Report: UCSF’s Agenda-Planning Meeting

After withdrawing its FEMA proposal, UCSF decided to go ahead on its own. It convened a small group of supporters and opponents for an agenda planning meeting prior to its planned Community workshop. UCSF plans to hold three such meetings, and three such workshops. From UCSF there were: Barbara Bagot-Lopez, Kevin Beauchamp (who had made the presentation regarding the new Long Range Plan in February 2010), Judy DeReus, and Julie Sutton, a supervisor in the Landscaping and Grounds Division of UCSF Facilities Management.

The default now is for UCSF to pursue the 2001 Plan for the forest. It involves eventually felling about half the eucalyptus acreage. (The map above is based on the 2001 Plan map, cropped and with certain areas re-colored.)

The immediate plan has two components:

1. Two demonstration plots, of two acres on South Ridge and less near Edgewood.

The first plot is area L, shown in pink. This is along South Ridge, above Forest Knolls. Here, the plan is to “thin” the eucalyptus trees.

The second plot P, (blue in the map above) is above the seasonal creek on the Edgewood side of the forest. The plan here would be to demonstrate Native Plant conversion.

The target date for this work would be September 2011.

2. Immediately thereafter, proceed with the original plan to fell trees on the whole South Ridge and Edgewood. The target date is October 2011. This is actually unclear, since the FEMA plan called for thinning everything within the Edgewood loop, but the 2001 map above only shows hazardous tree removal in those areas.


The intent of the meeting was to collect agenda items.

Some of the items:


  • Should UCSF revisit the 2001 Plan as a decade has passed and things have changed?
  • The need for a comprehensive ecological study.
  • Is the location of the demonstration area (or areas) predetermined or could it be changed? Judy DeReus (UCSF) said South Ridge was chosen because it was near homes and the Aldea housing; on a flat and therefore relatively accessible part of the mountain; and least visible from outside. (Actually, it’s pretty visible from Forest Knolls. And Twin Peaks. And, of course, Google maps.)
  • What is the demonstration area supposed to demonstrate? And how is it a demonstration if the next month, the next phase starts without any time given to see if the demonstration is successful? At least a year would be needed to see a full cycle of seasons.
  • The mountain has different micro-climates and terrain, and different management areas have been proposed (the letters on the map above).  Would more demonstration areas be needed?
  • The expected life-span of a project like this if the eucalyptus that has been thinned grows back.


How can neighbors understand how the forest would look after the project?

  • Bus trips to see San Francisco sites where eucalyptus felling and thinning had been done, e.g. the Presidio and Glen Canyon.
  • A simulation.
  • Marking trees that would be felled so it was clear how it would look afterward.


The issue of fire-danger came up again. Craig Dawson (Mt Sutro Stewards) said the experts kept reiterating there was fire danger. We pointed out that the 2001 report said there were a maximum of ten dry days a year, and we kept a Fog Log in 2009 and found only seven dry days. We also pointed out that the proposed plan would increase fire risk, not reduce it. Julie Sutton (of UCSF) said she was concerned about fire risk from campfires and cigarettes of the homeless. (When we talked later, she said she was most concerned about the East Ridge Trail. I mentioned Roy Moritz’s experiment to her. Recently, I walked the East Ridge Trail – and it is drier than much of the forest, because a lot of the undergrowth has been removed and it is drying out this steep area. The easiest way to reduce the dryness would be to allow or encourage dense undergrowth again.)

It was decided to keep fire hazard as an agenda item.

The issue of whether it’s a temperate cloud forest came up. Julie said Cloud Forests are at higher altitudes. We said it was functionally a Cloud Forest. (Because the marine layer here is very low, we get a similar effect to a cloud forest at a much lower altitude.)

Peter Brastow (of Nature in the City) said it was not a forest at all but a plantation, and eucalyptus was the largest weed. (We thought that was Jake Sigg’s line! We also wonder why those who despise the forest have Stewardship of it.)


  • Dan Schneider of SFUR mentioned historic preservation – in particular, views from the mountain around 1900. He talked about sight lines for views.
  • Alicia Snow talked about herbicide use as an issue.
  • Erosion risk and soil stability when vegetation is removed. Peter Brastow of Nature in the City mentioned geological conservation because a falling tree could damage the rocks below.
  • An Edgewood neighbor addressed specific issues for Edgewood, where the trees screen the area from the light and noise from the hospital, and provide a windbreak.
  • A neighbor who already has rodent problems pointed out that felling in the forest could drive vermin into the communities.


  • The process map would need to reflect that the demonstrations actually were demonstrations, not just a preliminary action.
  • We raised the issue of the Environmental Review, who would do it, qualification, certification, and outside consultants for whole or part of it. Kevin Beauchamp (UCSF) who is responsible for this part of the plan said what level of Environmental Review was required would depend on the outcome of community meetings. Without that, there was no clarity on the ultimate management plan for the mountain that had to be included in the review.
  • We requested a clearer breakdown of the EIR steps, since it was currently (literally!) a black box. Barbara Bagot Lopez (UCSF) assured us the original was purple…

This is the process map (changed to a vertical format for easier reading on the website).

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7 Responses to Report: UCSF’s Agenda-Planning Meeting

  1. Canyongirl says:

    A plantation is an area, usually privately owned, where a cash crop is grown. To call Mt. Sutro a eucalyptus plantation is just another attempt at demeaning eucalyptus trees. To my mind it just shows once again the ignorance of these native-plant restorationists.

    As for the fire threat, native plants that dry out in the heat of summer are extremely flammable, much more so than mature eucs. The thick trunks of eucalyptus trees are very difficult to ignite. Another thing about those dried out native plants: they look like ugly weeds, and many of them become “brush,” as in the kind of brush where most fires (including the 1991 Oakland-Tunnel fire) start.

  2. Dirk says:

    LandSIM3D by Bionatics 2009 is a good software to use for the simulation.

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