Deforestation or restoration in the Canyon?

An email by Sup. Scott Weiner about notices that have been circulating in the neighborhood of late.

========================

In the past week, I’ve received a number of emails from constituents concerned about tree removal in Glen Canyon in connection with the upcoming project to upgrade and make changes to recreational facilities in the area of Glen Canyon near Elk and Chenery.  I’m sending this response to each of those constituents.

Let me begin by saying that I’m a huge fan of Glen Canyon.  I wouldn’t exactly call it a hidden gem, but it’s amazing to me how many people have never been there.  I guess that’s a bonus for those of us who do go there and get to experience the canyon’s majesty.

As you also may know, I’ve taken a particular interest in trees.  Our urban forest — including both street trees and park trees — is one of our greatest assets.  It gives us beauty, shade, and a cleaner environment in our otherwise urban city.  I’ll be holding a hearing soon (probably later this month or possibly in November) on the recently completed Urban Forest Master Plan.  I’m very focused on finding sustainable funding for street trees (so that DPW can take over maintenance responsibilities rather than forcing property owners to do so) and park trees.  This is a passion for me, because I truly do understand the importance of trees in our city and our lives.

So, I do take seriously the concerns I’ve heard about removal of trees in Glen Canyon.  I also know that sometimes tree removal is appropriate in forest management.  Everyone agrees that hazardous trees should be removed if they cannot be made safe.  And, this portion of the canyon is the active recreational portion of the canyon, with a rec center, playground, tennis courts, and play fields.  There are times when trees need to be removed to re-work recreational areas.  I’m very optimistic about the future of this area of the park, with the current project for the tennis courts and playground and (if Prop B passes) the complete rehabilitation of the dilapidated rec center.  I would also love to address the irrigation system problems at the playing field.

In discussing this issue, I believe it’s important that everyone have complete and accurate information.  That’s why, in June, I worked with the Glen Park Association and Diamond Heights Community Association to convene a large community meeting with presentations by Rec & Park, the Forest Alliance, and others.  Discussion and dialogue is the best way to ensure that everyone receives accurate information.  People then can form their opinions.

Unfortunately, there does appear to be inaccurate information circulating in the community.  For example, several people have asked me why “most” of the trees in Glen Canyon are being removed.  That’s not accurate, since the trees being removed — whether you support the removal or not — constitute a tiny percentage of the total trees in the canyon and for each tree removed several new trees will be planted.  The word “deforestation” is also repeatedly used, which is an overstatement.  Whatever one’s position on the currently planned project — and I respect those who don’t want the trees removed — it’s not deforestation, which connotes clear-cutting.  As we move forward with this debate, I think it’s important for accurate terminology to be used.  Otherwise, it’s hard to have a good debate.

In terms of the project at hand, that project resulted from a fairly extensive community process, with numerous meetings over a number of months.  Community input was received every step of the way, and my office participated in the community process.  It was a good one.  The project was then approved by the Rec & Park Commission, after a public hearing.  The project doesn’t require Board of Supervisors approval.

One other thing to note.  The broader Natural Areas Plan (NAP) will likely be coming to the Board of Supervisors next year.  We will hear and decide that appeal at that time.  The issue here is not the broader NAP issue.  Rather it’s an issue specific to the project around the tennis courts and rec center.

Thanks for caring about our beautiful canyon.

Scott Wiener
Supervisor, District 8
(415) 554-6968

To read or subscribe to my monthly newsletter or to follow me on Facebook or Twitter, go to www.scottwiener.com.

What’s been posted at the canyon:

page 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

12 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

12 responses to “Deforestation or restoration in the Canyon?

  1. Thank you for your reasoned response Scott! I passed this along to the Glenridge community.

  2. ted

    Where is the report that categorizes the safety inspection of each tree that is slated for removal?

  3. Almost all the tree removals have nothing to do with the Rec Center Construction Project, and it is not accurate to say that the many project community meetings in 2011 addressed the non-related tree removals that RPD added long after the completion of the project community meetings last December. The Forest Alliance requested that in the spirit of the community process that only the trees necessary for the construction project (10 trees) and hazardous trees (1) be removed until public meeting are held but that request continues to be ignored.

    It is disturbing that RPD seems to be ignoring the environmental review process and to be using the Rec Center Project and Trails Project as guises to proceed with NAP objectives even before NAP is approved. It is also sad that Rec & Park presented 60 trees as “hazardous” in the Glen Canyon Association meeting and to the Park Commissioners. These fear tactics don’t provide an honest dialogue about the tree removal justifications. Only 1 of the trees to be removed was evaluated by their arborist as high risk (aka >=9 risk ranking).

    The definition of Deforestation is “clearance or clearing is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a non-forest use.”

    The NAP plan says: “The long-term goal of urban forest management in MA-1 and MA-2 areas is to slowly convert those areas to native scrub, and grassland habitats or oak woodlands. Prior to colonization and the stabilization of dunes and introduction of invasive species, trees were not a dominant feature of the San Francisco peninsula. It is likely that scrubby coast live oaks grew on north-facing slopes in moist drainages and that buckeyes, bays, and oaks lined creek channels that flowed to the bay or ocean. However, much of the area probably resembled the coastal scrub habitats of San Bruno Mountain or the grassland-scrub mosaics of the Marin Headlands. Management of MA-1 and MA-2 areas is focused on the gradual conversion of these areas into native scrub and grassland habitats.”

    While not “clear-cutting”, NAP specifically calls for eliminating 3.9 acres (23%) of 17.1 acres of forest in Glen Canyon Natural Areas and includes directly removing 120 trees plus all young trees and suppressing any regrowth until the area is completely converted to native scrub or grassland.

    “Reforestation” is another word misused by RPD. More tree removals aren’t required to plant saplings on the hillside. Most the supposed “reforestation” is packing trees and scrubs in the highly landscaped native plant gardens immediately surrounding the new paved entrance, tennis courts and playground. The few saplings that are planned and survive on the once-forested hillside will only be small trees during our lifetime.

    Once the majestic trees are gone, they are gone.

  4. Eric

    A few facts about the SFFA
    • Our membership is comprised of concerned citizens without any professional, business, or political associations with our city or the SF Recreation and Parks Department (RPD).
    • We wholeheartedly want the upgrades to the tennis courts, rec center, and playground to move forward. In fact, we feel these upgrades could have come sooner if the RPD budgets were better aligned with community values, priorities and traditional recreation.
    • We seek transparency from RPD – Glen Park citizens deserve a say on important changes within our community. Without clear and honest communication from government, our citizens are deprived of their opportunity to decide how their taxes are spent.
    • If the citizens of Glen Park are properly informed and truly want their taxes spent to remove 300+ trees from their park, the SFFA will stand aside.
    One of the key problems with the Recreation and Parks Department is that they do not provide all of their plans from a holistic viewpoint by park, and they operate with a total lack of transparency regarding controversial objectives such as extensive tree removal. The SFFA has had to piece together the true deforestation that is taking place in multiple plans overseen by various groups within RPD that when put together identifies 300-500 trees for destruction at Glen Canyon. The reasons and rationale vary and criteria for tree removal has changed over several years, yet the majority of these trees are NOT dangerous or in severe decline. How do we know? The SFFA was forced to use the “Sunshine Act” (a version of the freedom of information act) to make RPD reveal two tree assessment reports and the contract bid for the Rec Center work. The SFFA mapped the trees in the bid contract papers to the tree assessment report. In fact, only 1 tree among 70 associated with the Glen Park Rec Center project has been assessed as “hazardous.”
    SFFA members have been involved in the community process and attended every work shop, and meeting for Glen Canyon over the past two years. RPD repeatedly communicated only a “handful of trees” would need to be removed and then at the last stage the removal was increased to 70. Indeed, RPD has identified only 10 trees that require removal due to the relocation of the tennis courts. Yet on Sept. 14 more than 30 notices appeared on trees slated to be cut down, and RPD told us about 70 will be removed – and has so far refused to provide us a list. Most of the trees listed in the contracts and documents available have no proximity to the tennis courts or construction site. The notices on these trees state safety seasons. In fact, most of these trees are merely classified by RPD as “poor suitability” – a hodgepodge of reasons including “non-native” in their criteria for removal.
    We have a post about the overall situation in Glen Canyon — 300-500 trees lost – your RPD budget at work A few facts about the SFFA
    • Our membership is comprised of concerned citizens without any professional, business, or political associations with our city or the SF Recreation and Parks Department (RPD).
    • We wholeheartedly want the upgrades to the tennis courts, rec center, and playground to move forward. In fact, we feel these upgrades could have come sooner if the RPD budgets were better aligned with community values, priorities and traditional recreation.
    • We seek transparency from RPD – Glen Park citizens deserve a say on important changes within our community. Without clear and honest communication from government, our citizens are deprived of their opportunity to decide how their taxes are spent.
    • If the citizens of Glen Park are properly informed and truly want their taxes spent to remove 300+ trees from their park, the SFFA will stand aside.
    One of the key problems with the Recreation and Parks Department is that they do not provide all of their plans from a holistic viewpoint by park, and they operate with a total lack of transparency regarding controversial objectives such as extensive tree removal. The SFFA has had to piece together the true deforestation that is taking place in multiple plans overseen by various groups within RPD that when put together identifies 300-500 trees for destruction at Glen Canyon. The reasons and rationale vary and criteria for tree removal has changed over several years, yet the majority of these trees are NOT dangerous or in severe decline. How do we know? The SFFA was forced to use the “Sunshine Act” (a version of the freedom of information act) to make RPD reveal two tree assessment reports and the contract bid for the Rec Center work. The SFFA mapped the trees in the bid contract papers to the tree assessment report. In fact, only 1 tree among 70 associated with the Glen Park Rec Center project has been assessed as “hazardous.”
    SFFA members have been involved in the community process and attended every work shop, and meeting for Glen Canyon over the past two years. RPD repeatedly communicated only a “handful of trees” would need to be removed and then at the last stage the removal was increased to 70. Indeed, RPD has identified only 10 trees that require removal due to the relocation of the tennis courts. Yet on Sept. 14 more than 30 notices appeared on trees slated to be cut down, and RPD told us about 70 will be removed – and has so far refused to provide us a list. Most of the trees listed in the contracts and documents available have no proximity to the tennis courts or construction site. The notices on these trees state safety seasons. In fact, most of these trees are merely classified by RPD as “poor suitability” – a hodgepodge of reasons including “non-native” in their criteria for removal.
    We have a post about the overall situation in Glen Canyon — 300-500 trees lost – your RPD budget at work: http://sfglencanyon.net

    • Mic

      If FA wants transparency, it can reciprocate by providing the sources of your “facts and figures”. There isn’t a single byline or a membership list on its website. By the way, if you’re waiting for another SF park user to be injured or killed by an unsafe tree, walk over to the canyon this morning and take a look at what might have been.

      Green is good, but hugging trees at the expense of human life is insane.

      • ted

        You got it wrong, Mic. Hazardous trees need to go. Everyone supports that. And by the way, the city assessed that tree as hazardous in January.

  5. Anonymous

    This sounds a lot like hyperbole and misrepresentation of facts, not anything new but nonetheless frustrating every time it comes up, no matter the cause. I agree with the clear summary provided by Supervisor Wiener and others.

  6. The sources for the facts and figures are city documents, some of which are public and others obtained under the Sunshine Act: (1) the final plans for the Rec Center project from SF RPD; (2) the tree evaluations by the hired arborist (3) the Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan (4) the Bid documents for the Glen Canyon project.

    Trees that are hazardous need to go; there’s *one* in the current project area. And if it was declared hazardous in January, why wait until October to remove it?

  7. Anastasia Glikshtern

    Questions for supervisor Wiener:

    Why removal of the trees which are not at all in the way of the upcoming project to ‘upgrade and make changes to recreational facilities in the area of Glen Canyon near Elk and Chenery’ is included in the project? Is it to attach something which hardly anybody wants to something which a lot of people want? And then paint the people who protest as obstructionists?
    Only 10 trees out of 68 are listed as impacting the project.

    How much would the removal of the trees which are not hazardous, and not impacting the project cost?

    Why does the plan call for the tennis courts be moved in such a way that the removal of the trees is necessary? Do tennis courts need to be moved at all? Please note that no trees need to be cut in order to upgrade the Rec Center itself.

    The letter states that ‘the complete rehabilitation of the dilapidated rec center’ will only happen if Prop B passes. What are the priorities? Cut the trees now and maybe fix the Rec Center later? Only if proposition B passes?

    The question is not why ‘most of the trees are being removed’ – the question is why any of the non-hazardous trees are being removed. And why the hazardous tree – which just felt down – and which was identified as hazardous in January – has not been removed in January?

    Why is there a talk about ‘replacement’ – planting several new trees for each tree removed? Isn’t it clear that it will take 100 years for the newly planted tiny tree to be a replacement for a 100 year old tree?

    Do you think it is possible to plant new trees without cutting old ones?

    There were many people protesting cutting trees or at least asking for removal of 42 ‘pure suitability’ trees from the ‘kill list’ at the Rec & Park Commissions public hearing. The Rec & Park Commission approved the contract paying no attention to this input. Was it the same during the ‘fairly extensive community process, with numerous meetings over a number of months’?

  8. Pingback: Glen Canyon: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly « San Francisco Forest Alliance

  9. If the current eucalyptus forest was slowly and carefully replaced by a redwood forest, everybody would win. Redwoods are’ of course, California natives and they would provide the serenity that the existing forest provides. The city would have the natives that they insist on and the neighborhood would have its tall trees.

  10. Pingback: Sup. Scott Wiener’s “Native Plant Garden” Progressing – High Risk Trees Still Standing while Honeybee Hive Dead |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s