Tree-vandals and a Reward

vandalized tree in Golden Gate Park - photo Richmondsfblog

Click here for report in RichmondSFBlog

San Francisco apparently has vandals that hate trees.

This is not the casual vandalism of drunk teenagers mowing down a tree because it’s in there, or a car reversing into a sapling. This is deliberate destruction of young trees in Golden Gate Park and elsewhere.  According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle:

” It all started in September, when crews found 28 damaged trees in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, many broken beyond saving. Crews noted the suspicious, almost meticulous nature of the damages. The 3-year-old trees were part of a reforestation plot near La Playa and Fulton streets, and every one of them had been attacked.”

The report goes on to say that over 200 trees have been destroyed since September, according to Eric Andersen, Golden Gate Park manager. It goes on to explain that most of the killed trees are Monterey Pine and Monterey Cypress, and quote Andersen’s description of the damage:

“What they’ve done is gone through each of these areas in each of these instances and basically snapped off the top of the tree,” Andersen said. “They’ll go through and do every tree, in a very thorough and damaging way. It’s really malicious, and very thorough, and very methodical.”

This isn’t the first time it’s happened. There were reports of tree-vandals back in 2010, when 44 trees were destroyed. At the time, no one was caught, and a corporate sponsor offered to replace the trees. According to the RichmondSF blog, Chase paid $30,000.


San Francisco Forest Alliance would like to help stop this despicable activity. We’re pledging a $1000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the vandal/s.  We have sent the letter below to Eric Anderson:

Dear Mr. Andersen:

The San Francisco Forest Alliance was disturbed to hear about the destruction of hundreds of young trees in Golden Gate Park and the surrounding areas. Our city already has one of the smallest urban forest canopies in the country, and we support initiatives that would expand this, especially in this time of climate change. As it is, our trees are under threat from native plant supporters who wish to fell thousands of trees because they’re not native. A lot of trees have actually been killed. On Mount Davidson and elsewhere in the city, trees have been girdled and left to die for this very reason.

Our organization wishes to pledge a sum of $1,000 as a reward to be disbursed by the San Francisco Police Department as they see fit for information that leads to the arrest of people who committed these recent crimes. We call on other environmental organizations to match our pledge in the hope that the vandals can be found and stopped.

Please let us know if there if there is anything we may do to further assist you with this incident.

San Francisco Forest Alliance

We ask other environmental organizations to add their own pledges. Perhaps if the reward is attractive enough, someone will come forward with information.


We have come across tree vandalism before, but that was with Native Plant supporters girdling mature trees to kill them. It happened in a number of Natural Areas, including Bayview Hill and Mount Davidson. Someone also reported broken-off trees in Glen Canyon Park.

A few days ago, someone discovered more girdled trees on the north-eastern edge of Mount Davidson, in the vicinity of the slash in the mountain made to install the new water-pipe. These are not recent, but we think they may have been made within the last 5 years.  We have been told that the Native Plant supporters are no longer doing this. We hope that is true.

Girdled tree Mount Davidson

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3 Responses to Tree-vandals and a Reward

  1. Elvis Cruz says:

    Love what you people are doing for our trees! I live in San Francisco on south van ness ave. we had a young tree vandalized – cut – 2 times! And there is rumors that a neighbor in our building mention something about cutting that same tree cause she did not had view from her window! I will apreciate if someone can take a look at this! Needs to be stop! There are many beautiful trees in our block and this is the only one tree that is painful to see die! Thank you! 1068 South van ness ave. .btwn 21rst and 22nd.

    [Webmaster: That’s really sad. Trees add to the property value. If the building is a rental, you could speak to the landlord. You could also write to SF Department of Public Works, and they can fine the vandal if you can get proof of who it is.]

  2. Cary Chauvet says:

    I live on the 1600 block of Polk Street where a new gym facility is moving in to what was a former ACE hardware store. Today I looked out my window and two men where on a high ladder cutting off all the branches from the tree in front of the store. I went outside and asked what they were doing and they pretended they couldn’t speak English but I have seen them working on the remodeling of the hardware store. I wouldn’t leave and kept questioning what they were doing because they were cutting off all the branches leaving the entire tree without any greenery or top branches and this will effectively kill the tree. I told them I was going to call the City and file a complaint and suddenly they could speak English enough to say that they were going to replace the tree with a bigger more beautiful tree. That’s just hogwash. They want the tree removed so that their new gym facility can be easily seen from the street. This was straight out vandalism. Please help stop this kind of tree destruction.

    [SFForest: Cary, thanks for doing this. What you describe sounds illegal, and the owner of the property could be fined. See this link. They cannot remove a street tree without permission from the city. Please take a photograph and submit a complaint. You can call 311. You could also email Carla Short at – she cares about trees. The public are the eyes and ears of the tree authorities.]

  3. Cary Chauvet says:

    I did file a complaint with the City Arborist (DPW) and the building owner was issued a fine of $1,753. He has appealed, although I’m at a loss as to what justification he will use, and the hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, February 19, at 9:am in City Hall, Room 400. I will be there to speak out. The tree, an ornamental pear, was planted in 1994 and was 20 years old. The guy brought out his chain saw and cut the tree down to just a stump that is now a health and safety issue. Anyone can trip over it, break an arm or smash their face on the curb and sue the City and that means the taxpayer – you and men – will end up paying the price. I would really appreciate it if other concerned citizens would show up at the hearing so I’m not alone but I will be there. I want the City to order him to remove the stump and replace the tree with a new tree (the City can pick the type) that is at least ten inches in diameter.

    I have a YouTube Channel devoted to San Francisco landmarks and other events and put a video together. That video is located here:

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