take hundreds of photos and publish them all. You see, when you have the truth on your side… more evidence is better.

          • SkyHunter

            Just because you have an emotional reaction to the word does not mean it is not an accurate description.

            (1) : a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth; especially : one that tends to overgrow or choke out more desirable plants (2) : a weedy growth of plants

          • SkyHunter

            He doesn’t compare, one way or the other, allelopathy of eucalyptus with allelopathy of oaks.

            The Dov Sax study does not make a lot of relevant comparisons. It was not intended to support the specious argument you are trying to make.
            The study was intended to gather data on how species adapt to changing environments. Not to disprove the evidence before our eyes, that eucalyptus are destructive to native habitiat. Replacing a riparian woodland with a eucalyptus forest is like replacing your modern home with a yurt.
            It might be equivalent to some people, but just try and take out a second mortgage.

        • Keith McAllister

          Bob, you are flailing wildly. Go back and read the Sax study again, all the way through. You are trying to make the study say things it does not say. Sax’s study is not about species adapting to changing environments or adapting to litter and debris. You made that up. He mentions not a single adaptation of a single species. The species in both forest types were based on invertebrates in the leaf litter. He just counts the species and the individuals in each species. He doesn’t say anything about the species he found having evolved in riparian habitat. You made that up, too. Sax doesn’t identify which species were native or non-native. And he says nothing about allelopathy.

          Sax offers us only one simple conclusion: that eucalyptus forest and oak forest in the Berkeley hills have essentially the same species richness and species diversity, and that there are differences in the assemblages of species in the two types of forest. And that’s the only use I have made of the Sax study, as confirmation that eucalyptus forest is not a “biological desert” or “dead zone.” Sax confirms my position on that issue. Eucalyptus forest in the Berkeley Hills hosts just as diverse an ecosystem as oak forest. Period. In doing so, he demonstrated that eucalyptus forest is not a “near monocrop environment,” as you call it. Sax said explicitly that both forests had “well-developed understory.”

          If you don’t like what Sax says, don’t refer to him. You can’t change what the study says; it’s published and anyone can read it. And you’ll look pretty silly in the eyes of those who do actually read it.

          • Keith McAllister

            For those who are interested, here’s the citation: Sax, Dov F, “Equal diversity in disparate species assemblages: a comparison of native and exotic woodlands in California,” Global Ecology &
            Biogeography (2002) 11, 49–57

          • SkyHunter

            You need to check yourself pal.
            I didn’t make anything up. I am the one who first provided the link the Sax study.
            I am not limited to only the information contained in a sparse study of six sites that were only sampled twice. Sax 2002, was gathering data on how species adapt to invasions of by alien and exotic species. That is not the focus of the FEMA Project, nor is it a testament to the benevolence of eacalyptus.
            I have the truth on my side. More information is better. I am not attempting to make a narrow and specious misinterpretation of someone else’s research.
            Where do you think the invertebrates, amphibians, and rodents live if not in the debris?
            The thrust of Dov Sax and Jim Brown’s research is native adaptation to exotic invasions. The hypothesis they are testing is that native species are resiliant to invasions by exotics, in that you don’t see mass extinctions of natives, but an adjustment/adaptation to the invasion. They are not saying the invasion is good, just that native species adapt to it. The aim of the research is to reduce the number of species extinctions in the face of climate change, not protect eucalypotus globulus from eradication.
            You are using the the Sax study to refute the well known fact that eucaluyptus litter and fog drip are loaded with phytotoxins that suppress even the germination of eucalyptus seeds. The number of slugs and bugs in the litter, ot the number of birds that land on the branches, is not a valid metric to determine whether the overall presence of eucalyptus is malignant or benign.
            The study is not particularly robust for a variety of reasons, but to draw the conclusions you are drawing, which is essentially challenging the concensus opinion on eucalyptus widely held for over 100 years, is stretching credulity.
            1) Only 6 sites were chosen of which only 2 are even remotely comparable. Most are of different orientation, elevation and proximity to creeks. Not a 1 to 1 comparison, but such a comparison was unecessary to proving or disproving the null hypothesis.

            2) Samples were only taken twice. For his purposes, this was probably OK, but more samples over a longer time frame would have been better.

            3) Identity of plant species were not included in the study. Poison oak and French broom do well under unmanaged eucalyptus groves, little else does. The understory of the eucalyptus forest in the Claremont Canyon is primarily a stunted riparian woodland. But you don’t see the same diversity of plants that you do without the eucalypyus.

            4) Comparative health of the plant species were not studied. The plants that do manage to grow under the toxic canopy drip, are stunted, and pathetic when compared to what is growing in the bay/oak woodland.

            You don’t need to take my word for it.

            Here is part of the eucalytus forest that UC Berkeley is going to eradicate.

            Here is what it will look like after eradication.

          • Keith McAllister

            You’re still just making it up. You got the Sax reference from the Million Trees blog, which provided the full citation. You didn’t provide it. I read the full paper four years ago.

            You’re still just making it up. The Sax study says absolutely nothing about “how species adapt to invasions of by alien and exotic species.”

            You’re still just making it up. The Sax study says absolutely nothing about “testing [is] that native species are resiliant to invasions by exotics.” The study doesn’t mention native species, except the oaks. The study doesn’t tell you whether the species found in eucalyptus forest are adapted natives or are themselves exotic.

            You’re still just making it up. The Sax study says absolutely nothing about “The aim of the research is to reduce the number of species extinctions in the face of climate change.” The study discusses neither extinctions nor climate change.

            You’re still just making it up. Neither I, nor anyone else I know, has tried to use the Sax study to claim eucalyptus has no allelopathic properties. For the nth time: The Sax study says absolutely nothing about allelopathy of eucs. And, as I have told you before, allelopathy is not something peculiar to eucalyptus; coast live oaks and a great many other native
            plants also use allelopathy as a part of their survival strategy.

            If you want to criticize the Sax study, you’ll have to take that up with someone else. Sax wrote it, not me. He’s the professor of biology, and the paper was reviewed by other professional
            biologists. Frankly I don’t think knowledgable biologists will be much interested in your uninformed criticism.

          • SkyHunter

            So I guess I just dreamed up the milliontrees webmaster thanking me for providing the link and informing me he is updating the relevant webpages.

            Just because you want to focus on one sentence from one abstract, from one single year study of six sites, that were sampled twice during the year, does not mean that the rest of us need to limit our ourselves to only the words contained in those few pages.
            Dov Sax, in his Bio explains the thrust of his research, beginning with the 2002 study he performed as a grad student.

            My research examines 1) species invasions and 2) the response of species to climate change, with a particular emphasis on understanding and preventing species extinctions.


            Is it cheating to read the authors bio?
            Eucalyptus leaf litter lowers the pH of the soil, and the native microbes die. The rain and fog drip from eucalypti canopy is loaded with phytotoxins that inhibit and prevent germination. Yes, many plants are allelopathic.
            Here is a Bay/Oak understory.

            Here is eucalypti.

          • Keith McAllister

            If you want to claim a particular 2002 study says something, you have to discuss that study, not the author’s 2013 biography. (The study was actually done in the 90’s, published in 2002)

            You say the Sax 2002 study was “documenting species adaptation to changing environments.” That’s false. You just made that up.

            You say “Sax 2002, was gathering data on how species adapt to invasions of by alien and exotic species.” That’s false. You just made that up.

            You say “The hypothesis they are testing is that native species are resiliant (sic) to invasions by exotics.” If you are talking about the Sax 2002 study, again, that’s false. The Sax 2002 study says nothing at all about native species being resilient to invasions. You may be talking about some other publication by Sax (can’t tell, you don’t cite any other study), but the study
            published in 2002 about the Berkeley hills makes no mention of native species being resilient to anything. (invasive species, climate change, coyote pee, anything)

            Since you can’t be bothered to actually read what you are talking about, I’m done. The floor is all yours. Have fun. I think your audience has gone home.

          • SkyHunter

            It wasn’t a dream after all.

            Bob Strayer PERMALINK

            May 29, 2013 6:23 am

            Sorry about the open link.
            I was able to find the studies from the information you provided. Just suggesting that a to the cited study is more convenient for the reader.

            Webmaster: Thanks for the link. I have added it to the post about biodiversity of the eucalyptus forest. The study was not available on the internet when I posted that article or I couldn’t find it. I usually provide links when they are available.

            In fact, it was during a discussion with you when I provided the link.

            If you want to claim a particular 2002 study says something,

            I don’t. I just want to expose how you are misrepresenting it.

  • SkyHunter

    The Claremont Canyon Consevancy and UC Berkeley, working together eradicated the eucalyptus on the South side of Claremont Avenue, liberating the oppressed riparan woodland below.
    I have taken hundreds of photos documenting the “clear-cut pesticide drenched forest.” See here, here, here, and here.

    Eucalyptus Globulus does not shut down it’s transpiration during drought. It has extensive shallow roots that are very efficient at extracting water from soil. These trees worsen drought conditions, because they dry out the soil. Their fog drip contains phytotoxins that suppress growth. They lower the soil pH, kill off the native microbes, and disrupt the the soil ecology, creating virtual monocultures. The only plant I have seen thriving under eucalyptus is poison oak. The only other plant that does well in the dead soil is French broom.

    The DEIS considered the HCN alternative to eradication, thin limb, and scrape up the debris.
    They rejected it without further study because it suffers two fundamental flaws.
    1) It is unworkable for most of the Project area.
    2) It does not mitigate the extreme fire hazard posed by tall trees, because it leaves the trees in place.
    However, the HCN is collecting money in preparation to file a lawsuit if all Agencies do not adopt it.

  • Don Stabler

    Almost every fire agency in the Bay Area has had staffing cutbacks since the 1991 horific fire. However, I don’t see any comments from any fire officials. It is their lives on the line, and remember, one of the 25 lost was an Oakland Battalion Chief. Let us get input from the local and state firefighters. Maybe CDF handcrews working the area in the winter and spring could clear things out? I don’t know that for sure, but what is the cost of asking?


Molly Samuel

Molly Samuel joined KQED as an intern in 2007, and since then has worked here as a reporter, producer, director and blogger. Before becoming KQED Science’s Multimedia Producer, she was a producer for Climate Watch. Molly has also reported for NPR, KALW and High Country News, and has produced audio stories for The Encyclopedia of Life and the Oakland Museum of California. She was a fellow with the Middlebury Fellowships in Environmental Journalism and a journalist-in-residence at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. Molly has a degree in Ancient Greek from Oberlin College and is a co-founder of the record label True Panther Sounds.

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