National Park Service Trees Meet Chainsaws in Montara

The National Park Service is cutting down trees in Montara, south of San Francisco. San Francisco Forest Alliance opposes this action. We’re disappointed. In this era of global warming, every tree counts. Instead of destroying trees, they should be planting them. Instead, they appear to have succumbed to the same “native” vs “non-native” xenophobic approach to plants that we’re battling in the Bay Area.

This article, with the accompanying pictures is from one of our supporters, and is used with permission.


by D. Emanuel

Here we go again. This time it’s the National Park Service destroying trees in the Bay Area. They just cut down perfectly healthy Monterey cypress and pines – some 100 years old — at Rancho Corral de Tierra, which is located at the tip of Half Moon Bay. If you’ve ever hiked or ridden a horse or bike at Rancho you know there are few trees that provide shady resting spots along popular trails.

These trail-side trees are isolated and one in particular, on the Farallone trail, has been an iconic stop, where hikers take a break to enjoy scenery, grab a drink of water, and shoot the breeze. It’s been a favorite among residents of Montara, many of whom walk outdoors just steps from home as part of their daily routine. No more. Park Service chainsaw crews leveled the tree last week.

By the end of next week the Park Service will be on track to kill 40 trees because they categorize them as non-native. It doesn’t seem to matter that their birthplace is only 100 miles down the road in Monterey. Apparently that’s not local enough.


The Park Service gave no warning and did not engage the community for input at Rancho. They are so strident in carrying out a preferred landscape ideology that a handful of favorite trees could not remain.

Rancho is the newest land added to the 80,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The Park Service acquired it in 2011. You may remember that just one month after taking over as land manager a Park Service ranger used her taser gun to shoot a 50-year-old man in the back after he gave a false name. The ranger had stopped him for walking one of his two small terriers off-leash. He won a $50,000 judgment against the Park Service for unreasonable use of force.

Now the Park Service is now using unreasonable force against trees under the guise of biodiversity. They claim it will save a rare flower, Hickman’s potentilla, against an invading force  even though the trees have remained far apart for years, showing no sign of taking over the landscape.

The fact that the flower has peacefully co-existed with the trees for decades doesn’t matter to the Park Service. The project is part of a multi-million dollar grasslands restoration and replanting program bankrolled by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

The Park Service did not conduct an environmental assessment to justify the dramatic changes being made to the landscape and it’s refusing to disclose how much glyphosate is being sprayed.  Glyphosate, better known by the Monsanto trade name Roundup, has been declared a probable human carcinogen. California, which in July declared glyphosate to be a carcinogen, is considering requiring cancer warnings on Roundup brand labels.

The community is shocked and angry. You should be too. California lost 100 million trees due to the recent four-year drought. We can’t afford to be killing trees. Yet that’s exactly what the Park Service is doing at Rancho Corral de Tierra.


Here’s a statement from GGNRA received today:

“NPS is pausing tree removal work at Rancho and is planning to offer an additional public hike in the coming weeks to discuss our planning process and the overall recovery plan for the Rancho grasslands and Hickman’s potentilla. We plan to send out an announcement to our Rancho mailing list once this date is set.”

This is a pause – not a promise to stop the cutting. We will stay in touch with you all as we move through this process to keep our voices heard.

Please enjoy the moment – your voices and help from Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s office were very important to get this temporary pause – thank you!

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6 Responses to National Park Service Trees Meet Chainsaws in Montara

  1. Chris says:

    This is very sad. I lived in Montara for over 10 years, return often, and hoped to move back.
    I love the trees on the streets, backyards, and trails. I believe they were all, or mostly all, planted within the last 100 years.

  2. Kathleen Hallinan says:

    I’m punching my pillow and crying crying crying



  3. julie long gallegos says:


  4. Alicia Snow says:

    This is really an outrage! One wonders what kind of scientists have been hired to work for the National Park Service. Clearly not well informed botanists. Must be Trump appointees who don’t believe in climate change and CO2 sequestration.

  5. Robert Finley says:

    This is insane. What does it matter if the trees were native or non-native? We need trees. For beauty and a healthy environment. When are we going to turn around this crazed native plant attitude. We will be left with barren hillsides. ironically, I see more and more palm trees being planted in the Bay Area. What is wrong with this picture?

  6. Jack Kessler says:

    Those photos are really sad. They must have been really impressive trees, particularly to have survived in the rough ocean climate at Montara. Nativism, of any variety, is such a dangerous reactionary trend — against people, as in our politics, against trees, as in our pseudo-science — we have grown so insecure that vigilantes now are roaming, and this tree-cutting is just plain violence. Invasion Biology has matured and no longer sanctions this — it looks at ecosystems now, and not just arbitrary class names on old “lists” — the pseudo-scientists pushing this nativism are out-of-date, they need to get back to school and update that one “Bio” class they took back in the 60’s.

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