Becky O’Malley has done a nice job presenting both sides of the controversial project to destroy tens of thousands of non-native trees in the Berkeley-Oakland hills. Here are a few more facts that might help the Planet’s readers to evaluate these projects.
UC Berkeley and the City of Oakland are planning to remove all non-native trees from 400 acres. Monterey pines and acacia will be destroyed, in addition to eucalyptus. Readers of the EIS can easily verify that 22,000 trees will be removed from Strawberry and Claremont Canyons and 38,000 from Frowning Ridge. Those numbers are a matter of public record. The number of trees that will be removed from 122 acres in Oakland can be estimated from those numbers to 25,000 additional dead trees.
In addition to those tree removals, the East Bay Regional Park District is going to “thin” about 90% of the non-native trees---not just eucalyptus--on 600 of their park acres.
Monarch butterflies migrate through California and hibernate in the eucalyptus in the winter. That they aren’t here at the moment is irrelevant since the trees aren’t going to be removed at the moment. Whenever the trees are removed, they won’t be available when the Monarchs pass through the East Bay again.
People tend to focus on Roundup because it is so widely used and therefore people know more about it. Garlon is the herbicide that will be used to kill the roots of the trees. It is far more toxic than Roundup. If people knew as much about it, they would be more concerned about this project. Roundup and imazapyr will also be foliar sprayed on non-native shrubs. It’s not just trees that will be destroyed.
Ms. O'Malley implies, but it needs to be said explicitly, that these projects do not intend to plant anything when all the non-native trees and shrubs are killed. They actually claim that natives will be “recruited” into the project area through 2 feet of wood chip mulch that will be spread on the ground. If anyone thinks that dead wood is less flammable than any living tree, they are kidding themselves. Sudden Oak Death is rapidly adding dead wood to this bleak picture of the future landscape.
Even if you like native plants and hate eucalyptus, this project deserves a closer look.