As I write this message, we await the release this spring of Federal Emergency Management Administration’s (FEMA’s) draft environmental impact statement (EIS) covering wildfire hazard mitigation projects planned for the East Bay Hills.
Once the draft EIS is released (FEMA says “this spring”), there will be a 45-day review period followed by a series of public hearings and opportunities for citizens to weigh in. When FEMA gives its final approval after reviewing all the public comments, funds for the projects will be released to the three agencies which received wildfire hazard mitigation awards several years ago: the University of California, the East Bay Regional Park District, and the City of Oakland.
We hope this will mean that the invasive and fire hazardous eucalyptus trees in upper Claremont Canyon, north of Claremont Avenue, can finally be removed and the process of restoration, which is already well under way on the south side of the road, can begin.
We do not know what FEMA’s final EIS will ultimately include. We believe strongly, however, that it would be a major mistake for FEMA to favor thinning over complete removal of hazardous trees. The result would be expensive, long-term maintenance of decadent forests—as Jerry Kent so aptly describes in his blog. As an advocate for both mitigating fire danger and promoting native habitats in Claremont Canyon, we believe it is essential to remove as many eucalyptus trees as is possible and cost effective under the FEMA awards.
I ask you, our members and the public, to please stand by and be ready to take action by writing letters and speaking out at public meetings. I promise to be in touch with you through our website, emails and letters to our members as the process unfolds