What’s Wrong with the Natural Resources Management Plan

This letter by Anastasia Glikshtern was published in the Westside Observer. It’s a response to an article by Glen Rogers that lauded the certification of the Environmental Impact Report on the Natural Resource Management Plan. Ms Glikshtern’s letter, which points out the damage the Plan will do as well as factual errors in the original article, is republished here with her permission.

Glen Rogers hails the certification of the biased, inadequate, and inaccurate Environmental Impact Report for Natural Resource Management Plan and adoption of that Plan as “a victory for conservation.” (Love ‘Em Or Hate ‘Em, Eucalyptus Trees Still Remain At Center Of Controversy, Westside Observer, February 2017)

In fact, the Plan is to cut down 18,500 trees (plus uncounted smaller ones) at the cost of $5.4 million a year for 20 years (SF Legislative Analyst, 2007), most of them on steep slopes, many in windy areas, some near freeways – to convert “forested areas to native scrub and grass habitat…”

The plan is to treat the stumps of killed trees with most toxic herbicides – so the herbicide use would drastically increase. Some people have the nerve to call this “conservation.”

Mr. Rogers states that in Sharp Park “the non-native grass of the golf course requires pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers which are affecting wildlife and tainting nearby water, causing genetic mutations….There have been numerous incidents of endangered wildlife being killed by mowing the lawn or gopher control.”

In fact, no pesticides or herbicides have been used in Sharp Park since August 2010. The five fertilizers used there are OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) Listed. In response to a Sunshine Records Request, I learned that there are “no records of deaths of red-legged frogs or garter snakes, or their juvenile equivalents, or their eggs or egg-masses, as a result of the operations and maintenance of Sharp Park” in last 10 years.

Mr. Rogers writes that alleopathy is “the agent that poisons the ground” and “inhibits other plants from growing under eucalyptus.”

In fact, alleopathy is a biological phenomenon by which an organism produces one or more biochemicals that influence the germination, growth, survival, and reproduction of other organisms. These biochemicals can have beneficial or detrimental effects on the target organisms. As an illustration of “native” vegetation under eucalyptus I’m attaching a photo of “native” toyon under “non-native” eucalyptus (Albany Hill).

There are five little oak trees (little, although they are already 10 years old)  growing next to the 36 bus stop at Myra Way / Dalewood Way intersection. Most likely they are doing so well in this area because of protection provided by big eucalyptus trees under which they grow.

Mr. Rogers blames (spectacular) lack of success in “the reintroduction of native plants” on eucalyptus trees. He ignores the Pacific reed grass – a species that the Natural Resources Program wants to protect – that is indeed growing under eucalyptus, and which is frequently associated with these trees because of the moisture they provide.

In fact, the same lack of success in reintroducing native plants can be observed on the grassy part of Mt. Davidson and in other “natural” areas. It is most likely due to the changes in the environment since the time (about 250 years ago) when the “desirable” (by Natural Resource Division) vegetation had allegedly grown here.

(I’m attaching a photo of French Broom on a trail in East Bay after 10 years of eradication effort.)

French Broom thriving along a trail - after 10 years of eradication efforts

French Broom along a trail – after 10 years of eradication efforts

Mr. Rogers cites a study stating that 85% of the 18,500 trees slated for elimination are in poor health – and therefore might burn down within the next 100 years.

In fact, that (questionable) study looked at a very small number of trees on the edges of Mt. Davidson. The sweeping conclusions are erroneous, and there are experts’ statements to the contrary. Moreover, the 2015 presentation by SFFD stressed that vegetation fires are 12-13 times more likely to occur in grass and brush (to which many of our forested areas are to be converted, according to the plan) than in forests, and the real fire danger in San Francisco is from structure fires because of closely placed wooden houses.

Mr. Rogers asks readers to remember eucalyptus trees that fueled the fire in Oakland.
The readers might also remember that the Oakland fire started in dry grass, that there were many reasons why it became so destructive, or that the wildfires in California are fueled by “native” trees.

While Mr. Rogers’ main concern on Mt. Davidson is the “prevalence of non-native species,” for many Mt. Davidson neighbors the main concerns in connection with pending implementation of the plan are very different:

  • The threat of the mudslides on newly deforested part of the mountain. (Mudslides have already been happening on the grassy part during the rainy seasons);
  • The threat of flooding;
  • Increased wind and noise;
  • Drastically increased use of the most toxic herbicides (particularly in view of the groundwater blending into our tap water;)
  • Destruction of wildlife habitat.

One-third of the currently forested area on Mt. Davidson is destined to be converted to grass and scrub.

Anastasia Glikshtern lives near Mt. Davidson

 

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