Protecting Nature from Cal Fire

An update on the lawsuit we filed in January against Cal Fire and the California Board of Forestry to stop the clearance of 250,000 acres of habitat per year.

We have a pre-settlement hearing scheduled with the Board’s attorneys in about two weeks. It’s the first step in the legal process – to attempt to reach an agreement between parties prior to beginning the courtroom drama. At this point it is impossible to predict what will happen, but we remain hopeful as always. We have been joined by four wonderful co-litigants: Endangered Habitats League, Sequoia ForestKeeper, Los Angeles Audubon, and Friends of Harbors, Beaches, and Parks.

One fundamental issue is to get Cal Fire to apply what they acknowledged in the first half of their Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to the action portion of their program. Namely, that chaparral is threatened by too much fire.

Inexplicably, they insist on “treating” chaparral throughout the state for “ecological restoration” by adding even more fire, or by grinding it up through habitat clearance projects. Their proposed mitigation for causing such environmental damage? They’ll only clear up to 65% of native shrub habitat, sometimes leaving little islands of isolated shrubs, instead of clearing it all. The areas targeted for “ecological restoration” are some of the most fragile landscapes in California, including desert chaparral far from any community (see images below).

Mitigation does not mean just doing less damage than you want to. It means you need to mitigate for the damage you cause.

The state law that we helped pass requires that Cal Fire NOT cause type-conversion with their habitat clearance projects in chaparral or sage scrub (reducing the biodiversity in shrublands by eliminating shrub species and increasing the non-native weed component). Since most clearance projects cause type-conversion, this will be a difficult challenge for Cal Fire – a challenge they are trying to dance around with some of the most convoluted language we’ve ever read in an EIR.

So we’ll keep you posted. If you would like to support our lawsuit, please visit our GoFundMe site here.

What is at Risk
If you want to see how your local, favorite place is seen by Cal Fire, and if it’s targeted for clearance, you can easily locate it on this map.

On the right hand side of the map is a symbol that looks like a stack of paper. Click that. That will open up the menu to allow you to click areas targeted for “ecological restoration” and other environmentally damaging clearance operations that have nothing to do with protecting communities at risk.

Indian Cyn
Looking up Indian Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert. Unbelievably, the mountains in the
background are targeted for “ecological restoration” by Cal Fire. See map below.
VTP in Anza B
Fragile habitat in the Anza-Borrego Desert targeted for habitat clearance by Cal Fire. Red areas are to be “treated” for ecological restoration. Olive-colored lines are proposed fuel breaks on top of desert mountains.

4 Comments on “Protecting Nature from Cal Fire

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