Mt Davidson Chirps: The Pink Umbrella

Umbrella for rain or shine

We received this letter recently from a foggy-day visitor to Mount Davidson. It’s published with permission.

After many visits to Mt Davidson, I’m still amazed at how it rains inside the forest even on some sunny days, and creeks run down the trails leading up to the dry, sandy grasslands on the other side. This time, someone had a vibrant pink umbrella to block the rain in the forest – and the sun in the grasslands. It was surreal.

I wish there was a way to capture the raining forest — with the tinkle of creeks, patter of raindrops, and chatter of birds — for those that don’t know Mt Davidson. The forest feels spiritual almost as if it is trying to renew life or soothe away cares. A summer fire in the Cloud Forest seems nearly impossible; while in the dry grassland, it seems one flicked cigarette away.

Enchanted Cloud Forest

Mt Davidson, along with the sister Mt Sutro, is uniquely San Francisco and is unlike any other place in the world that I’ve experienced. It is criminal to think of these magnificent forests being turned into coastal chaparral or grasslands common all over the Bay Area and losing part of San Francisco’s magic.

[See for a description of that forest, and the threat it faces.]

Just as tragic, San Francisco native plant “naturalists” or “nativists” point to massive English Ivy, with vines larger than my wrists, scaling high into the century-old and equally massive cypress and eucalyptus, as an enemy strangling the life from these invading trees, the supposedly greatest of invasive enemies.  I look at the same ivy and trees and am in awe of the green, layered biomass providing life for rich wildlife and human spirits alike and see the forest as a really old, old friend.  Surely the ivy and forest and wildlife have existed together for 50 to 150 years with little human intervention and now “nativists” want to destroy these beautiful, green natural filters even though the forest  absorbs massive air pollutants and carbon dioxide and releases health-giving oxygen.

A hundred years of growing together

These mountain Cloud Forests can never return to someone’s vision of a pure state even if San Francisco foolishly tried. It is hard to accept that San Francisco, which nurtures so many unique human communities, would tolerate the sterilization of city parks and destruction of these unique forest communities just because they migrated and flourished here within the last 200 years.

Social Trail with Non-native trees, shrubs, and grass

Why is San Francisco willing to spend millions to remove healthy forests that provide millions yearly in health benefits and global warming reductions?  I can only hope that San Francisco wakes up before a few native plant purists succeed in returning San Francisco nature to a harsh land with “scarce trees” and no forests that greeted the Spaniards over 200 years ago.

Dry grassland and murdered tree


While we’re on the topic of Mount Davidson – we’d like to re-publish a lovely whimsical video from photographer and artist Lori D’Ambrosio. It captures some of the magic of the forest.



We’d also like to link to an earlier article about the “Natural Areas Program” plan for Mt Davidson – including felling 1600 trees:  Mt Davidson Park: An Open Space for Recreation or Native Plants?

If you’re not aware of the “SNRAMP” (Significant Natural Resource Area Management Plan) blueprint for the mountain, please do read that article.

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