Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this



County argues timely removal of dead trees is needed to prevent devastating wildfires; opponents say plan destroys wildlife habitat with no public review


March 2, 2010 (San Diego) – A Superior Court judge last week issued a preliminary ruling in favor of the California Chaparral Institute, indicating the County of San Diego violated state law by exempting its backcountry vegetation clearance projects from public and environmental review.

"This is a victory for both citizens and nature," said Richard Halsey, director of the Institute. "The best way to protect lives, property, and natural resources from wildfire is through proper community design and sensible vegetation management directly around homes, not stripping habitat in the backcountry. This ruling will give citizens the opportunity to participate in developing a rational approach to fire risk reduction. It's time we stop wasting millions of dollars of tax-payer money on projects that actually increase the threat of fire to people."

The County obtained a federal grant to remove dead, dying and diseased trees in areas determined to be most vulnerable to future wildfires, according to the County’s argument in response to the lawsuit. “Time is of the essence in implementing this project before the onset of additional fires,” the County argued, noting that devastating wildfires have caused mass evacuations, burned over 868,888 acres in the past decade, also destroying lives, structures, livestock and wildlife. The County said its project was limited to removing dead, dying or diseased trees and partial vegetation near structures and evacuation corriders in high priority areas and therefore qualified for exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).


The preliminary ruling can be found at the link below:


Additional background information regarding this lawsuit, including legal arguments on both sides, can be found on the California Chaparral Institute's website here:


Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.


Dead trees

Free to be, you and me, hug a dead tree. I bet these "enviornment-its" don't live in the back country. So now they want to save dead trees. I think city people should stay out of the back county residents business.