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Does juniper removal lack scientific credibility?

Dear Editor, The recent recommendation to residents from the Oakmont Board of Directors to remove all junipers from community homes was quickly updated to a mandatory policy. The question is, was this policy based on hard objective science? How rigorous was the recommending committee’s research? Is this plant species more flammable than other common plants such as rosemary? Does this policy lead homeowners into believing removal of one species is a panacea for fire hardening their homes?

We must learn to live with potential wildfires, and we must learn to take responsibility for how we manage and maintain our homes and landscapes. However, what we do should not be based upon opinion or personal belief or anecdote. It must be founded on scientific research.

A publication from the Farm and Home Advisor’s Office, University of California Cooperative Extension County of San Diego entitled Research Literature Review of Plant Flammability Testing, Fire-Resistant Plant Lists and Relevance of a Plant Flammability Key for Ornamental Landscape Plants in the Western States addresses strategies to create defensible space around homes and the practice of providing guidance on plant flammability.

The study notes: “To give property owners and landscape professionals guidance for regulatory purposes, fire resistant plant lists are frequently provided. However, these plant lists are based on anecdotal information