Twin Peaks: Sunset and Evening Fog and Pesticides

It was an amazingly beautiful evening over San Francisco, and of course the views from Twin Peaks were spectacular. The fog flowed through and over the Golden Gate,  and only the towers poked through.  This is the stuff that turns Mount Sutro into a cloud forest, though its summit is only 1000 feet above sea level.

The sun started to set over the clouds, and Mount Sutro Forest stood in silhouette against the luminous orange sky.

And of course – since this is a Natural Area – there were pesticides.

The pesticide application was apparently completed on Aug 22. This is one of the few notices where we’ve actually seen a completion date filled in.

The target plants were cotoneaster, French broom, pea (?) and Cape Ivy.  The chemicals used were Imazapyr and glyphosate. Both pretty toxic, with a Tier II classification by San Francisco’s Department of the Environment. Glyphosate has been linked to birth defects, and Imazapyr’s breakdown product is neurotoxic.


We’re against the use of Tier II and Tier I [Edited to correct Tier reference] pesticides in “Natural Areas.” We suspect that many of those who do support such use expect they’ll be used very infrequently. We had such a comment from one of our readers. And someone sent us this quote from Jake Sigg — whom many regard as the doyen of the native plant movement in San Francisco — about the difference between agricultural use of pesticides (which he opposes) and use in natural areas (which he supports, at least to the extent of calling those who oppose it “anti-chemical crazies“):

The primary difference is less between ag[ricultural] and natural (although there are differences here), but more in the frequency.  Roundup-ready crops are sprayed several times per crop, whereas a hypothetical wildland use of an herbicide would be, perhaps, once or twice in, say, a decade–then perhaps not again. 

We’re not sure which wildlands he writes of, but it’s not true of San Francisco. Twin Peaks is regularly hit with herbicides, as we’ve documented here; so is Glen Canyon; so is Pine Lake; so is McLaren Park. Glen Canyon has been sprayed, according to the records, ten times in a year — a far cry from “once or twice in a decade.” Twin Peaks… we lost count. We find pesticide notices there practically year round.

Ironically, Sigg made the “anti-chemical crazies” comment in the context of a report that glyphosate negatively impacts the soil, a finding that he applauded since it was a strike against agricultural uses of Roundup. (Has he seen the next big thing, “Enlist” by Dow? Dow has announced a GMO soybean that resists three different herbicides so that it can be sprayed with “a new Dow AgroSciences herbicide that combines glyphosate, glufosinate and 2,4-D.”)

We think it’s not a good idea to use toxic pesticides in Natural Areas.  San Francisco’s Natural Areas are close to inhabited places, are used for recreation by adults and children and dogs, and may be watershed areas. Twin Peaks and Mount Sutro — where the UCSF portion of the forest is pesticide-free — are high ground and watershed. Glen Canyon has a stream running through it.

And for what? At the most, they reduce patches of “unwanted” plants, i.e. non-native ones. The pesticides certainly don’t wipe out the target plants, or they wouldn’t be used year after year. It’s becoming like the War on Drugs,  this is the War on Non-native plants. Never-ending, with a tendency to escalate.

Meanwhile, there’s an increasing amount of chemicals building up in our “Natural Areas” and our watersheds. We do oppose this, as we oppose the planned use of toxic pesticides in Mount Sutro Forest.

So we’d like to own Sigg’s epithet [ETA: Though not exclusively, you can be one too!] and sign this post —

— The Anti-Chemical Crazies

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5 Responses to Twin Peaks: Sunset and Evening Fog and Pesticides

  1. milliontrees says:

    With a public records request, we learned that the so-called “natural areas” in San Francisco were sprayed with herbicides 69 times in 2010. Twin Peaks was sprayed 16 times and Glen Canyon 12 times. Twin Peaks is the watershed to the creek that runs through Glen Canyon. Glen Canyon has a year-around day care center beside the creek. Here’s our report of herbicide use in the so-called “natural areas” of San Francisco:

  2. lu says:

    “Environmental justice emerged as a concept in the United States in the early 1980s; its proponents generally view the environment as encompassing “where we live, work, and play” (sometimes “pray” and “learn” are also included) and seek to redress inequitable distributions of environmental burdens (pollution, industrial facilities, crime, etc.). Root causes of environmental injustices include “institutionalized racism; the co-modification of land, water, energy and air; unresponsive, unaccountable government policies and regulation; and lack of resources and power in affected communities.”[4]”

    People think of Hunter’s Point as a local example of a toxic load to a poor community. (
    However, we in the Twin Peaks area suffer a huge load of toxins perpetrated by those who seek to have their own way about which plants are allowed to grow. They constantly whine about people who voice concerns about the toxic load – and that includes people and pets walking in toxics and toxic runoff, as well as pollution of the water table and the bay, etc.
    Calling people names does not suddenly make toxic pesticides and herbicides safe.

  3. Pingback: Why San Francisco’s Natural Areas Are — Unnatural | Save Mount Sutro Forest

  4. Pingback: SNRAMP, Pesticides, and Mt Davidson | Save Mount Sutro Forest

  5. Pingback: Why San Francisco’s Natural Areas are – Unnatural « San Francisco Forest Alliance

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