In an effort to control wild fires and remove fuel that has contributed to 15 major fires in the East Bay, UC Berkeley, the City of Oakland, and the East Bay Municipal Utilities District have applied for FEMA funding to help remove some 85,000 non-native trees from the East Bay Hills. The 10-year project should cost around $5 million.

The price tag pales in comparison to a single major fire, and between 1923 and 1991 last year, major fires contributed to the deaths of 25 people and caused $1.5 billion in damages. However, for the environmentally sensitive communities in the East Bay, cutting down so many trees is a flash-point of its own. Public comment at a recent meeting was split, but clearly the environmental advocates opposed the plan.

The plan calls for targeting the non-native species that have invaded the region over the last two centuries. The East Ball Hills used to have only small flora on it, not towering eucalyptus trees, Monterey pines, and acacias. Those trees, under this plan, would be removed and their stumps treated to prevent regrowth.

Read the full story at the Daily Californian.