Public Comment

FEMA Proposal is Not the Answer

By Steve Martinot
Friday May 24, 2013 - 06:01:00 PM

EMA is proposing a plan to deter fire danger by clearcutting several forest areas in the hills, targetting eucalyptus mostly, and spraying herbicides to kill undergrowth.

Here are some facts about the plan.

The herbicides they will be using (spraying) are highly carcinogenic. That means the plan will be detrimental to people. We cannot say which ones. On FEMA's own account, they will be spraying 60 feet from water sources.

The plan will be highly beneficial to Monsanto. 

You can call eucalyptus “alien,” but it is now part of the ecology of this area. It is home to many rodent predators, who keep the rodent population in check. Cut it down, and there will be rodent infestations in Berkeley and Oakland. 

Sudden Oak Death is incureable. Cut down most of the non-oak tree population, and you run the risk of losing everything. 

The cut trees will be given to timber companies. FEMA does not have a good credibility record. They say they will chip the trees out as mulch, exchanging one fire danger for another. Either way, we lose. 

We have the example of Russian River, where they clearcut a forest and the houses got destroyed by landslides rather than fire. We have to resist companies, agencies, and people who love technological destruction (chemicals and chain saws) without attention to side-effects. 

The FEMA funds are to be spent on a one shot project, but the problem is an on-going one. It can’t be dealt with in a one-shot fashion. It will take yearly maintenance. 

How can we do this for people-benefit and not corporate-benefit? Leave the trees standing, and hire the unemployed in this area to do three things. 

1- prune lower branches of trees to remove the fire-ladder by which fire would reach the upper branches. 

2- clear away dry underbrush and grass, both under trees and in dry areas, and clear away fallen leaves, all of which provide fuel for fires. But leave the shade of trees to keep forest areas moist. 

3- Help home-owners cut back vegetation close to their houses, to keep their houses safer in case of a fire. 

By hiring the unemployed, we keep the funds used for this project in the area, to benefit our economy and not someone else’s. 

By refusing FEMA’s destructive proposal, we maintain an ecological system that benefits us. We simply have to intervene to mitigate a certain danger (fire). 

By using the money offered by the government, we can set up an agency that will give the problem the yearly attention it requires, rather than a one-shot destructive fix that will provide false security, along with a host of detrimental and unhealthy effects. 

FEMA says it is their plan or nothing. Doing nothing is NOT the alternative. A rational people-oriented plan is. What FEMA is proposing is simply plain ordinary destruction, at many levels.