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

KPIX 5: Plan To Save SF's Beloved Sutro Forest
September 10, 2016

Journalist Wilson Walker explains how many of Mount Sutro's trees are dead or dying, but there's a plan to make the forest healthy again. Watch the report »

 

UCSF Proposes New Management Plan for Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve
August 18, 2016

UCSF has released a draft management plan for the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve aimed at restoring the health of its trees following years of drought and pest infestation in order to protect the safety of its community and neighbors. The community is invited to share feedback on the draft management plan at two upcoming meetings in October.

Saturday, October 15. 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Millberry Union
500 Parnassus Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94122

Thursday, October 27. 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Aldea Center
155 Johnstone Drive
San Francisco, CA 94131

 

Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve Management Plan Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Meeting #3
August 18, 2016

UCSF held 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. TAC meeting 3 presentation »

 

Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve Management Plan Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Meeting #2
April 28, 2016

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
March 14, 2016

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. 

 

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.

 


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, resulting in at least 66 million dead trees statewide. This decline is also evident in the Reserve. In response, UCSF began a process to develop a management plan to ensure the long-term health and sustainability of the Reserve.

Current Conditions of the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve

The last several years of drought, disease, and the age of the Mount Sutro’s stand of trees have led to a decline in the overall health of the forest. Overall, there are too many trees in the Reserve to support a healthy canopy. Under ideal conditions, the forest should have many more small-diameter trees than large-diameter. At present, this is true in only a third of the Reserve, but a large proportion of those trees are either dead or in poor health.

There is abundant evidence to suggest that the existing forest will not recover on its own. The data show a continuing trend of declining tree health. Recent years have seen below-average rain, which may continue into the future. For these reasons, we believe the only path to healthy diverse vegetation involves active management and regeneration.

Public Process

UCSF is committed to an open and transparent public process. We know many of our neighbors and people throughout the Bay Area enjoy Mount Sutro, and we want to work with the community to preserve the beauty and safety of the Reserve for years to come.

Community Process Archives

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

In 2015, UCSF formed a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of local experts in forestry, hazard reduction, biology and habitat restoration to provide guidance on best practices in forest management. Working with the TAC, two independent forest management consultants developed a draft management plan for the Reserve.

This fall, we will hold two community meetings in which we will present the draft management plan and solicit feedback from the public. We will also meet with city leaders, environmental leaders and neighborhood groups to get input on the plan from San Francisco residents who are actively engaged in preserving and protecting San Francisco’s natural resources. We’ll host a series of tours of Mount Sutro for anyone who wants to see firsthand the current conditions and understand how the key elements of the management plan will be implemented.

Environmental Review Process

As required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Draft EIR will (1) assess 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) identify feasible means of avoiding or substantially lessening significant adverse impacts; and (3) evaluate a range of reasonable alternatives to the proposed project, including the No Project alternative.

Once the TAC and the public have reviewed and commented on the 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 early 2017.

Draft Management Plan

The purpose of the Mount Sutro Open Space Vegetation Management Plan is to provide a well-researched, well-monitored and intelligent approach to achieve the goals outlined below. Drought conditions and declining tree health have created an immediate need to create a healthy, diverse ecosystem in the Reserve that will be resilient to future drought conditions and the changing climate. The plan will improve the overall health of the Reserve while enhancing the diversity of species that currently exist throughout the Reserve.

Crafted with the guidance of UCSF’s Technical Advisory Committee the draft plan has been prepared to guide short-term and long-term management towards four goals:

  1. Protect the safety of Reserve users and adjoining campus and neighboring properties
  2. Improve and enhance the health and stability of the ecosystem
  3. Enhance the visual design and aesthetic experience
  4. Maintain and ensure public access to the Reserve

During implementation, there will be an ongoing assessment of the plan’s efficacy in reducing hazardous conditions and enhancing the ecological diversity of the Reserve. Regular updates will be provided to the community throughout the implementation process.

Read the full text of the Draft Mount Sutro Open Space Vegetation Management Plan.

If you have other questions or concerns, please read our FAQs.

Technical Advisory Committee

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.

UCSF formed a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to discuss our Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve Management Plan. In developing this plan, the University staff worked with consultants and a Technical Advisory Committee (“TAC”) comprised of experts with extensive experience in forestry, hazard reduction, biology and habitat restoration. All members are volunteered their time to assist in this important process. TAC members provided guidance on the scope, techniques and best practices for the management plan. TAC members included:

  • Peter Brastow, Biodiversity Coordinator, San Francisco Department of the Environment
  • Peter Erlich, 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

Find more information and read the draft management plan crafted with the assistance of the TAC.