Not a good week for the earth

Bad news out of Washington and City Hall this week. I will not dwell on Washington as it is all over the news. Not so much on the decision at City Hall that could result in the killing of our urban forest in order to bring back the native grasses and brush that greeted the Spanish explorers when they landed.


Poison is in. Human access to the parks and trails, and free dog runs are on their way out, or will be severely limited if the program, as planned, is executed.

The Board of supervisors voted 9-1 (Jane Kim was excused prior to the vote) to deny the appeal to the Natural Areas Plan that will kill many trees and spread what is widely considered to be a dangerous carcinogen on our parks to manage their demise. This decision was based on a Programmatic EIR, and may effect many projects city wide. At the same time, each project may face a potential appeal and budget constraints as it comes up. This is step one in efforts to force major changes in how the parks are managed. The battle is lost but the war continues.

In the words of Park and Rec representatives taken from the transcript: “We did an analysis that was appropriate for a project level review and that was-so the tree removal that we are talking about large scale tree removal was evaluated at a program level so what that means is we don’t have the information to specific information to do a very detailed project level analysis. That would happen during a subsequent review. When rec and park comes to planning later on and says here is our project and it fits under the category of large scale tree removal we evaluate in the EIR and if we find new significant impacts not were not identified another level of environmental review is required at that nt in time.”

For more details on this plan and to be updated on efforts to stop the projects as they come up, please go to this petition site for links etc. If you want to continue to support the efforts to stop this sign the petition and stay tuned to the messages coming out of this and many other environmental groups who oppose the plan.

Some notes from the February 28, Board of Supervisors Meeting:

1. SF Supervisor Norman Yee voted in support of saving the trees and stopping the pesticides! He voted yes to appeal the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the plan. This was the most important outcome because the Mt. Davidson Forest resides in the area he was elected to represent, District 7 in San Francisco.

This took an incredible amount of courage by Supervisor Yee, as the pressure from SF Rec and Park to support the deforestation was immense.

Please send Supervisor Yee a quick note of thanks for voting to save the Mt. Davidson Forest from chainsaws and pesticides!

Supervisor Norman Yee

2. Pesticide Issue Highlighted: Supervisor Yee is especially concerned about SF Rec and Park’s use of toxic herbicides like Roundup to kill the trees permanently. He was unsatisfied with the Department’s answers to the questions about increased pesticides and the potential runoff into the Miraloma Elementary School. He doesn’t feel these issues were adequately studied. “That bothers me a lot. I will be supporting the appeal,” said Supervisor Yee.

New SF Supervisor Jeff Sheehy for District 8 launched an epic line of questioning about pesticides. He started with, “Walk me through the herbicides and the use of Roundup in parks” and then asked every single tough question one could imagine. “Will these chemicals migrate into the groundwater?”… “It doesn’t sound like you reviewed it.”“How can you say that you are using the same amount when you will be using more?”… Supervisor Sheehy concluded, “These herbicides make the parks unusable.”

Please send Supervisor Sheehy a quick note of thanks for standing up for public health and saying no to Roundup in our parks!

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy

New Supervisor Hillary Ronen for District 9 also noted that the answers SF Rec and Park provided about the pesticides were “unsatisfying.”

Supervisors Sheehy, Yee and Ronen have valid concerns. Glyphosate in Roundup is a probable carcinogen according to the World Health Organization. A 2014 study by the U.S. Geological Survey showed that glyphosate accumulates in groundwater and even in rainfall. Do we really want it raining Roundup in San Francisco? Groundwater is now being mixed into our tapwater, and the risk of poisoning residents is real.

SF Rec and Park tries to pass the buck on pesticides to the SF Department of the Environment. They say they are just following SF Environment’s Integrated Pest Management Program which allows poisonous chemicals like Roundup, Aquamaster, and Garlon to be sprayed in parks where children play.

RELATED News:  Judge Blocks Monsanto’s Bid to Stop California From Listing Glyphosate as Carcinogenic California could become the first state to require Monsanto to label its glyphosate-based herbicide, Roundup, as a possible carcinogen following Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Kapetan’s tentative ruling on Friday… The OEHHA made the decision following the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) findings that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A)” in March 2015… (more)

3. Old Trees Matter:  Both SF Planning and SF Rec and Park went on the record as saying that old trees sequester more carbon than young trees. That is an encouraging sign. Back in November 2016, they were asserting the opposite which is one of the reasons I started this petition. Recent studies prove just how valuable large, old trees are in the fight against climate change. So let’s plant trees and save trees both!

4. Craziest Lines: Here are some of the craziest things people said last night:

“Eating bacon has the same risk factor as Roundup” – Lisa Wayne, SF Rec and Park

”Wild places do not take care of themselves” – Phil Ginsburg, GM, SF Rec and Park

“You can walk into Home Depot and buy Roundup” – Lisa Wayne, SF Rec and Park

“These trees don’t matter because they are all going to die at some point anyway”  SF Planning describing trees that can live another 200 years

“The environment is under attack. This plan represents best practices” – Phil Ginsburg, GM, SF Rec and Park

“This arena is going to cause more traffic congestion!” – from a member of the public who crashes every meeting

FORESTRY vs. NATURAL RESOURCES: Trees under the Forestry division of SF Rec and Park get managed. Trees under the Natural Resources division get cut down. This is a distinction that virtually nobody understands.

People are persuaded to support the Natural Resources plan because “our forests need to be managed.” This is supposed to be the job of Forestry. The intention of Natural Resources is to take San Francisco’s landscape back to how it looked in the 1700s. It was a fairly desolate place with sand dunes, scrub, and limited trees only in creek beds. Many of these park forests haven’t been “managed” because they were transferred over to Natural Resources who has been trying to cut them down for 10 years.

THE FUTURE: In the future, SF Rec and Park may try again to destroy the Mt. Davidson Forest. Hopefully not! If so, this would be subject to public review, and we could ask for your help again in standing up for the trees.

For San Francisco residents, if you see a Park Bond on the ballot, please scrutinize the fine print carefully. If you see language about “restoration of parks”, this can mean cutting down healthy trees and converting them to bushes. Please advocate in advance for what you do want in the bond. SF Rec and Park has $1 billion in deferred maintenance. SF taxpayers would rather the Department spend precious dollars on basic maintenance and new playgrounds, rather than deforestation… (more)




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