In the last few days, there’s been quite a lot of media coverage of the plans to gut Sutro Forest; and the related issue of Mount Davidson, where SF Recreation & Parks Department plans to fell 1600 trees.
Some has been more favorable, some less so. All the articles below are open to comments. Please check them out.
It started with a short piece on KCBS radio, which unfortunately isn’t available online. If we get a link or a clip, we’ll post it here. It was followed by no less than four separate media reports in two days.
1) The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) had a story on August 5, 2013, focused primarily on Mount Davidson. Titled “A Tree Spat Grows in San Francisco” in the paper version, it was called “In San Francisco, An Ecological Battle Grows” online. But the accompanying slideshow (titled “A Debate over Non-Native Trees in San Francisco) mentioned Sutro Forest, and had a picture of people (and pups) on a trail.
2) That article kicked off a flurry of activity. It was picked up in the SFist, in a concise but pointed story entitled “Tree Wars Brewing Over Removal Of Nonnative Eucalyptus.” It clearly made the point that the battle is between those who care about the trees, and nativists: “Eucalyptus trees introduced to California coastal areas about 150 years ago are the main issue, with community groups praising them as beautiful “cloud forests” and environmentalists rallying for the native habitats they’re chocking out, such as oaks and elderberry bushes.” Only, we don’t think you can call the nativists “environmentalists.” They’re not.
3) Then Salon also wrote about the WSJ story, which it headlined with a provocative, “When Community Favorites are Actually Invasive Species.” This article treated it as a battle between beauty/ emotion/ nostalgia on the one hand, and the environment on the other. Except it isn’t, really. When they’re chopping down thousands of carbon-sequestering, pollution-fighting, run-off-regulating, hillside-stabilizing, habitat-providing, wind-blocking trees — and then using quantities of toxic pesticides to prevent their return — it’s really not “environmentalism.”
4) Finally, KALW radio had both a write-up titled “Mt. Sutro’s eucalyptus trees raise question of how to manage urban forest” and a radio piece based on it (which ran in their Cross-Currents show on Aug 6th). It was interesting to note small differences between the two, even though from the same source. The written article was quite balanced. The broadcast lead in with the sounds of the Oakland Fire of 1991 – and the questionable assertion that very-inflammable eucalyptus was the cause – creating a bias that the article didn’t have. The broadcast ended with the suggestion that people comment on the KALW Facebook page.
Even though they varied in terms of how they positioned the story, we’re happy to see the media coverage. We still find people every day in the forest who have no idea it is threatened, with thousands of trees and much of the understory to be removed. We don’t think San Francisco is ready to lose its forests, both for their beauty and uniqueness in this urban setting, and for the ecosystem services they provide us: Sequestering and storing carbon; fighting pollution; reducing run-off; providing a windbreak; stabilizing hillsides; and providing habitat for birds and animals.
If you haven’t signed our petition yet – please do. We have over 3500 signatures at this time! And if you can help by passing the word on to like-minded people, please do so. We’re also on Facebook, HERE.