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toxic stump in creekSkyline clearcutEBRPD pesticide notification
Photos from Hills Conservation Network

On the ballot November 6, 2018 in the following cities in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties:

Oakland, Alameda, Piedmont, Berkeley, Emeryville, Albany, Richmond, San Pablo, and El Cerrito.


Stop Pesticides - Save Trees - No on Measure FF - Protect East Bay Parks

Yard Signs Available 
Here, Print Out Flyers Here

Opposition statements:

2018 Voter Handbook Statement in Opposition
by the Forest Action Brigade

Voter Handbook Rebuttal to Arguments in Favor
by Peter Gray Scott, architect; Jean Stewart, botanist and former pesticide researcher; Maxina Ventura, East Bay Pesticide Alert; and Mary McAllister, webmaster of Million Trees blog

2018 Green Party Alameda County Recommends No, with Reservations

Under the guise of fire safety, several agencies, including the University of California (UC), the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), and the City of Oakland, are undertaking massive clearcutting of the East Bay Hills, involving extensive use of pesticides. The blue ring around the edge of the tree stumps in the picture above, is an example of such pesticide applications running off into the creek at the base of the stumps.

Are eucalyptus, acacia, and Monterey pines invasive non-native fire hazards, or carbon sequestering habitat and natural treasures? Do we want Dow and Monsanto profiting more than they have already with UC's pesticide use on clearcuts done in the hills over the past decade? Are our East Bay Lungs being sold off for wood pellets for Europe, biomass for China's coal plants, toilet paper for Japan, logs for the fracking industry? Longshore workers confirm wood chips are being shipped out of West Coast ports.

This compilation of several comments submitted to FEMA's Environmental Impact Statements in protest of grant applications by these agencies in 2013, serves as a good primer for the history and details of these projects (more details about the FEMA fiasco at bottom):

FEMA comments - compilation (pdf)

For a good overview of what these agencies have been doing in the East Bay Hills, and the ideology fueling these destructive activities, in 2015 East Bay Pesticide Alert / Don't Spray California, together with the Social Justice Committee of the Berkeley Fellowship for Uniterian Universalists, hosted an event with Conservation Biologist David Theodoropoulos, Firefigther David Maloney, Forest Photographer Ken Cheetham, and other local activists, which can be viewed in its entirety online. You are welcome to show this video at community gatherings and to contact us to request speakers on wildfire and pesticides issues:

VIDEO: East Bay Hills Forests: Invasive Fire Hazards or Natural Treasures? July 31, 2015, Berkeley, California

Community discussion of the FEMA-funded tree removal projects in the East Bay Hills, from Richmond to Hayward, which are opposed by 90% of the 13,000 comments on FEMA's Environmental Impact Statement. Watch a fire demonstration by a Firefighter called on by local mayors after the 1991 hills fire, and a slideshow by Conservation Biologist discussing species migration and acclimation throughout history.

(00:19) Host MAXINA VENTURA, Chronic Effects Researcher, East Bay Pesticide Alert,
(05:14) DAVID THEODOROPOULOS, Conservation Biologist; Author: Invasion Biology - Critique of a Pseudoscience; Slideshow Presentation,
(1:09:17) KEN CHEETHAM, Forest Photography; Bay Area Progressive Directory,
(1:23:41) DAVID MALONEY, Retired Oakland Fire Department; Chief, Fire Prevention, Oakland Army Base; appointed to 1991 Oakland-Berkeley Mayors' Task Force on Emergency Preparedness and Community Restoration; Fire Demonstration. Read his 2016 hills fire danger paper for nuts and bolts wildfire info, and his alternate proposal for the East Bay Hills.

Plus updates from
(1:43:45) DAN GRASSETTI, Hills Conservation Network,
(1:55:39) TANYA SMITH, Forest Action Brigade
(1:57:46) JACK GESCHEIDT, TreeSpirit Project

For more information also check out:

Death of a Million Trees
Save the East Bay Hills
Save Mount Sutro Forest
San Francisco Forest Alliance
Save Our Dimond Park Trees

GET INVOLVED: Sign up for Alerts and get involved with the Coalition to Defend East Bay Forests

Both the Sierra Club and Claremont Canyon Conservancy, which are actively promoting the downing of nearly half a million East Bay Hills trees (Sierra Club is even suing FEMA to demand that more trees are killed faster), were invited to participate on a panel of both proponents and opponents of these projects. Neither organization responded to East Bay Pesticide Alert's invitation.

Also available in the series of useful videos on this issue is our previous event in 2013:

VIDEO: Invasion Biology or Integration Biology? July 14, 2013, Berkeley, California

What's the connection between the "native plants restoration movement"and the pesticide industry? Who is behind the deforestation and pesticiding of the East Bay Hills, killing over 486,000 trees from Richmond to Hayward, and doing the same to San Francisco’s beautifully forested Mt. Sutro? Who benefits from a war on "non-native" species?

San Francisco Bay Area residents explore these questions with evolutionary biologist David Theodoropoulos, who debunks the pseudoscience - and reveals the corporate agenda - driving the "native plant restoration movement", in a public forum co-sponsored by East Bay Pesticide Alert / Dont Spray California and the Social Justice Committee of the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists –

Pt. 1 – Introduction with Maxina Ventura, East Bay Pesticide Alert,
Madeline Hovland,
Rupa Bose, (Slideshow of cloud forest)

Pt. 2-A – First half of David Theodoropoulos’ Presentation (Slideshow of normal migration activity of species over time)
Pt. 2-B – Second half of David Theodoropoulos’ presentation

Pt. 3 – Closing remarks with Maxina Ventura, East Bay Pesticide Alert,
Connie Barker, Environmental Health Network,
Steve Jacobson,
Marg Hall, Communities United in Defense of Olmstead,
Discussion with David Theodoropoulos,

Recorded by EON, and also posted on the Planetarian Perspectives Blog


David Theodoropoulos points to the historic involvement of the pesticide industry in establishing invasive species councils to do their bidding, and shows photos of eucalyptus in the Oakland hills during the 1991 fire, in areas where the understory had been kept down.

We have seen repeatedly that native plant restoration projects are being masqueraded as wildfire prevention projects and more insidiously, taxpayer self-assessments along with tax-supplied grants are being sold to taxpayers as necessary for wildfire safety. We heard ad nauseum from the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) about their fixation with getting rid of what they refer to as non-native plants. But Invasion Biologists have differing scientific opinions on when species have reached acclimation, at which point even trying to remove them can pose biological danger.

EBRPD claims that "Invasive plants are harmful, non-native plants" and "Invasive species have no natural enemies in the environment". These are irrational, and just plain inaccurate claims. Species become naturalized. Some native plants can be quite invasive. Many predator species are generalists who'll eat just about anything. The irony of largely European descendents and other pilgrims to this country, vilifying "invasive", "non-native", "exotic" species, and claiming that native species must be defended from them by dumping toxics everywhere and killing living things, is not lost on immigrants and indigenous people alike.

Under the guise of protecting the hills from supposed fire danger from non-native, so-called "invasive" species, these projects in fact threaten the biodiversity and native ecology of the hills. While suppressing fires in specific situations can save lives, preventing wildfires in a wildfire zone dooms fire-dependent species, which have evolved there, to extinction.

Wildfire areas, by definition, are potential habitat of fire-dependent species. Pallid Manzanita is native to our East Bay Hills, has evolved there, is listed as an endangered species, and cannot exist naturally without wildfire. As such, wildfire prevention in and of itself, regardless of the methods, has significant impacts on all fire-dependent species, and represents a threat to their continued existence. Wildfire prevention is not a sustainable or ecologically sound practice.

The agencies that are deforesting the East Bay Hills have been spending years filing for government approval, and grants from various sources to accomplish their goals:


In 2009 the EBRPD prepared a Final Environmental Impact Report for Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management, contributing further to the use of toxics and deforestation in our hills:

EBRPD Environmental Impact Report for Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management (July 2009)

EBRPD Wildfire Plan (July 2009)

EBRPD Wildfire EIR public comments regarding herbicide flammability testing, provided by Cheriel Jensen of Protect Our Valley, Saratoga, CA

EBRPD Wildfire EIR comments submitted by East Bay Pesticide Alert


The University of California, Berkeley also prepared an Environmental Impact Report for its 2020 Long Range Development Plan, in 2005, which includes its plans for fire fuel management. Its plans have been slowed by legal action by the Hills Conservation Network, a group of East Bay Hills residents, supported by community funds throughout the Bay Area and beyond:

UC Berkeley Fire Fuel Managment Program

UC Berkeley 2020 Long Range Development Plan Environmental Impact Report (2005)

The Hills Conservation Network has posted overviews of the UC Berkeley projects, and pointed to concerns that UC's clearing of land may be done only under the guise of fire mitigation, with the real reason to make room for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory expansion:

Overview of UC Berkeley's Fire Mitigation Program at Strawberry Canyon 

Map of proximity of UC's project to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Maps of UC and EPRPD fire programs in the East Bay Hills 

UC is also involved in a similar toxic logging project in San Francisco, where 30,000 trees are on the chopping block on Mount Sutro:

Save Mount Sutro Forest    

UC has a longstanding relationship with pesticide companies, such as Novartis, and now retired Tom Klatt, the Manager of the UC Berkeley Office of Emergency Preparedness, has steadfastly urged agencies and cities to use pesticides in the East Bay Hills. The latter was widely exposed in 2005 when both Tom Klatt, and Nancy Brownfield, EBRPD IPM Specialist, were urging the City of Oakland to add yet another exemption to the Oakland's sham of a pesticide ban, and use pesticides on the 1,000+ acres it oversees in the city's Wildfire Prevention Assessment District. Unbeknownst to us, while city officials were seemingly backing off their contested plans, they were quietly preparing to collaborate with UC Berkeley in an extensive "Fire Mitigation Program", contributing financially to a project that apparently violates the city's own regulations:

UC Berkeley's Fire Mitigation Program 2005 Annual Report (pdf)


As of 2018, the City of Oakland is in the process of producing a Vegetation Management Plan and Environmental Impact Report focused on the East Bay Hills:

Oakland Vegetation Management Plan and Environmental Impact Report

This EIR has been planned since 2005, when the City of Oakland, with the support of representatives of UC Berkeley and the East Bay Regional Park District, proposed the use of Roundup (glyphosate) and Garlon (triclopyr) for wildfire prevention. At the time, we provided all representatives with copies of toxicological profiles for these two pesticides, outlining their dangers to human health and ecology.
In addition to these two pesticides, the following links are to toxicological information of some of the pesticides mentioned in the EBRPD Fire Plan:


Skyline spraying
Pesticide being sprayed in the EBRPD

Triclopyr Toxicological Profile (Garlon) (pdf)

Glyphosate (Roundup) Toxicology

Clopyralid Toxicological Profile (pdf)

Dicamba Toxicological Profile (pdf)

Additionally, as witnessed on UC pesticide notification signs, imazapyr may also be used as part of their project:

Imazapyr Toxicological Profile (pdf)

The pesticide use of these supposed fire prevention projects, is in addition to routine pesticide use by the EBRPD IPM Program:

EBRPD 2008 Annual Pesticide Report (pdf)

All of these pesticides also contain so-called "inert" ingredients, which are kept undisclosed, protected as "proprietary" by trade secret laws, are frequently even more toxic than the "active" ingredients listed on the label, and are specifically designed to interact synergistically to achieve greater toxicity than each chemical by itself.

Unidentified Inert Ingredients in Pesticides: Implications for Human and Environmental Health - Cox and Surgan (pdf)

The Impacts of Chemical Mixtures - Our Stolen Future

Synergism by Ingrid Pollyak (pdf)
While government agencies and pesticide manufacturers downplay the importance of synergism, this essay, by a teen who homeschools, illustrates that understanding synergistic effects of chemicals does not require a Ph.D.

As can be seen on UC Berkeley's pesticide notification signs, as well as the UC Berkeley 2005 program report, pesticides are being mixed together, compounding the dangers.

The dangers of chemical exposure are commonly downplayed with statements that the quantities of their poison are miniscule, with pesticide manufacturers and legislators going to great lengths to agree on just how much poison is legally acceptable to let loose on our environment. But in addition to synergistic and cumulative effects of chemical mixtures, some chemicals have a "nonmonotonic" dose-response, where reducing the dose of the chemical does not result in a reduction, but an increase in toxic effects.

The Low Down on Low-Dose Endocrine Disruptors (pdf)

Each of these projects is only one of many more, several adjacent to each other, and only together is it possible to get a full understanding of the devastation they would cause:

Overview of some of the Fire Programs in the East Bay Hills

A Million Trees Reports on deforestation projects around the Bay Area, including clearcutting under the guise of fire prevention

Rather than contribute to greater public safety, these fire plans actually add greater hazards, including damaging health effects from pesticide exposure on park workers, visitors, and wildlife. Concern about such pesticide exposure on EBRPD lands has been expressed by AFSCME Local 2428, the union of the East Bay parks workers, in their opposition to the LBAM Program. Additional hazards include erosion and mudslides from cleared land, as well as greater fire danger from dying, dry vegetation resulting from the use of herbicides, and flammability of the chemicals themselves.


In 2015 FEMA produced an Environmental Impact Statement, under the federal NEPA program (the equivalent of CEQA for the State of California, but on the national level), for the combined projects by UC Berkeley, the East Bay Regional Park District, and the City of Oakland, in response to simultaneous grant applications. In these plans it was revealed that about half a million trees in the East Bay Hills are on the chopping block. Over 13,000 comments were received, 90% of them opposed to the projects.

FEMA East Bay Hills Hazardous Fire Risk Reduction Final Environmental Impact Statement

East Bay Pesticide Alert / Don’t Spray California’s Fall opposition response to FEMA grant requests by UC; East Bay Regional Park District; and the city of Oakland for funds for what these agencies call ‘wildfire prevention projects’ which are, once again, ‘native plant restoration’ projects. This is a good overview of the relationship between tree decimation and pesticide use:

East Bay Pesticide Alert FEMA comments (2010) (pdf)

FEMA comments - compilation (2013) (pdf) Compilation of comments by East Bay Pesticide Alert, Isis Feral, Mary McAllister, Hills Conservation Network, Bev Jo, and CUIDO (Communities United In Defense of Olmstead)

The Next Major Fire in the East Bay Hills, by David Maloney, is a description of what the next fire in the hills would look like if the FEMA projects were granted, by a retired Oakland firefighter, and former Chief of Fire Prevention at the U.S. Army Base in Oakland, who was appointed to the Oakland-Berkeley Mayors’ Firestorm Task Force (also known as the 1991 Emergency Preparedness and Community Restoration Task Force), which deternined that houses were the primary cause of the spread of the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire.

If You're Afraid of Trees, Don't Live In a Forest, by Isis Feral, gives an overview of some of the history that lead to the FEMA EIS, written on the 25th anniversary of the 1991 fire (October 2016, Slingshot)

Key points of the opposition statements by the Death of a Million Trees blog, and the Hills Conservation Network, summarize the details of these projects: 

Death of a Million Trees blog:

Nearly a HALF MILLION trees will be destroyed if these East Bay projects are approved (May 9, 2013)

These projects are more likely to increase the risk of wildfires than to reduce that risk. These projects will damage the environment by releasing hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the destroyed trees thereby contributing to climate change
These projects are an inappropriate use of the limited resources of the Federal Emergency Management Agency which are for the express purpose of restoring communities destroyed by disasters such as floods and other catastrophic events and preparing communities for anticipated catastrophic events. Most of the proposed projects in the East Bay are miles away from any residences.

The Hills Conservation Network objected to the EIS on the basis of the following arguments, and later won a challenge in court challenging the EIS, which resulted in the denial of the grants for UC Berkeley and Oakland, and only the grant for the park district remained, because it was supposed to fund only brush clearing and not tree removal:

The struggle to stop these toxic, destructive projects is not over, and there's much work to be done.

To get involved visit the Coalition to Defend East Bay Forests, which we are part of, and sign up for email alerts


East Bay Pesticide Alert (toxicology of pesticides, and history of this struggle back to 2005)

Save the East Bay Hills (good overview and resources for contacting responsible agencies)

Death of a Million Trees (science relevant to the East Bay hills ecology)

TreeSpirit Project (Jack Gescheidt's photography, civil disobedience, and science challenging "Invasion Biology")

Bay Area Progressive Directory (Ken Cheetham’s hills photography, scientific citations of key arguments against these projects)

Hills Conservation Network (more historical documentation, legal action)

Forest Action Brigade (organized protests against Sierra Club involvement in projects)

Communities United in Defense of Olmstead (CUIDO) (disability rights group, organized protests at UCB in defense of hills forests as an access issue)

Contra Costa Citizens 4 Eucs (Contra Costa County group, outraged by removal of eucalyptus trees from the hills)

Save Mount Sutro (San Francisco allies, defending the forest on Mount Sutro)

San Francisco Forest Alliance (San Francisco allies, defending San Francisco forests)

Page last updated 10/18/2018 (please search any dead links in WayBackMachine or contact us to locate missing information)