“Rethink Support for Natural Areas Program” – West of Twin Peaks Central Council letter Part 1

In May 2012, the West of Twin Peaks Central Council (WTPCC) passed a resolution to write a letter opposing the Natural Areas Program (NAP).

We will (with permission) be serializing that letter, which was sent last month to the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Commission, with copies to

  • Mayor Ed Lee,
  • the Board of Supervisors,
  • the Planning Commission,
  • RPD General Manager Phil Ginsburg, Natural Areas Program Director Lisa Wayne, RPD Chief of Operations Dennis Kern and
  • Bill Wycko, Environmental Review Officer, Planning Dept.

The WTPCC is an umbrella organization comprising twenty neighborhood associations that are situated “west of Twin Peaks.” Many of the member organizations had expressed concerns about the Natural Areas Program, especially plans to cut down 1600 trees on Mount Davidson. For the May meeting, delegates were requested to look at the actual information about the Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan (SNRAMP). In addition, they had presentations from Dennis Kern and Lisa Wayne (for San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department); and by Eric Miller and Jacquie Proctor (of San Francisco Forest Alliance).

At the end of the presentations, 12 of 16 member organizations present voted to oppose the Natural Areas Program. (Others abstained, some because delegates were not authorized to make that call without referring it back to their associations. None opposed the resolution.)

This is Part 1 (of 4 parts) of the letter.

Here are links to Part 2 (Trees and Pesticides); Part 3 (Park Access and Wildlife Habitat); and Part 4 (Public Process, and Conclusion).

The whole letter, as a PDF, is available here: 2012.06.04 – WTPCC Letter Opposing NAP


June 4, 2012
West of Twin Peaks Central Council
PO Box 27112
San Francisco, CA 94127

To: San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission
McLaren Lodge
501 Stanyan St
San Francisco, CA 94117

Dear Commissioners,

At its May 21, 2012 meeting, The West of Twin Peaks Central Council (WTPCC) voted to write a letter opposing RPD’s Natural Areas Program (NAP) and to submit a comment opposing NAP as part of the NAP DEIR public comment process. WTPCC, formed in 1937, is an umbrella group of 20 neighborhood associations that share the common geographic designation “west of twin peaks.” WTPCC member associations share common demographics as well– primarily owner-occupied, single-family homes. Our members choose to live here because it is a medium-density area that provides space for yards and  children, as well as local commercial shopping districts, recreation options, and parks. Cumulatively, we have a shared history of protecting and improving the common characteristics and character of our neighborhoods.

WTPCC member organizations had expressed concerns about NAP at previous meetings, especially concerns about NAP’s plans to cut 1,600 trees on Mt. Davidson. Prior to its May 2012 meeting, WTPCC member delegates were given “homework,” links to the NAP General Management Plan (SNRAMP) section on Mt. Davidson along with the SNRAMP Executive Summary, information on NAP from the NAP website, and information from critics of NAP. At the May meeting, WTPCC heard a presentation in support of NAP from RPD Chief of Operations Dennis Kern and NAP Director Lisa Wayne, and a presentation in opposition to NAP by Eric Miller and Jacquie Procter from the SF Forest Alliance. Judging by the quality of the questions, our delegates had indeed studied the suggested material “assigned” beforehand. After the presentations and questions, WTPCC voted immediately to send this letter and comment.

WTPCC concerns with the Natural Areas Program (NAP) are as follows:

  • NAP’s plans to cut 18,500 trees in parks controlled by SF RPD, including plans to cut 1,600 trees on Mt. Davidson
  • NAP’s use of herbicides, including repeated applications at the same site, poor signage, improper applications, and concerns about children and pets playing in areas where toxic herbicides have been applied
  • NAP’s plans to close access to areas under its management, including closing 9.2 miles of trails, and turning the park experience into one full of “Stay on the Trails” and “Keep Out” signs
  • NAP’s plans to remove existing habitat (especially bushes and trees) and replace it with grassland will destroy habitat needed by wildlife and birds currently living in our parks
  •  NAP has done an extremely poor job of informing people, including park neighbors, of its plans;  those plans were created without seeking input from park neighbors and park users

NAP has expanded far beyond its original mandate to protect and preserve remnants of San Francisco’s natural heritage, into large-scale conversion of existing habitat into something completely different, conversions that will change the character and uses of the park for decades to come.

Because of these concerns, WTPCC opposes the proposed NAP Management Plan (SNRAMP) currently undergoing environmental review. We ask the Planning Department to address our issues and concerns with the Draft NAP DEIR (details below). We urge the Recreation and Park Commission to rethink its support of NAP’s plans. The parks belong to the citizens of San Francisco, not to Natural Areas Program staff.

(To be continued:  CLICK HERE for Part 2, Trees and Pesticides)