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 > East Bay Regional Park District | Healthy Parks Healthy People > Features > FEMA Grant: Frequently Asked Questions > An open letter to the community from General Manager Robert Doyle

An open letter to the community from General Manager Robert Doyle

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Many members of the community have written to us with concerns about the FEMA project in the East Bay Hills. I want to thank the public for its concern about the care and management of trees in our regional parks, and I’d also like to respond to some of the comments we’ve received and correct some misleading messages:

  1. EBRPD is neither widely clear-cutting trees nor removing all eucalyptus trees in the Oakland/Berkeley Hills.
  2. Large amounts of herbicide will not be broadly used throughout EBRPD forested areas.
  3. Given the very serious drought conditions we are continuing to face, all fire prevention efforts are urgent, particularly in the dry East Bay hills.

In response to repeated conflagrations, one of which in 1991 destroyed over 3,450 homes, killed 25 people, and injured 150 others, EBRPD adopted a Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan in 2010 after thorough research, review and public input -- as a guiding tool for fuels management approaches throughout the East Bay Regional Parklands. EBRPD’s fuels reduction focus is on selectively removing or thinning non-native or dead trees and brush on hundreds of acres in 11 regional parks including Sibley, Tilden, Anthony Chabot, Wildcat Canyon and Claremont Canyon that are adjacent to tens of thousands of nearby residents and businesses.
 
It is unfortunate that some have chosen to ignore the facts and instead send out false information about clear cutting forests and using thousands of gallons of pesticides.
 
EBRPD’s well researched plan does not use a “clear-cutting” approach. Rather, our goal is to reduce fire hazards on District-owned lands while maintaining and enhancing ecological values for native plant and wildlife habitat. Preserving the aesthetic landscape values for park users and neighboring communities is also a significant priority as well as encouraging homeowners to keep their properties fire safe.
 
To prevent re-sprouting and eliminate re-growth of non-native vegetation, the herbicide Garlon is applied by trained certified workers, by hand with a small brush or sprayer, to freshly cut tree trunks - not on the ground. About 15 gallons annually will be used throughout EBRPD’s wildlands. Garlon is similar to store brand treatments sold to the public and has been approved by independent experts, including a panel of UC experts. The product has been deemed safe for use in all planned application settings and around natural environments. This will be done in select project areas that are spread throughout thousands of acres across the entire fuels reduction area.
 
Like you, our agency and others care deeply about the land we manage, the protection of wildlife, the environment, and the safety of our park users and employees. We also have a responsibility to manage the native and non-native forests and grasslands, and protect lives and property. We look forward to continuing our efforts to make the East Bay Hills safer for everyone.
 
Recently, the East Bay Regional Park District took a major step forward in its long-term public safety efforts to reduce fire hazards in the East Bay Hills by accepting a $4.65 million federal grant to thin dangerous trees and foliage in the hills above Oakland/Berkeley through El Sobrante/Richmond. See the press release here: Board Accepts $4.65m FEMA Grant for Fire-Hazard Reduction. This grant is only one of the multiple funding sources the District uses to continue its daily fire prevention and forest restoration efforts. The Park District’s Measure CC is another important funding source that provides significant annual funding to allow for this work to continue. In the past eight years, the District will have invested more than $10 million on its fuels management program aimed at protecting lives and properties in high fire risk areas contiguous to regional parklands.

For addition information see: FEMA - Frequently Asked Questions

Sincerely,

Robert Doyle
General Manager
East Bay Regional Park District

For further information, please contact:

Dan McCormick 
Fire Chief, Fire Department 
East Bay Regional Park District 
17930 Lake Chabot Road, Castro Valley, CA 94546 
Tel: 510-690-6601 | Fax: 510-881-4942| 510-701-0012 
dmccormick@ebparks.org