When the wind stirs the boughs, drops of last night’s fog rain down on us. The eucalyptus oil does a great job in treating fever and reduce body temperature. We target brush.” Second, Maloney says removing the eucalyptus would also remove windbreaks.. He says the FEMA plan ignores both the task force’s findings and good sense—that removing the trees would actually make the hills more liable to burn, as exemplified by this field, once covered in blue gums, now thick with grass and thistles. As intriguing as the theory is, Bowman thinks it goes too far, failing the Occam’s-razor test: It’s simpler to imagine that eucalyptus evolved with oily leaves because those oils deter insects and koalas; they evolved peeling bark because the falling bark takes parasitic epiphytes with it; and the trees quickly resprout en masse after fire because they’ve evolved to tolerate fire, not to enjoy it. This is because the eucalyptus has displaced natives and it changes soil composition where it grows, altering other life forms as it does so. He was head of fire prevention at the U.S. Army base in Oakland at the time of the 1991 fire and was one of several dozen people on the Forestry and Revegetation subcommittee of the Task Force on Emergency Preparedness and Community Restoration, convened by Mayor Elihu Harris of Oakland in 1992. They call the eucs bad neighbors. There is no single, knockout paper or study that shows that blue gums are drastically more dangerous fire-hazards than other local species, that’s true, but that’s probably too much to ask anyway. It might look bad for a while, but with proper management nonnative grasses and brush would be replaced in a decade or two in most areas by native trees, he says. But the frost didn’t really kill the trees, only made them retreat back down into their roots. California hillsides were ablaze last year and it looks like a similar disaster may occur again this season. “But there’s a lot of fuel there, too. Like the other Australians I spoke with, Sullivan called the Bay Area blue gums “supersized,” treated to better soils than those in nutrient-poor Australia and untrimmed by their native pests. The ground below this tree is littered with its rooster-tail leaves and cinnamon-stick tubes of bark. “Eucalyptus is flammable,” says Scott Stephens, a UC Berkeley fire ecologist. The summer fogs have faded, and it’s been unseasonably hot for a week. In the same way that blowing on a campfire will rouse the coals, wind increases the amount of oxygen to a fire and hastens its spread. He is among the pro-eucalyptus faction’s star fire authorities, although his expertise, he admits, is not in wildland fire. Like Maloney, he says he got involved after researching the FEMA plan and coming to the conclusion that removing trees would make the area more fire prone, not less. It may also be helpful to people experiencing back pain or those recovering from a joint or muscle injury. Ignitability—how easily something catches fire—is a combined result of its architecture, chemistry, moisture content, and caloric values. Anonymous. It’s not personal. (For context, a single kitchen match is worth about one BTU.). The East Bay Regional Park District is taking something of a middle approach to fire prevention in the eucalyptus groves it manages, thinning the trees rather than clearing them outright. Lots of people are familiar with Eucalyptus as an ingredient in cold remedies like Vicks VapoRub. It may need assistance from another faster burning wood such as Birch to keep it burning well. 1. Ross Bradstock, a wildfire expert at the University of Wollongong, says that while being able to empirically compare the flammability of different trees would be useful, it’s not currently possible.
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