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.

OUR VIDEO

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

OUR MESSAGE TO SAN FRANCISCO AND SFRPD

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

 

Improvements to the Glen Canyon Park Playground?

Last month we reported on the status of the Glen Canyon Park Playground Improvements.
We mentioned the new playground and that it will not be the same as it was:-  a steep staircase to the slide and bushes that were at the top – now gone. The kids loved that slide … they played games of imagination and adventure there. Instead of a quirky playground that used the advantages of the site, there’s a standard-issue place that could have been built anywhere. And the wonderful climbing tree the children loved, which was behind the Rec Center – it is now gone.

In honor of the Glen Canyon Park Playground re-opening on March 15th, we are re-issuing a relevant YouTube video

Help us save the urban forests in our San Francisco Parks

Glen Canyon Park: One Year after Start of Tree Destruction

The Glen Canyon Playground and Tennis Court Project – as the city is calling this – is nearly completed. In February or March 2014 there will be great fanfare at the completion of this project.

Video update to the Glen Canyon Park tree demolition project

Is it an improvement? Well, there is a new playground at least, but it will not be the same as it was: a steep staircase to the slide and bushes that were at the top – gone. The kids loved those; they played games of imagination and adventure there. Instead of a quirky playground that used the advantages of the site, there’s a standard-issue place that could have been built anywhere.  And the wonderful climbing tree the children loved, behind the Rec Center – also gone. The new kids will not know what they missed.

The City Arborist report stated that only 1 tree was truly hazardous, yet 42 trees were destroyed. Equally troubling is the deliberate relocation of tennis courts that destroyed 11 healthy and majestic Eucalyptus guarding the Park’s entrance.

Question: Why was there no attempt to incorporate these trees into the overall design goal that could have been achieved without sacrificing space for the playground and ball field?

Answer: San Francisco taxpayers “purchased” a native plant garden as part of the project and ensured all those “poor suitability / non-native” trees were eliminated.

Functional, Beautiful Ecosystems Should Be Left Alone; the Parks need maintenance, not destruction.

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While you are on YouTube, why not Subscribe to our Channel and keep up with our latest videos by the San Francisco Forest Alliance?

YouTubeChannel-HomePage

YouTubeChannel-HomePage

Merely follow step one or two to Subscribe to our Channel:

Step 1) Do you have a YouTube account? OK then, its easy to subscribe …just click this link http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center? add_user=SFForestAlliance

Any users who are logged into YouTube already need only to click that link and then confirm the subscription and they’ll be added to our Channel.

Step 2) Not on YouTube account yet? All you need to do is watch one of our YouTube videos, click on the”Subscribe” button / link, which is directly across from the Name of our Channel: San Francisco Forest Alliance. Or, the “subscribe” button may appear below the video title.

The last step is to sign in to your Google account or register with a Gmail, YouTube or Google+ account.

Glen Canyon Park: Nine Months after Tree Destruction

Video update to the Glen Canyon Park tree demolition project

San Francisco’s Wreck and Park Department is now calling this “The Glen Canyon Playground and Tennis Court Project“.  This is only a continuation of the mis-information that have been provided as the Glen Canyon Park Improvement Plan (note: they are spending $5,800,000 of the 2008 Park Bond Fund for Glen Canyon “renovations”).

You will be seeing in this new video a bit more than just preparations for a new playground and 2 new tennis courts. The damage to Glen Canyon Park by the city is significant; we thought the project was the “removal and pruning of select trees”, but it is much more than that. And the wonderful children’s climbing tree is now gone; it once stood behind the Rec Center.

Here is a reminder [Beginning of Glen Canyon Park tree destruction] of what was once there. On January 10, 2013 we reported on the start of this demolition project by the city. The grand eucalyptus trees at the Elk Rd entrance, over a century old, were quickly destroyed. Hundreds of other trees in the canyon, the ones the children love and climb in, the ones the birds nest in and bats hide in, the ones that feed the and protect the wildlife of this canyon – all will be gone by the time this project is completed next year.

all the trees in this picture will be gone in a few days

All these trees are gone

Tree 22 with kids

There’s bare ground where this wonderful climbing tree stood

Before tree removal

Before tree removal and so different now

 

Long Lost Manzanita Brings Newfound Problems (Westside Observer re-post)

Editor Notes:
This is a reposting of  an important story about the plan to reintroduce Franciscan manzanita into City park land – and now also private property along Marietta Drive in the Miraloma Park neighborhood. We also want to refer to important background information about the ambiguity of the taxonomy of manzanita.  Click here

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George Wooding

George Wooding

LONG LOST MANZANITA BRINGS NEWFOUND PROBLEMS
By George Wooding

Westside neighbors are concerned a rare manzanita plant will have a profound impact on neighborhood habitats and uses.

franciscan manzanita

Franciscan manzanita

In 2009, a 14-foot wide Arctostaphylos franciscana (Franciscan manzanita) — a plant thought to be extinct in the wild for the last 60 years — was discovered in the Presidio during the 2009 Doyle Drive rebuild. It was deemed to be the last wild Franciscan manzanita and immediately labeled a genetically-unique plant that needed to be saved.

“Does it make sense for over six percent — 318 acres — of City-managed park land to be permanently committed to planting an endangered species that can be readily purchased in nurseries?”

Flash forward to 2013. In just four years, 424 plants genetically identical to the Franciscan manzanita found in the Doyle Drive construction site have been propagated via cuttings, according to Betty Young, director of nurseries for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, who is coordinating the effort.Manzanita habitat

On September 5, 2012 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued its proposed designation of 11 areas in San Francisco as critical habitat for the endangered manzanita plant. That proposed designation includes part of Mt. Davidson. Critical habitats are places where endangered plants are either known to have existed in the past, or are places that provide what a plant needs to survive.

By June 28, 2013 the Fish and Wildlife Service designated 318 acres in San Francisco as critical habitat for the plant.

Critical Habitat vs. Eminent Domain

One of the new critical area habitats for the manzanita plant includes the area along Marietta Drive facing O’Shaughnessy Hollow all the way down along O’Shaughnessy Boulevard, and includes all of the open space known as Reservoir Lands at Glen Park, which has trails currently accessible on Marietta Drive.

The designation of 3.2 acres of private property directly below Marietta Drive as critical habitat has been controversial. The backyards of 22 homes on Marietta Drive are now designated as critical habitat for the Franciscan manzanita. The government cannot use critical habitat designations to take over or control property rights.

However, at the September 23 West of Twin Peaks Central Council meeting, it was stated that the Fish and Wildlife Service may use “eminent domain” to control the 3.2 acres for possible reforestation. But according to Robert Moler, Assistant Field Supervisor for External Affairs for the Fish and Wildlife Service, “Activities on private lands that don’t require Federal permits or funding are not affected by a critical habitat designation.” In other words, private citizens will still be able to control 100% of their land regardless of a critical habitat determination.

manzanita brush

“Eminent Domain is completely different than a critical habitat designation. Eminent domain is the power of the state to seize private property without the owner’s consent. A critical habitat designation only delineates the best places an organism can survive.”

NAP Clams Up

All of this Mt. Davidson land is controlled by the SF Rec & Parks (RPD). The RPD’s Native Area Plants Department (NAP) will be overseeing the replanting of the Franciscan manzanita throughout this area. Unfortunately, NAP has not met with neighbors to discuss its plans to reestablish the manzanita. Nor has any government agency contacted the neighborhoods about the manzanita. Calls to NAP Director, Lisa Wayne, were not returned.

As with other NAP projects, public access to large areas may become off-limits so that the Francisco manzanita can become reestablished. Neighbors are worried that large sections of Mt. Davidson might be closed to the public for years while the wild Franciscan manzanita is getting established. NAP has been completely silent on whether it will designate open space areas as being off-limits, and for how long.

It cost San Francisco $205,075 to dig up and replant the last remaining wild Franciscan manzanita, including $100,000 to pay for the “hard removal,” $79,470 to pay for the “establishment, nurturing and monitoring” of the plant for a decade after its “hard removal,” and $25,605 to cover the “reporting requirements” for the decade after the “hard removal.”

The Franciscan manzanita is also a commercially cultivated species of shrub that can be purchased from nurseries for as little as $15.98 per plant, and have been available for purchase in nurseries for about 50 years. The plants are propagated by taking cuttings and, therefore, are presumed to be almost genetically-similar.

The last wild Franciscan manzanita may have been found, but it may be a hybrid of the manzanita plants found in nurseries. Recent taxonomic revisions have established Franciscan manzanita as a separate species, based primarily on genetic comparisons, including the fact that Franciscan manzanita has 13 pairs of chromosomes, while its closest relative (A. montana ravenii )  has 26 chromosome pairs.

Manzanita seeds are germinated by fire, but the exact relationship between germination and fire isn’t known. This is why the plant is constantly cloned. The plant also requires full sunlight. How many trees will NAP cut down to provide the Franciscan manzanita with full sunlight?

The Francisco manzanita is listed as an endangered species. The Endangered Species Act listing for the rare bush means anyone who removes or tampers with the plant could face criminal prosecution and fines. The designation also qualifies the plant for federal conservation funds.

Does it make sense for over six percent — 318 acres — of City-managed park land to be permanently committed to planting an endangered species that can be readily purchased in nurseries? How will the Franciscan manzanita be able to survive without fire?

Neighbors need to know what is happening with the 318 acres of San Francisco private and public land that will be used to replant the manzanita, and how the critical habitat determination will impact public open space. RPD outreach to neighborhoods continues to be poor and disingenuous. NAP has stonewalled the public far too long and must be required to meet with Westside neighbors.

by George Wooding, Midtown Terrace Homeowners Association

Update – “Unsuitable” tree removals on Creekside Trail, Glen Canyon Park

On October 24th we reported the planned tree removals along the Creekside Trial (west side of Islais Creek) in Glen Canyon. We are now submitting aftermath photos: the conditions now, after the Glen Canyon Trails project “tree work”.

Background: HORT Science, recipient of Park Bond funding, is used by the Rec and Park Park dept to assess the suitability of  trees located along the proposed trails. Their September 6, 20013 report for Glen Canyon Park is here. In summary they recommended that 30 trees be removed: 26 blue gums, 2 arroyo willows and one each of yellow willow and Monterey cypress. Ten (10) trees were identified as needing to be pruned including 6 arroyo willow, 2 blue gum, one Monterey cypress and one river red gum.

Trails are temporarily closed during the tree cutting

Trails are temporarily closed during the tree cutting

Park and Rec is calling this “…completing hazardous tree mitigation work”  but does not address how these trees could be saved by re-rerouting or narrowing trails, thinning the crowns, pruning and tipping, weight redistribution, limb removal, and cabling or bracing.

Cut stump along Creekside Trail

Cut stump along Creekside Trail

Even healthy eucalyptus trees are rated negatively by HORT and RPD as unsuitable for preservation merely because they are not native and therefore considered invasive.

tree workers cut limb by limb

tree workers cut limb by limb

cut limbs are tied and lowered to the ground

cut limbs are tied and lowered to the ground

Cut Stump along trail to Glenridge Co-Op Nursery School

Cut Stump along trail to Glenridge Co-Op Nursery School

Banana Slug Way - as this trail is known - will be transformed

Banana Slug Way – as this trail is known – will be transformed

A retaining wall is planned along here (steel posts,and wood planks)

A retaining wall is planned along here (steel posts,and wood planks)

A crane was used on Alms Road, (Tuesday, October 29) to take out a tree that had the misfortune of growing in the middle of Islais Creek.  A Blue gum, trunk diameter 50 inches, was deemed a potential hazard (said HORT: “Center of creek. Stands alone. Leaning & bowed E. over Alms Road.” ).

Replacing trees with concrete retaining walls to make a natural area more natural?

Eucalyptus Stump - middle of Islais Creek (did it impeded the flow of creek water? )

Eucalyptus Stump – middle of Islais Creek (did it impeded the flow of creek water? )

A 50 inch diameter Eucalyptus - likely one of the older trees in Glen Canyon Park

A 50 inch diameter Eucalyptus – likely one of the older trees in Glen Canyon Park

Mature trees absorb carbon and make our air cleaner. Dead ones release carbon and add to green house gases. 

Once trees, now logs (easy removal via Alms Road)

Once trees, now logs (easy removal via Alms Road)

Fallen Euchs near Silver Tree day camp

Fallen Euchs near Silver Tree day camp

Some of HORT’s reasons for the decisions to remove selected trees: “poor form & structure”;  “Sharp lean E. over trail”;  “upright but one-sided towards trail”;  “Leans over trail”;  “cracked branches”.

Let’s repair these trees rather than destroy them. It would cost less money and be better for the environment.

"poor form & structure"

“poor form & structure”

"Sharp lean E. over trail"

“Sharp lean E. over trail”

"upright but one-sided towards trail"

“upright but one-sided towards trail”

Ugly stumps left to remind us of how well are Park Bond dollars are being used to destroy our parks.

"Leans over trail"

“Leans over trail”

"cracked branches"

“cracked branches”

Per community requests, Rec and Park will allow the “Ticket Tree” to be a stump. This is a Monterey Cypress stump just west of the trail from the Rec Center to Silver Tree Day camp. They have cut it off higher than just a stump to accommodate popular children’s play with the slot in the tree; children use it as a mail box to deliver
letters to each other.

Are our children being taught by RPD that the best tree is a dead stump?

Ticket Tree before cutting

Ticket Tree before cutting

We did notice a larger than usual cutting of trees near the ball field.  This is how it looked before the recent cuts:

Prior view:  from small ball field

Prior view: from small ball field

And how it looks now.

Current view; from small ball field

Current view; from small ball field

View from Bosworth Street (cuts made for a paved walkway down to field)

View from Bosworth Street (cuts made for a paved walkway down to field)

The city’s Rec and Park Department is “excited to be starting this extensive capital improvement project, funded by the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond and by multiple Habitat Conservation Program grants.”

We, however, are less excited when we observe the tree damage to what was a wonderful, quirky trail on west side of Islais Creek in Glen Canyon Park.

Note that the 2008 parks bond allocated $900,000 of the $5 million Parks Trails Improvement Program
for this Glen Canyon project.  That’s alot of money for ADA compliant pathways, ‘turnpike’ parkways, retaining walls, split rail fences – from Bosworth St, all the way up to Portloa Drive, past the School of the Arts (SOTA).

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Note: Photographs were taken recently, all are accredited to Ron Proctor.

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