Golden Gate Heights Park is a 6 acre park which has .8 acre designated as a “natural
area”. The question must be asked as to why any part of this park is a
“natural area”. There is no vegetation type with a significant native
species component in this park. Clearly, this is NOT a “natural area”. NAP intends to create a “natural area” here. To do so, they will:
- Augment “sensitive” plant population (these are not plants that are protected by law; they are plants local
native plant advocates have arbitrarily designated as “sensitive”).
- Allow access on a newly constructed trail at the periphery of the forest only
- Remove all other trails currently being utilized
- Reintroduce sensitive species of plants
- Destroy non-native plants and shrubs at NAP discretion.
- Reduce “predation pressure”. This would refer to the killing of feral cats and any other wildlife NAP deems unacceptable.
- Leave scattered areas of open sand
- Destroy plants at entry points to the park to make way for native plant gardens.
There is clearly a huge problem
with erosion at this park. NAP places the blame for erosion upon people, their
social trails and access habits. However, the surrounding neighbors of the park
believe that the erosion is being exacerbated by the NAP practice of removing non-native plants and replacing them with native
neighbors are right. Native plants are inferior to non-native plants in controlling
erosion – as was evidenced by the failure of Natural Areas at Fort Ord, along Great Highway,
and at Fort Funston.
Ice plant is the proven solution to sandy slopes which must resist erosion. Furthermore, trees are known to prevent erosion.
The NAP plan intends to remove 5 trees merely because they are non-native. For
these reasons, this plan is in violation of the performance standards established in the San Francisco
Recreation and Park Department’s (SFRPD) own Operational Plan. The first
mandate is to protect public safety. Public safety is not protected by implementing
an inferior erosion control plan which may threaten the homes of taxpayers surrounding the lake area.
There are no species of
plant or wildlife that are considered threatened or endangered by the State or Federal government present at this site. Because there are no pressing ecological reasons to declare this a Natural area, it
would seem prudent to leave the non-native vegetation alone, and augment it further to prevent erosion and the subsequent
damage it may cause to neighbors.
Recent activities by Natural Areas Program staff have included
the removal of non-native vegetation and replacement with native plants. We and
the neighbors don’t understand how NAP is allowed to proceed with these measures without approval of their plan.
In public meetings, neighbors
have attended and warned the Recreation and Park Commission of the possible liability of the City for damage they expect to
suffer. Liability could
be costly for the City, in addition to the cost of creating this new habitat. NAP
has refused to disclose the cost to create this habitat. 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? Will it be sustainable?