The San Francisco Examiner published a column on July 29, 2018, by Sally Stephens, Why Spray Toxic Herbicides in City Parks?
“San Francisco prides itself on leading the way with the environment. But when it comes to using toxic herbicides in city parks, we’ve fallen behind other cities. While they implement outright bans, we continue to accept – and even encourage — the use of herbicides as long as they’re used to kill non-native plants. And, after a brief decline, that usage is once again on the rise.
“In 1996, San Francisco passed an ordinance to “eliminate or reduce” the use of pesticides (including herbicides) on city property. But less than a year later, The City amended the ordinance to allow pesticide use if a city department could show a “compelling need” for it.
“The Recreation and Park Department has used that loophole to justify repeated spraying of toxic herbicides in “natural areas” in city parks. These areas, nearly a quarter of all city parkland, are where the department hopes to recreate the landscape that was here in the 1700s, before European colonists first arrived.
But “native plants” are no longer well suited to today’s changing environment. Non-natives, however, do well. So, Rec and Park tries to kill the non-natives by spraying some of the most toxic herbicides available. ….
To read the entire column go to: http://www.sfexaminer.com/spray-toxic-herbicides-city-parks/
San Francisco Chronicle had an article titled “Some McLaren Park users fear trail renovations will destroy tranquility” on Nov 13, 2017 (paywalled for some readers). It quoted Tom Borden, a director of San Francisco Forest Alliance:
“I really think these narrow, winding, interlaced trails are just the most iconic and charming part of the park. The trails themselves are the destination, really,” said Tom Borden, a director at the San Francisco Forest Alliance who frequents the park and has been a critic of the city’s proposals to shut down some of the trails. “Their plan just neuters all of it,” he said.
Tom has been trying to get the word out about just how much access will be restricted under the new Plan. You can read more about it here: Restricting Access in McLaren Park
San Francisco Magazine had a May 17th article titled “Tree Activists Are Still Not Letting Their Eucalyptus Fight Die.” The blurb says, “After a decades-long battle, the city has given the green light to start cutting down eucalyptus trees in natural areas. But the trees’ defenders are standing tall.” The article mentions San Francisco Forest Alliance. (And no, we’re not giving in or giving up!)
The West Portal Monthly had an article headlined “Poisonous Fate Awaits Historic Mt Davidson Forest” in its March 2017 edition. Read the article here: Mar2017_WPM-MtDavidson-Poisonous Fate
The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article titled, “Forest Alliance appeals Rec and Park’s new natural areas plan” on Feb 4th, 2017.
“Last month, the Recreation and Park Commission OKd a maintenance plan for the city’s natural areas. But controversy surrounding it hasn’t died down.
The conclusion: “If the nonprofit — which fights perceived threats to public parks — is successful, the plan’s environmental impact review will be sent back to the city’s Planning Department for further review.”
The West Portal Monthly ran an article titled “Natural Areas Program EIR challenged: SF Forest Alliance files appeal with Board of Supervisors” in its January 2017 edition:
The San Francisco Examiner ran an article by Robyn Purchia called Protecting Wildlife is Hard, Compromise Makes it Easier. Though the headline is somewhat misleading, it acknowledges some of the problems with the Natural Resource Management Plan:
“This undertaking could disrupt the forest ecosystem and require major resources. It will necessitate pesticide use. It will remove a carbon sequestration source in a time of climate change. Most importantly, there’s no guarantee restoration will work. San Franciscans may be faced with increased toxics and reduced wildlife and forests.” (Our emphasis)
Destroying the forest on Mount Davidson will actually be disastrous for wildlife – it is one of the key areas to observe migrating birds in San Francisco, providing cover and nesting sites. It also will destroy a historic forest, as Jacquie Proctor who walked with Robyn Purchia on Mr Davidson pointed out.
The article acknowledges SF Forest Alliance’s role in the battle when it quotes SFRPD’s spokesperson: ““It’s our job as Americans to be vigilant government watchdogs,” Sarah Madland, the department’s director of policy and public affairs, told me. She acknowledged members of San Francisco Forest Alliance have assumed that role. She continued, “everyone has an obligation to use facts.”
(We only wish SFRPD would actually follow that obligation!)
- The San Francisco Examiner ran an article called A Shady Story in San Francisco on August 28, 2016. (Click on the title for the full article.)
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
2) The West Portal Monthly published an article in its August 2016 edition, NAP ‘land-grab’ limits Park Access, which mentions SF Forest Alliance’s efforts to seek information on what trails people are actually allowed to walk on.
The San Francisco Chronicle published an article, Pesticide Petition Grows: Glen Canyon Park neighbors lead drive to ban city’s use of herbicide in natural areas on November 1, 2015. It talks about opposition to the use of pesticides in our parks, and quotes San Francisco Forest Alliance.
“Herbicides are more toxic and more persistent than the public realizes,” said Rupa Bose, vice president of the San Francisco Forest Alliance, a nonprofit that supports the city’s nature. “We’re especially concerned about the natural areas where the public doesn’t expect herbicides. These are places where people gather blackberries, kids nibble on oxalis and dogs eat grass.”
If the link doesn’t work, you can read a downloaded version of the article here: SFChronicleNov2015 article on pesticides
The anti-pesticide petition mentioned in the article was started by Jill Fehrenbacher, and has over 10,000 signatures now. It’s available HERE.
- The West Portal Monthly published an article in its October 2015 edition, Urban Fire Mythbusters: Eucalyptus forest not seen as a major fire threat. It described the hearing called by Supervisor Yee about fire preparedness, where the SF Fire Department pointed out that the main threat of wildland fires (as opposed to structure fires) came from areas of grass and shrubs, primarily in the the south-east part of the city. And yes, our Fire Department is well able to deal with vegetation fires, contrary to the myth that they’re an urban force with neither the training nor equipment to fight such fires.
Read the whole article here: West Portal Monthly-Oct2015-Fire Myths
- The Westside Observer published a detailed article “Natural Areas Program: Eucalyptus advocates Fight Back.”
The West Portal Monthly published an article “Are the Eucalyptus Really Dying?” rebutting the theory that thousands of eucalyptus trees are dying in San Francisco. In reality, these drought adapted trees are deploying their epicormic defense mechanisms!
Read the whole article here: WestPortalArticle_Sept2015
Mount Sutro got a mention on the White House blog! In an article entitled Happy Earth Day: Here’s What You Said You’re Fighting For, Mount Sutro was one of only three places mentioned with this forest and fog picture.
The entry, from Jarrod B. said he was fighting for “Every eucalyptus forest in the United States. This, for example, is Mount Sutro Open Reserve in San Francisco. It is one of the most fragrant places a city can ever have, and I think the most divine places in Northern California.”
In November 2014, Where magazine contacted us. They were doing an article on hiking in some of San Francisco’s parks. Could we provide them with photographs? Of course we were happy to help. Here’s the article, with some pictures that show why we, too, consider these places so special. It features Mt Davidson Park, Sutro Forest, Glen Canyon, McLaren Park, Stern Grove, and Land’s End.
The West Portal Monthly carried an excellent article about the Urban Forestry Master Plan, which goes up to the Planning Commission for approval soon. There’s a problem with the plan: It “could provide another rationale for converting its forest to native shrubs and grasslands. Instead of a citywide canopy goal, the Planning Department has backed off…” (click on the pictures below for a larger version of the article.)
The Via magazine (from the Automobile Association of America – AAA) had a lovely item about Mount Sutro. Here’s an excerpt:
“Step into the mist-shrouded forests of Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve and the spell is cast: The noise of neighboring Cole Valley vanishes, replaced by the creak of towering trees, an invisible chorus of warblers and sparrows, and the burble of a seasonal stream. Orange and yellow nasturtiums spill down the steep hillsides next to sword ferns and dense blackberry bushes. “
They’ve really captured the sense of wonder that one gets wandering into Sutro Cloud Forest for the first time. Or the hundredth time, for that matter.
The San Francisco Examiner carried an opinion piece by Superior Court Judge, Quentin Kopp, entitled: “Nature Program Wasting Millions to Kill Trees.”
“Quentin L. Kopp is a former Board of Supervisors member, state senator, and Superior Court judge.”
(Here’s a PDF of the SF Examiner page: Kopp editorial – NAP kills trees )
- The March 2014 issue of the West Portal Monthly also had an article about Sutro Forest. (No one associated with San Francisco Forest Alliance was quoted, perhaps because that had been addressed in a January 2014 article – see below.)
- The Miraloma Park Newsletter for March 2014 carried a number of relevant articles, including (1) a statement regarding Miraloma Park Improvement Club’s position on Mt Davidson (asking for the forested area of Mt D to be removed from the ‘Natural Areas Program’ unless issues raised in a letter by Prof Joe McBride were resolved in the Draft Environmental Impact Report on the Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan) (2) A detailed article about continuing herbicide use on Mt Davidson, with a list of the herbicides used and their deleterious effectst and (3) A defense of herbicides by Jake Sigg, retired gardener and Native Plant advocate. The link to that issue is HERE and the PDF is here: 2014-03-MiralomaLife
- The West Portal Monthly carried a front page article “UCSF axes Mt. Sutro Management Plan,” about UCSF’s course correction on Sutro Forest – no herbicides, a simple safety objective, and many fewer trees to be felled. (It’s still a lot of trees, but fewer than in the original plan. )
- The New York Times carried an editorial, “Hey, you calling me Invasive?” It talks about the opposition to tree-felling in Sutro Forest, and goes on to discuss the whole issue of native vs non-native species. That’s HERE.
“Nature in Central Park can’t be neatly divided into native of nonnative species, and neither can it be on Mount Sutro. The eucalyptus trees that grow there may be naturalized rather than native, but try telling that to all the other creatures that live in those woods or the people who hike there. And when it comes to the distinction between native and nonnative, we always leave one species out: call us what you will — native, naturalized, alien or invasive. “
- Nature.com carried an article, “Forest Management Plans in a Tangle.” It’s about Sutro Forest, and interviewed four ecologists who pointed out that non-native ecosystems have value: Robin Hobb at the University of Western Australia in Crawley; Patricia Kennedy at Oregon State; Joe Mascaro at Stanford; and Katharine Suding at UC Berkeley. That story is HERE.
“Mount Sutro is part of a larger story,” says Richard Hobbs, an ecologist at the University of Western Australia in Crawley. “What some people see as a weed-filled blot on the landscape, others see as something extremely valuable, worthy of managing in its own right. People are increasingly moving away from the belief that a native ecosystem is always best.”
- The SF Examiner’s real estate section on September 1 had a description of an ocean-view home on Crestmont Drive listed for sale as its “Top Pick.” It’s an indication of how much the forest is valued that the headline emphasized the forest, not the view: “Airy four-bedroom home faces 61-acre park.” It went on to describe the house, and the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve. And it concluded with “All this, next door to an undeveloped hill forested in pine and eucalyptus and laced with hiking trails.“
- KALW radio carried a story about Sutro Forest and UCSF’s plans there. That’s HERE. (The written article is more even-handed than the audio.)
- SFist carried a story about both the Natural Areas Program and Sutro Forest, called “Tree Wars Brewing Over Removal of Non-Native Eucalyptus.” That’s HERE.
- The West Portal Monthly had a good article on Mt Davidson, discussing Professor McBride’s assessment of the forest there.
“After touring the site and examining maps and historical photographs, he has come to the conclusion that the mature forest is healthy and will provide a rich habitat for decades to come.”
(Minor correction: “girdling” a tree involves cutting a band in the bark all the way around a tree, thus cutting off its nutrients.)
- The Wall Street Journal had a story about the Natural Areas Program, and Mount Davidson in which David Emanuel, President of San Francisco Forest Alliance, was quoted.
The story, headlined “In San Francisco, an Ecological Battle Grows” in the online edition, and “A Tree Spat Grows in San Francisco” in the paper edition, is HERE.
- The Wall Street Journal also had a slideshow of six pictures in a short photo-essay online HERE, titled “A Debate over NonNative Trees in San Francisco.”
- KCBS Radio ran a short piece on Sutro Forest on 28 July 2013. Unfortunately, we don’t have a link; if we get it, we’ll post it here.
- San Francisco Forest Alliance is offering a reward of $1000 for the arrest and conviction of the vandal whose been killing young trees in and near Golden Gate Park. It was reported in the Westside Observer, July-August 2013.
- The Westside Observer, in the same edition, also had coverage of a presentation made at the West of Twin Peaks Central Council about Sutro Forest. (For more about the Sutro Forest issue, go HERE.)
- They also had an opinion piece on the Sutro Forest issue: “I cannot comprehend the logic of the proposal by UCSF…”
San Francisco Forest Alliance is offering a reward of $1000 for the arrest and conviction of the vandal whose been killing young trees in and near Golden Gate Park.
- It was picked up by ABCLocal on their website:
The San Francisco Forest Alliance, a group unaffiliated with the parks department, has pledged $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the tree vandals.
The organization is calling on other environmental groups to match the award offer.
The group said they plan to work with police to distribute the money if anyone is caught in connection with the tree destruction.
- It was also covered in the Examiner:
- San Francisco Bay Guardian carried an article “SH!T H@#PENED – The Battle of Mt Sutro.” It hasn’t shown up online, so we’re posting a photograph here (click on the pictures for a legible copy):
- West Portal Monthly published an article about the potential felling of thousands of trees on Mount Sutro if UCSF goes ahead with its plans, entitled ‘Sutro Forest: Beautiful, Unique, Endangered.’
Unfortunately, they are not online, so we are providing a photograph of a clipping. If you click on it, it should become legible.
- The Westside Observer published an article about UCSF’s plan for Mount Sutro Forest: http://www.westsideobserver.com/2012/MtDavidson.html (It also has an article on Mount Davidson).
1. The Pacifica Patch published an opinion piece by Arnita Bowman about the planned felling of 15,000 trees in Sharp Park. The story is here: San Francisco to Cut 15,000-Plus Pacifica Trees.
2. The San Francisco Chronicle‘s CW Nevius carried an article about opposition to Mt Davidson tree-felling: Park Dept Plan to Remove Trees Irks Neighbors.
1. The West Portal Monthly published a follow-up article by Jacquie Proctor about the San Francisco Forest Alliance’s petition drive. Headlined “Neighbors mobilize to save Mt Davidson from the axe,” it ran on the front page. Unfortunately the newspaper isn’t available online; you can read the article here by double clicking on the picture below. (Or pick up a copy in the newsboxes at West Portal.)
2. The Westside Observer carried an article entitled “Trouble on the Mountain – Fight Brews Over Future of Mt Davidson’s Forest.” CLICK HERE to read that article.
1. The West Portal Monthly published an article by Jacquie Proctor about the NAP problem on Mt Davidson specifically and generally across the city:
Clear case of overkill at Mount Davidson Park
(Click on the thumbnail here for a readable scan of the article. Unfortunately, the WPM is not online at this time.)
2. The SF Examiner
This article looks at the “Creeks to Peaks” trail, and points out that the current plan destroys habitat in Glen Canyon – and it doesn’t need to. Janet Kessler of SF Forest Alliance is quoted.
Read the article here.
Within the last month, three journals and a newsletter have covered the issue of the Natural Areas Program:
This article covered the controversy in some detail, with a beautiful photograph of Mount Davidson.
“San Francisco officials are nearing final approval of a Recreation and Park Department plan to remove more than 18,000 healthy but nonnative trees from wild areas across the city—and residents are organizing to block it.”
Read the article here.
2. The San Francisco Examiner
“Residents demanded in 1997 that The City do more to protect its natural landscape. But now more than a decade later, the release of the Natural Areas Management Plan has been met with skepticism.
“Critics are claiming the Recreation and Park Department has gone too far with plans to eliminate thousands of feet of trails, nearly 20 acres of dog parks and thousands of non-native trees — saying it would be better to do nothing at all.”
3. The Sacramento Bee
“An intense battle is building over a little-known plan to cut down thousands of eucalyptus and other trees in urban forests here and at a city-owned golf course in Pacifica,” it starts. “Both camps believe they know what’s best for some of San Francisco’s most stunning landscapes, including Mount Davidson, Mount Sutro and Glen Park Canyon.
“It’s a clash of environmental visions, with each camp maintaining that it’s right.”
The whole article is available here: SacramentoBeeJuly2012
The article quotes several people, including SFFA President Eric Miller (President) and member Jacquie Proctor.
4. The Miraloma Park Improvement Association (MPIA)
A detailed and thorough article on Mount Davidson and the Draft Environmental Impact Report appeared in “Miraloma Life” – the newsletter of the MPIA. An excerpt:
… we noted that The Historic Resource Evaluation Response for the NAP confirms that the Mount Davidson forest area is a historic natural resource and potentially eligible for listing under the CA Register as an ethnographic landscape. The NAP project alternatives described in the DEIR would significantly negatively impact this historic natural area because
(1) the DEIR proposes that replacement trees can be planted anywhere in San Francisco, rather than in the Park in the location of trees removed;
(2) it specifies replacement of trees removed with oaks (which take a generation to grow) rather than faster growing historic forest species (e.g., cypress or pine); and
(3) it lacks any plan for replanting the remaining trees (i.e., those trees not subject to planned removal) as the existing historic species reach the end of their lifespan;
(4) it proposes removal of 3000 feet of trail on Mt. Davidson in order to protect native plants from people and dogs; and
(5) it does not address global warming concerns, which argue against large-scale destruction of mature healthy trees for whose oxygen content replanted seedlings cannot compensate.