An Open Letter to Sam Hawgood, Interim Chancellor, UCSF
UCSF has spent fifteen years and invested a substantial amount of staff time and money toward developing the community-supported, science-based, management proposals for the 61 acre Open Space Reserve on Mount Sutro. The idea of scrapping that investment, and the time contributed by thousands of community members, for reasons left unstated at a public meeting at UCSF on February 11, is folly.
Your decision to back away from managing the Sutro open space for its long-term health, for the safety of visitors and surrounding residents, and even more importantly as a key piece of San Francisco's remaining fabric of interconnected biodiversity is an enormous failure. The failure of UCSF to implement the long standing conservation plans will be reflected poorly on the University of California's legacy of Environmental Conservation, spawned more than a century ago, to protect our natural environment and the plants and animals which reside within.
"University of California faculty, alumni and students were key founders of the Sierra Club in 1892, and UC alumni played a central role in establishing the National Park Service in 1916. A shared philosophy bound these founders together in the interest of conservation. That was, by educating the public about America’s natural wonders, a base of advocates for their preservation would be created. By the 1920s, the University of California took on formal roles with the Sierra Club and National Park Service in pioneering in Yosemite National Park a suite of public education activities, including evening lectures, guided walks, publications, and a museum." Karen Merritt, Director of Academic Planning (retired), UC Berkeley, Center for Studies in Higher Education
There is no excuse worthy of your policy reversal on both the 2001 Mount Sutro Management Plan and the 2013 Mount Sutro Draft EIR. Both plans have been broadly supported by the community and contained science based research on best practices for conservation management of which Sutro Forest is in dire need of. Sadly, one can only assume that the new proposal must be financially motivated or as means to have the land condemned then turned over for development, something this community and the City of San Francisco would never allow to happen. However, this assumption can be substantiated through the number of grants (none) and funding (once from FEMA) the University has attempted to obtain for managing its open space since the 2001 plan was published.
The funding needed for UCSF to begin managing the Sutro open space has been and is available. Investing in the well thought out conservation measures from the original Management Plan will in fact cost UCSF less in the long term than the proposed destruction to our local biodiversity by cutting and mowing down 25 acres of understory habitat, and the continued mismanagement of the remaining 36 acres. Prop 84 earmarked $25 million, administered through WCB, for the UC Natural Reserve System (requests have to be made by UC). Chapter 6, Section 75055(b)(3), reads as follows: Up to twenty-five million dollars may be granted to the University of California for the Natural Reserve System for matching grants for land acquisition and for the management of natural lands and the preservation of California wildlife resources.
The University's abrogation of the 2001 Management Plan and 2013 Mount Sutro Draft EIR will signal that any agreements made with the San Francisco community are not worth the time invested and paper they are written on. Further, for the UC Board of Regents to approve this new and seriously flawed plan would be contrary to what the entire UC system stands for and prides itself in.
"UC is moving aggressively to reduce its impact on the environment…. Our Policy on Sustainable Practice serves as a guide to becoming a better steward of the planet." A statement from the UC website found under "Stewardship"
I urge you again to reconsider the path you choose and to continue with the forward thinking decisions for which the University of California prides itself.
Executive Director, Sutro Stewards