Petition to East Bay Regional Park District to accelerate fuel load reduction in East Bay Hills
Petition to the EBRPD to Address the Severe Wildfire Hazard in the East Bay Hills
Dear East Bay Regional Park District Board:
We reside in East Bay communities in close proximity to Wildcat Canyon and Tilden Parks. For many years we have been concerned about the outbreak of a fire that could quickly engulf our homes and imperil our lives. For example, if a fire started in Wildcat Canyon it could be at the El Cerrito/Kensington ridgeline in minutes thus allowing little time to evacuate. The situation is especially dangerous because of the narrow roads in our communities that inhibit rapid evacuation.
Our concerns about wildfire have been reinforced by the massive loss of life and property in the recent wildfires in the Wine Country and Redding. CAL FIRE has estimated hundreds of thousands of people in the East Bay Hills live in extreme fire prone areas.
Prior to modern times there were routine wildfires in Wildcat Canyon and Tilden that removed underbrush and maintained large buffer zones of grassland. However, since fire suppression began many decades ago, the Canyon has become overgrown. It is now a tinderbox and it is only a matter of time before the right conditions trigger a fast-moving fire that will destroy property and lives. In the absence of natural fire, good forestry management in the long run requires human intervention to remove fuel by manual clearing or other means.
The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) and neighborhood volunteers have taken some steps to reduce the fire load but progress has been slow. Meanwhile, the fire load grows each day and local fire department personnel have told us that many homes along the ridgeline are indefensible given the present fuel loads.
- In light of the severity of recent wildfires, we are asking for the EBRPD to update their 2010 fire load reduction plan to reflect the extreme fire risks posed by the continuing drought and climate change.
- Currently, only a few limited areas are targeted each year for fuel load reduction. We are asking the EBRPD to accelerate its efforts in this regard by increasing the number of areas treated annually.
- We are asking EBRPD and our elected officials to ensure that these efforts are given the highest priority, that impediments to faster progress are identified and promptly addressed, and that additional resources be made available to ensure fuel load reduction is given the highest priority attention.
- We support the EBRPD adhering to a sound, science-based approach that will return the parks to a more natural state that is less susceptible to wildfire.