The Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve is part of the East Bay Regional Park District. (Courtesy H Grimes/Flickr)

The Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve is part of the East Bay Regional Park District. (Courtesy H Grimes/Flickr)

Sierra Club prioritizes East Bay parks

Sally Stephens’ column on the Sierra Club’s position on the extension of the Measure CC was very wrong on all counts. If she were tweeting, she would be in company of a certain person who loves to tweet false information.

Here are the facts: In 2004, the East Bay Regional Park District put on the ballot Measure CC, which allocated 30 percent of the tax dollars to park district work to restore creeks, improve habitat for birds and other wildlife, to restore wetlands and endangered species, and to create and implement a vegetation management plan to protect the wildland-urban interface from another Great Fire as occurred in 1991. This was the portion that went to stewardship and
habitat.

That vegetation management plan calls for work on around 2,100 acres of vegetation, some of which is very fire-dangerous blue gum eucalyptus plantations. These eucalyptus came from Australia and were planted as commercial lumber plantations, like coffee or banana plantations in the rainforest, for their lumber. But the blue gum were not usable for lumber, so the corporate interests that planted those plantations just abandoned them — an early example of corporate irresponsibility. In Australia, the blue gums are called “gasoline trees” because they have an oil that ignites in heat like gasoline. Their crowns just explode.

The Sierra Club has advocated that, for the extension of Measure CC for another 15 years, at least 50 percent of total funding go to what’s referred to as “stewardship” by the Sierra Club, the Golden Gate Audubon Society and the California Native Plant Society. This includes money for funding a portion of the vegetation management program, but also money to:

– restore creeks and streams so trout and salmon can return to original spawning grounds and reproduce;

– create and enhance endangered species habitat;

– restore lands for the beautiful native wild flowers we see in the spring;

– restore the lost Redwood groves we had in the East Bay before they were cut down for lumber and then replanted with Eucalyptus blue gums;

– restore and protect wildlife and their habitat;

– restore and enhance wetlands so they we can be better prepared for sea level rise.

The Sierra Club supports the other 50 percent funding for:

– operations of the McLaughlin East Shore Park, a regional park at Point Molate, regional parks in the City of Alameda, Oakland and other park units in the tax area;

– recreational improvements to the East Bay Regional Parks, like improving trails, repairing park facilities and making parks accessible to all people;

– educational activities for park users so they can better understand the parks and the Bay Area ecology.

What Sally Stephens wants is all the money to go to saving the gasoline trees. You decide which is the best course.

Norman La Force is chair of the East Bay Public Lands Committee.

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