By Craig Dawson, Executive Director, Sutro Stewards
At a public meeting held on November 21, 2013, the University of California San Francisco made a statement which has left neighbors, the conservation community, and environmentalists stunned. After 15 years of community planning and commitments to maintain and begin restoration of the the 61-acre UCSF Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve, UCSF is now proposing to ABANDON ALL PLANNED CONSERVATION EFFORTS on Mt. Sutro in favor of “mowing” 25 acres of understory as a “Hazard Reduction Measure” and leave the remaining 36 acres untouched.
This will in effect remove critical habitat for wildlife as well as wipe out some of the few remaining indigenous plant colonies. Further this proposal does nothing to address the invasive ivies that are in effect killing the older and healthier eucalyptus trees, effectively suppressing re-growth and preventing the reintroduction of other species where ivies dominate the forest understory.
The revised UCSF plans ignore the restoration of the Woodland Canyon, Woodland Creek, riparian corridor, which is Mount Sutro’s last remaining watershed and seasonal creek, where water often flows well into the summer.
This stunning reversal by the University is in stark contrast to UC’s own legacy within the conservation movement including the founding of the National Parks system, the Sierra Club and the role it played in creating Yosemite National Park. It also ignores San Francisco’s own environmental policies and those of the neighboring GGNRA and Presidio National Park. By not including the conservation options within the revised DEIR this move could in effect prohibit all forms of environmental stewardship to take place within the 61-acre property. Further, by continuing the mismanagement in 36 acres of forest and proposing to leave it untouched, the fire danger will continue to grow on the Northern, Eastern and Western slopes of Mount Sutro as the rapid decline accelerates.