To the Editor:
There is no real need for the City of Oakland to restart spraying toxic herbicides in parklands in the hills. The Blue Gum Eucalyptus trees do not present any real danger to Oakland residents living near the hills.
Women who fear the rising rates of breast cancer and other cancers should pay particular attention to how we have been slowly poisoning ourselves with toxic chemical residues in our land, our water, our air, our food plants and even our domesticated farm animals. Recently, traces of rocket fuel (perchlorate) has been found in milk and lettuce in California and other states. Every California resident carries residues of hundreds of toxic chemical in their bloodstream. Is it any wonder that we are developing cancers at an early age these days>
Spraying toxic herbicides in the parklands in the Oakland hills will lead to herbicides being washed down hill in creeks and runoff and will end up in populated areas and eventually the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
There seems to be a reservior of hostility towards Eucalyptus and other introduced plants that have immigrated from other parts of the globe. All of the Eucalyptus trees that are now living here and growing in California were germinated from seed. If these trees were human, they would be called "native born" and immediately awarded U. S. citizenship. The so-called California native plant movement, which detests the Blue Gum tree, is in reality a religious and political movement that fantasizes about some precolumbian pristine world unsullied by the coming of the dreaded white man and his accompanying entourage of Old World cultivated and uncultivated plants and animals. Imagine, millions of years ago, the barren volcanic wastelands of the newly created and arisen Hawai'ian Islands. Also imagine members of the native plant society standing on the barren shoreline and saying "No" to any and every new plant seed that floated on the tide. Biologically, there is no different between plant seeds that migrate in the wind, or carried by birds and other animals, or carried by human effort. Nature is always dynamic and is never static, even in those precolumbian days. This nativist movement is not based on good biological science, but rather is based on fear, fantasy and prejudice.However, in the botanical world, there currently is a strong nativist lobby that will never allow any introduced flowers, shrubs, vines or trees gain their citizenship and thus allowed to be called "native," although biologically, other plants and animals treat them with no distinction or difference. It is interesting to note that the first national native plant movement was started in the early 1930s in Nazi Germany and that it accompanied all of their other racial and religious nonsense: Purifying the Fatherland...
My review of the scientific literature along with personal observation of the Blue Gum tree, Eucalyptus globulus, has revealed that there are many different species of birds (55), insects (20), amphibians (4), reptiles (10) and mammals (3) that associate with it. For example, the Monarch Butterfly, Panaus plexippus, has adopted groves of Blue Gums as its preferred over-wintering habitat in California, for both food and shelter, because the Blue Gum is one of the few trees that blooms heavily in the California winter. Orioles, Hummingbirds and even some Parrots also seek out Blue Gum flowers for their sweet nectar. Woodpeckers, Flycatchers, Wrens and Warblers also use these trees as insect food sources and also for nesting. Many larger birds, including Turkey Vultures, Hawks, Herons and Owls, use the Blue Gums for roosting and nesting purposes.
James K. Sayre
25 January 2005
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