Fimrite’s Forest is the evil twin of Mount Sutro Cloud Forest. It occupies the same space, but it’s quite different from the forest we know and love. It’s described in Peter Fimrite’s recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, and it’s a Very Scary Place.
It’s populated with “eucalyptus, an unusually hyperactive tree” that’s “causing havoc on a forested San Francisco hillside…” And if that didn’t give you a mental image of manic Ents running around screaming, it did us.
The article, headlined “Mount Sutro’s Eucalyptus Forest -Trash or Treasure?” in the paper edition, is titled “UCSF, neighbors tangle over eucalyptus” in the online SFGate article, which rather oddly appears under the “Science” category. The article goes on to describe this unpleasant place…
It has a “dense tangle of trees, poison oak, and English ivy…” and it’s “unhealthy and infested with beetles…”
“A steady rain of falling limbs is dangerous to neighbors and their property…”
And “oily litter and underbrush” that would endanger them even more if it “ever caught fire.”
THE REALITY OF SUTRO FOREST…
The article attributes much of this description to unnamed “UCSF officials” – unless they meant Barbara Bagot-Lopez, who is quoted as wanting to “keep the forest beautiful, accessible to the community, healthy as a forest, and safe for our community and for our neighbors’ homes.” Actually, if she had been talking of Sutro Forest, UCSF should be proud that they have already achieved all those conditions, without spending the millions of dollars the Management Plan would require.
- Its beauty is evident, and noted worldwide. One tourist who signed the petition (which at this time has 2225 signatures) wrote this: “I visited San Francisco briefly last year and went straight to Mt Sutro. A friend from Australia is visiting soon and I’ve convinced him to do the same. Mt Sutro is a major tourist draw for nature lovers because it is so unique, and because there are such beautiful photos of it coming out on social media. Please don’t contaminate the jewel in your crown!”
- The forest is already accessible to the community, which has been walking there for over thirty years. Newly-built trails, signage, the availability of trail maps – and, dare we say, the Hiking Information on this website – have increased accessibility.
- Two Certified Arborists have assessed it as healthy (as did a professional forest ecologist whose statement was read out at the Feb 25th meeting).
- As a functional cloud forest, and perhaps the wettest place in San Francisco outside the bay, it has little risk of a fire. In any case, felling thousands of trees and tearing out 90% of the understory would raise the fire hazard, not reduce it – especially if native plants, which are notoriously flammable, were introduced in the understory instead of the blackberry and ivy that don’t easily ignite.
- As for the dangers posed by hazardous trees, UCSF has been dealing with those promptly. Unlike the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, which cites budget constraints and has over 400 open items in terms of calls for tree remediation, UCSF has been responsive to neighbors who have complained about dangerous trees. We have observed this in Forest Knolls, a neighborhood that abuts the forest, on at least two occasions, most recently in the episode of the poisoned trees.
…ISN’T TRUE OF FIMRITE’S FOREST
There, the only way to save the forest is to destroy it. Here’s the solution he describes from UCSF: “The plan is to significantly thin out the dense tangle of trees, poison oak and English ivy … to reintroduce native plants and shrubs around the select eucalyptus trees that would remain.”
The article then goes on to describe the historical background, and the details of the plan. The opposition to it, (which Fimrite describes as “public hysteria”) is apparently “fueled by claims that the University intends to clear-cut 30,000 trees.” He reports the 27,000 trees that result from UCSF’s simplified calculation, and UCSF’s Bagot-Lopez as saying “the actual number will probably be much lower than that.”
He doesn’t, however, say how many thousands of these hyperactive trees would actually be felled. Neither, presumably, does Bagot-Lopez, though we suppose since only “select eucalyptus trees” will remain, it can’t be very far from that number.
So – a warning to our readers: Please avoid Fimrite’s Forest. It occupies the same space as the mysteriously beautiful Sutro Forest that neighbors, hikers, and other forest visitors love, but it’s visible only to a jaundiced eye. If Fimrite’s Forest is what you see on Mount Sutro, here’s a friendly warning: Do not enter.