Here we go again – the shrinking of our parks by the Natural Areas Program (NAP). Instead of allowing visitors to experience wide natural lands, these plans want to restrict access to a very limited trail system. From these trails, you can look at the natural areas – but not touch or explore them.
It’s happened in McLaren Park recently. Now, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (SFRPD) is planning major changes on Twin Peaks. Extensive trail closures are planned for Twin Peaks. In the map below, the trails that will be gone are marked in red.
The project was positioned as one that would close half the Figure 8-shaped roadway to cars to make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists by making it a Figure 3-shape. What they didn’t publicize was plans to close most of the trails allowing access to the peaks from various points. They will make the entire south side of Twin Peaks inaccessible.
Instead, there will be only one trail going straight through, a sort of pedestrian roadway. (The solid yellow line.)
HIDING THE TRAIL CLOSURES
On June 25th 2015, SF Recreation and Park held an Open House on the Twin Peaks Figure 8 Redesign. Project Objectives were presented, stated as:
“We will share proposals that address the following project objectives:
• Reallocate a portion of the existing roadway from vehicle use to pedestrian and bicycle use;
• Locate pedestrian crossings to link with trail sections; and
• Recommend realignment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail to cross over Twin Peaks Blvd.”
Notice that there was no discussion on Trail closures as part of these Project Objectives now, in 2015.
However, at a September 24 2013 meeting RPD made a presentation that showed extensive trail closures, along the east guardrail and closure of the two southern lobes. See the third page of the presentation here:
Click to access Twin-Peaks-Trails-Improvement-Project_PORTOLA-TRAIL_Community-Meeting-Presentation_9-24-13.pdf
This trail closure plan was also part of a handout used at a small May 7, 2015 stakeholder meeting. We strongly suspect these closures remain part of the RPD plan, but they do not want to alert the public. The trail closures, along with the new “Stay on Designated Trails” signage, would effectively close off public access to the south side of Twin Peaks.
SF Forest Alliance feels that NAP is going above and beyond the Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan (SNRAMP) before the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is even released and approved. They are using the Draft EIR as a decision-making document to decide which alternative to approve. They are putting out the road lane closure as the focus of this and then sneaking in the trail/land closures as part of the deal.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
As usual, SFRPD is being disingenuous. Here is what you can do. Take this Project survey – put up by SFRPD – and let them know you oppose outright trail closures on Park lands.
Hurry, the Survey closes next Friday – July 17th, 2015. Survey link is here:
There is a box near the bottom of the survey where you can write in your comments about trail closures.
Also, please call your supervisor and let them know as well.
The management plan for the Natural Areas Program which was published in 2006 calls for closing 54,411 feet (10.31 miles) of social trails and creating 5,897 feet (1.1 miles) of new trails, resulting in a new decrease of 48,514 feet (9.2 miles) or 23% of trails in natural areas.
The “recovery plan” for reintroducing the endangered Mission Blue butterfly to Twin Peaks also said that trails would have to be closed on Twin Peaks to ensure that the butterfly and its sensitive habitat would not be disturbed by recreational hikers.
Those who have following the Natural Areas Program are not surprised by this planned trail closure on Twin Peaks. There are many more to come. They are done slowly and quietly to reduce the opposition to the loss of recreational access. Is it working?