Save the Park Trail Forest in the Presidio

This petition made change with 399 supporters!

We the people of San Francisco hereby ask the Presidio Trust to save the Park Trail Forest.

Starting August 25, 2016, the Presidio Trust plans to initiate the destruction of the forest along the popular Park Trail near the San Francisco National Cemetery, ultimately killing up to 500 trees and committing a massacre of one of the most beloved green sanctuaries in San Francisco.

The Presidio Trust then plans on waiting until December to start replanting trees. This puts the area at risk for erosion and flooding and creates an embarrassing and heartbreaking eyesore of environmental destruction for all to witness.

Interviews with residents along the Park Trail over the last few days revealed shock and sorrow over the Presidio Trust’s plans and motivated this petition.

Public Health:  The Park Trail Forest is a popular area visited by thousands of San Franciscans and tourists every week for rejuvenation, exercise, meditation, health and well-being. People take refuge in this green oasis because of its beauty and tree canopy. It is also near a destination Golden Gate Bridge overlook. This forest is making a significant positive contribution to public well-being in San Francisco.

Forest Destruction Will Cause Climate Change:  The Park Trail Forest is enhancing national and regional security by mitigating climate change. This forest’s trees are helping to create a sustainable San Francisco by pulling carbon out of the air. Trees are our greatest source of carbon sequestration in San Francisco and one of our only hopes for reversing climate change. If the Presidio Trust cuts down these trees, 75% of their stored carbon dioxide will enter the atmosphere. This will contribute to climate change in the Bay Area which is threatened by sea level rise.

"No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change," President Obama declared in his State of the Union Address on January 20, 2015. It would be un-American to clearcut the Park Trail Forest. The Presidio Trust is a federal corporation created by Congress in 1996 to preserve, protect, enhance, and manage the Presidio of San Francisco, a designated National Historic Landmark and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The Presidio Trust has many board members appointed by President Obama himself.

Home for Wildlife and Endangered Species:  A multitude of birds and animals make their home in this enchanted forest including hawks, chickadees, finches, other songbirds, yellow tiger swallowtail butterflies, and many other species. Endangered monarch butterflies have been spotted in the flowering part of this forest over the last year. Harming the Park Trail Forest will harm their home.

Government Bird Laws:  A biologist in the area has confirmed that multiple nesting raptors are currently active and dependent on this forest including great horned owls, Cooper's hawks, and red-tailed hawks. Nesting season continues through the end of August. There are strict rules against disturbing birds per the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and San Francisco County Municipal Code. August 25th seems too soon to begin harming bird habitat and might even be illegal per official government policy.

Trees Appear Healthier Than Spire Trees:  The Presidio Trust said on August 22 that these trees are “old and dying and don’t have any branches or greenery on their trunks except at the top.” A careful examination of the Park Trail Forest shows that this is questionable. Specifically, the trees surrounding the Cemetery Overlook appear to be younger, healthier and greener than those near the Spire sculpture.

This also seems to be about liability. The Presidio would rather decimate a forest than risk having one tree fall. As a Presidio Trust representative said to me, "A few of the trees are coming down on their own, and the rest --- we are going to help them come down." 

In an odd twist, history is also working against trees in the Presidio. Because some groves are designated historic landmarks, they must be "maintained." In order to maintain the "visual quality" of a grove, Presidio Forestry has decided that they must take down an entire stand in a short period of time, rather than let individual trees die slowly in a natural way. Clearcutting enables the Presidio to replant all of the trees in a short period of time, so that in 100 years, a grove will once again appear as it does today, and "history" will be "maintained."

This imminent tree massacre by the Presidio Trust is slated to occur near the San Francisco National Cemetery. As the soldiers died, so will the trees and wildlife die unless the Presidio Trust halts their plan and elects to save them.

Ironically, August 25th, the day the Presidio plans to start mobilizing for tree removal, is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

We ask the Presidio Trust – please do not destroy one of the few sanctuaries with significant tree canopy left in San Francisco. This would be a grave mistake that would harm public heath, the environment, and national security. Please involve the people and hold a community meeting. Please save the green oasis that is the Park Trail Forest. Thank you for your consideration and help.

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