Sutro Forest 2010-2011: UCSF Meeting update

UCSF’s meeting was intended to inform the neighbors about the reasons for the withdrawal of the FEMA application; reaffirm their commitment to a safe, healthy, beautiful and usable forest; and lay out next steps. Barbara French opened the meeting with why they withdrew the FEMA applications:

  • They were more aggressive than the adaptive management principle called for in the 2001 Plan for the forest;
  • FEMA indicated that the environmental review would take about 2 years, much longer than UCSF wanted.
  • Once an environmental review started, UCSF would need to maintain the status quo until completion.


Instead, UCSF itself will do a full environmental review, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act . They hope to use UCSF funds that had been set aside as matching funds for the “FEMA project.”  This review (through its Campus Planning office) would cover all intended actions over the full 61-acre area of the forest to avoid “piece-mealing.” It would take about a year, and would be preceded by three community workshops.

With the conclusion of the environmental review, eucalyptus trees would be “thinned” on 2 acres as a demonstration. (The location and nature of the demonstration would be subject to community input.) As soon as that was done,  work would proceed on the South Ridge and Edgewood cut zones. The whole plan would take into consideration the rainy season as well as the bird nesting season. Tree-felling would start around September 2011. The graphic below lays out UCSF’s timeline for next steps:

There were some concerns as to how a Demonstration project in September 2011 could be followed in October by action on South Ridge and Edgewood, since the success or failure of the Demonstration would take years to show.

While the environmental review is under way, no new projects are allowed, though routine maintenance is okay. Several people wanted to know where the line was between maintenance (acceptable) and management (not).

Ray Moritz, forester, presented pictures and descriptions of other eucalyptus-thinning projects in Marin and in San Rafael.


A number of Mt Sutro Stewards spoke, including Jake Sigg who essentially made the points described in our earlier posts here and here. He didn’t want to call this a forest; he preferred to use the word “plantation.” [Clearly inaccurate, since a plantation is for cropping – unlike Sutro Cloud Forest.] He described the difficulty of talking to UCSF as “trying to fornicate through a mattress.”  (There was applause… )

Many Stewards expressed disappointment at UCSF’s delays on the 2001 plan, and their lack of financial contribution beyond pizza.  The only reason the Native Garden is not overgrown is because of their volunteer efforts. Someone wanted to know if they could get an accounting of forest-related expenditure from UCSF, but apparently the accounts are only captured by work order.

Mr Hoogasian of the Rotary Club advocated cutting down around 25 big trees to open up views from the Rotary-funded Native Garden. (We actually think it will ruin the forest’s feeling of seclusion and distance from the city.)


  • Neighbors were against the use of toxic herbicides, currently part of the plan.
  • The fire risk is small because the actual “window” of dry weather is so small that the forest does not have time to dry out.
  • The experience of Scripps Ranch indicates that tree removal can create “bowling alleys” for sparks to fly straight through to structures; and also pointed out that talking up fire risk could adversely affect both insurance rates and home sale disclosures – even if in reality that risk was small.
  • Undergrowth removal will adversely impact the wildlife habitat in the forest. As a 125-year-old ecosystem that’s an island in the midst of asphalt and concrete, there will be nowhere for the animals to go. Mr Ralph Osterling, forester, responded by saying that animal populations fluctuate anyway.


Separately, UCSF also spoke of the plan to place trail markers on the mountain to avoid people getting lost and also allow emergency responders to locate people in case of, say, medical emergencies.


Three trees fell during recent storms, including one that fell on a car. A new survey of hazardous trees will be undertaken, and hazards removed as necessary. UCSF noted they had already completed some hazard removal (presumably on Nike Road).

This entry was posted in Environment, eucalyptus, Herbicides, Meetings, Mt Sutro Cloud Forest, Neighborhood impact, Sutro Forest "Fire Risk", UCSF and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Sutro Forest 2010-2011: UCSF Meeting update

  1. Pingback: Sutro Forest Update « FOREST KNOLLS

  2. Nature Lover says:

    The webmaster says, “There were some concerns as to how a Demonstration project in September 2011 could be followed in October by action on South Ridge and Edgewood, since the success or failure of the Demonstration would take years to show.”

    As usual, the webmaster goes directly to the heart of the matter. If “action” on the South Ridge and Edgewood means the implementation of the project described in the FEMA applications, the so-called Demonstration project is meaningless. Demonstrate what? It seems to demonstrate that UCSF has devised a new strategy to destroy the forest, while seeming to adhere to their original 2001 plan.

    As the webmaster implies, the demonstration project described in the 2001 plan was intended to determine whether or not it would be possible to replace the existing forest with native trees. Obviously it will take more than one month to make such a judgment.

    So, it appears that UCSF continues to obfuscate while they proceed with the destruction of the forest. Apparently all that has been accomplished is that FEMA funding will not be used to accomplish this. Since UCSF is also funded by the taxpayers, it’s not an improvement that the project will be funded by UCSF, particularly since the UC system is dead broke and the tuition of its students has been raised 40% in less than 2 years.

    Well, UCSF, you may have found the fancy footwork that will enable you to destroy the forest, but those who are paying attention know what you are doing.

  3. Sutro Resident says:

    Thanks for the update – wish we could have attended. I have expressed my concerns and POV to them via email and they maintain that “There is a very real fire danger in the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve, despite the confusing misinformation being passed around.”

    I can only hope they are truly evaluating things as they really are (with no ulterior motives or biases swaying them) and giving the concerns of community living here, as well as what is best for the existing ecosystem, the weight it deserves.

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