Sutro Stewards Response to UCSF Mount Sutro Draft Environmental Impact Report

August 18, 2017

 

August 2017

 

Take action for the long term health and sustainability of Mount Sutro! We have a big opportunity for improved user experience, native habitat, and biodiversity - but we need your voice! Please join us and make comment in support of Alternative 4 and increased native biodiversity.

 

Send written comment to EIR@planning.UCSF.edu by September 22 at 5pm.

 

Sutro Stewards recognize the need for a long-term management plan for the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve to proactively manage the Reserve for long-term health, sustainability, and access, for the benefit of people and wildlife. Sutro Stewards advocate for a management plan that promotes ecological health and resilience, increases native biodiversity, and expands quality wildlife habitat. We also advocate for a plan that engages the local community and utilizes the active volunteer support our programs have fostered over the last ten years. (Sutro Stewards initial principles for inclusion in the management plan can be found here.)

 

In response to the UCSF Mount Sutro Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), Sutro Stewards advocates for Alternative 4: Modified Forest Treatments and Increased Native Tree Planting, detailed in the DEIR, found to be “Environmentally Superior” while meeting all of project objectives.

 

Based on the analysis… Alternative 4 is the environmentally superior alternative because it would (1) avoid the significant and unavoidable aesthetics impact from seed tree and group selection treatment areas, and (2) reduce the potentially significant impact from fire hazards of the proposed plan without significantly increasing other impacts across other environmental parameters. Alternative 4 would also be an environmental improvement over the proposed plan and Alternatives 1 and 2 because it would improve GHG sequestration, native habitat, and visual resources within portions of the Reserve without causing any greater impacts.

- University of California, San Francisco Vegetation Management Plan for the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve Draft Environmental Impact Report, July 2017, Section 5, p. 26 (p. 426).

 

Sutro Stewards advocates for DEIR Alternative 4 and encourages UCSF to adopt Alternative 4 with the following considerations, which we feel are shortcomings of the current proposed plan.

 

We advocate for further consideration of the management goals and impacts on the following:

  • The Reserve will benefit from increasing locally appropriate, native plant populations that promote biodiversity and quality habitat for wildlife. Habitat types should be selected to improve ecological health and long-term resilience to better address drought conditions and a changing climate.

  • The current management plan does not adequately consider impacts to the existing native plant habitat within the Reserve. Presently the Open Space contains 25% or more predominantly native plant understory, some of which represent high quality habitat including locally rare species. Areas of majority native plant habitat should be protected, enhanced, and expanded upon.

  • The current plan’s goal for 5% native plant habitat is insufficient. The final plan should have a goal of at least 50% (30.5 acres) predominantly native vegetation across the entire site by the end of Phase III.

    • This goal can be achieved through conserving the approximately 18 acres (including Rotary Meadow) of open space with majority native plants, enhancing high potential sites, as well as restoration of degraded habitats through weeding, planting, and maintenance.

  • Much of the open space contains an understory of invasive plants that outcompete other vegetation for resources, decrease biodiversity, and limit overstory species regeneration. Sutro Stewards supports UCSF’s current position to not use herbicides; invasive vegetation management should be carried out utilizing manual and mechanical methods by crews and supported by habitat volunteers.

  • The interconnectivity of Mount Sutro and the role the open spaces plays in the larger region is not currently adequately considered. Mount Sutro is not an island, but part of a series of interconnected open spaces throughout the City. Local wildlife species all rely on the important interconnected open spaces still remaining in our urban environment for food, water, shelter, and space.

  • The open space will benefit from a management plan that includes engagement of our community and utilize the active volunteer support our programs have fostered since 2006. This involvement provides opportunities for the public to play an active role in the care of our open spaces, builds community, and instills a sense of pride, appreciation, and custodianship for our open spaces, while offering a variety of educational and recreational possibilities.

  • Sutro Stewards supports the plan’s safety and recreational access improvements to the Reserve. Mount Sutro is a significant resource for the community for recreation and access to nature, and safe, sustained, quality multi-use recreation should be a large component of long term management.

 

Written comments will be accepted until September 22 at 5pm. Send written comments to the attention of Ms. Diane Wong, UCSF Campus Planning, Box 0286, San Francisco, CA 94143 or email to EIR@planning.UCSF.edu.

 

Please consider making both verbal comment (at the public hearing on Thursday, August 24 at 6:30pm at Millberry Union) as well as written comment.

 

 

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Sutro Stewards is a project of the San Francisco Parks Alliance, a 501(c)3 California nonprofit public benefit corporation.

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