Save San Francisco’s Historic Forests: What You Can Do

Mt Davidson 12 - lush greenery on both sides of trail

The San Francisco Examiner had a column on August 28th, 2016 about the Natural Areas Program’s (NAP) plans to cut down thousands of trees, especially on Mt. Davidson:

Here’s the beginning:

Did you know San Francisco originally didn’t have hardly any trees? The first Spanish explorers described the area as “nothing but sand, brambles, and raging winds.” Even in the 1860s, renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted described San Francisco as “perfectly bare of trees or shrubs — and almost awfully bleak …”

As a wave of tree-planting swept the country in the years after the Civil War, Adolph Sutro planted trees on land he owned on Mount Sutro and Mount Davidson. He planted eucalyptus and Monterey cypress, trees that could best withstand The City’s harsh climate — foggy summers with little rain and strong, cold winds roaring in from the ocean.

People loved the “new” forests then, as they do today. Windbreaks, provided by the trees, make walking and playing in the parks more pleasant. Trees muffle the sounds of the surrounding city, provide wildlife habitat, help clean pollution out of the air, increase property values and take huge amounts of carbon out of the environment.

But in recent years, San Francisco has been “invaded” by people who claim that native plants are somehow “better” than non-natives. These extreme nativists want to rip out existing habitat if it contains plants that weren’t here before the Spanish arrived — a completely arbitrary date that they chose — and replace them with plants that were here then. That means getting rid of San Francisco’s trees.

The Recreation and Park Department’s Natural Areas Program pushes a native plant agenda and has claimed control of one-third of all Rec and Park-managed parkland, including Mount Davidson and Sharp Park in Pacifica. NAP’s management plan calls for the removal of more than 18,000 trees, not because they’re diseased or dying, but simply because they were not here before the Spanish arrived.

Mount Davidson, one of the few forested areas in The City, will lose 1,600 trees. The middle third of its forest will be substantially cleared of trees — even healthy ones — so the area can be converted to grass and scrub.

With fewer trees to block it, the wind blowing through Mount Davidson’s forest will increase significantly after the removals, making it more likely that limbs — or entire trees — could be blown down. This significant safety issue should concern Rec and Park. … CONTINUE HERE


1) Please leave positive comments about the article on the Examiner’s website, and share the column with your friends and family.

2) Please email the Mayor, the Board of Supervisors (or at least your own Supervisor), the Planning Commissioners  and the secretary of the Recreation and Park Commission (email addresses listed below) and let them know you want forests — especially those on Mt. Davidson and in McLaren Park — removed from NAP’s control. NAP cannot manage forests well if they don’t think the forests belong in SF because trees weren’t here when the Spanish arrived.

NAP has one more hurdle to pass before the Recreation and Park Department can begin to officially implement their plans to cut down thousands of trees, close miles of trails, restrict access to large sections of our parks, and increase the use of herbicides in our parks.

On September 29, the Planning Commission and the Recreation and Park Commission will consider whether to certify the Environmental Impact Report for NAP’s Management Plan. SAVE THAT DATE! It will be our last chance to stop NAP.


SF Mayor

SF Board of Supervisors

Planning Commissioners individual email addresses:

Recreation and Park Commissioners
via the secretary’s email:

We will need people to attend and speak against NAP at the Sept 29th hearing. We will provide suggested comments and an analysis of the EIR closer to the date.

Stay tuned!

Public opinion does make a difference!

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3 Responses to Save San Francisco’s Historic Forests: What You Can Do

  1. says:

    Thank you.

  2. Travis VanBrasch says:

    Dear Forest Alliance-

    Here attached is an email I have sent to all of the Public Servants you indicated in your most recent posting.

    How can we get the Chronicle to publish something decisive about this. Perhaps by encouraging other Bay Area publications? Politicians listen to the Chronicle.

    Anyhow, here’s the letter. Thank you for your good work.

    Dear Recreation and Park Commissioners,

    As a half-century proud San Francisco Resident, I have always wished we had more tree cover. Those areas where trees have been planted over my lifetime (think of the Inner Richmond) have greatly improved aesthetically, commercially and in terms of livability. Those areas that have not seen trees planted (the Excelsior, for example) have not seen these benefits.

    This is especially true for our parks, notably Mt Davidson, the Sutro Ridge and McLaren Park. Now a group of anti-tree purists seem hellbent on removing as many of these trees as possible. An article describing the situation appeared in the Examiner on August 28, 2016.

    We need trees, which I believe must also be the opinion of the vast majority of San Franciscans. The NAP wishes to ignore this. I feel I am speaking sensibly for many people when I ask that the destruction of our precious urban forests, with all their benefits be avoided. We want forests — especially those on Mt. Davidson and in McLaren Park — removed from NAP’s control. NAP cannot manage forests well if they don’t think the forests belong in SF because trees weren’t here when the Spanish arrived.

    Very Sincerely,

    Travis VanBrasch

    1 Longview Court

    San Francisco, CA 94131



  3. Robert H Elliott jr says:

    100% AGREE

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