Felling Orange-dot Trees in the Nesting Season

photo credit: 123rf.com

photo credit: 123rf.com

In March 2014, soon after UCSF said it was delaying work on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for now – it sent around this message.

“Beginning on Monday, March 17th, Bartlett Tree Experts will be performing tree work throughout the UCSF Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve trail system in order to mitigate potential hazardous trees. This work will consist of trimming, pruning, and/or removing hazardous trees, branches and limbs that are overhanging, or in close proximity to, trails throughout the Reserve and pose a potential danger to trail users.

We were surprised, because it was (and is) the height of the bird nesting season. We wrote to UCSF and didn’t get a response. We hoped they were responding to actual concerns regarding a few specific trees.

leaning tree orange blob - Mount Sutro ForestBut no. They were removing trees that had been marked over a year earlier – the orange-dotted trees that were in poor condition but not actually hazardous for the most part.

notes in the forest2 - Gina HallForest-lovers were dismayed, and pinned notes on the trees saying “Please Don’t Cut Me Down” – we reported on that HERE. They were ignored. On a recent hike in the forest, we discovered most of the orange-dotted trees had been felled.

orange blob trees - Mount Sutro Forestquirky tree with orange mark - Mount Sutro Foresttrees with orange blobsepiphyteWe learned from UCSF later that 118 trees have already been felled, and another 63 will be taken down in the next few weeks. It’s still the nesting season until September.

Here are a few of the 118 tree stumps and logs…

felled treesstumpstumps april 2014stumps in sutro forest april 2014The beautiful fern garden was among the casualties – here it is on the ground:

this was the snag with ferns and epiphytesThese chips were trees.


We oppose the removal of these trees – except those that are actual hazards – even though they are “dead or dying.” Snags (standing dead trees) are important as habitat, providing for other plant and animal species. They accumulate ferns, and other epiphytes, and provide food for insects that in turn are food for birds. The snag below is an example – it’s clearly been a hunting ground for woodpeckers or other birds. They add to the visual beauty and character of the naturalized forest.

snag as hunting ground

Baby birds (Photo credit www.mi9.com )

Baby birds (Photo credit http://www.mi9.com )

We especially object to their removal during the nesting season. We have to say we’re dismayed. UCSF has always explicitly respected the nesting season in its plans, and have avoided actions that might disturb birds’ nest or destroy them. Spotting nests is never easy, especially song-bird nests. They have to be concealed if they’re to survive predators. Tree companies are not specialists in bird behavior. Wildlife rehabilitators frequently have baby birds and animals brought to them when trees are felled or pruned in the nesting season: HERE’s a page from Wildcare, a Marin-based rehabilitator that’s headed “Stop! Don’t Prune Those Trees!

We know that birds do nest in Sutro Forest. What we don’t know is how much damage this action in the nesting season has done.

hummingbird nests collected in Sutro Forest

Hummingbird nests collected in Sutro Forest


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4 Responses to Felling Orange-dot Trees in the Nesting Season

  1. Tony Holiday says:

    I am so tired of seeing these orange dots and felled trees. They’re so destructive and anti-environment, not even considering nesting season, as you pointed out. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Here I thought they were thinking somewhat clearer lately. These pictures are absolutely disgusting and disheartening.

  2. Anastasia Glikshtern says:

    The nests on the last photo – were they collected on the ground? near the felled trees?

    [Webmaster: No, they were collected by a frequent visitor some time ago, and as far as we know after a successful breeding season. We included the picture not as evidence of damage, but to show that birds do breed in Sutro Forest and their needs should be considered when doing any pruning or tree removal or removal of shrubbery.]

  3. Dee Seligman says:

    Is it possible to obtain their tree assessment reports? Are there any CA laws that require this type of information be provided? Their timing is irresponsible, clearly, but what about their accountability for what is deemed hazardous? I agree a hazardous tree should be removed, but what were their criteria, for all trees or only eucs, and who did the assessment?

    [Webmaster: As far as we know, the trees were evaluated for condition, not for hazard. The difference is explained in this post: https://sutroforest.com/2013/03/16/dont-cut-me-down-found-in-sutro-forest/%5D

  4. Pingback: Sutro Forest: Risk and Uncertainty | Save Mount Sutro Forest

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