wide view of Mount Sutro in the distanceVisit Mount Sutro »

Learn more about the history of the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve, and get information for visitors, including a trail map and volunteer opportunities.

 

  • Latest News & Updates
  • Maintaining Mount Sutro
  • Reserve Management Plan and Public Process
  • Technical Advisory Committee

Latest News & Updates

Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve Management Plan Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Meeting #3
August 18, 2016
Aldea Center, 155 Johnstone Drive
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

UCSF will hold the third meeting of the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve Management Plan Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). The TAC is comprised of volunteer experts in forestry, fire hazard reduction, biology, and habitat restoration.  The TAC’s mission is to provide guidance on the scope, techniques, and best practices for a long-term management plan for the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve. 

 

Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve Management Plan Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Meeting #2
Aldea Center on Mount Sutro

UCSF convened its second meeting of the Mount Sutro TAC. The presentation included technical information to guide the Management Plan, including current health of Mount Sutro.

TAC meeting 2 presentation

 

Clarendon Trailhead Information and Design Meeting
Monday, March 14, 2016
Aldea Center on Mount Sutro
155 Johnstone Drive

UCSF is constructing a new trail in the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve that will allow trail users to enter the Reserve from Clarendon Avenue to connect to the trail network on Mount Sutro.  UCSF invited the public to a community meeting to learn more about the trail and to participate in the design of the trailhead.

 

UCSF Forms Technical Advisory Committee to Help Develop Plan for Mount Sutro
December 21, 2015

To ensure the long-term health, sustainability and safety of the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve, UCSF is hiring a forest management consultant to develop a draft plan. UCSF has formed a Technical Advisory Committee comprised of experts with extensive experience in forestry, fire hazard-reduction, biology, and habitat restoration who are volunteering their time to assist in this important process. Learn more by going to the "Technical Advisory Committee" tab on this page.

 

Safety Work in Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve
November 23, 2015

UCSF’s top priority is to ensure the safety of the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve for our visitors, campus buildings and neighboring homes. As is the case across California, the severe, ongoing drought has caused widespread decline in the overall health of the Reserve. UCSF’s two in-house registered arborists have documented an uptick in the number of hazardous trees threatening visitors’ safety and adjacent property and an increased risk of brush and wild land fires. Based on the decline, we are taking immediate steps to mitigate hazardous conditions. Learn more »

 


Community Process Archives

Go to our archives page to access agendas, presentations and documents from past community meetings regarding Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve.

Maintaining Mount Sutro

UCSF is committed to maintaining the Reserve as an important natural resource for San Franciscans and takes seriously its responsibility to keep the site safe and accessible. 

To preserve the beauty, safety and accessibility of Mount Sutro, UCSF Facilities Services performs ongoing general maintenance throughout the Reserve and its trails. UCSF has two certified arborists on staff who are dedicated to preserving the beauty of the natural environment.

Ongoing general maintenance of the Mount Sutro Summit, trails, roadways and areas adjacent to structures and neighboring homes includes:

goats chomping on shrubs
UCSF brings in goat herds to help control vegetation growth on Mount Sutro. Photo by Susan Merrell
  • Removal of storm debris, downed trees or branches, hazardous trees, broom, trash, and campsites
  • Management of overgrown vegetation
  • Bi-annual removal of invasive sprouts
  • Scheduled tree pruning
  • Drain clearing
  • Security patrol

In line with our commitment to a healthy and sustainable Reserve, we discontinued the use of herbicides in 2008. All work is performed using hand and mechanical tools or goats to control vegetation growth. 

Our regular maintenance is independent of the Reserve management plan that is currently being developed and the fire mitigation and hazardous tree removal projects performed as necessary to respond to potentially dangerous conditions in the Reserve.

Sutro Stewards

volunteers working on a trail
Sutro Stewards volunteers helping to maintain a trail on Mount Sutro. Photo courtesy of Sutro Stewards

The Sutro Stewards is a non-profit stewardship program of the San Francisco Parks Alliance. In partnership with UCSF, the dedicated Stewards volunteers build and maintain the nearly 5 miles of trails, as well as perform conservation and habitat restoration work.

Craig Dawson, a native San Franciscan, founded the Stewards in 2006. Dawson has been active as an advocate for protecting and preserving Mount Sutro since he joined UCSF’s Community Advisory Group in 1992.

The Stewards work closely with UCSF’s Facilities Department and have logged thousands of hours building and maintaining the trails. They also helped to develop Rotary Meadow, the native plant demonstration area identified in the 2001 Sutro Plan and funded by the Rotary Club. The Stewards organize volunteer days and manage the supervision and training of the volunteers. 

The Sutro Stewards were recognized by San Francisco Magazine as a group that makes the Bay Area one of the best places to live, work and play. The San Francisco Neighborhoods Parks Council recognized Stewards founder Craig Dawson as volunteer of the month for July 2009.

Learn more about Sutro Stewards »

Reserve Management Plan and Public Process

UCSF’s top priority is to ensure the safety of the Reserve for our residents, patients, visitors, campus buildings and neighboring homes. Across California, the severe multi-year drought has caused widespread decline in the overall health of trees. This is also true in the Reserve. In 2015, UCSF announced that it would begin a process to develop a management plan to ensure the long-term health and sustainability of the Reserve. 

Community Process Archives

Access agendas, presentations and documents from past community meetings regarding Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve.

UCSF is committed to a comprehensive public process for a Reserve management plan that will be developed and reviewed by experts and fully vetted by the community.

UCSF formed a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to provide expert guidance on best practices in forest management. Independent forest management consultants will develop a draft management plan for the Reserve that will be reviewed by the TAC and then vetted by the community. All TAC meetings are open to the public and include an opportunity for community members to ask questions and comment on elements of the plan. Once the TAC has completed its review, UCSF will present the plan to the community for feedback. After we have a final proposed plan, UCSF will begin the environmental review process.

In the coming months, UCSF will schedule several tours of the Reserve so that community members can learn about the current state of the Reserve and how a new management plan will help us restore the health of this unique and beautiful natural open space.  If you would like to join a tour, please contact Christine Garparac, interim director of UCSF Community Relations.

The original Mount Sutro Open Space Management Plan was created in 2001 with the substantial involvement of members of the community. The goals of the 2001 plan included:

  • Ensure public safety and property protection
  • Improve the health of the forest
  • Protect and expand native plants
  • Enhance wildlife habitat values
  • Maintain scenic quality
  • Improve public access
  • Implement the resource management plan

While much of this plan was implemented, no tree thinning has occurred in the Reserve.  The work performed includes: understory clearing to recover an historic trail and other trail improvements by the Sutro Stewards; rehabilitation of a mudslide area caused by a water line break; and hazardous tree removal as needed.

Environmental Review Process

As required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Draft EIR (1) assesses the potentially significant environmental effects of the proposed project, including cumulative impacts of the proposed project in conjunction with past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future development; (2) identifies feasible means of avoiding or substantially lessening significant adverse impacts; and (3) evaluates a range of reasonable alternatives to the proposed project, including the No Project alternative. 

Once UCSF has developed a proposed management plan for the Reserve, UCSF will initiate the environmental review process to determine the possible environmental impacts of the project. We anticipate that we will publish the draft EIR in late 2016 or early 2017.

Technical Advisory Committee

UCSF’s top priority is to ensure the safety of the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve for our visitors, campus buildings and neighboring homes. California’s severe, ongoing drought has led to widespread decline in the overall health of the Reserve, a serious problem facing all forests and open space areas across the state.   

In November 2015, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency due to the 22 million trees that have died due to the drought. “California is facing the worst epidemic of tree mortality in its modern history,” Governor Brown said in a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “A crisis of this magnitude demands action on all fronts.”

The deteriorating conditions in the Reserve include tree mortality, hazardous trees, pest infestations and fire danger. The San Francisco Chronicle highlighted the declining conditions of the Reserve saying, “The forest, in the geographic center of San Francisco, is not only unhealthy and infested with beetles, but a steady rain of falling limbs is dangerous to neighbors and their property, especially if the oily litter and underbrush ever caught fire.” We need to create a comprehensive Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve Management Plan to ensure the long-term health, sustainability and safety of the Reserve. 

UCSF will hire a forest management consultant to develop a draft plan for the Reserve. Key elements will include:

  • Improves safety of the Reserve and protects lives and structures.
  • Addresses hazard reduction and promotes a sustainable forest.
  • Includes a replanting strategy to promote biodiversity.
  • Utilizes a phased-in approach.

UCSF has formed a Technical Advisory Committee comprised of experts with extensive experience in forestry, fire hazard-reduction, biology and habitat restoration who are volunteering their time to assist in this important process. The purpose of the TAC is to provide guidance on the scope, techniques and best practices for the management plan.  UCSF will work with the TAC and independent forest management consultants to develop a draft management plan for the Reserve that will be vetted by the community. UCSF will then begin the environmental review process with a project description based on the recommendations of the consultants, the TAC and the community.

Members of the TAC include:

  • Peter Brastow, Senior Environmental Specialist for Nature, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, San Francisco Department of the Environment
  • Peter Ehrlich, Forester, Presidio Trust
  • Joe McBride, Professor Emeritus of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, University of California Berkeley
  • Lew Stringer, Restoration Ecologist, Presidio Trust
  • Richard Sampson, Forester/Division Chief, CAL FIRE

UCSF will hold three TAC meetings beginning on January 14, 2016 to discuss a wide range of topics necessary for a long-term, sustainable Reserve management plan.  Each meeting will include a public comment period in which neighbors and interested parties will have an opportunity to provide feedback.

UCSF Mount Sutro Open Space Technical Advisory Committee Meeting #3
August 18, 2016
Aldea Center, 155 Johnstone Drive
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

 

UCSF Mount Sutro Open Space Technical Advisory Committee Meeting #2
April 28, 2016
Aldea Center, 155 Johnstone Drive
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

TAC meeting 2 Presentation

UCSF Mount Sutro Open Space Technical Advisory Committee Meeting #1
January 14, 2016
Millberry Union Conference Center, 500 Parnassus Avenue
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

TAC Meeting 1 Presentation

We welcome your feedback and participation. Please contact Christine Gasparac for additional information.