Montara Chainsawed Trees: Town Hall on Nov 12, 2017

We reported recently that some people interested in going on the walk at Rancho Corral de Tierra in Montara were unable to get in. Now a Town Hall has been scheduled on Nov 12, 2017.

In response to public interest, GGNRA will be hosting a second public meeting on Sunday, November 12th from 2-3:30 pm at Farralone View Elementary School. A meeting invite with details will be sent to everyone on our email distribution list.  To stay informed about the November 12th public meeting and other park related matters in San Mateo County, please sign up for our [i.e, GGNRA’s]  “San Mateo County” mailing list here.

 

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What Happened at the Montara Walk with Jacquie Speier – Trees at Rancho Corral De Tierra

Recently, we announced the news that a public walk had been planned for Oct 30, 2017 to discuss the sudden and deplorable destruction of trees at Montara’s Rancho Corral de Tierra. (We reported on that here: National Park Trees meet Chainsaws in Montara.) However, when supporters tried to sign up, they found the walk had filled up within days, maybe hours, of the announcement. Fortunately, one person did manage to go, and has sent us this report.

THEY’RE CUTTING DOWN TREES BECAUSE THEY HAVE THE MONEY – FOR NOW

Emotions ran high during a Monday mid-afternoon public hike led by a large contingent of National Park Service officials to quell community uproar over the sudden removal of healthy Monterey cypress and pines along popular trails at Rancho Corral de Tierra.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier kicked off the trailhead gathering of 30 or so nearby Montara and Moss Beach residents with sharp criticism of the Park Service’s “woefully failed” communications effort about its grasslands restoration program.

People questioned whether it was truly necessary to cut down 25 isolated trees – some 100 years old and community favorites – to preserve a rare flower called Hickman’s potentilla by replanting native grasses and wildflowers. They also asked why the Park Service did not publicly identify the trees slated for destruction or disclose its use of the herbicide Glyphosate, better known by the brand name RoundUp. California may soon require cancer warnings on Glyphosate products. [The chemical is considered “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organization, and an insider from the Environmental Protection Agency said, “It is essential certain that glyphosate causes cancer.”]

While the Park Service conceded it could have done a better job of communicating plans, they offered tortured answers to critical questions about the project.

Officials said it would be too difficult to identify the trees to be felled because markings could not be placed so they are visible at every angle from various directions people walk. They said the herbicide spraying schedule is unpredictable due to weather and, therefore, does not allow for advance notification or signs but that trails are closed off by staff standing guard during the spraying.

The Park Service said it contracts with outside crews for tree-cutting that must be completed under a $200,000 grant that only funds the project for three years.

It’s not clear whether the Park Service conducted an environmental analysis despite claiming they are required by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to protect the potentilla at Rancho under the Endangered Species Act. If that is their rationale they are as matter of law required to conduct a public process before making significant changes that affect the landscape and recreation.

Congresswoman Speier announced she would hold a joint town hall with the GGNRA deputy superintendent to seek resolutions working together with the community. The town hall will be November 12 in Montara in the evening.

It’s important that folks try to attend because the Park Service has only agreed to stop killing trees until that meeting takes place. We’ll post more information when the meeting time and location are set. Stay tuned.

Tree stumps of chainsawed trees in Rancho Corral De Tierra, Montara, CA, USA

Stumps and Sawdust Where there were Beloved Trees

Montara Walk with Jackie Speier – The Why of the Chainsawed Trees

Owing to public outcry, the tree cutting in Montara has been paused. Now a walk has been announced for October 30, 2017, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM, in Montara,  presumably for explanations about why the trees were cut and what is planned for the future.

HICKMAN’S POTENTILLA

Hickman’s Potentilla – cc by 2.0 – John Game – wikimedia

We understand that the “restoration” project is about a tiny yellow flower called Hickman’s Cinquefoil or Hickman’s Potentilla.  The picture here is from a Wikipedia article about it, and is used under a Creative Commons license.) It’s very rare.

It’s been seen in Monterey, growing in a quarter-acre patch of grassland in a pine forest. They tried planting more in Monterey, but a combination of predators, competition from grasses, and low reproduction defeated this effort.

Montara has the largest known population, and maybe half of it is in Rancho Corral de Tierra.  Here’s a 2009 USFWS report on the plant: UFWS report on Hickmans Potentilla 2009

The key question: Will chopping down the trees actually help this plant? There’s some speculation that maybe the trees are shading out the flowers. But the real issue for the Potentilla seems to be a combination of being over-run by grasses, eaten by gophers, deer, and slugs, and not reproducing vigorously.

The trees have been there a long time, and are part of the environment for the Potentilla already. It’s quite possible that the drastic change from cutting down the trees will just make everything worse; the effects of their removal is quite unpredictable when you need to address it down at the level of grasses, wind, erosion, and water movement in small patches of land.  The best results are more likely to come, not from disturbing the environment, but from clipping the grass around the plants, and figuring out how to protect them from predators.

DETAILS OF THE WALK

Time and Place: October 30, 20172:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Montara

Here are the details that were sent to us. The invitation came from C. Fitzgerald at the Parks Conservancy:

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Rancho Corral de Tierra Grassland Restoration

Public Meeting and Walk

Please join National Park Service staff and Congresswoman Jackie Speier for a public meeting and walk at Rancho Corral de Tierra to discuss grassland restoration efforts and recovery actions for the Federally endangered Hickman’s potentilla. Project staff will discuss the project goals, review park planning processes and discuss future restoration plans. Park restoration efforts include removing invasive vegetation, such as grasses and trees, and revegetating with native plant communities.

RSVP REQUIRED | Please RSVP here so that we can accommodate all participants. A Rancho meeting location will be sent to all registered attendees at least 5 days prior to the event.
MEETING & WALK | This gathering will begin with a 30 minute meeting/talk at the trailhead which will be followed by a walk to view the project area for further discussion. The walk terrain is moderately strenuous.
PARKING | Parking is limited. Carpooling or walking is highly encouraged.
ATTIRE | Please wear comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots.
ACCESSIBILITY | Accommodations will be made for all interested attendees. Please call 415-561-4994 to request alternate accommodations.
QUESTIONS | For more information or questions, please call 415-561-4994.

 

 

San Francisco – More Public Trees Destroyed

We recently received this report from a long-term member of the Fort Mason Community Garden. More trees have been destroyed, shocking those who cared about them.

More bad news about the trees we have enjoyed for many, many years. The entrance to our beautiful Fort Mason Community Garden was lined with plum trees that flowered magnificently in the Spring and then had burgundy colored leaves when the flowers dropped (see photos below). The Park Service has chopped them all down and plan to plant native stuff in their place. [Webmaster: No trees.] As most of you know, native plants remain brown most of the year so now our entry way is completely ruined, in my opinion, and those of many other garden members.

Below are before and after photos of the entry way, and then a report on how the Park Service tries to justify why they did this horrible thing. They claim that the trees were beyond their life span and beginning to die off. However, the below photo was taken this past Spring and these plum trees sure look very healthy and beautiful to many of us. None of the garden members knew anything about this until all the plum trees were chopped down — a big shock to most of us.

plumblossomsfortmason

There seems to be an epidemic of chopping down trees in this city that is contagious, and it is very sad and terrible for our environment and the esthetics of San Francisco. It is happening all over the city (200 coming down on Van Ness alone and many more in other neighborhoods). However, I was not expecting this horrible epidemic to affect the once very lovely entry to our beautiful Fort Mason Community Garden—which is a haven in the middle of a busy city.

(Signed) A Very Sad and Frustrated long-term FMCG member

ornamentalplumsgone-at-fort-mason-san-francisco-12-28-16

THE PARK SERVICE JUSTIFICATION

Plum Tree Removal at Fort Mason (SF) – Dec 2016

November 18, 2016 Posted by: GGNRA Public Affairs

GGNRA will remove the plum trees at the Fort Mason entrance and replace with drought tolerant native plants.

The tree removal will begin in December with planting to follow early in the new year.

Plans for adding the Purple Leaf Plum (Prunus cerasifera) trees were developed early in the park’s history, 1974, but following the historic period of significance. These trees typically have much less than the 42 year life span we’ve enjoyed. Within the last 5 years, the plums have begun to die back and shed limbs, indicating they are well into decline.

Removing the trees will re-establish a historic view to the Chapel along Franklin Street. Overgrown yews that flank either side of the Chapel entrance door will also be removed and replaced. The project will also remove about 7,000 sq ft of turf.

Native, drought tolerant plants are coming from our Presidio nursery, grown from local seed.

By establishing this low water plant community at the park’s headquarters entrance, we are signalling our commitment to environmental sustainability. We will also replace the irrigation system with a much more efficient model and expect to be able to stop all watering in the entry area within 5 years.

These before-and-after renderings were developed by the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation as a treatment recommendation included in the 2012 Cultural Landscape Report Volume II.

fort-mason-after-tree-removal

Before and After from NPS. (Our notation.)