Puzzled #3 – UCSF: Demonstrating what?

Today, I’m moving from puzzlement into bafflement on the topic of Demonstration Projects.

UCSF says it ‘wants to take advantage of FEMA funding to do a larger demonstration project in the South Ridge area (8 acres rather than 2 acres). This would be more effective in reducing the potential for a damaging fire.’

So the demonstration, which was initially about forest thinning for other purposes, was only supposed to be 2 acres, a nice manageable size and not a huge problem if the demo failed. In fact, their own Plan said, ‘The primary reason this short-term strategy was adopted is because the community members involved in the planning process did not support a long-term management plan until some management actions had been implemented in small, relatively unseen demonstration areas of the forest.’

So the 2-acre site was supposed to demonstrate that the proposed actions wouldn’t look awful and endanger the forest. That’s what demos are, right? An opportunity to demonstrate that something works.

Now, with FEMA money, the “demonstration” area is upped by a factor of four. It’s the whole of the South Ridge, which is not exactly small and relatively unseen. And instead of being a visual and practical demonstration for the “community members involved in the planning process” it’s now, apparently, about demonstrating reduced fire hazard.

So how do you do that? Set the thing on fire and see what burns? If we’re right and these moves increase the fire hazard by drying out the forest, will UCSF have the funding to put in irrigation as they’ve done in the other dry open patch, the Native Garden?

I thought the FEMA money was to supposed to reduce fire hazards, not fund demonstrations of forest conversion.

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4 Responses to Puzzled #3 – UCSF: Demonstrating what?

  1. Rational Thinker says:

    FEMA funds for a gardening project demonstration!??! —and this from a world class medical institution which should be using FEMA funds for projects/programs/etc. to improve medical delivery in the event of a real emergency, ie. earthquake. As Mom would say, “What were you thinking?”
    Yet, UC continues to raise tuition, ask for funds.

  2. Rational Thinker says:

    One more thing: Sister campus, UCSD, accurately called it a landscape plan and had to get approval from the ever-vigilant and environmentally sensitive, California Coastal Commission which found that eucalyptus trees were fine left as is from an historical perspective although CCC clearly prefers natives unless to maintain a historical look (and no pesticides). Rationality, I believe is the word.
    http://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2007/9/W5c-9-2007.pdf; (pages 3 and 4);
    http://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2006/5/W3c-5-2006.pdf; (page 3)

  3. NatureLover says:

    Whoever wrote this has put his/her finger exactly on the hypocrisy of the FEMA grant application. The Management Plan for Sutro 2001 is perfectly clear that the point of the small demonstration projects are to determine if it will, in fact, be possible to grow trees on Mt. Sutro. There were several small demonstration projects to test the viability of growing native trees on Mt. Sutro: Oakland Woodland, Buckeye/Madrone/Toyon, Cypress windbreak (NOT native to SF), Redwood (also NOT native to SF), and Willow/Bay. NONE of these projects has been done. The plan also explains that it may not be possible to grow these trees in these areas because they do not tolerate wind, there may not be enough water, the soil may be too thin for the deeply rooted oaks, etc. The plan even mentions that the oaks are subject to Sudden Oak Death, rampant in the Bay Area, particularly in moist, foggy locations. The historical record–both photographic and written–makes it perfectly clear that there were NO trees on the hills prior to the planting of non-natives.

    The plan wisely acknowledges that it may not be a good idea to destroy all the trees and understory from a large area if you don’t know for sure that the trees you prefer will actually grow there. It also acknowledges–as this poster says–that the neighbors don’t want Mt. Sutro to be visibly denuded, so they must move slowly, incrementally, which they call “adaptive management.”

    Yet, despite the caution of the original plan, UCSF makes a huge leap to a grant application to clear-cut two large areas of 14 acres without having any idea what they will be able to grow there once they have destroyed the trees.

    Why? Because they think they have identified a deep pocket. If FEMA will fund it, they will do it, whether it works or not. And too bad if the neighbors object.

  4. Pingback: Puzzled #6 – UCSF: Landslides « Save Mount Sutro Forest

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