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