UCSF to Implement Urgent Fire Measures on Mount Sutro

By Kristen Bole

To reduce fire danger around buildings and structures, UCSF  has begun work to remove some small trees and plants on  Mount Sutro

To reduce fire danger around buildings and structures, UCSF

has begun work to remove some small trees and plants on

Mount Sutro to make the area safer for both UCSF residents

and its neighbors. Here, Christopher Drive is shown after fire

safety work was completed done on Aug. 29.

UC San Francisco will begin urgent fire-safety measures on Mount Sutro later this month to help protect residents and homes adjacent to the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve, as well as the UCSF Medical Center and facilities at Parnassus Heights.

The fire safety measures, which are scheduled to begin Monday, Aug. 26, are in response to a new assessment by the San Francisco Fire Department that found “extra hazardous fire conditions” in the urban forest. In a July letter from the San Francisco Bureau of Fire Investigation, the fire department notified UCSF that 100 feet of fuel clearance is required around all structures within and bordering the Reserve, including water towers, to reduce the fire risk.

“It is critically important to reduce the fire load on Mount Sutro, which means thinning the shrubs, mowing and taking out some small trees to create a buffer zone around structures,” said UCSF Fire Marshal Curt Itson. “It just takes one spark to create a fire that could spread not only on Mount Sutro, but throughout our neighboring communities. With this year’s dry conditions and fire season approaching quickly, it is essential that UCSF perform these basic measures to maintain a safe forest.”

The San Francisco Fire Department has jurisdiction in the event of a fire in the Reserve.

Mount Sutro Reserve

Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve

Click here to learn more about UCSF's ongoing work to protect and maintain this premier natural resource in San Francisco.

In recent years, UCSF has been working with the community to develop a plan to address forest safety on Mount Sutro. While that planning continues for the forest as a whole, the current measures are limited in scope and are intended to specifically address the urgent fire risk for those who live in or adjacent to the forest.

Work will be conducted around the UCSF Aldea Student Housing Complex, Surge and Woods buildings, and water tanks. It also will take place along roadside forest edges within 100 feet of structures along Christopher Drive, Crestmont Drive, Johnstone Drive, Koret Way and Medical Center Way.

Under the guidance of an outside licensed arborist, UCSF will remove approximately 1,250 trees, each less than 6 inches in diameter, while also thinning shrubs and mowing non-woody perennial plants in the 100-foot buffer zone.  All told, the work will encompass approximately 15.6 acres of the 61-acre Reserve.

“The Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve and its trails are a community treasure and our immediate goal is to protect that treasure by addressing the fire department’s urgent concerns,” said Barbara J. French, vice chancellor of Strategic Communications and University Relations. “Simultaneously, we continue to work with the community to develop a long-term plan that further addresses safety issues and is responsive to the community’s concerns.”

For questions about this project, please contact UCSF Community Relations at [email protected].