Help Stop the Deforestation and Poisoning of the East Bay Hills!

map of targeted east bay forests
Black areas: Targeted East Bay Forests (From FEMA EBH EIS)

UC Berkeley, the East Bay Regional Park District, the City of Oakland, EBMUD, Caltrans, and others, with funding from FEMA and other public moneys, plan to kill over 450,000 healthy trees in the East Bay hills, some over a hundred years old, on over 2,000 acres of public lands from Point Richmond to Castro Valley.

The FEMA grants for UC and Oakland have been terminated, thanks to legal action by the Hills Conservation Network. The park district’s grant remains, and though its official focus is brush clearing, it continues to allow tree removal in that context.

Our work to defend the East Bay hills from deforestation is not done! All agencies are expected to look for other funding sources to continue to clearcut the hills. The destruction has already started, and is expected to escalate as the agencies receive funding from elsewhere, unless we stop it.

Millions of animals will die from the loss of homes and food and the devastation left by bulldozers, chainsaws, and poison, and the air quality and climate in the Bay Area will suffer. Large amounts of herbicides are planned to be applied over a 10-year period, including Roundup (glyphosate, Monsanto), Garlon (triclopyr, Dow), and Stalker (imazapyr, BASF).

stump with pesticide noticeThese pesticides have been shown to cause serious health problems in both humans and animals, as well as complex negative ecological impacts on forest organisms. They persist in the soil, and have found their way into watersheds and ground water. Roundup has been banned in many countries because of its toxicity, and the World Health Organization recently classified glyphosate as a 2A probable carcinogen. The poison would affect everyone who uses the parks, and wash into the bay from the creeks. Do we need more cancer and chronic illness?

When asked for public comment about one of the most important parts of cities — our parks and open space — of the 13,000 people who responded, 90% opposed the plans. Since then, over 65,000 have signed a petition demanding the projects be stopped. Why is the will of the people being ignored?

Under the guise of fire safety, the agencies involved plan to kill moisture-rich forests that precipitate over 10 inches of water from fog drip in the midst of drought. According to the FEMA Environmental Impact Statement, the goal is to transform much of the East Bay parks landscape into “grassland with islands of shrubs”, but this will increase fire danger by creating a highly flammable environment where fires can spread quickly, driven by winds unimpeded by tall trees. Our once beautiful parks will be barren and desolate, and when the rains start, the landslides will come.

These destructive actions are driven in large part by the ideology that the eucalyptus, acacia, and Monterey pines are non-native plants, that are harmful to native ecosystems. Conservation biologist David Theodoropoulos thoroughly debunked this ideology at a recent event in Berkeley, viewable online at

Eucalyptus are the preferred nesting site for eagles, hawks, and large owls, and preferred resting site for migrating Monarch butterflies. They also feed hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinators. Monterey pines create incredible animal and plant diversity. A survey of 173 ornithologists reported that 47% of birds eat from non-native plants.

In spite of the myths, eucalyptus are actually less flammable than native bay laurels. Firefighter Dave Maloney, appointed to the Oakland-Berkeley Mayors’ Firestorm Task Force to investigate the causes of the 1991 Hills Fire and make recommendations to prevent its recurrence, said:

“The Task Force Report concluded that the spread of the fire was mostly due to the radiant heat generated by burning houses… The spread of the fire was not due primarily to burning trees — eucalyptus or any other species.”

For more in-depth details, go to Links page >>
For a printable PDF flyer of this overview, click here
Scripps Fire, San Diego 2003: Houses burned, eucalyptus did not! (Photo:NYT)
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