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Cal Fire Plan Threatens Huge Swaths of Native Habitat

Pasadena Audubon opposes the plan by Cal Fire to destroy large amounts of native California habitat in the name of fire suppression. You have until January 12 to comment on this misguided plan.

Written comments are preferred via email and may be submitted to VegetationTreatment@bof.ca.gov. Emailed comments should include your name, address, and daytime telephone number so a representative of the Board can contact you if clarifications regarding your comments are required. Comments may also be mailed to the following address:

Board of Forestry and Fire Protection
ATTN: Edith Hannigan, Board Analyst
VTP Draft PEIR Comments
PO Box 944246
Sacramento, CA 94244-2460

And here are links to other analysis of this huge, destructive plan.

Click here to visit California Chaparral Institute, whih has long studied the relationship between fire and human settlement in California's native habitats, and had many comments on the 2013 draft of this plan.

Use this link to see the official Cal Fire plan in its entirety. Pay special attention to appendix A.2.9, which shows the vast extent of the plan in our local area.

Courtesy of Audubon staffer Sandy DeSimone of Starr Ranch, here are some of the many reasons to oppose this plan.

The Vegetation Treatment Program (VTP) was proposed by California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (abbreviated Cal Fire or CAL FIRE) and is a plan to burn, treat with herbicides, and otherwise modify the vegetative landscape of California on a massive and unprecedented scale for fuel management. Below,The terms “VTP” or “VTP DEIR” (Vegetation Treatment Program Draft Environmental Impact Report) srefer to the same, single document. The VTP was first proposed in 2013 (see http://www.californiachaparral.org/threatstochaparral/helpcalfireeir.html for a timeline drawn by The Chaparral Institute).

The VTP:

  • treats California's native habitats as “fuel” that constitues a threat by simply existing.
  • requires the implementation of fuel management activities that target 60,000 acres of wildlands per year for habitat clearance, which would affect an area of more than 23 million acres eventually.
  • ignores current science.
  • violates CEQA;: fails to comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”).The VTP DEIR violates CEQA because it: (1) fails to adequately describe the VTP; (2) fails to properly analyze the Program’s environmental impacts; (3) relies on ineffective and unenforceable mitigation to conclude that the VTP’s impacts would be reduced to levels that are less than significant; and (4) fails to undertake a legally sufficient study of alternatives to the Program.
  • rests on a premise that a vast amount of land must be “treated” to prevent wildfire, which, for
  • California’s extensive shrub vegetation communities, entirely lacking in scientific basis.
  • shows no evidence that the VTP would achieve the CAL FIRE mission of safeguarding the people and protecting the property and resources of California from the hazards associated with wildfire. No other state threatens the elimination of populations of sensitive wildlife and vegetation to prevent wildfires.
  • ignores prior (2013) comments submitted by expert scientists in the fields of fire science and ecology, fire management, biogeography, native plant ecology, biodiversity, and wildlife conservation biology, and wildlife regulatory agencies, including the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, and other environmental organizations also submitted comments on the 2013 VTP and the DEIR. Each of these letters and reports explained that the 2013 Program’s approach to reducing the severity and frequency of fires lacked a reasoned justification based on science and substantial evidence.
  • ignores the advice of the California Fire Science Consortium (CFSC) which was commissioned by CAL FIRE. The CFSC peer review largely echoed the concerns raised by the other scientists, wildlife regulatory agencies and environmental organizations. It criticized the VTP’s flawed approach of attempting to collapse the state’s varied fire and fuel regimes into a standardized matrix where all treatments would be equally effective in all landscapes.

    Concntrates on fuel removal plans, Ignoring the value of implementing better protective measures fprlots and buildings in the wildland-urban insterface so that they can better survive wildfires.

    Posted for Mark Hunter, conservation chair.