Destroying Wildlife Habitats
September 3, 2012 4 Comments
Glen Canyon is home to a lot of birds, animals and other wildlife. There’s the famous Great Horned Owl’s regular nesting tree. Bewick’s wrens nest in Glen Canyon, too, and birders have seen over 50 species there. Then there are animals: coyotes, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, and rodents that are prey for the coyotes and hawks and owls. There are two natural bee hives in tree hollows.
TREES ARE HABITAT
This plan would destroy important habitat for the wildlife that lives here.
Much of the wildlife in the canyon uses or benefits from the tall, majestic trees. The eucalyptus hosts many species and sizes of birds, from the Great Horned Owls to the tiny Brown Creeper. The Monterey pine is habitat for kinds of birds and insects and other wildlife that need conifers.
Even the dead and dying trees that would be cut down have important habitat value: they are critical for cavity nesting birds and animals; they attract insects that are food for woodpeckers and other birds; they host interesting fungi that cannot grow elsewhere. They increase the biodiversity of the environment.
The nativists argue that native plants are better habitat for insects and thus for the whole ecosystem. It’s not true. Recent research from Professor Douglas Tallamy indicates that insects eat non-native plants as enthusiastically as native ones. (Click HERE for an article about that research.)
[Click HERE for a beautiful series of pictures of the Birds of Glen Canyon Park.]
NATURAL BEE HIVE TREE TO GET THE AX
Quite sadly, one pine tree targets for cutting is home to one of the bee hives in Glen Canyon. (This would be in addition to one inadvertently destroyed last year.) [Edited to Add: Work by the bee-keeping community of San Francisco has apparently resolved this through discussions with the SF RPD. The tree, which is assesses as hazardous, will be amputated at the 60-70 foot level, thus reducing the risk while hopefully preserving the hive.]
Even the lovely, gnarly acacia that provide a screen beneath the towering Eucalyptus along the Rec Center will be gone. Acacia is also an extremely valuable habitat tree; its seeds are a food source for insects and birds, and the thick understory is a place for birds to hide from predators and build nests.
SF native plant gardens certainly have value but Rec & Park has not proven that they can create and sustain native plant gardens outside of wetland areas. It is time to stop ripping out healthy and self-sustaining landscaping and instead start spending time caring for and maintaining what we are fortunate to have with majestic, healthy trees in our urban open space areas.