FEMA should approve the draft EIS as soon as possible so that funds will be released and projects to mitigate fire danger in the East Bay Hills can begin. The projects planned by UC, EBRPD, and the city of Oakland to reduce the risk of serious wildfire in the east bay hills balance fire risk reduction with concerns for the environment. The proposed actions are supported by the facts and science:
• The fire danger posed by stands of eucalyptus trees, compared to other tree species, has been thoroughly studied and is well-documented.
• The risk of uncontrolled wildfire in ecosystems dominated by eucalyptus poses a demonstrated risk to nearby neighborhoods and a larger danger of the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the one-time cutting of eucalyptus, which will be rapidly replaced by other species which absorb carbon dioxide.
• The existing understory and numerous remaining trees and plants will rapidly take the place of the cut eucalyptus. “Clear-cutting” and “deforestation” are misleading, unscientific descriptions of the planned measures.
UC, EBRPD, and the city of Oakland have no profit or ulterior motive for the proposed land stewardship measures, which are based on science and long-term planning for conservation. We support the findings of the draft EIS and the proposed fire management measures.