As readers of this site will know, SFFA recently launched a petition drive to “Stop NAP from cutting down healthy trees, spraying toxic herbicides, disrupting a healthy ecosystem that supports hundreds of species, and restricting access to our city parks.”
Within a few months, it has nearly 3,000 signatures (online and on paper). We had no professional or paid signature gathering, just volunteers informing people about the Significant Natural Areas Management Plan (SNRAMP, pronounced sin-ramp).
Many of the signers have inquired when we would be sending the signatures to Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors. We did so earlier this month. It somewhat resembled a phone-book in size…
However, the petition drive continues. If you have not already signed, and wish to, please do so. (If you’ve signed, you don’t need to sign again; we remove duplicates before submitting.)
LETTER TO THE SUPERVISORS
Each of the Supervisors got a similar letter in hard copy and by email. At the time, the number of signatures reported to the Supervisors was only 2,500. By the time we wrote to Mayor Lee, the number was nearly 3,000.
May 15, 2012
(Letter also being sent via U.S. mail)
San Francisco Forest Alliance
PO Box 460668
San Francisco, CA 94146
Supervisor [Name of Supervisor]
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 244
San Francisco, Ca 94102-4689
RE: 2012 Park Bond Funding for the Natural Areas Program
Dear Supervisor [Name]:
The San Francisco Forest Alliance was formed several months ago to give a unified voice to neighbors and park users who care deeply about the stewardship of wilderness in municipal parks and open space, particularly those designated as “natural areas” and managed by the controversial Natural Areas Program within the Recreation & Park Department. We have found widespread support for our mission. In just a short time, more than 2,500 people have signed our petition to “Stop NAP from cutting down healthy trees, spraying toxic herbicides, disrupting a healthy ecosystem that supports hundreds of species, and restricting access to our city parks.”
The Natural Areas Program is dedicated to the conversion of one-fourth of San Francisco’s park acreage and 236 acres in Pacifica to the pre-settlement landscape of predominantly coastal and dune scrub and grassland. This conversion requires the removal of thousands of trees and existing vegetation, and uses dangerous herbicides and other destructive methods. These methods have had a profoundly negative impact on the animals that live in our parks due to the loss of the habitat they have come to depend on for food and safety. The Natural Areas Program has already installed several fences to close people out of park areas and, if its plan gets approved, more than 25% of popular trails will be closed, further shutting off access to large portions of our parks.
We are writing to request your help to ensure the success of the forthcoming 2012 Parks Bond. The Recreation & Park Department has said repeatedly in public meetings that this bond will not fund more capital projects in the “natural areas” managed by the Natural Areas Program. However, this commitment is not explicitly stated in current versions of the ballot measure. We request that the Board of Supervisors add language to the ballot measure explicitly prohibiting funding of capital projects in the “natural areas.” If the Recreation and Park Department is sincere in its claim that the new park bond will not fund capital projects in the “natural areas,” it should have no objection to stating this explicitly.
This request is based on our experience with the park bond that was approved by the voters in 2008. That park bond provided $5 million dollars for “trail improvements” that could only be used for trails in “natural areas.” The projects done as part of these “trail restorations” were extremely destructive and seemed to have little to do with trail improvements. Rather, they destroyed existing habitat in areas far removed from trails and destroyed trees that were not hazardous. They seemed to be implementing large portions of the SNRAMP management plans for the parks, even though the EIR for the SNRAMP General Management Plan has yet to be finalized or approved by the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors. Incidentally, Bond funding was not available for trail improvements in 75% of the park acres which are not “natural areas.” This action seemed to disregard a Recreation & Park 2004 assessment that showed trails were, by a wide margin, the most important park facility for park users (55%).
The Forest Alliance has no objection to the removal of hazardous trees. Indeed, it is the obligation of the Recreation & Park Department to ensure the safety of visitors and neighbors of our parks by identifying and mitigating such hazards. In an effort to gain the public’s support for its projects, the Natural Areas Program claims that it is removing solely hazardous trees. This claim is disingenuous because the management plan makes it perfectly clear that trees have been selected for removal in the “natural areas” because they are shading native plants, which require full sun, not because they are hazardous. Likewise, claims that “thinning” the urban forest will benefit it may have an intuitive appeal to the public, but it will actually make the remaining trees more hazardous by exposing them to wind from which they were previously protected.
We want language inserted into the 2012 Parks Bond that will ensure Bond money cannot be used to implement the SNRAMP General Management Plan in the guise of “trail restoration” or “forestry” while children’s programs, renovation of facilities and playgrounds, and employment of park personnel who actually serve the public have been cut. We believe our position has strong support among a majority of San Franciscans who want to improve our parks.
We are happy to provide more information, including specific examples of how these projects have been destructive, and will contact your staff to schedule a meeting if you are willing. Thank you for your consideration.
San Francisco Forest Alliance
LETTER TO MAYOR LEE
Here is a photograph of the letter to Mayor Lee. (Clicking on it once and then again will yield a larger version.)