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Tom Klatt, UC Berkeley campus environmental manager and a member of the UC Fire Mitigation Committee, poses for a portrait with eucalyptus bark in Claremont Canyon in Oakland, California. Mr. Klatt says eucalyptus bark and leaves pose a high fire risk. Fire risk mitigation projects in 2001 and 2007 in Claremont Canyon have cleared more than 9000 eucalyptus trees and in their place have grown native plants. There is push by environmental groups in the East Bay to protect thousands of eucalyptus trees slated for felling as part of a funding request submitted to FEMA by UC Berkeley, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Recreational Park District. The proposal is to continue and expand fire risk mitigation projects of cutting down non-native Eucalyptus trees that are seen as a fire risk high up in the Oakland hills. Supporters say that cutting down the non-native trees allows the native bushes and trees to flourish once again away from the shade and cover of the eucalyptus trees, providing low fire risk vegetation. Opponents say that felling the trees has it’s own problems such as erosion, the spread of herbicides, and growth of native plants that could also be a fire risk. They propose preserving the tree canopy, removing ground fuel (leaves, bark) and raising the fire ladder. Supporters say these measures are costly and not as effective as getting rid of the non-native trees.

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