Dec 15th: Joint Meeting of Planning Commission and Rec&Parks Commission

Edited to Add: Unfortunately, the Environmental Impact Report was certified despite its many flaws; and the Significant Natural Resources Areas Management Plan (SNRAMP – “sin-ramp”) was approved. Our thanks to all the people who came to the meeting and spoke.

3227413_orig 26 down through the forest

On December 15th, 2016,  San Francisco’s Planning Commission and SF Recreation and Parks Commission will have a joint meeting that will impact our urban forests for the next 20 years. This is a meeting regarding the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the Significant Natural Areas Management Plan (SNRAMP or N-RAMP).

It’s on December 15, 2016 at 1 p.m. in City Hall room 400.  [Note this information is different than our emails, though the date is the same.]

Here’s the PDF we were sent: 121516-special-joint-meeting-with-planning-final

Public comment is allowed, and a lot is expected. We think the public will get only one minute each to speak.  This is your last chance to say anything in support of our treasured urban forests. Let us know if you’re planning to attend (if you haven’t already done so) by Email at

Click Here to see the City’s online link for the final EIR. It was dismissive of all our comments.  Comments for changes to the project did not matter because they were deemed “environmentally insignificant“.  Support of an alternative to the project, such as the maintenance alternative, or criticism of the maximum restoration alternative were deemed “irrelevant” (see the Responses to Comments section).


Whenever there’s a major project, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA, pronounced seek-wa) requires the project’s sponsor to make an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department wants to implement a plan in the “Natural Areas” which will require cutting down thousands of trees, closing trails, and using toxic herbicides. The EIR is for this Project.

This meeting has two objectives.

1) First, the Planning Commission has to decide to certify the Environmental Impact Report. To do this, they have to determine that it is accurate, adequate, and objective. We think it’s deeply flawed and should not be certified.

Here’s our article on what’s wrong with the EIR: Ten Reasons Why the Environmental Impact Report for Natural Areas is Flawed

2) Second, after the EIR is certified, the Recreation and Parks Commission will vote whether to approve the Plan, and in what form. The EIR describes alternatives to the Project, and we think that if they must approve the Plan, they should implement the Maintenance Alternative. This is a “lite” version of the Project, which allows the Natural Resources Department to continue its current activities but not chop down 18,400 trees, reduce access to the natural areas, and use much more herbicide than at present. We ask the SFRP Commission make a motion to approve the Maintenance Alternative for the Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Project

Here’s our article on Ten Reasons to Oppose the Natural Areas “Project”

We will keep asking for your support in the hope that we, the voices for the trees, are heard by those with the power to unleash destruction on our beautiful old stands of trees.

We want to maintain access to the Natural Areas, not lose 95% of the parks which become prohibited areas with a “stay on the designated trail” requirement. And we want herbicide use in Natural Areas to stop.

mt davidson forest - hiker on trail

Ten Reasons Why the Environmental Impact Report for Natural Areas is Flawed

After many years, millions of dollars, and a changing cast of consultants, the final Environmental Impact Report for the Natural Areas Management Plan has emerged. It’s deeply flawed.  (This is the Plan known as the Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan or SNRAMP or N-Ramp.)

Whenever there’s a major project, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA, pronounced seek-wa) requires the project’s sponsor to make an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department wants to implement a plan in the “Natural Areas” which will require cutting down thousands of trees, closing trails, and using toxic herbicides. However, we’ve written about the Plan (which in the EIR is called the Project) separately. The focus of this article is the flaws in the EIR.

(This article is a summary. Here’s a more detailed note by Tom Borden: arguments-against-certification-of-snramp-eir and his amendment: arguments-against-snramp-eir-correction )

The situation now is that the Planning Commission will be looking to certify the EIR. They have to evaluate only three things: Is it adequate? Is it accurate? Is it objective?

This EIR does not meet these criteria and should not be certified.


The EIR is inaccurate because the carbon sequestration numbers are wrong. They have been based on false assumptions, and the actual calculations are wrong. According to the correct calculations, there will be a net release of carbon of over 70,000 metric tons – and that’s a conservative figure.

The EIR’s authors purport to use the calculation methodology incorporated into CalEEMod. However, they actually don’t. Instead, the authors have made up their own method – one that fails to account for the carbon released from the trees destroyed!

View looking west; Miraloma Park

Mt Davidson – where is more carbon being stored?

The carbon sequestration calculations in the EIR reach the conclusion that grasses and shrubs will sequester more carbon than trees. This is obviously untrue. And there’s data. For example,  A research study in Australia concludes that forests store about 10 times more carbon than perennial grasslands.

It also does not account for the carbon released from disturbing the ground and from the actual machinery and vehicles used in this implementation.


Furthermore, even the industry standard is outdated. It assumes that trees stop sequestering additional carbon after 20 years. This is a false assumption. Research now shows that to the contrary, bigger trees sequester more additional carbon than young trees. Reference from Time Magazine Of January 2014:

“But according to a new study published in Nature, it turns out that the oldest trees are actually still growing rapidly, and storing increasing amounts of carbon as they age. An international research group led by Nate Stephenson of the U.S. Geological Survey Western Ecological Research Center reviewed records from forest studies on six continents, involving 673,046 individual trees and more than 400 species, going back as far as 80 years ago. For 97% of the species surveyed, the mass growth rate—literally, the amount of tree in the tree—kept increasing even as the individual tree got older and taller.”

Glen Canyon Doomed Trees 2

Hundred-year old trees continue to sequester more carbon than young ones – until you cut them down


The EIR is inadequate because it does not consider the effect of cutting down the so-called “saplings” – young trees that are less than 15 feet tall. According to the Plan, they can be cut down without any notice, at will. However, small trees account for some 15-30% of San Francisco’s trees. There are an estimated 11,000 such trees in “Natural Areas”, already established and growing. Left alone, these are the ones that will regenerate our forests and become the carbon-sinks of the next decades. Instead, the plan is to just cut them down without any notice or consideration, and instead plant at great expense other saplings which will require care for the first few years, have a fairly high mortality rate, and never grow as large as the removed saplings would have.

Picture 005 downed oak on Mt Davidson

Downed oak sapling


Based on the data for the first 10 months of 2016, The Natural Resources Department (NRD, formerly known as Natural Areas Program or NAP) used more herbicides than any comparable area of SF Recreation and Parks Department (SFRPD). Other SFRPD departments applied herbicides 19 times, while the NRD used them over 100 times! They use only Tier I and Tier II herbicides (most hazardous and more hazardous) including Roundup, which is a likely carcinogen. Since April 2016, SFRPD (without Harding Park) has all but eliminated its herbicide use – except for the “Natural” areas!  This does not include undocumented usage where the use of herbicides is not reported.


Herbicide application on eucalyptus stump – Mt Davidson

The EIR says there will be no increase in herbicide use. This is impossible, since the Plan calls for cutting down over 18,000 trees and treating the stumps with herbicides. The NRD has clearly shown a considerable willingness to use toxic herbicides, including for eucalyptus stump treatments. If the Project is implemented, thousands of trees are cut down, the stumps will all be treated with herbicide – probably several times. This includes the saplings, as in the picture above. A massive increase in herbicide use is inevitable.


The Plan call for closing 95% of the parks in Natural Areas to public access, by limiting people to using only the trails and also by closing many miles of trail. This makes most of the park “look don’t touch” areas.

mclaren park 2 sign 2015

You can’t go off the trail to explore, to play a game with your child or pet, to view a bird or pick a flower. These parks are not remote inaccessible areas – they are the place where we walk, where we take our families to be in nature, where we picnic or take our pets. They are our backyards and we are being shut out of them.


The “Response to Comments” section of the EIR, it states all removed trees will be replaced. EIR says roughly on a 1 to 1 basis and not necessarily at the same location or within the same Natural Area. The actual Project – the SNRAMP or NRAMP – does not talk about replacement other than by native plants or scrub. The actual language: “…the trees in the San Francisco Natural Areas would be replaced with either native trees or other native vegetation, such as native scrub or grassland species…”

In any case, when a tree is removed from a specific location, it impacts that area. In McLaren Park, the trees lie between the freeway and dense residential areas, and help improve air quality for the residents. If over 800 trees are removed and – for argument’s sake – replanted in Golden Gate Park, the impact would be significant.

Furthermore, a sapling does not have the same effect, whether aesthetically or in its ecological benefits, as a 100-year-old mature tree. Going by the experience of Glen Canyon, only a few large native trees would be planted in Natural Areas; it would mostly be shrubs or small trees, which do not have the same aesthetic and environmental benefits.


By inserting the word “native” into the definition of biodiversity – which actually does not exist in the reference on which it is based, the very definition of the term is changed. All trees and plants, whether native or non-native are part of our local biodiversity, just like people from everywhere are part of our city’s population diversity. Adding the word “native” to “biodiversity”, demonizes any non-native species. In fact, our urban forests are historically a part of the totality of variation in San Francisco and have been so for almost 150 years.

We traced the paper trail of the definition of biodiversity. It originates in a 1997 paper called The Sustainability Plan that references a definition from E.O. Wilson. Only, here’s that definition: “…the totality of all variation in life forms of Earth” –  Planet Earth, The Future (2006), p. 27

“Native” was inserted into the Sustainability Plan, into SNRAMP and into the EIR by local native plant advocates who have an agenda to push. This indicates lack of objectivity.


The EIR claims native plants with being more drought-tolerant, more adaptable to climate change and require less irrigation than other plants. No evidence is provided. These attributes can be found in both native and in non-native plants. The very fact that over three dozen species of non-native plants are so successful in our Natural Areas that the NRD has repeatedly been using Tier I and Tier II pesticides against them for years shows that native plants have no particular claim on sustainability. It’s just a gardening preference – and one that is the opposite of sustainable because it requires constant application of herbicides and manual labor to maintain them.


The EIR is inaccurate it its many references to eucalyptus being “invasive.” In fact, the California Native Plant Society classifies it as having only “Limited” invasiveness. Blue gum eucalyptus trees are not causing economic, environmental, or human health harm, which is the standard for invasiveness.

mt D comparison 1927 -2010

The eucalyptus didn’t invade east side


The Response to Comments indicates thinning will help encourage growth and the health of the forest. But thinning would not help because thinning is only beneficial when trees are young (in the pole stage) and vigorous enough to take advantage of the reduced competition. Otherwise, the benefits obtained from thinning mature trees will be negligible.

The possible damage likely to result from the thinning, including exposure to windthrow and damaging their intergrafted roots of surrounding eucalyptus, will very likely outweigh any benefits from reduced competition. (source: Florence, R.G. 2004, Ecology and silviculture of eucalypt forests and Silvicultural Guidelines published by State of NSW and Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water )


Though the EIR has not been certified, the SFRPD has already started implementing the project under the guise of trail restoration, park improvements, and other capital projects.


  • SFRPD had a trail slated for closure under the SNRAMP Project. But it’s already been closed. People protested that it had been done ahead of the EIR being certified and the Project being approved. In the Response to Comments, The EIR claimed SFRPD had closed the trail prior to the start of the EIR, in a sort of “it was grandfathered” argument. Except, it wasn’t true. The EIR started in 2005 – and the trail was still on SFRPD’s official project maps in 2006 and 2011. (And in fact the trail was used by an observer in 2013.)
  • In Glen Canyon, a project that purported to be only a Recreation Center renovation confined to  playing areas of the park actually impinged substantially into the Natural areas, and was “regularized” after the fact. A large number of trees were cut down and replaced with native shrubs.

In addition, the EIR is inadequate because it does not consider the impact of the actual extent of trail closures – now 53% of trails in “Natural Areas,” as opposed to the 22% closures described in the Project. This has a significant impact on recreation that the EIR ignores. Similarly, the EIR ignores fences and their effect on aesthetics. The Project says “fencing shall be considered as a last resort…” But that’s not what’s happening (already, despite the EIR not being certified). Fences have gone up in many Natural Areas, in some places giving it all the charm of a cattle chute.

grandview park fenced trail


The EIR should not be certified. It needs to be replaced with one that more accurately reflects what the Project actually intends, what is going on already (despite CEQA), and uses correct information.

If the Project proceeds, one important mitigation needs to be in place regarding trees. SFRPD must undertake to keep accurate records of all trees removed, and of all trees plants, including size, type, location and date of removal or planting. Planted trees should be inspected annually and failed trees replaced. Without this mitigation measure, there is no way of knowing whether there is sufficient replacement – or any replacement. It’s the least they can do.

The eucalyptus-tree nest hole of the red-shafted flicker - San Francisco. Janet Kessler

The eucalyptus-tree nest hole of the red-shafted flicker – San Francisco. Janet Kessler

Hands Off Mt Davidson’s Forest – Take it Away from NAP

San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department’s Natural Areas Program (NAP) plans to remove 1/3 (10 acres) of the mature and healthy forest on Mount Davidson. We think the 30-acre forested area of the mountain should be removed from NAP’s control to prevent this destruction. The forest should be managed by professional foresters, like those in the Presidio, not gardeners.

In June, 3 years ago, U.C. Berkeley Forestry Management Professor Dr. Joe R. McBride (pdf link: MtDavidson_McBride_Ginsburg(06-29-13)) wrote about his inspection of the Mt Davidson forest, concluding that the Natural Areas Program’s  Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan (SNRAMP) for the removal and thinning of different portions of the eucalyptus plantation on Mt. Davidson is NOT justified.

He noted that the forest serves an important role in the history and visual characteristics of the city. Trees and the existing understory provide habitat for wildlife and wind protection for walkers.

mt davidson forest - hiker on trail

Summary of Dr. McBride’s letter to Phil Ginsburg, General Manager of the SF Recreation & Park Dept (parent Department of Natural Areas Program (NAP)):

1) Historic importance and Visual Value.
The eucalyptus forest on Mount Davidson was planted under the direction of Adolph Sutro, philanthropist and former Mayor of San Francisco. The hilltops covered in eucalyptus trees and Monterey cypresses are a distinctive feature of San Francisco’s landscape. They’re been there for a hundred years and are an important historical heritage.

2) Eucalyptus is not invasive.
The Plan frequently refers to these trees as “invasive.” Prof. McBride’s studies indicate that eucalyptus does not invade adjacent grasslands; and this is also obviously true on Mt Davidson, where a stable boundary exists between the forested and unforested areas. [In fact, the California Invasive Plant Council, which had earlier considered eucalyptus as moderately invasive downshifted this classification in April 2015 to “Limited.]

3) Eucalyptus groves are biodiverse.
Eucalyptus groves are richer habitats for vertebrates than either redwood or Monterey cypress/pine forest; and are similar to dry chaparral and grasslands.

4) More Pesticides.
Removing the number of trees shown in the Plan will expose the ground to more light than existing understory plants can tolerate. In the disturbed ground and increase light conditions, existing exotic species will proliferate and will have to be controlled by using even more pesticides.

5) Increased wind-throw and breakage of remaining trees.
Removing trees in this windy area will affect the trees that remain, which are not wind-hardened. More trees will go down.

6) Reducing a wind-break.
This is a very windy part of the city, with winds blowing in straight from the ocean. Walking recreationally on Mt Davidson will be a less pleasant experience.

7) Reduction in habitat.
The Plan’s assumption that birds will quickly adjust to removal of 1600 trees is unfounded. Many birds return to the same nesting site each year. Cutting down large numbers of trees displaces these birds, and also causes a great deal of disturbance. Bird protection plans usually call for a 300-foot radius of protected area around a nest.

Girdled tree Mount Davidson

Girdled tree Mount Davidson

8) The forest is healthy.
The dead trees in the forest have been girdled by someone/s with a vendetta against eucalyptus; few trees – if any – have died naturally.

9) Ivy is not a problem.
English and Algerian ivy climbs up the trees, but cannot smother the trees by growing into the canopy. The only snags covered in ivy were those that had been girdled.

10) Regeneration is a 22nd Century issue.
It’s been argued that the understory of ivy, Cape ivy, and Himalayan blackberry may restrict the establishment of eucalyptus seedlings. If so – and it’s possible – this is a problem for the next century. The forest, though 100 years old, is comparatively young. This could be revisited in another 100 years or so. Meanwhile, the understory provides an excellent food source and cover for wildlife.

Mt Davidson 2 - fuschia flourishing despite drought, watered by the trees catching the fog


Below: Mt Davidson map shows where 10 acres of healthy, mature trees will be removed if the  SNRAMP plans for maximum restoration are approved.  The red, green and yellow notations highlight the information contained SNRAMP plans (as per notes on the lower, bottom left).

SNRAMP. p. 6.2-10, F-14


You can Read Draft of EIR Comment Responses Here

Children in a tree, Glen Canyon

Children in a tree, Glen Canyon

As readers of this website will know, the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan (SNRAMP – “Sin-ramp”) is still in process. The Planning Department received hundreds of comments, and the EIR can only be finalized when the responses to those comments are published. The responses, together with the Draft EIR, will constitute the Final EIR.

San Francisco resident Tom Borden obtained the Draft of those responses under the Sunshine Act and provided them to us. They are stamped: THIS DRAFT HAS BEEN PROVIDED IN RESPONSE TO A PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST (SUBMITTED 4/27/16 AND 4/29/16) FROM TOM BORDEN.

We attach them here for anyone who would like to read them. If you made a comment, you may be interested in how they intend to respond. (They carry the warning: PRELIMINARY/ADMINISTRATIVE DRAFT – SUBJECT TO CHANGE. REVIEW HAS NOT YET BEEN COMPLETED TO VERIFY ACCURACY OF CONTENT.)

Natural Areas Program fixed sign

A Rare Walk in Idyllic Threatened Forest – Sharp Park, Pacifica

Recently, the San Francisco Forest Alliance organized a walk in Sharp Park for a small group of supporters. Not on the familiar historic golf course; this was on the freeway’s other side, in the woods around the San Francisco Archery Range. Sharp Park is where the Natural Areas Program seeks to cut down 15,147 trees.

0 checking the map for the threatened trees

It was a rare opportunity. San Francisco Archery Range is an active range, open 365 days a year, dawn to dusk with bows and arrows in use. Safety can be an issue for walkers; no one wants to be punctured. It’s managed by an all-volunteer group, San Francisco Archers.  This walk coincided with a volunteer day, when no shooting was going on. (The Archers maintain the entire space through volunteer efforts.)

1 uphill trail in SF Archery range

In addition, Jim Robison, president of the group guided us through the trails – all of which have targets – and explained how to stay safe. For visitors, it’s critically important to sign in at the sign-in sheet beside the clubhouse, and then to follow the trails exactly as marked, with no back-tracking. No pets are allowed, even on leash. (The Archers are neutral on the issue of the trees, but have very strong views about range safety.)

2 Along the trail - lakeThe trail led uphill under the trees via a series of shallow wooden steps. Above us on the right, there was a steep forest hillside. On the left, we could see a small lake through the shrubs. It was a lovely sunny day, which was nice for a walk but yields some washed-out photographs…

3 Sharp Park Archery range trailAcross from the trail, another hillside was covered in trees. Further along, we got a clearer view of the lake. It’s made by damming a seasonal creek. On the left of the picture below, you can see the earthen dam covered with greenery.

All the water in the lake now comes from the watershed created by the hills and forest around. Before, it used to come from a cistern that has since been filled in, and formerly provided water to the golf course. Now the golf course gets water from other sources, and this lake is used by wildlife. It’s also, apparently, red-legged frog habitat.

4 Lake and trees in Sharp Park

We walked down past the lake on a little improvised bridge that crossed the creek, and up under the trees on the other side.

5 Target along trail - Sharp ParkAll along the trails, little markers indicated where archers should stand to aim at the targets backed by hay bales. The Archers do all the maintenance on the range, using volunteers and the funds raised from their members. They use no pesticides on the range. Recently, they called in arborists to trim tree branches that had become hazardous, as in the tree in the picture above.

This is the kind of maintenance that SF Forest Alliance strongly favors – dealing with hazardous trees where they could endanger people or property as a top priority.

5a Trees on opposite hillside

The beautiful green forest opposite climbed up the slope toward the ridge, a lovely sea of trees. There are no official trails into much of that forest, though some social trails do exist. Past the lake, the trail broadened into a shaded area with a picnic table, a green-painted wooden hut, an old outhouse with sun and moon tin appliques, and another target. Jim explained that the hut was used for refreshments during major tournaments, but the outhouse was an antique and nailed shut. They weren’t legal any more; instead, they had porta-potties.

antique outhouse Sharp Park

We turned onto a pathway that followed the old pipeline. It took us deeper into the forest, which was ever more idyllic. It was hard to believe that we were only minutes from the city, or that just over that ridge, there was Skyline College.

6 Along the old pipe trail in Sharp ParkThe ground was springy underfoot, and the whole place showed no signs of drought. Even the little lake, which depends on natural water, was quite full. Pacifica is foggy, and no doubt the trees had been harvesting the moisture from the fog and dripping it on the vegetation below.

7 Idyllic forest in Sharp Park archery range

8 forest wildlife habitat  in sharp park archery range

The area abounds in wildlife. We heard a lot of birds as we went through, hiding in the trees and bushes. On another visit, we saw rabbits and quail. Jim said the quail had raised two clutches of chicks this year. He also said there were deer, coyotes, and also bobcats. He described watching a mother bobcat teaching her kitten to hunt gophers, waiting for one to emerge and snagging it with a quick swipe of its paw. He knows of red-shouldered hawks and red-tailed hawks nesting in the area, as well as great horned owls. People think there may be mountain lions, too; they are known to range just over on the other side of the ridge, near Crystal Springs.

9 where the old tank was in Sharp Park Archery RangeThis is where the old cistern was filled in. It’s invisible now under wildflowers and shrubs.

10 meadow in the woods in Sharp park archery rangeWe ended our walk in a small meadow. Beyond, the trail was overgrown and we were running out of time; there was a meeting at the archery club-house at noon.  We hope that the trees will be saved; they are critical to the habitat and the ecology of the area. No herbicides are currently in use. There are large areas of undisturbed vegetation providing denning and nesting sites. We felt privileged to have had an opportunity to see this amazing place.

The San Francisco Forest Alliance plans more such walks in beautiful natural places, accompanied by people familiar with the area. If you would like to join us, please make sure we have your email address. (You can email us at ) We’ll be notifying our entire list.


Even though Sharp Park is in Pacifica, in San Mateo County, it is owned by SF Recreation and Parks Department, and has become part of the so-called “Natural Areas Program” (NAP). So converting this forested area into scrubland is part of their Plan – the “Significant Natural Resource Area Management Plan” (SNRAMP or “Sin-Ramp”). It calls for cutting down 15,147 trees.

In the idyllic areas we’ve described above,  they plan to remove three-quarters of the trees and encourage the rest to die out. It’s currently a deeply forested canyon east of the archery range, a true wild land and haven for wildlife. The long-term plan for it is “fewer trees and more scrub.”

Here’s the plan (based on a map from the SNRAMP – click on it to make it larger). The red numbers refer to tree removals – in most places, 75% of trees; in a few, 50%; and in some areas where there are few trees now, most of the existing trees.

snramp - sharp park- plan A

We strongly oppose this action. Aside from the beauty of the place, and the undisturbed wildlife habitat that would both be destroyed, we think it is environmentally irresponsible. Trees sequester carbon; eucalyptus, with its dense wood, its size, and its 400-500-year life-span, is particularly effective. In foggy areas, it captures moisture from the fog and drops it on the ground below, allowing for a dense damp understory that fights drought and resists fire. It cleans the air, especially fighting particulate pollution, by trapping particles on its leaves that eventually get washed onto the ground. It stabilizes hillsides with its intergrafted root system that functions like a living geotextile. And SNRAMP would require the use of large quantities of poisonous herbicides to prevent resprouting of the felled trees – herbicides that are likely get washed down the hillsides and into surface and ground water.

Pacifica actually has an ordinance prohibiting logging (removing more than 20 trees in a year). NAP’s answer to that is to see if the ordinance applies, and if it does, to try to get permission.

Restricting Access to San Francisco’s Parks

snramp sign STAY ON THE TRAILAccess to our parks and especially our Natural Areas is one of our key concerns with the Natural Areas Program – and the values that underlie it, now being spread to all open lands. (Click here for our article on Natural Areas Program restricts access.)

Sadly, despite a deluge of phone-calls and emails from all of you, the Supervisors did pass the ROSE Policy 4.2 which will extend the same thinking to all open areas. The Biodiversity Plan is intended to document all the areas in the city where native vegetation could grow – and hopes to extend the Plan to all those areas.


Recently, it seems that San Francisco Recreation and Parks found money to pay for a whole host of new restrictive signs. They’re even worse than the old ones.

We’ve heard the most complaints from McLaren Park, where besides restricting people to trails, they have prohibited bicycles and tree climbing.

mclaren park 2 sign 2015

mclaren park sign 3a 2015


SFRPD logo1The sign starts with “San Francisco Recreation and Parks welcomes you” and then goes on to tell you just how unwelcome you are. What you can’t do:

  • Go off the trails. If your kids want to explore or run around, or you want to picnic on the ground –  better not go to a park.
  • Ride your bicycle. There’s a flat prohibition: “No Bicycles.” If you were one of the bike-rider volunteers who thought you were building trails that you and your family could use – nope.
  • Off leash dogs. Doesn’t matter if they’re well-behaved or that dogs need a place to run around. Not here.
  • Climb trees. If your kid wants to clamber up a tree that looks made for climbing – well, we have climbing structures for that.
  • Tie a swing on a tree.Affixing items to trees is prohibited.” The only tree-swing SFRPD is okay with is on their logo.
  • Pick flowers or mushrooms or interesting leaves. “Gathering vegetation is prohibited.”
park with non-native tree and off-trail recreation

Prohibited activity – picnic


muddy kid

Not permitted

We’re sympathetic with the bike-riders who put in all those volunteer hours and now have been evicted from the trails. But we’re even more concerned about the kids (who may also be bike-riders).

Most kids don’t like hiking along a trail and just looking at stuff. If we want them to enjoy the outdoors and care about the parks, they need to explore. How many of us got hooked on nature climbing trees, chasing butterflies, wading in ponds or streams or puddles, picking flowers, throwing rocks into streams, feeding ducks and other birds, building forts, tying swings to trees?

All these activities are prohibited.

Those little screens everyone complains kids are hooked on these days? They have one major advantage over our parks – you can interact with them.

If you have a car and can drive out to actual wild lands – or if you’re lucky enough to have a backyard with a tree the kids can climb, and can put out a bird-feeder at home – you can provide your kids with some of these experiences. If you live in an apartment, these parks are your backyard. And you can’t do any of these things.

Tree 22 with kids

They’re not allowed. And this tree has been cut down.

You can’t say, “Let’s go to Stow Lake and feed the ducks” – that’s prohibited. You can say, “Let’s go to Stow Lake and look at the ducks” but first, that’s a lot less appealing to a child, and second, once feeding stops, all you see are not-very-many birds swimming along at a distance. In some cultures, feeding ducks and fish and turtles has a significance beyond just bonding with animals… but too bad.

There are thousands of kids in our city who are learning that parks are mostly about not being allowed to do anything interesting.

notice satire

Satire that’s dangerously close to the truth


Fighting The NAP Nativist Agenda

Once in a while, we want to affirm the values that San Francisco Forest Alliance stands for. We’re a grass-roots organization of people who love nature and the environment, pay taxes responsibly, and want access to our parks and wild places – with our families.

Citizens care about their city Parks, and want to keep healthy trees and to open access to natural areas. Citizens expect city management to act responsibly and in the public trust, for FAIR allocation of 2008 Clean & Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond funds.

SF Recreation and Parks Department (SFRPD) and particularly the Natural Areas Program (NAP), obsessed with Native Plants, is cutting down trees, restricting access, using more toxic herbicides than any other section of SFRPD (excluding Harding Park Golf Course), and using financial resources that could better be used for things our city’s residents really want.


Watch our video on Youtube, (where you can also sign up for the SF Forest Alliance Youtube channel):


What we stand for can be summarized in four key areas: Trees, Access, Toxins, Taxes.