Public Comment

UC Plan to Cut Trees in Strawberry Canyon and Hills for Development Threatens Ecology

Merrilie Mitchell
Friday April 08, 2016 - 03:16:00 PM

UC Berkeley has added an addendum to their 2020 Long Range Development Plan called the Hill Campus Fire Reduction Plan. The Plan seeks FEMA funding, and is known in the community as UC’s plan to cut East Bay forests and dodge a full Environmental Impact Report.

UC argues that the “addendum” is “minor with no significant impacts”. But the Plan would remove tens of thousands of trees in Strawberry Canyon and the hills above the campus to build housing and UC buildings.

Removing thousands of trees will decrease transpiration, rainfall, cooling shade, and dew, creating a drier, hotter, hills area, more DANGER for fire!

This Plan needs a full EIR to require alternatives--here are three: 

1.Create an “off peak”campus using existing buildings 

2.Build down or up in existing building footprints on campus 

3.Design “UC Satellites” in other cities where needed and affordable for intensive studies 

An Amazing Creature Lives Up In Our Hills. 

It’s called the Western Fence Lizard and it can prevent Lyme disease! It is found here, but not in other parts of our country. So in New York, or in Lyme, Connecticut, where the disease was discovered, the incidence of Lyme disease is 100 times more than here. This disease can be devastating. 

Deer ticks and tick nymphs carry Lyme disease and bite fence lizards. When a tick and as many as 20 or more tiny nymphs feed on a Western Fence Lizard the lizard’s blood deactivates the Lyme Disease spirochetes in the tick. This process immunizes the ticks so they can’t cause Lyme disease. 

We need a full EIR to examine the ecological treasures in the project area such as this little lizard. But logging, habitat destruction, use of powerful, persistent herbicides-- for ten years, could destroy these lizards, as well as permanently damage the environment up there. 

The basic rule of ecology “In diversity is stability!” should be respected so we avoid creating simplified environments maintained with toxic chemicals that sterilize soil, blow in wind, poison workers and wildlife, and contaminate runoff flowing all the way to S.F. Bay. 

The Western Fence Lizard is found along paths in the hills, in edge zones between forest and field, and along hillside neighborhoods where wisdom would want them to remain. 

If we use machines and herbicides in the hill area they will destroy Fence Lizards while most larger animals that carry Lyme disease ticks can move away, and may visit our backyards. 

Birds and bats living in the Project Area will likely lose their habitats and food supplies, or be poisoned by the herbicides. This would allow more insect pests to survive --mosquitoes, fleas, flies, Miller moths, for example. 

Hawks, eagles, owls, etc, will die from eating poisoned rodents and creatures, or may become unable to reproduce like the pelicans that ate fish containing DDT. We need to consider all these things and more, in a Full EIR. 

Rodents will multiply as hawks and birds of prey diminish, and carnivores, like fox and bobcats, move away. Few trees and more grasslands there will increase habitat for pests like ground squirrels, roof rats, and prickly weeds. 

I’m wondering--Are there any University women like Sylvia McLaughlin and her friends at UC Berkeley now who will help us stand up for the blue of the Bay and the cool green of our hills, and help us save our only planet?