PDA

View Full Version : Pallid Manzanita v. Wildfire Abatement Practices in East Bay


Anonymous
06-17-2004, 04:42 PM
From: pete veilleux, coordinator@sausalcreek.org
Date: 10/22/03
Time: 04:21 AM


The following is an article I wrote about a hot topic here in the East Bay right now. There is a vote coming up regarding a new ?fire assessment tax? that is being levied in the high-risk fire areas. We are trying to use the leverage we have to get the politicians and bureaucrats to produce and follow-thru w/ a plan to protect a federally/state listed threatened / endangered species ? the pallid manzanita (arctostaphylos pallida). One of only two flourishing populations is seriously threatened by very insensitive fire abatement practices (brush clearing while leaving the very flammable invasive exotic trees, goat grazing to the point of no return, etc.). The Friends of Sausal Creek would be very interested in getting some feedback from experts regarding ?fire hazard issues and native vs. exotic plant species,? mitigation issues regarding the thoughtless/accidental take of endangered plants, effective vs. ineffective environmental impact reports, conservation plans for endangered/threatened manzanitas, etc. Thank you in advance for helping us get the word out! Sincerely, Pete Veilleux Operations Manager Friends of Sausal Creek email: coordinator@sausalcreek.org website: www.sausalcreek.org telephone: 510.501.FOSC "...nothing can befall me in life--no disgrace, no calamity--which nature cannot repair." - Ralph Waldo Emerson Fire Safety vs. Endangered Species in the Sausal Creek Watershed Since the 1992 Oakland Hills fire, the City of Oakland has coordinated a substantial fire abatement program throughout the hills. Herds of goats chewing away at the flora and the weed-whacking work crews are parts of this important program. The commendable aim of this program is to deplete the amount of flammable material in the hills. However, the City has been facing a substantial amount of criticism over the indiscriminate removal of native species by the fire abatement crews and the goats. A recent example is the cutting down of a federally listed endangered species, the pallid manzanita (Arctostaphylos pallida), by a City crew. This came after the loss of a population of this rare species onf Manzanita Flat along Skyline Boulevard by the goats and other Oakland Hills sites are further threatened by shading from Monterey pines and eucalyptus that were planted in the hills. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, the pallid manzanita ??is found only in the northern Diablo Range of California in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties? there are 13 documented localities of the pallid manzanita? and many of these are declining.? The largest population of the two remaining ?stable? ones is located on Huckleberry Ridge ? where over 50 percent of the habitat has been developed. The primary threats to the species are the effects of fire suppression, housing development and shading and competition from alien and sometimes native plants. One of the effects of fire suppression has been the shading out of chaparral by native and exotic trees that would normally be culled by fire. This has become a threat to the large Huckleberry Ridge population. The Friends of Sausal Creek have documented the occurrences of more than 200 species of native plants still found in the Sausal Creek watershed ? many of these are endemic (found nowhere else) to the state of California and some of them to the Bay Area. The Friends of Sausal Creek is committed to the restoration and preservation of the creek and it?s native flora and fauna. Martin Matarrese, Parkland Resources Supervisor, Office of Parks & Recreation states, ?I think it would be helpful for the City to hire someone to survey and map fuel reduction areas for native plants and species of special concern. The map should be in a GIS format, so it can be updated. This person could write a prescription for treatment and flag ?out of bounds? areas. We need to be able to differentiate between flammable vs. non-flammable natives and their tolerance to cutting. This person could train city staff on endangered and species of special concern and native plant recognition. The goal should be risk reduction with sensitivity to native plant communities.? FOSC is committed to working with the City to both ensure sound fire safety management and conservation of rare native species in the Sausal Creek watershed. For more information about native plants in the Sausal Creek Watershed and how you can help preserve them, check out www.sausalcreek.org or call 510-501-FOSC. DRAFT CURRENT WILDFIRE PREVENTION PRACTICES AND NATIVE HABITAT PRESERVATION Friends of Sausal Creek (FOSC) is a volunteer based, non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and enhancement of the natural resources of the Sausal Creek watershed. FOSC has organized thousands of community members and worked closely with City staff on restoration projects throughout the Sausal Creek watershed. FOSC supports fire abatement practices that are implemented with concern for protecting and enhancing the biological community. We believe that a vibrant and healthy ecosystem is the best method for preventing environmental disasters. The commendable aim of the Fire Prevention Bureau is to remove flammable material in the open spaces and neighborhoods in the hills through practicing vegetation management. It is our position that the fire abatement practices as currently implemented are causing ecological damage without providing adequate long-term fire prevention. The current practices consist of grazing very large herds of goats over large swaths of land for extended periods and clear-cutting of all vegetation under a certain number of feet from the ground within certain zones. The same treatment is given to all plants of a certain stature, regardless of the long-term effect. This form of fire suppression has led to the destruction of half of the watershed?s population of pallid manzanitas, a federally listed threatened and endangered species that has only two viable populations in the world. Additionally, overgrazing of wide swaths of land and indiscriminate clear-cutting will favor non-native, fast growing, invasive species that contribute to a build-up of flammable material over time. Allowing the non-native trees to grow, shading out the much slower growing natives will also contribute to a long-term build-up of a fuel supply. Some of the native trees such as oaks and California bays, normally culled by fire, also need to be managed properly to maintain a healthy ecosystem and lower the fuel load. Current vegetation management practices will lead to a decline in the health of the ecosystem and an increase in danger to people and property unless adequate adjustments are implemented immediately. For this reason, FOSC makes the following recommendations: ? Implementation of The Fuel Hazard Mitigation Program and Fuel Management Plan for the East Bay Hills (East Bay Hills Vegetation Management Consortium ? May, 1995) which recommends a careful balance between reducing fuel load, native ecosystem protection, and erosion. ? Implementation of a goat grazing plan that favors the re-establishment and viability of the more fire-resistant native species while suppressing the more flammable exotic species. ? Endangered and threatened plant species, as well as important plant communities, must be adequately protected from all fire abatement practices. ? Provide mitigation for the loss of several individuals of the endangered pallid manzanita by the careful removal of non-native trees (as well as some of the native oaks and bays) and shrubs that are shading the remaining stands. ? Ensure that all City and contracted personnel that perform and oversee fire abatement activities are adequately trained in the identification of and management of native plant communities ? particularly those species that are threatened or endangered. ? Goat grazing needs to be done in narrower swaths or buffer strips and to be combined with the removal of invasive tree species to create firebreaks. Specific plant communities should not be grazed more than once every three or four years. ? Include the removal of many more invasive, non-native tree species such as eucalyptus, acacias, and Monterrey pines. These trees, fairly easily removed when young, create an enormous amount of flammable biomass as they age ? unlike many of the native species. ? The City needs to provide adequate outreach and education to the inhabitants of the East Bay Hills about effective vegetation management, encouraging them to use native, fire-resistant landscape practices. ? A native habitat expert needs to be included on the Citizen?s Advisory Board. If you would like a more specific recommendation for qualifications or individuals, please contact FOSC. ? Provide adequate oversight for the identification, conservation and protection of species of special concern throughout the East Bay Hills (as recommended in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?s Draft Recovery Plan for Chaparral and Scrub Community Species East of San Francisco Bay, California). It is our firm belief that wildfire prevention practices can be very effective AND assist in the long-term health of the ecosystem, but only if managed properly. FOSC stands ready to support the City of Oakland in educating appropriate parties and providing sustainable vegetation management expertise when requested.

Anonymous
06-17-2004, 04:43 PM
From: felixlopezmail@yahoo.com
Date: 11/06/03
Time: 11:48 PM


Dear Peter, I live in the SF Bay area and have followed the Pallid Manzanita issue closely. I ordered the comprehensive Chaparral management booklet published the USDFG and wrote Sacramento in support of the chaparral management plan. My review of the subject draws me to this conclusion: The main issue is public awareness and legislator awareness. If I were involved in your organizaiton, I would probably recommend for you to obtain fudning and assmeble a "public awareness campaign" with soundbites on radio, television, and articles in newspapers - allow a budget of $100 to $200K if you want exposore on KCBS over a multi month period. Most of the wildfire abatement programs in East Bay have not been intentional in the destruction of the Pallid Manzanita. People are 1)not aware of Pallid Manzanita, the issues, or its appearance 2) the Oakland Hills Fire compels them to abate any fire hazard in sight!! Therefore, we get back to public awareness. The other issue not discussed is the issue of natural selection and the cross pollenization of Pallid manzanita with other manzanita species. The chaparral booklet suggests ways to mitigate this issue and preserve the species. However, most traditionally training biologists will say that plant hybrid vigor is good for the overall survival of a genus - in this case Arctostaphylus. Regards, Felix A. Lopez Citizen at Large BA Degree-Biological Science Masters Degree-Business & Strategic Planning Certificate-Urban & Regional Planning Consultant in applied biosphere solutions

Anonymous
06-17-2004, 04:43 PM
From: felixlopezmail@yahoo.com
Date: 11/06/03
Time: 11:51 PM


Dear Peter and Discussion Board = Please excuse my spelling errors in my last submittal. I did not take the time to edit or grammar check my reply. Felix

Anonymous
06-17-2004, 04:43 PM
From: tony daleo tonyd@nethere.com
Date: 05/02/04
Time: 12:40 AM


a fire prevention contractor ripped my Manzitas to shreads,I live sandiego ca. can you advise me on this situation thank you sincerely Tony Daleo