The Destruction Has Started in Sutro Forest

A short time ago, UCSF sent out a circular saying it was going to start the tree-felling in Sutro Forest. We were surprised, because they’re supposed to avoid doing this in the winter when the ground is unstable with rain, and in the spring and summer when it’s the bird-nesting season. Tree-felling season was supposed to be in the Fall. But no, it’s happening now and they intend to finish by March. Thousands of trees will be gone, and the forest as we know it will be severely depleted.

Well, it’s started. Recently, a forest-supporter sent us these pictures:

The email that accompanied the pictures was unhappy. “Not much of a canopy anymore. This sucks.”

“In that location there were also trees marked with red paint, presumably for future removal?” they said in a follow-up email regarding tree-cutting near Clarendon Avenue. “Feel free to use my photos on your site. It wasn’t very long ago when running or walking these trails transported you into a different almost magical world. Increasingly as more and more trees are cut down, the surrounding city intrudes. Thank you very much for your advocacy.


Tree cutting has started in the East Ridge area (above the UCSF student housing at Aldea), Clarendon area (parallel to Christopher Drive), the Woodland Canyon Area (below Medical Center Way), the Farnsworth area (between Edgewood Avenue and the UCSF campus).

These are, coincidentally, the areas of the forest that as long ago as 2009, UCSF had targeted for tree destruction. (This was back when they were seeking a FEMA grant to pay for it – which they withdrew when FEMA wanted evidence.)  The language of the memo presents this as removal of dead and dying trees, though we have concerns both about the definition of ‘dead and dying’ and about the habitat impact of so much tree removal. (And dead trees, are, in fact, a habitat treasure for wildlife.)

The memo says they plan to bring in goats to eat the understory in February 2019, but a subsequent memo says it’s happening earlier.

Anyway, what we can expect in Sutro Forest this year is a lot less forest – thousands of trees removed, missing canopy, and bare open patches where the understory is also gone.

We hope you have made memories of the beautiful forest as it used to be. This site has been fighting the battle since 2009; others started in 1999. Sadly, the Sutro Stewards, who partner with UCSF in working in this forest, support this felling of trees and destruction of the understory.

This 130-year-old forest is no longer going to be a forest. 




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1 Response to The Destruction Has Started in Sutro Forest

  1. R says:

    Can I be blunt for a second, since the time for politeness has clearly passed?
    Look you (we) can post and comment on this forum all day, and go to Parks
    meetings all night, but this tactic doesn’t work, hasn’t worked, won’t work. (See
    Twain’s definition of insanity.) You (we) are losing the battle for one reason only:
    the public is not aware of the situation.

    This is the headline that goes on CNN and changes the course of things:

    “San Francisco Residents Forced to Hunger Strike to Save City Forest from Bulldozers.”
    “Tree‐Huggers? Not Anymore… Today, in a city known for environmental awareness and iconically beautiful vistas, sobbing grandmothers and schoolchildren chained themselves to ancient trees to try to save what is possibly the most beautiful and rarest ecosystem of all, The Cloud Forest. The trees have lived on these two mountains for hundreds of years and have evolved into something found nowhere else in Northern California, possibly
    all of North America.

    Now, people who believe that only American species should be allowed on City land have convinced the City and UCSF that these ancient, enormous creatures are an invasive threat to their idea of native‐only landscapes.

    It would take about 15 minutes before the Supes stopped this nonsense. Treehugging San Franciscans have to fight to save trees? Not on my watch!

    Public outrage is the lifeblood of San Francisco. I don’t like the “Professional
    Protester” form of government. But that’s what we have. Accept it and use its
    methods. Is no one willing to do that? To try something different, active,

    If not, at least there will be lots of pretty pictures here, to document the treasure
    we sat and watched disappear.

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