Opinion: San Francisco to Cut 15,000-Plus Pacifica Trees

San Francisco plans to cut 15,000-plus healthy trees at Sharp Park.


By Arnita Bowman

A San Francisco newspaper columnist set off an uproar over a plan to cut down 3,500 trees in the San Francisco city parks. But what was not reported is Pacifica will suffer five times the carnage if the plan goes through.

San Francisco plans to cut 15,000-plus healthy trees from Sharp Park forest, which it owns. San Francisco's "Natural Areas" Program (NAP) long-term goal is to slowly convert forests to native scrub and grassland habitats--resembling San Bruno Mountain--or oak woodlands. Long term, Pacifica stands to lose 31,331 trees (58%) on the 237 acres in the natural areas at Sharp Park. 

This isn't necessary for "biodiversity" conservation. The nearby 2,326-acre San Bruno Mountain and 24,000-acre San Francisco Peninsula Watershed are both managed almost exclusively as wildlife refuges and have healthy populations of most, if not all, of the native plants and butterflies planned for restoration in San Francisco and Pacifica city parks. While the Natural Areas Program is using the tiny Mission Blue Butterfly as justification for fencing people out of large areas and intense restoration, a study at the watershed indicates that recreational soil disturbances actually benefit the Mission Blue habitat. The butterfly seems like a simple decoy for highjacking city parks for expensive and unsustainable native plant gardens.

Just like in Golden Gate Park, the large majestic tree species deliberately planted throughout the natural areas in San Francisco and Pacifica are entirely non-native including eucalyptus, redwoods, Monterey cypress, Monterey pine, acacia, plume acacia, and myoporum. "Invasive" means that these forests are self-sustaining unlike the native plant gardens that require intensive toxic herbicide usage, fencing, replanting, and volunteer efforts in an attempt to turn back the clock. The trees are also an important resource to the people of San Francisco and Pacifica and the varied wildlife species that utilize the urban forests within the parks. Trees provided the wind, sight, sound, and rainwater runoff buffers that turned our barren natural heritage into beautiful parks supporting varied recreational experiences and woodland wildlife. Just as important, trees absorb urban air pollutants and also absorb and sequester carbon dioxide while releasing oxygen.

The San Francisco Forest Alliance has unified neighbors and park users who care deeply about preserving public parks for the public. You can go to http://sfforest.net/ to learn more about NAP and to sign the petition against using scarce San Francisco park funds to cut healthy trees, block user access, and apply harmful herbicides.  You can also comment on the draft NAP Environmental Impact Report (NAP EIR) by 5:00p.m. on June 11. The draft NAP EIR is available at http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=1828

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Bhatman May 16, 2012 at 06:25 PM
A hit piece by the dog-centric no-nothings who aren't interested in nature, environment or bio-diversity, but rather to attack both GGNRA and the Natural Areas Program in order to expand and hold as much off-leash territory as they can. Bowman doesn't mention off-leash dogs once in this screed, yet she is hip deep in the fight against bio-diversity. This is an old trick that ranchers and miners used calling themselves "fair use" to sound reasonable, dress-up your anti-science bull with a monicker like "Forest Alliance" to sound like you are environmentally motivated and pull in the suckers. Do a little researcher, here's a place to start: http://archive.audubonmagazine.org/incite/incite0201.html
ted edwards May 16, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Why can't someone who cares about species -- whether they are native or not -- be labeled as that? Bowman lists at least 8 that are part of an ecosystem that have been around longer than you or I.
Anthony May 16, 2012 at 10:38 PM
You either like trees or you don't. Most of us prefer the beauty of trees and all their benefits to "native grasses" which are dormant and brown most of the year. This is the reason the non-native forests were planted. And newsflash for your rather simpleminded Audubon politicos - most bird species need trees. Unless you are expecting ostrich and penguins to inhabit Sharp Park post NAP decimation, the only increase in biodiversity you'll get will be in the insect and soil bacteria species. The whole "natural areas" plan is about NAP bureaucrats justifying their existence during budget cuts and leveraging the "native plant" fanatics as allies. Hopefully, sanity will prevail and NAP will get cut instead of more policemen, firemen, teachers and Park & Rec workers who actually serve the public.
Dogbert May 17, 2012 at 02:25 AM
@Bhatman 1. "A hit piece by the dog-centric no-nothings... " Does the use of the double negative "no-nothing" actually mean they do indeed know something? Thought so... 2. "Bowman... is hip deep in the fight against bio-diversity" Since you are the one who wants to do away with beautiful trees that you arbitrarily consider to be "non native", then I would suggest that you are the one who is "against bio-diversity". BTW, how long have you been xenophobic, anyway? 3. "This is an old trick that ranchers... used calling themselves "fair use" to sound reasonable," You mean ranchers like Jim Chilton? see: http://www.chiltonranch.com/chilton_ranch_lawsuit.html and http://www.apltwo.ct.state.az.us/decisions/cv20050115opn.pdf 4. "Bowman doesn't mention off-leash dogs once in this screed..." She also didn't mention anything about the price of putty in Egypt or anything about lunar colonies. Thanks for the astute observation, Bhatman.
Butch Larroche May 17, 2012 at 09:03 PM
So Bhatman, does this mean you want the trees cut down or not?
Arnita May 18, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Sad how the Audubon Society spreads myths about eucalyptus killing birds and being a fire hazard. This article highlights the lack of science and common sense in the dogma presented to the public as facts. Here is an excellent counter discussion about all the myths surrounding eucalyptus: http://sutroforest.com/eucalyptus-myths/ Just like in cities with native trees, non-native trees and forest provide significant value to our air quality, wildlife, and public parks whether native to the San Francisco Peninsula or not. I’m saddened by how one-dimensional “restoration ecology” positions are dividing the environmental community and the detrimental impact of these policies on public health and well-being, global warming, air quality, pesticide usage, and existing wildlife habitats. Climate change, building and construction, and lose of traditional grazing and fire management will change the adaptation of local subspecies of garter snakes and butterflies and that has little to do with passive recreation or retaining the existing planted forests. I can certainly relate to the environmentalists that drop their support for the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, and other similar associations because of their extreme conservation positions and become skeptical of any of their public policy positions. I also worry that extreme restriction policies will lead to generations that can’t relate and don’t really care about nature or being in the outdoors.
Diet T May 21, 2012 at 06:02 PM
If you want to sign a petition to try and stop the NAP, here is a link: http://tinyurl.com/7nj2e9c
Erin Macias May 24, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Eucalyptus trees are nothing more than weeds. CHOP CHOP! If the other noninvasive species such as Redwoods are not harming the system, they should stay. Herbicides are more concerning than tree cutting! :(
Camden Swita May 24, 2012 at 06:47 PM
How will I introduce Koalas into Pacifica without them?


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