A couple of days ago, we’d posted some estimates of how many trees Glen Canyon might lose over the next couple of years. It’s a large number and a vague one. We think the number is upwards of 400 trees.
How many majestic trees are going to be removed from Glen Canyon Park, and Why?
The San Francisco Forest Alliance is attending the August 16, 2012 Park Commissioners meeting about the Glen Canyon Park capital projects – we are concerned they are moving forward with the unnecessary removal of healthy trees.
RECREATION AND PARK COMMISSION
THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 2012, 10:00 A.M.
CITY HALL, ROOM 416
Rec & Park is set to hire a contractor to begin the relocation of tennis courts and renovation of the playground, ball park and rec center. We have repeatedly asked, what trees are being removed and why? Since Rec & Park inventories every single tree, we want to know specifically how many trees are being destroyed for other reasons than they are hazardous, dead or dying, specifically interfering with the Recreation Center Capital Construction Project scope.
We encourage those who can join us at the meeting to advocate your support against unnecessary, unjustified and costly tree removals.
[Edited to Add: Thank you to those who came to speak or just support. We requested the tree-felling portion of the contract to be separated for further review. We didn’t get it. The Commission approved the contract as is.]
NO STRAIGHT ANSWERS
Over the past year, Rec & Park and their consultant have given numerous public presentations about the “hazardous” tree assessment funded by the 2008 Parks Bond (which we support).
But the numbers keep shifting, the excuses keep proliferating and the reports keep multiplying with inconsistent assessments. This makes it very frustrating trying to get a holistic view of all tree removals, whether they are for the Natural Areas Programs that wants to replace trees with native grasses and shrubs or whether they are for actual safety problems.
In reality, almost none of the trees slated for removal in Glen Canyon has been evaluated as hazardous. In fact, money is being wasted on healthy trees that pose no threat and most people enjoy their sheer size and beauty.
For example, we recently discovered that the Rec Center Capital Project bid packet includes specifications to remove almost all trees around and behind the Rec Center, even though most have nothing to do with relocating the tennis courts. In this picture, all the trees visible behind the tennis courts up the hillside toward Elk Street will be cut down.
WHAT THEY TOLD US BEFORE
Now, Rec & Park has added new criteria for removing trees associated with the improvement plan: “poor suitability.”
Is “poor suitability” a new standard that appeared from thin air?
This was never defined or discussed in the Glen Canyon Recreation community meetings or other public meetings. In addition, the area for tree cutting included in the contractor bid is much larger than discussed in the community meetings.
In fact, the final presentation on the Rec Center capital project clearly does not show such extensive tree removal (see above).
Source: Final Glen Canyon Community Meeting Presentation — Dec. 10, 2011
TENNIS COURT TREE REMOVAL MAPS
Also, the Tennis Court Relocation Diagram that was produced to specifically to address community concerns regarding trees doesn’t indicate any plans to remove trees because of “poor suitability” or to remove trees from the hillside slope or meadow. The only trees identified for removal are the cluster behind the tennis court – outlined in white on the picture below.
To complicate matters even more, we had to use a Sunshine Act public records request to get the Rec & Park hired arborist’s recommendations for tree removal. It’s a long, cryptic report with dense maps that recommends removing between 200-400 trees:
- 227 (36%) of 627 trees evaluated in the Capital Projects/Forestry assessment project.
- “Poor Suitability” was the arborist’s only justification for removing 176 (77%) of these trees.
- “Invasive” (aka non-native tree) is likely a significant factor in the criteria that the arborist used to determine the “poor suitability” designation.
- Rec & Park continues to present the tree removals as “hazardous” in meetings when in fact it’s the “non-native species” criteria driving tree removals for this project.
A CONTRACT OUT ON THESE TREES
This Rec Center project illustration is our attempt to consolidate the various documents to show how many trees are actually being removed and the reasons why, which have very little to do with safety.
There is a disturbing pattern wherein the historic Glen Canyon forest, like other city park forests, are being continually laid bare, bit by bit, in one project after another. For Glen Canyon, this is what we’ve seen and expect in the future:
- Rec Center Capital Project – 2008 Bond (Fall 2012): 68 trees
- Forestry Capital Project – 2008 Bond (Fall 2012): 160 trees
- Trail Restoration Capital Project – 2008 Bond (Fall 2012): 32 trees
- SNRAMP Large, Healthy Tree Removal Proposal (2013): 120 trees
- SNRAMP Young Tree Thinning Proposal (already occurring): unknown number
- Willows (native) for daylighting creek (already occurring): unknown number
- Documented Past NAP Creek Projects (2008): 24 trees
That’s a total of 404++ trees!
In addition, there are reports of trees cut before 2012 (including evidence such as stumps) of around a 100 trees.
NATURAL BEE HIVE TREE TO GET THE AX
Quite sadly, a pine tree that will be cut down is home to one of the two natural bee hives in Glen Canyon. (This would be in addition to one inadvertently destroyed last year.) Much of the wildlife in the canyon uses or benefits from the tall, majestic trees. Glen Canyon does not have a significant number of conifers for kinds of birds and insects and other wildlife that need conifers. Even the lovely, gnarly acacia’s that provide a screen beneath the towering Eucalyptus along the Rec Center will be gone. Acacia is also an extremely valuable habitat tree.
SF native plant gardens certainly have value but Rec & Park has not proven that they can create and sustain native plant gardens outside of wetland areas. It is time to stop ripping out healthy and self-sustaining landscaping and instead start spending time caring for and maintaining what we are fortunate to have with majestic, healthy trees in our urban open space areas.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1) Join us at the Parks Commission meeting mentioned above.
2) Write or email the Parks Commission through the Secretary to Park Commissioners, Margaret McArthur.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org,
- Phone: (415) 831-2750
The Commissioners: Mark Buell, President; Tom Harrison, Vice President; Paige Arata; Gloria Bonilla; David E. Lee; Meagan Levitan; Larry Martin.
3) Write to Supervisor Scott Wiener. (Glen Canyon is in his District 8.)
- (415) 554-6968 – Voice;
- (415) 554-6909 – Fax;
- email: Scott.Wiener@sfgov.org