Good News, Sad News at Golden Gate Park’s Oak Woodlands

This is another in our Park Visitor series: First-person accounts of visits to our parks, published with permission. (Golden Gate Park has several areas claimed by the Natural Areas Program, collectively called Oak Woodlands. They include the actual Oak Woodlands at the eastern corner of the park, behind Mc Laren Lodge.)

GREAT NEW TRAIL TO A WONDERFUL FOREST

Thank you to the volunteers and Rec & Park staff that built the new trail in Golden Gate Park Oak Woodlands last weekend!  The new trail creates a new trail entrance off Conservation Drive (east) at the corner of JKF and near McLaren Lodge.   Definitely go enjoy the new trail into the enchanting forest with lovely oaks punctuated by towering eucalyptus, pines, acacia, cypress, and other trees and plants.

I found it fascinating when reading the proposed Significant Natural Resource Areas Plan that the native oaks were planted in the 1870’s when the eastern end of Golden Gate was landscaped.  It is amazing that forests and forest wildlife communities thrive on the coastal sand dunes once called “barren” and how the diverse Golden Gate Park forests help make San Francisco livable for people and wildlife.

BUT ALSO PESTICIDES…

I was quite enjoying our walk until I saw a new pesticide warning sign at the Arguello entrance.   Imazapyr will be sprayed sometime between 8/13 and 8/17 for Kikuyu grass and Chilean Mayten (right).  The sign says “spot spray areas” but be aware that past spraying has often been right next to the trail and are often large patches, particularly when spraying grasses.

…AND HABITAT DESTRUCTION

Just as with the Eucalyptus dominated NAP forests in other Natural Areas, almost all the plants under the oaks are non-natives and are being removed by spraying and pulling which often leaves bare ground.  Unfortunately, removing non-natives doesn’t automatically result in natives magically re-appearing.   Even the newly planted native plant gardens around the Natural Areas seem to struggle with getting established in the remnant sand dune soil even when planted with nursery stock, tended, and hand-watered.

I just hope enough thickets and grass is left for the birds and wildlife that need thickets and grass for nesting and food. I look at the missing understory plants and wonder what Anna’s Hummingbirds will eat since much of the self-sustaining flowering plants are going (e.g., ivy, eucalyptus, blackberries, etc.), what grass seeds will the sparrows and finches eat, where will spiders spin their webs, and where will California Quail hide their nests. Even the oak-loving Western Scrub-Jays eat mostly insects and fruit during spring and summer, and only switch to nuts and seeds during fall and winter.

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