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Mount Davidson Park

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Mount Davidson Park

Although only 3 of the approximately 40 acres in this park have predominantly native plants,   NAP designates all of Mount Davidson as a “natural area”. This violates the underlying premise for NAP.  As stated by NAP Director Lisa Wayne, “preserve what is left of the original habitat and protect it from further degradation…enhance these little remnants that are degraded”.  By those rules, only 3 of the 40 acres should be considered for the natural areas program.

 

75% of Mount Davidson is covered by urban forest, predominantly blue gum eucalyptus, with Himalayan blackberry scrub in its understory.   Himalayan blackberry scrub also dominates the scrub and mosaic portion of Mount Davidson.  Despite the fact that the eucalyptus forest is an important bird habitat, and the Himalayan scrub provides cover for and is an important food source for native birds, the NAP proposal for this park seeks to eliminate much of the forest, and ALL of the Himalayan scrub simply because these trees and plants are non-native. NAP desires to create a grassland and scrub habitat similar to San Bruno Mountain or the Marin Headlands.  The actions to be taken by NAP include:

 

         Elimination of 19% of the trails commonly utilized by people and dogs.

         Visitors to the park will be restricted to the trails NAP has designated, by fencing if NAP deems it necessary.

         A total of 1600 eucalyptus trees will be killed - simply because they are non-native. 1000 small and medium sized eucalyptus trees will be removed in one area.  200 eucalyptus trees of undesignated size will be removed in another area.  In a third area 300 small to medium and 100 large eucalyptus trees are to be removed.

         Additionally, destruction of non-native saplings and seedlings (these are by common definition trees) in areas designated by NAP shall be in total.  NAP officials do not believe they need to be accountable to the public for the number of seedlings or saplings they remove.  Please see Wayne's World Item #4 for further explanation.

         ALL of the Himalayan scrub is to be removed, and replaced with another fruit-bearing plant that is native. 

         Destruction of non-native plants and shrubs at NAP discretion.

         Reduction in “predation pressure”.  This would refer to the killing of feral cats and any other wildlife NAP deems unacceptable.

 

The old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind.  Why risk wildlife by insisting on removing all the Himalayan scrub?  At best, the replacement plants will satisfy the needs of wildlife as well as the Himalayan scrub did.  But what of the fate of the wildlife if these replacement plants are not as well suited to their needs?  Why risk wildlife by removing trees?  The ecosystem here is stable.

 

Although NAP refuses to disclose the cost of creating this new habitat, we believe it is a factor for consideration in the decision making process. Are these funds that could better be spent elsewhere in the park system?  Will there be the manpower and funds to maintain this new habitat, since it is being created in defiance of Mother Nature?

 

The premise for all of this is the protection of “sensitive species and habitats”.  However, there are no State or Federally identified endangered or threatened species on Mount Davidson.  All “sensitive” species referred to in this plan are designations given by the California Native Plant Society and the Golden Gate Audubon Society.  These are designations made by local enthusiasts/activists, not designations that anyone is obliged to regard with any importance.  The above changes in your park are being made to satisfy the preferences of a small group of people who fancy native plants.  Those citizens who appreciate the beauty of trees (and they represent a majority of San Franciscans) are disregarded in this plan. The negative implications for San Franciscans who recreate at Mount Davidson deserve consideration as well.

 

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