An open letter to Conservancy members and friends from the Board of Directors

“The Claremont Canyon Conservancy is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of Claremont Canyon’s natural landscape and to the promotion of fire safety throughout the canyon and in adjacent residential neighborhoods. The Conservancy works closely with public and private property owners and various government agencies to ensure the best possible stewardship of the canyon as a whole.”

Acting in accord with the above mission statement, the Claremont Canyon Conservancy has attracted the financial support of over 500 households and thousands of volunteer-hours in service over its six years of existence.

But the Conservancy’s efforts now face a serious challenge. Over the past decade, the University of California and the East Bay Regional Park District together have removed over 8,000 eucalyptus and other non- native trees from Claremont Canyon, reducing the fuel load dramatically and giving native species an opportunity to flourish. Both agencies are planning more fuel management projects in the near future.

UC is poised to continue its fuel reduction work in both Strawberry and Claremont Canyons with funding from FEMA. But that work is now being threatened by objections from people who oppose large-scale tree removal, claiming that non-native trees have been scapegoated and present no greater wildfire threat than many other forms of vegetation, including native vegetation.

The Conservancy board believes that this position does not represent the views of the majority of Claremont Canyon residents and neighbors. Nor does it reflect the nearly unanimous opinion of fire officials and fire ecologists who place such trees as the blue gum eucalyptus at the highest level of wildfire threat. We fear that stalling of the proposed FEMA/UC pro- grams will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost time and unnecessary paperwork and will jeopardize future vegetation management projects in our area.

We will all be losers if essential fuel reduction work in Claremont Canyon is derailed.

The Board of the Claremont Canyon Conservancy is unanimous in requesting that you write to FEMA’s regional office in support of the proposed Claremont Canyon work as soon as the public comment period for the environmental review documents is announced. Your endorsement of this planned work will express not only your approval of this future activity, but will be an affirmation of all that the Conservancy has been working to achieve since its founding.

Notification of the public comment period is expected to appear in local newspapers. In addition, we will make every effort to inform you as soon as the comment period is announced. For more information please see the FEMA website: ehp/envdocuments/ea.region9.shtm.