The Sierra Club, Claremont Conservancy, and UC Berkeley are the largest advocates against the Eucalyptus trees. Their strategy involves removing the most flammable non-native trees in select areas most at risk, restoring areas with fire resistant native trees/ plants, and re-establishing greater biodiversity to help endangered species. They support removing monoculture Eucalyptus trees from areas where they pose the greatest risk to loss of life and property. Opposing them are groups like the Hills Conservation Network. UC Berkeley also appears to support an aggressive effort to remove the fire prone Eucalyptus trees. FEMA granted $5.6 million to UC Berkeley, East Bay Regional Parks District and the City of Oakland to reduce fire danger mainly by cutting down the eucalyptus in the highest risk areas (Eastbay Express). The work still hasn’t been started due to community tensions.
Many high-ranking government officials in the area have been vocal in their support of efficient management of these trees in the past as well. “The fire hazard posed by these trees is well documented,” read letters signed by state Sen. Loni Hancock, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. “In Claremont Canyon, complete removal of these dense tree clusters will enable native species of oak, bay and willow to regenerate,” the letters continue. Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and several Berkeley and Oakland council members sent similar letters.
Despite the fierce opposition Berkeley and EBRPD have worked out their own management plants to take care of these dangerous trees. The East Bay Regional Park District, which owns the Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve, thins the trees as part of its longtime approach to fuels management. The EBRPD was sued in 2005 for their plan and settled on an approach that would focus on clearing brush and removing dead trees. Despite the obvious danger that these trees contributed to the 1991 fire many remain passionate against the removal of these trees. Groups like the Claremont Conservancy want to see the area maintained routinely. “After 10 years with only minimal progress, it’s also time for some new leadership. It’s time for the state to get involved. The North Bay wildfires have made it clear that Cal Fire is the command leader in fire suppression. It must be given more authority by the state to coordinate, mandate and monitor the fire prevention work of local agencies to reduce risk in high fire hazard zones” (Eastbay Times). The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) first adopted its fuel management plan in 2010, with the intention of keeping fires from starting and spreading in the hills.
FEMA’s environmental impact statement and involvement supports the idea that eradicating the trees now would be worth the short term consequences to native plant and animal lie. It would take a considerable amount of time or native forests to repopulate and become healthy. Over 13,000 public comment letters were sent to the FEMA in 2013 to be critical of their plan with claims such as ‘hikers will be overexposed to the sun’ in their reasoning. There is much documented evidence that the Eucalyptus trees were the largest problem in the 1991 fire so this discussion will continue.
""Which is most likely to minimize large-scale fires? Which proposal has the least impact on flora and fauna? Which method is most cost effective? There is no easy solution to each of these complex fire and conservation problems. Instead, there are many, and that’s part of the problem; though environmentalists across the board share many common goals, their ways of achieving them are sharply divided. Which might make for livelier town council meetings but means fewer concrete changes in the short term” (Cal Alumni).