So, the past week or so, the media reported that UCSF is about to cut down approx. 30,000 out of the 45,000 trees that stand in Mount Sutro forest. This is a forest of eucalyptus trees that was planted over 100 years ago by Mr. Sutro of Sutro bath‘s fame. He was the main developer and land owner of these western lands when SF was being built. He even built himself a railroad line all the way out to the beach where his mansion sat on the bluff above the Cliff House (which he built… several times after each one burned down) in order to bring tourists out to enjoy his baths, the cliff house and the ocean.
Adolph Sutro was a very generous man. They dont make philanthropists like they used to i tell you! I do wonder though what Mr. Sutro would say now. Where he would fall on this debate. After all, this forest has stood virtually untouched since he planted it in the 1800’s.
Adolph Sutro himself was quite an interesting man in his own right. People know of the big 4… Crocker, Huntington, Standford and Hopkins who struck it rich in the Comstock Lode. However, although not mining the silver, Sutro also made his fortune here as well by providing the pumps to the mines.
There was estimated 3 to 4 million gallons of water pumped out of those mines. And… Sutro was smart enough to get out when he saw things drying up (no pun intended). After which he came with riches in tow to San Francisco and laid down roots.
Once Adolph Sutro got into San Francisco, remained a force to be reconed with, being one of the bigger power players in the citys large growth. Sutro also was elected Mayor of San Francisco for a few years in the late 1890’s.
Back to the trees… instead of re-wording it for you all here, i am taking this excerpt from Wikipedia to tell you about the forest that Sutro planted….
Sutro managed a great increase in the value of his outlying land investments as a direct result of the development burst that his vacationers’ railroad spawned. He also increased the value of his lands by planting his property at Mount Sutro with saplings of fast-growing eucalyptus. This occurred at the same time as city Supervisors granted tax-free status to “forested” lands within city limits. Small fragments of the forest still exist. The largest is at Mount Sutro, where 61 acres (250,000 m2) are the property of the University of California, San Francisco, and another 19 are property of the City of San Francisco.
So, with UCSF unceremoniously wanting to cut such a large portion of the little tiny bit of forest that SF has at all, obviously, this is a decisive situation. I personally am for just leaving the poor little critters and wonderful wind block alone… but there has been a lot of conversation about it.
Uppercasing did a great article which has donned a lot of conversation about this issue. I am posting one of my reply’s to another commenter because i do not need to write it twice. I still feel the same way….
Maybe not originally native, but what is here in San Francisco? What… Are they going to restore the area to be filled with dune grass? Gotta have dunes to have dune grass. So, just knock out some of the sunset and replace the sand dunes coming up from ocean beach? These eucalyptus have been there since Mr. Sutro planted them well over 100 years ago… as a wind break. Who gave UCSF this right in the first place? Isnt it city land if it is in an open space reserve? Why was UCSF able to purchase open space reserve land? When did they purchase it? What laws are stipulated with the land transfer? One would think that these things would have been well outlined when the transfer took place. This smells stinky for sure to me….
Would it be okay for me to join in (Webmaster, SaveSutro)?
UCSF does own the land, 61 acres of it. They were given some of it by Adolph Sutro, and purchased some part of it. It’s a naturalized forest, over a century old. It’s an Open Space Reserve by a resolution of the UC Regents. Part of the forest – 19 acres adjacent to Cole Valley and Clarendon – does belong to the city and falls under the Natural Areas Program
Thanks for sharing your clear and informative knowledge. Interesting… You threw in a fact that now has me kind of split. I had not realized that it was actually given to UCSF by Sutro himself. This is an interesting fact. However, i am also torn by the fact that i know we are killing a LOT of living things and homes of those things and a natural community. I like to believe that all things have a soul and possibly the ability to feel emotion. From a tree to a frog to an ant. Taking out so many of those trees are ABSOLUTELY going to kill perfectly otherwise healthy animals and plants that aren’t bothering anyone and just would like to be left alone. I am also bothered by the concept that Sutro originally installed all of the eucalyptus trees as a wind break, and they serve their job perfectly. There is SO MUCH fog and atmospheric moisture that surrounds that peak due to our ever present marine layer, I doubt that that particular part of SF would be at the top of my list for most fire danger. And i have found that it is not the natural areas (ok… aside from Angel Island’s fire a few years ago) but the built areas. Humans are WAY more likely to start any fire than say, a lightening strike that misses Sutro Tower and instead zaps a euc? Highly doubtful so that leads me back to the last thing that still bothers me. That is the reason for doing it. I was raised by the concept that it if aint broken dont fix it. And corporations live by the concept that they live for the bottom line. If they dont have to spend the money on something that does not directly benefit them, then there is no reason to spend the money. So.. How would a big corporation like UCSF want to benefit from taking on this huge project that is relatively unnecessary to their quest to advance medicine and thus make a boat load of cash. I hate to have to live in a world that i have to be so suspicious in but, it is just the reality that is….
What do you think? Do you care? Would you care to join the conversation? I think that this is important. It is part of original San Francisco and at a time when corporate developers haver seemed to have taken over San Francisco, i think it is important that these things are really discussed before doing such hasty and irreversible actions.
If you would like to read the whole article and comments on Uppercasing, you can link it here…
- Sutro Heights: winter on edge of world (sfgate.com)
- SF Firefighters Put Out Blaze In Park Above Cliff House (sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)
- An Afternoon at Sutro Baths (Photo Gallery) (multoghost.wordpress.com)
- Then & Now: Geary Boulevard Once Cut Past Cemeteries and Sand Dunes (sf.curbed.com)
- Sutro Baths Ruins (dcuk365.com)
- Then & Now: From Whale Mansion To Mega Tower (sf.curbed.com)
- No Property Damage Or Injuries In Sutro Heights Park Fire (sfappeal.com)