NOTES FROM MT. DAVIDSON NEIGHBORS: Upcoming Changes to Mt. Davidson Park

Forestry Inspection/Tree Removal

The 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond allocated $4 Million to a Park Forestry Program to assess the condition and health of the City’s urban forest. The program includes inspection of trees along the public boundaries of the City’s Natural Areas. Additional forestry inspections will be done on Mt. Davidson for the upcoming $500,000 trail restoration project with potential removal of trees within 50 feet of each side of existing and new trails. Another 1600 healthy trees over 6 inches in diameter are planned for removal to implement the Natural Areas Program Plan – if the Environmental Impact Report approves the project (to be released this fall).

Hort Science is doing the evaluations and recently inspected 78 trees on the perimeter of Mt. Davidson Park – along Myra, Molimo, Juanita, and Dalewood.  Supervisor Elsbernd kindly assisted with the Club obtaining a copy of the report. You can see which trees they surveyed as they are identified with a numbered metal tag about the size of a quarter. The arborist recommends 11 of the 78 trees surveyed for removal:

#7 Myra at Hillcrest, #17 oppos. 252 Juanita, #27 oppos. 278 Juanita,# 36 oppos. 181 Dalewood,  #42 oppos. 157 Dalewood, #45, 46, 47 oppos. 149 Dalewood, #53 oppos. 117 Dalewood, #70, 71 oppos. 45 Dalewood.

While everyone agrees that hazardous trees should be pruned or removed if necessary for public safety, one of the criteria for this risk determination is based on “suitability for preservation” for sites planned for development: ability to adapt to new environment and perform well in landscape; tolerate impacts such as root injury, demolition …; blue gum and cypress are sensitive to construction impacts …; old trees have limited capacity to adjust to altered environment.” Since there is no development planned along the perimeter of the park and no proposed site changes, this part of the risk rating seems primarily based on the trees being a non-native species and an assumption that they therefore displace indigenous species – even though these trees are all in the MA-3 zone – an area that is to remain forest in the Significant Natural Resource Management Plan for Mt. Davidson Park.

The MPIC Board has asked for Supervisor Elsbernd’s assistance in notifying the club of any changes to this assessment or future ones conducted for the park (which has occurred in Glen Canyon and other natural areas); full removal of these 11 trees from the park; and replacement of the trees one-for-one with Monterey Cypress within Mt. Davidson Park within one year of removal. (The City is not likely to do the replanting to rejuvenate the forest, but we have asked for it anyway).

Potential Trail Closure Ahead

Local environmental activists petitioned the Federal Government to designate the Franciscan Manzanita an endangered species (a single specimen was recently discovered in the Doyle Drive re-construction project) and include Mt. Davidson Park as part of a 380 acre critical habitat in San Francisco. The controversy over closing the Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica gives us a hint of what is in store for our neighborhood park if this designation is approved. Whether an endangered species is found at a location or brought there, the area will be restricted from the public. The area is vaguely described as 12 acres on the eastern slope of Mt. Davidson near Myra Way and Molimo Drive. (See map below – a more detailed map has been requested). At least two popular trails cross through this part of the park and would likely be closed if this approved. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is “looking for specific information related to the amount and distribution of historic habitat and the range of the plant, probable economic impacts of designating critical habitat, and whether the Service should or should not designate critical habitat for the plant.” Comments will be accepted until November 5, 2012. Comments may be submitted online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at (Docket Number FWS–R8–ES–2012–0067) or by U.S. mail to:

Public Comments Processing
Attn:  FWS–R8–ES–2012–0067
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM
Arlington, VA 22203.





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