The summer evening was golden and lovely, and though it was getting late, the forest beckoned. We met a few others in the forest – a dog-walker, three joggers, and as we were leaving, three bicycle-riders, all out enjoying the weather.
It’s the first time we’ve been up to the forest since we learned that the felling will not start in August 2013, but has been delayed a year.
- Cut down up to 90% of the trees on each treated acre, to achieve a 30-60 foot spacing, chip the felled trees except for the larger logs, and leave them lying there;
- To mow down 90% of the understory (blackberry, ivy, acacia, etc);
- To amputate the vines between 0-10 feet so they die above that level; and
- To use pesticides if necessary to prevent regrowth; the target is 85% regrowth prevention, which suggests that pesticides will indeed be needed.
It was something of a relief to know the immediate threat’s been postponed. Most of the trees in the picture above are in Demonstration Area #1, South Ridge. So is most of the understory habitat, as in the second picture down.
Anyway, we’re happy to report that except for those that were cut down by mistake on the South Ridge, the orange-blobbed trees are still there. They give character to the trails and the forest. We hope that UCSF will rethink this and only remove those that are actually hazardous. Only recently, we heard that a [red-shafted] flicker (woodpecker) was nesting in a eucalyptus in the Presidio. These birds need snags and failing trees as habitat.
[Edited to Add: Go HERE for some great pictures of the flicker and chicks.]
Trail conditions are mixed, but generally good. We’re moving into a typical summer pattern – where the forest has been opened up, the trails are dry, even dusty; in more unspoiled areas, they’re damp.
But where the forest has been opened up and the understory removed, it’s dry and dusty. Here’s the bottom end of the East Ridge trail, where it joins the Aldea campus. That pile of brush looks almost like someone’s stacked some kindling.
We’ve been discussing Fire Hazards in various forums recently. Someone mentioned that with this remarkably rainless winter and spring we’ve had, the forest is quite dry. It’s true some bits of it *are* dry – and of course the worst is where it’s been opened out. The actual forest has a high moisture content; everything about it – including and especially the Cape Ivy – retains moisture. And even on hot days, there’s often a mist or fog in the night.
The native plant garden on the summit is past its prime. The meadows are brown. Most of the flowers are done, and the plants drying out. This one, still planted with orange flags, is tinder dry.
Even there, it’s not all so bad. Some shrub areas are green and thriving (especially if they’re close to eucalyptus trees that will water them with fog moisture), and the mock orange (I think) is still flowering.
We still don’t understand how anyone familiar with this forest could consider it a fire hazard – and more importantly, believe that the Management Plan would actually reduce that hazard. It’s apparent that it would actually increase the risk by drying out the forest, and destroying the windbreak that slows the spread of fires even if they were to ignite.
Here’s another meadow in the Native Plant Garden, which is an open area, and planted with native plants.
AN ACCESSIBLE FOREST
Moreover, as we pointed out in a previous post, this forest only appear inaccessible. It has paved roads (shown in blue) and water tanks. (There’s actually another water tank as well, not shown below.)
If UCSF is so concerned with the dryness of the forest in extreme weather years, it could could arrange for water to be sprayed from tankers to damp down the forest. It would only be needed once or twice in a very dry and fog-free year – which is extremely rare. Even after this dry winter and spring, the forest is lush and green. It would be a lot cheaper than the multi-million dollar Management Plan, and it would be a lot less destructive.