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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Save the Oaks in Berkeley

It seems to be a sad fact of modern life that more and more often we wake up to find some slice (or great big chunk) of the natural world under threat of eradication. It's happening again, and close to home too.

In Berkeley the University of California is planning to tear down a woodland grove of Coast Live Oaks (at least one estimated to be 200-300 years old), a massive Bay tree, and several Redwoods. And for what reason? To build a new sports training facility. Sure, that's what the world needs--fewer oaks, more jocks!

This urban forest is a well-established and thriving ecosystem. Normally, the Coast Live Oaks would be protected under the City of Berkeley's Live Oak Protection Ordinance, but because the university is a state institution, it has declared that it does not need to abide by the local ordinance.

An effort has sprung up to persuade the University of California to reconsider. There are at least two other sites that the university could consider for building this new sports facility, but without significant public pressure, it's doubtful that they will revise their plans and leave the oaks in place. If you're interested in joining a grass-roots citizens' campaign to protect this woodland, visit Save the Oaks at the Stadium to learn more and participate in their efforts.

Berkeley is a wonderful, weird place that feels like it's always teetering on the sharp edge between wonderland and an insane asylum. It really needs to hang on to every scrap of nature it can, just to keep it from spinning off the face of the planet.

4 comments:

Yuriko said...

In 1974 I would "cut" through this old grove in the early morning fog to get 8 a.m. Chemistry class. Then at the end of a long day (Chemistry was not my best subject) I would return home under the cool shade of these same grand oaks. How many generations of students have done the same? Almost unbelievable that they could be cut down.

Janet said...

That first photo is one of the most beautiful tree pics I've ever seen.

Anonymous said...

I am a Berkeley resident and a concerned UC alumnus.

This is basically part of the Panoramic Hills neighbors' drive to block renovations to the stadium. They have been hostile to the University and have been tying this blown-up ecological element into their NIMBY fight to stymie the stadium remodel.

The fact is, the University and its athletic department are in dire need to renovate their facilities due to seismic considerations and the fact that their facilities are some of the worst in collegiate atheltics. The project is absolutely necessary in order to promote a successful football program, which will help raise funds for hundreds of scholar-athletes and the university as a whole.

People who are really concerned about the state of flora on campus should look into helping out here:
http://landscape.ced.berkeley.edu/~treefund/index.html

Nei Duclós said...

American people (and its leaders) cutted all the trees in its own landscape in centuries of "civilization". In 19th century, our emperor, Dom Pedro II, was against any exploration about amazon rain forest. Well, we have the forest since today. Now, America wants invade e put our forest in its pocket. Why? Because we are "cutting the trees". We, brazilians, preserved the rain forest, it is still there, isn´t true? You are doing your job: pushing the trees to the ground. Congratulations!

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