Hazardous Tree Removal, Chain Link Fence, etc

At the last agenda planning meeting, one of the issues raised was managing hazardous trees near homes. A Forest Knolls resident of Crestmont Drive pointed out that neither the City nor UCSF were accepting responsibility for hazardous trees (some dead, some leaning) at the forest edge on Crestmont.

So we were pleased to see an email from UCSF entitled: Mt Sutro Hazardous Tree Maintenance.

Only it wasn’t about Crestmont Drive at all. It said:

I am writing to inform you that on Wednesday, July 21st, UCSF Facilities Maintenance will be performing hazardous tree work along Medical Center Way.  This work will include the following:

  • Removal of one tagged dead Eucalyptus tree located at the Edgewood Trail
  • Removal of identified large dead tree limbs located at the Fairy Gates/Edgewood Trail intersection

These trees/limbs have been identified as safety hazards due to their proximity to highly trafficked trails.  Staging for these activities will begin at 8:00 a.m. with no noisy work beginning before 9:00 a.m.

Highly trafficked trails? Edgewood and Fairy Gates are trails on which you might, with luck, meet one or two other people. On a weekend, maybe five. Most times and days, they are empty.

We don’t object to removal of hazardous dead trees (but hope they will check for nesting birds, especially woodpeckers and flickers). We just wish UCSF would be more careful of their facts.

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Integrated into the Forest yet?

In other news: The chain-link fence on Pad 4 has been painted. It hasn’t been removed. It still doesn’t blend into the forest.

Lipstick on a pig.

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And in still other news – The Native Garden: The grass has dried out completely, but the shrubs are green. Some bushes are still blooming. And for the first time in a year, we saw more than one or two individual birds in the Native Garden. Today, there was a flock of juncos foraging for seeds.

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3 Responses to Hazardous Tree Removal, Chain Link Fence, etc

  1. Michael Scott says:

    Webmaster,

    Thank you for your recent post. I think it is good that we look at the facts of both sides of the argument. Which leads me to ask you a question – throughout this process we have heard presentations from urban foresters, biologists, fire officials, etc about their determination of (a) the potential fire dangers, (b) the health of the forest (c) the use of herbicides, etc. I’m not one to believe everything I hear, but I do like to hear from those who spend their careers studying the issue at hand so that they can work to provide factual information and make recommendations based upon their experience and analysis.

    You seem to present a lot of conjecture about your opinions on these same topics but I’m curious as to what your qualifications are to make these statements. You’ve mentioned in earlier posts that you don’t feel that the forest is indeed unhealth, so I would ask if your conclusion is based on your factual knowledge of having witnessed both healthy and unhealthy forest environments? I’m really curious to know how you come to some of your conclusions. I would be particularly interested in hearing more about your background and history with urban forestry so that I can be assured that you are presenting us with fact rather than a biased opinion.

    Thank you.

    MS

    • webmaster says:

      Hi Michael,

      I’m not a forester, nor do I play one on TV…

      But like you, I don’t believe everything I hear. I look at the data provided and where the sources are coming from. Much of what was in the FEMA plan was poorly substantiated; and so was the information contained in UCSF’s Q&A. (Our series of “Puzzled” posts, #1-6.) What we’ve done here is look at the data, look at the forest itself (which we visit frequently), and look at multiple sources of information. Where we can, we also gather primary data, like the Fog Log.

      On fire danger, we found that Cal Fire rated that fire risk as moderate, not very severe. It’s the lowest rating CalFire has. That whole discussion is here, together with all the reasons we found the fire maps unconvincing. We also explain why we think that an increase in fire hazard could occur if the forest is opened up and dried out.

      On herbicides, we have a section here on the risks, both known and unknown. (For instance: There’s little research on the effect of long-term low-dose exposure, but this doesn’t mean it has no effect.)

      On the health of the forest, we’ve been trying to understand better what the issues are. So far, the main one seems to be “overcompetition” that results in dense stands of small trees rather than fewer large ones. There was a mention of psyllid lerps and mycosphaerella. The first is an insect that is quite common in eucalyptus. The second is a fungal infection that is particularly detrimental to young trees, under 6 years old. We’ve asked UCSF for the lab reports on that, to understand how widespread the infection is. They said they would get back to us, and when they do, we’ll summarize it on this website.

      We think that maybe our perception differs because the health of the forest ecosystem is different from the health of individual trees in the forest. Any natural forest will have some trees that are weak, are dying, or dead. In fact, if you look at the Muir Woods website, there’s a whole section on the value of dead trees to an ecosystem. If the forest is perceived as a garden or park, then the health of every tree or plant must be optimized. If it’s perceived as an ecosystem, then some percentage of failing trees are not only normal, but desirable. There’s not such thing, in nature, as “overcompetition” – the struggle for survival is part of the natural process.

      In the end, it boils down to two separate visions of the forest: one “Park-like” as described in the Demonstration Projects; the other a naturally dense 125-year-old forest, even though it was created through deliberate afforestation.

      And thanks for your very pertinent questions.

  2. Pingback: Report: UCSF Forest Meeting, July 2010 « Save Mount Sutro Forest

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