Mt Sutro Stewards and the Kill-Trees Trail

The Mount Sutro Stewards are building a trail from Stanyan into the Forest, in the city-owned Interior Green Belt. Work has started; in fact, they’d planned on getting volunteers in there earlier this month. We thought we’d take a look.

We were astounded by the number of felled trees.

When speaking of the trails they built on the UCSF-owned portion of the forest, Mount Sutro Stewards’ Craig Dawson recently said they’d only cut down only one tree that only one tree had been cut down.

That’s clearly not the case here in this city-owned section.

[For clarification: UCSF owns 61 acres of the Sutro Forest, which it calls the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve; the City owns 19 acres, which it calls the Interior Green Belt. ETA: As owners, they are responsible for tree-felling on their property.]

This had the look and feel of a logging trail. We lost count of the number of trees that had been cut down. [ETA: A neighbor reported counting over 40 stumps. ETA2 Jan 2012: Over 50 trees were felled.]

We attended a neighborhood meeting on this some months ago. At the time, the neighbors opposed to it were concerned about hazardous trees abutting their property; the forest here comes right up to the fence line. So when the tree-felling was mentioned  at a recent UCSF meeting (in passing, because this trail is not UCSF land) we assumed that this was what was being referenced.

The Rec & Park budget presented had some $15,000 for assessment and removal of hazardous trees. We assumed that this would be for  removing them to remove trees close to neighboring properties.

We were wrong.

The trees have been felled all along the trail, in many places opening up the canopy completely. Some parts barely resemble a forest. And the trail is lined with huge stumps and logs of felled trees.


The Mount Sutro Stewards are calling this the “Stanyan Historic Trail.” We think a better name would be “The Kill-Trees Trail.”

It’s shown appropriately as a line of black dots in the map below.

[ETA: This map was distributed as Exhibit B of a 23 Feb 2010 Recs & Parks memo for an agenda item for a 4th March 2010 Commission hearing on allocating funds for the trail. We believe that it’s non-copyright. Anyone may obtain a copy of this memo by asking for it under the Sunshine Act.]

[ETA 2: Ben Pease claims copyright of the map for Pease Press, so we’re taking it down. Here’s the link to the whole trail map (as a PDF) on their website. The trail in question is in the area in the center marked “Interior Greenbelt” and the trail itself indicated as under construction.]

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22 Responses to Mt Sutro Stewards and the Kill-Trees Trail

  1. HarryEye says:

    If you haven’t caught on by now, they are generally against trees. I saw a little video of one of the tree tours, and basically every tree was “not a good tree” “dangerous” “drops leaves” etc. They especially hate eucalyptus and feed into the many myths regarding the species. They fight for their jobs and funding, which is understandable but unfortunate, the way loggers will fight to cut down old-growth forests “because it’s their job.” I have never seen a tree that didn’t drop leaves or needles, so this is an odd reason to be against a tree. Plants are sacred living things and have waste like the rest of us.

    Their other passion, besides killing trees and convincing well-meaning volunteers that they are environmentalists, is using herbicides and pretending that they are not dangerous.

    • webmaster says:

      Just as a clarification — though in public meetings the volunteers have spoken in support of herbicide use to prevent regrowth, the volunteers don’t actually apply herbicides on Mt Sutro. None are used on the UCSF portion (at present). If any are used in the Interior Green Belt, it’s Rec & Parks Natural Areas Program or its contractors who would actually apply them.

      Similarly, the Sutro Stewards don’t actually kill the trees; downed trees would have been felled by employees or contractors of UCSF or SF Rec & Park.

  2. milliontrees says:

    I am sorry to say that those who have been following the so-called “Natural Areas Program” for the past 10 years will not be surprised by this destruction. The NAP management plan called for the destuction of 140 trees over 15 feet tall in the Interior Greenbelt. Trees under 15 feet tall were not quantified by the management plan because NAP chooses not to define them as trees, so they are free to destroy as many of them as they wish.

    The management plan called for a total of 18,500 trees over 15 feet tall to be destroyed in all the “natural areas.” The only thing that prevents the destruction of thousands more trees than have been destroyed so far is that it is expensive to cut down trees. When the last park bond was approved a few years ago the Natural Areas Program was successful in getting $5 million of that money designated for them to build trails. Building trails is their cover for destroying trees. So whenever you hear of a new trail being built in a “natural area” you can be sure that hundreds of trees will be destroyed in the process.

    It’s the NAP strategy for funding the destruction of trees. So far it seems to be working. Meanwhile, the EIR for the management plan has yet to be published or approved, but that doesn’t seem to prevent NAP from doing whatever they wish. The contract for the EIR–costing over $800,000–was approved over 4 years ago, but still no EIR.

  3. Sutro Resident says:

    This is so horrible, and it will really dry things out, increase the winds and create the real fire hazard.

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  10. Ben Pease says:

    The trees in the 2nd and 3rd photos were felled by storms months or years before work began on restoring this trail. So the city cut them UP, but not DOWN.

    The map is copyrighted by Pease Press, and was used for the public meeting by permission.

    [Edited to Add (Jan 2012): Over 50 trees were cut down along this trail.]

    • webmaster says:

      Okay, thanks.

      We’ll take down the map, though I would like to point out that no copyright information was included in the RPD memo, though every other illustration there (e.g. a Google map) did carry that information. The legal letter said Sutro Stewards claimed copyright; the UCSF illustrated trail map has a UCSF copyright on it; and the UCSF document with maps of trails again has no copyright information at all. Still, we respect all copyrights and would like to support local businesses like Pease Press.

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