Tree removal project in Golden Gate Park to get underway 

A couple strolling through Golden Gate Park on Thursday morning passed by a tree with a small white sign attached to it saying the perennial is on the chopping block.

The tree is one of 155 that the Recreation and Park Department plans to remove from Golden Gate Park in the coming months. It also plans to plant more. The project is the second phase of a program that targets hazardous trees throughout the park, which has an estimated 25,000 trees and 13 million annual visitors.

Click on the photo to the right to see photos of some of the trees in Golden Gate Park that are scheduled to be removed.

In 2008, voters approved a parks bond that included $4 million for a citywide park forestry program. In 2011, a contractor assessed 3,104 trees in Golden Gate Park, ranking their health on a scale of three to 12, with 12 being the worst. The contractor recommended that 322 be removed, 268 of which had a risk rating of nine or higher.

In 2012, Rec and Park completed the first official phase of the Golden Gate Park tree program, in which 1,337 were evaluated. The department hired a contractor to remove 209 trees and prune 17, according to an update given to a Recreation and Park Commission committee Feb. 6. The first phase of the project concentrated on trees along the perimeter of the open space and near parking lots, buildings and meadows.

The additional trees tagged for removal are now part of the project’s second phase, according to documents. A contractor evaluated 1,767 perennials near streets and children’s playgrounds, and recommended pruning 44 and cutting down 155.

After the removal, which is scheduled to start at the end of February or later, the department plans to plant more than 550 new trees in the park, according to a Rec and Park statement posted to its website Feb. 1.

The Golden Gate Park project, which documents say will cost $1.7 million, is part of the overall parks forestry program.

“We have an estimate of roughly 100,000 trees in our park system that have not received proper care since their planting decades ago,” said Rec and Park spokeswoman Connie Chan. “With limited resources and funding, we have only been able to mitigate emergency tree disasters with our Urban Forestry Program for our daily operation.”

mbillings@sfexaminer.com

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