Glen Canyon Park: The Tree-Cutting Started

We’ve been following the situation in Glen Canyon Park at this site for some time now. In a nutshell: Major changes are planned for Glen Canyon, which until a couple of years ago was a bucolic treasure of a park. Most of them involve cutting down trees and restricting access.

Glen Canyon Park


Ten acres of flat grounds near the Elk St entrance are for recreation: A historic club-house, a soccer field, tennis courts, a delightful playground with steps up to bushes where children loved to hide – and the real playground of twisted old acacias perfect for climbing on. At the entrance stood a row of century-old historic eucalyptus.

Ancient acacia tree along the ground, with kids climbing it

This ‘playground tree’ is a goner

Further in, there’s a lodge used by a pre-school and a summer camp, situated on a creek surrounded by wonderful old willow trees that create a little jungle. Beyond that are thickets providing cover for all kinds of birds and animals. Tall eucalyptus trees forest the canyon, and a pair of Great Horned Owls nest there most years – as do little Bewick’s wrens. On the slopes above are rocks that for generations have provided real rock-climbing practice and open lands with trails and a bench or two to take in the views – which can be exquisite. (See this article: The Prettiest Day) All this in 70 acres.

But changes are coming to Glen Canyon, and its wild-land character changed for ever. A series of projects are planned for the Canyon. Some are much needed, others more disputable. But for all of them, the plan seems to be to cut down large numbers of trees. The total is estimated at something between 300 and 500 trees to be removed for the various projects. Thickets are already being torn out and the place made much barer than before. Pesticides are used more frequently in Glen Canyon than at most “Natural Areas” in an effort to remove naturalized plants in favor of “native” plants.


The first project, funded by the 2008 Parks Bond, moves the tennis courts, expands the area of the playground, adds a heating system and an ADA-compliant restroom, and also a grand new entrance with native plant gardens. It also requires felling the century-old eucalyptus trees at the existing entrance, as well as other trees for a total of 58 trees.

SFRPD plans to plant 163 “trees” to replace the ones they will fell for this and subsequent projects. However, the term “trees” includes a large number of shrubs and small trees; only 33 of the trees will be over 80 feet tall at maturity – and it’s going to take a long time. In the next 20 years, only a handful of the trees will reach that height.

Various neighbors and organizations tried to bring these issues to light, and spread the word. Most people were not aware of the planned changes. San Francisco Forest Alliance had an outreach meeting and a street demonstration.

Neighbor Anastasia Glikshtern made an appeal to the Board of Appeals. (We reported on that HERE.) Unfortunately, the appeal was denied. (That report HERE.) Ms Glikshtern appealed the denial, but then withdrew her appeal when WiserParksSF (formerly ForestForestForever) appealed to the Board of Supervisors regarding misstatements that SFRPD made in getting the project exemption from an Environmental Impact Review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  When that appeal was ruled “untimely” only legal action was possible. WiserParks decided not to go that route.

Meanwhile, various neighbors – and San Francisco Forest Alliance – requested District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener to organize a meeting to discuss which trees were being removed and why. That was held on January 7, 2012. Presenters included SFRPD’s Karen Mauny-Brodek, the hired arborist, Jim Clark of Hort Science, and Supervisor Wiener; it was moderated by a member of the Glen Park Association. At the meeting, neighbors expressed a great deal of concern regarding the tree removals.


It went ahead anyway. On January 10th, the tree felling began, starting with the signature line of historic eucalyptus trees lining Alms Road. (See Glen Canyon Tree Felling Started Today and Glen Canyon Tree Demolition Videos – Day 1 and 2.) [Edited to Add: There’s more, from Day 3 HERE and Day 4 HERE. We’ll keep updating this as long as the tree-lovers keep documenting it.]

Tree-felling in Glen Canyon, San Francisco

Tree-felling in Glen Canyon, San Francisco

SF Forest Alliance is now trying to get details on the planned tree-felling in the rest of the canyon for all the remaining projects. While they support the removal of hazardous trees, they are concerned that trees are being removed under that guise even though they are not determined to be hazardous.

Meanwhile SFRPD appears to have no sense of urgency about the trees actually assessed to be hazardous. Some 20 of them remain unabated in the canyon.

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1 Response to Glen Canyon Park: The Tree-Cutting Started

  1. dolan eargle says:

    Thanks for keeping us updated and reminded of the destruction “allowed”. We must keep our eyes and typing open. -dolan eargle


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