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Propaganda Patrol
Response to Our Critics

Brent Plater (of the Center for Biological Diversity and author of "wildlife villains") claims that there will be replacements for the thousands of trees that the Natural Areas Program proposes to destroy.  Below is a full page of quotes directly from the proposed management plan that makes it clear there are no plans to replace most of these trees.  He also repeats the bogus accusation that the eucalyptus are "molotov cocktails" in San Francisco.  As you may know, our climate conditions are radically different from the places that have experienced fires in eucalyptus groves.  There has never been such a fire here and there isn't likely to be one because we don't have hard freezes that kill the eucs and our foggy summers keep the leaf litter moist during our dry season. 

 

Tree Replacement?

 

These are quotes from the management plan for the Natural Areas Program that suggest that most non-native trees will NOT be replaced with native trees and if they were they would be unlikely to survive in the hilly, windy locations where the non-native trees will be destroyed:

 

“The long-term goal of urban forest management in MA-1 and MA-2 areas is to slowly convert those areas to native scrub, and grassland habitats or oak woodlands.”  (Forest Statement, page F-2)

 

“The goal in most of the MA-1 and MA-2 stands at Sharp Park is the same as for the Natural Areas within San Francisco:  eventual conversion of invasive forest into grasslands and scrub.”  (Forest Statement, page F-6)

 

“The historic San Francisco landscape was dominated by an extensive area of sand dunes in the western part of the City…Prior to urbanization, dune ecosystems supported a form of maritime chaparral…More densely vegetated stands of coastal scrub and rich perennial grasslands covered the hill slopes and summits…Also conspicuous in historic San Francisco were vast grasslands and grassland/scrub mosaics…(Historic Vegetation, page 3-4) emphasis added

 

Trees were not a conspicuous component of the landscape. The earliest botanical descriptions mention coast live oak and dwarf California buckeye scattered on slopes on the northeastern section of the City, and California laurels were described as occurring along the northern shoreline” (Historic Vegetation, page 3-5) emphasis added.  Note:  There are no natural areas in the northeastern section of the City, which is now highly urbanized development.

 

“Two native forest series are identified…These series comprise approximately 17 acres, 2 percent of the total vegetation.”  Of the 363 acres [of non-native forest] (44 percent of the total vegetation) found within the Natural Areas…” (Non-Native Forest Subformation, page 3-11)

 

Blue gum and other large trees such as cypress and pine are also a threat to native vegetation because their large canopies shade the understory species and capture and drop significant amounts of fog drip, which enables invasive herbaceous species in the understory to out-compete the native vegetation.”  (Non-Native Forest Subformation, page 3-11)  Note:  Native trees will also produce shade and fog drip.

 

The natural Areas often are located on ridge lines or the tops of hills.  Because of this, the existing trail systems often lead to locations where unobscured views of San Francisco and the surrounding Bay are available…Site-specific management plans attempt to maintain primary viewsheds from high points within Natural Areas.  (Setting, page 3-15)  emphasis added.  Note:  Native trees did not grow on the tops of hills historically and if they did they would obscure the views that NAP wishes to maintain. 

 

“In order to maintain and enhance public recreational experience, viewsheds should be maintained.  Key viewsheds can be blocked by planting trees and other large vegetation that block key public access points and views.  Views from hilltops and across large Natural Areas are particularly important for the recreational trail user.”  (Recommendation GR11-D, page 5-18)

July 2006

 

Brent Plater claims: "Every area managed by the Natural Areas Program is accessible
to people for their use and enjoyment."
 
 

These are quotes regarding restrictions on recreational access from the plan for the Natural Areas Program:

 

“Management issues include: …effect of human uses (active recreation, poor trail location or too many trails, and a general increase in use) that conflict with conservation values.” (Management Approach, page 2-3)

 

Public use in all Natural Areas, unless otherwise specified, should encourage on-trail use…park signs should be installed or modified as appropriate to include ‘Please Stay on Trails’ …Temporary fencing may be required to allow for damaged areas to be restored.  If off-trail use continues in a particularly sensitive habitat…permanent fencing shall be considered as a last resort once all other options, including enforcement, have failed.”  (Recommendation GR-11, page 5-14)  Emphasis added. 

 

“The Final Draft recommends an approximately 15 percent reduction in off-leash recreational acreage in Natural Areas (from 95 acres to 81 acres).  At Bernal Hill and McLaren Park, DPA acreage would be reduced (by 29 percent and 14 percent respectively)…the Final Draft proposes that additional sensitive habitat areas be monitored for impacts…Also, access by people and dogs would be restricted in small areas at Pine Lake and McLaren Park and a larger area at Sharp Park.”  (Responses to Comments, page 2-2)

 

“In addition there are recommendations designed to protect sensitive wildlife species by limiting access to their habitat…Potential closure areas include…Twin Peaks, McLaren Park, and Bayview Hill…trailside fencing would be installed if other measures are not effective at controlling use in habitat areas.”  (Responses to Comments, page 2-7,8)

 

“Recreation goals:  To provide opportunities for passive recreational uses (e.g., hiking, nature observation) compatible with conservation and restoration goals.” (Management Approach, page 2-2)

 

“The final draft retains the recommendation to close a total of 10.3 miles of social trails within the Natural Areas.” (Responses to Comments, page 2-16)  Note:  This is 26% of all trails in the natural areas.

  

July 2006

 

 

Brent Plater claims:  "The Natural Areas Program is exceptionally cost-effective."

 

COST OF NATIVE PLANT RESTORATIONS

 

Summary

  1. Cost of restoring grassland: $450 per plant or $9 million per acre  
  2. Cost of lessingia/ravens manzanita recovery plan:  $23.4 million
  3. Cost of maintaining Presidio native plant restoration:  $169,000 per year for 90 acres
  4. Cost of attempt to eradicate cape ivy in 137 locations in the GGNRA:  $600,000 for 3 years.  Effort was successful in only 7 locations.

 

Details

 

1.  The following is a communication from Craig Dremann (Proprietor of Redwood City Seed Company and The Reveg Edge*) to the California Native Plant Society NCCP-HCP-forum Discussion dated Fri, 21 May 2004.

Subject: Cost of restorting a CALIFORNIA GRASSLAND set at $9 million/acre

A UC Davis project, funded by Caltrans, has set the price in 2004 of restoring a low-elevation non-riparian native California grassland from scratch, after conducting two years of test plots.

The attempt was made by UC Davis to get two acres of California native grasslands established, but without the use of any any licensed native grassland restoration or licensed ecological restoration technologies.

Instead the project used the currently available public-domain restoration technologies, plus the use of "adaptive management".

In May, 2004, the whole two acre-site contains a total of about 1,000 plants covering less than 1/20th of an acre after two years of work.

That means that using the current public domain technologies, and adaptive management techniques, the costs of restoring a low-elevation, non-riparian grassland in California has been effectively set by UC Davis at $450 per plant, or $9,000,000 per acre.

The results of this study may have significant impacts on grassland mitigation projects around the State that are being currently conducted by CALFED, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and other agencies, The Nature Conservancy in managing land that they own (TNC), and the various Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP) and permits around California that require native grassland restoration.

The actual costs associated with restoring California grasslands, without the use of licensed technologies, may cause native grasslands not to be developed in the future.

Photos of the project can be seen at
http://www.ecoseeds.com/road.test.html

*note: Mr. Dreman has a huge financial interest in the implementation of native plant restorations.

2.   Estimated cost of restoring two endangered species (Raven's manzanita and lessingia)  in Federal Fish & Wildlife recovery plan for these species.  See below copied from the recovery plan, which is on line.  The cost is estimated at over $23 million with a time-line out to 2030 for the manzanita and 2020 for the lessingia. 

"Estimated Costs of Recovery: Approximately $23,432,500 (plus costs to be determined). Costs to be determined include: the costs of public outreach, the costs of implementing vegetation management plans, habitat acquisition for Raven’s manzanita, and site preparation for Raven’s manzanita.

Date of Recovery:

Raven’s manzanita: If recovery criteria are met, downlisting to threatened could occur by 2030.

San Francisco lessingia: If recovery criteria are met, downlisting to threatened could occur by 2020, and delisting could occur by 2030."

The cost of tree removals is a significant element in the lessingia recovery plan.  Approximately 4,100 non-native trees will be removed over a 20-year period (reference:  McBride wind study for the recovery plan).  This in less than 25% of the number of trees that are proposed to be removed by the NAP plans. 

3.  San Francisco Examiner (12/12/05), there is an article about the Presidio trust that projects the cost in 2006 of  “continu[ing] stewardship of 90 acres of native plant communities with focus on endangered species habitat with volunteers” at $169,000. 

Despite this major investment, native plant advocates are not satisfied.  The Dune Ecological Restoration Team says they would like more money and greater emphasis on open space.  They “…asked why the Trust is relying mostly on philanthropic money for expanding the Crissy Field marsh and restoring Mountain Lake.”

 

The size of the Rec & Park Department’s “natural areas” is more than 10 times greater than the 90 acres that are being restored in the Presidio (1,105 acres).  It seems safe to assume that the cost would be proportionately greater if equivalent results were to be achieved, assuming that Rec & Park has as many volunteers (which they don’t presently).

 

4.  In the winter 2006 issue of the journal of the California Academy of Science, California Wild, there is an article about controlling cape ivy.  (“A Curse on Cape Ivy,” California Wild, Winter 2006, page 3-7).  The article contains this report of the cost of attempts to eradicate cape ivy in the GGNRA:

 

“Mechanical control, like flooding, fire, mowing, and pulling out of weeds by human workers, also offers mixed results.  For example, the GGNRA recently spent $600,000 over three years trying to remove Cape ivy.  ‘They measured and mapped and brought in volunteers to pull it out.’ Says Balciunas.  ‘They eradicated it in only about seven of the 137 places where it existed.  It was a good effort, but not very efficient’.”

 

The article is also skeptical about attempts to eradicate invasive species with herbicides, which are used routinely by the Natural Areas Program (the NAP work plans for 2006 that were available at the recent Capital Planning fair propose to spray in every “natural area”):

 

“Chemical methods…sometimes get the job done, but pose hazards to unintended targets such as other vegetation, animals, and humans.  Spraying also requires that most if not all plots of the invading plant be located and destroyed.  Any that are missed can spread their seed and start the infestation all over again.”

 

July 16, 2006

Pine tree