Eucalyptus has become the newest political hot potato. While the opinions aren’t exactly this cut and dry, there are three main camps: folks who want to save the trees; others who call for selective pruning; and still others who want to cut them down.
We wanted to pay a little homage first, and walked in the hills today. The eucalyptus are everywhere, standing sentinel on many hillsides. We noticed these trees, below, while ambling along the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Within East Bay MUD territory, these specimens were quite tall and there were a couple tree stumps here and there.
The Hills Conservation Network (HCN), which aims to save trees, filed a suit against the East Bay Regional Park District last Tuesday. The group is looking to prevent any tree removals, until there’s sufficient environmental study about the 20-year impact of removing half a million trees. According to HCN’s press release:
Large scale removal of pine, eucalyptus and acacia trees is a radical plan to restore the landscape to the way it may have looked 200 years ago. Removal of thousands of trees eliminates their ability to absorb carbon dioxide, a main culprit in global warming. This is poor forest management and ineffective fire prevention — and it harms the environment.
Meanwhile, there are concerns about limiting the impact of the next firestorm. The hills are part of the Wildfire Prevention District where, like clockwork, the Diablo Winds fuel fires every two decades or so. Ever wiser since the 1991 firestorm, we’re all trying to mitigate the fire fuels – whether on public or private lands.
Homeowners know the drill each summer, as we’re required to maintain “defensible space” between the greenery and our homes. Everyone keeps things under control or else gets fined, and must adhere to very tight regulations.
The eucalyptus have become a real point of contention, with different opinions about whether or how to clear them on public lands. Other plant species may or may not grow successfully near them. Various chemicals might be acceptable or not, when clearing eucalyptus and other growth. And some selective de-limbing and chopping might be useful.
To shake this all out, it comes down to what is best for supporting the natural environment and for reducing potential fire damage. There’s plenty of human sparks coming from scientists, arborists, environmentalists and fire marshals who are debating here – and we’re curious where you stand.