Target: Regional Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Region IX, Nancy L. Ward
Goal: Stop proposed plan to reduced wildfire risks by cutting down over 70,000 trees in Northern California
Wildfires, although a natural component of the lifestyle of a healthy forest, can wreak havoc on individual homes and entire communities. In the state of California, annual wildfires are not uncommon, and each year, these fires cause widespread destruction. Recently, the California Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has proposed a new plan to help reduce the amount of destruction caused by wildfires each year by eliminating forests altogether. The project, aimed at San Francisco Bay area forests, calls for the removal of tens of thousands of non-native trees and replacing these trees with herbicide-soaked woodchips.
FEMA has stated that cutting down expansive areas of forest would aid in “sediment and invasive weed control,” and help to reduce wildfires by eliminating fuel. Stumps of removed trees would be sprayed with herbicides to “prevent re-sprouting.” Large areas that were once forests would be covered in a blanket of nearly 24 inches of woodchips.
Although the project is aimed mainly at invasive, highly flammable tree species such as Eucalyptus and Acacia, it has raised many questions by fire prevention experts. Some argue that by replacing trees with woodchips, the project will merely exchange one wildfire fuel source for another. In addition, eliminating tens of thousands of trees will remove a natural windbreak “that acts as a barrier to the wind driven fires that are typical in California.” One retired Oakland-area firefighter, David Maloney claims that the plan is nothing more than “a land transformation plan, which is masquerading as a fire hazard reduction plan.”
FEMA’s plan to control wildfires in California will result in the loss of nearly 100,000 trees. Enormous areas of once-forested land will be replaced with toxic, highly flammable woodchips, and the widespread removal of trees will result in the “release of hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”
Demand that FEMA stop this harmful and destructive project before it takes effect, and help save tens of thousands of Californian trees.
Dear Regional Administrator Nancy L. Ward,
Recently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has proposed a project that would result in the clear-cutting of tens of thousands of trees in Northern California. FEMA asserts that this plan aims to help reduce the number of wildfires, as well as the negative impacts of wildfires in the area. However, the project would simply replace large expanses of forest with equally flammable woodchips. In addition, removing trees could potentially cause an increase in fire severity, as it would remove shade, forest floor moisture and the natural windbreak that trees provide.
In many cases, wildfires are perpetuated by radiant heat from nearby buildings, not the trees themselves. Furthermore, forests can often help to reduce the damage done to human development by containing wildfires. Removing tens of thousands of trees from Northern Californian forests would ultimately do very little to prevent wildfires. In fact, FEMA’s proposed project could potentially lead to more wildfires, as well as the utter destruction of both invasive and native plant growth.
I strongly urge you to stop FEMA’s proposed plan to eradicate large areas of forestland in California, and instead work to protect these areas.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Michael Shweppe via Wikimedia Commons