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Archive for the ‘Parks’ Category


Mountain Lake fish population wiped out today with poison; removal underway

Photo: Pete Kiehart / The Chronicle

As part of an ongoing effort to remediate and restore Mountain Lake to its natural beginnings, the Presidio Trust today took a final step to eradicate the non-native fish population from the lake.

Workers from the Presidio Trust and contractor Fish Control Solutions poured 47 gallons of a poison solution into the 4-acre lake this morning. The solution, which contains 5 percent rotenone, suffocates fish (or anything with gills). The solution is not strong enough to harm other animals like birds that could eat the carcasses or humans that come into contact with the solution.

Workers concluded the four hour poisoning process this morning and by 1pm, estimated that they had recovered 200-300 carp that floated to the surface.

Of the several hundred thousand fish that are in Mountain Lake, planners expect about 20% of the dead fish to float to the surface, and the remaining 80% to sink to the bottom of the lake. Most of the surface fish should be removed today, while a trawler will be employed to remove the fish on the bottom. It’s unclear how long that process will take.

Workers poured the poison solution into the lake from rowboats. Photo: Pete Kiehart / The Chronicle

Most of the fish will be composted in the Presidio, but a “couple of boatfuls” will be given to the Academy of Sciences for research. The Academy will conduct genetic tests to determine where the fish came from.

All traces of the poison solution, which decomposes when exposed to sunlight, are expected to disappear from the water within three days. 6 foot cyclone fences were erected by the lake shore prior to the poisoning per EPA guidelines; they will remain in place for 3 weeks.

This extreme step to eradicate the fish population by poisoning was taken after other measures were employed to remove the array of non-native species that made their home in Mountain Lake, but without complete success. Many of these fish found their way into the lake through dumping from local residents.

Prior to the poisoning, the Trust captured and relocated thousands of fish, turtles and other invasives but found it impossible to capture all the fish. Especially since they were only employing a couple of interns to capture the sometimes monstrous fish.

To prevent residents from dumping their aquatic friends into the lake in the future, the Presidio Trust will have a tank alongside the lake – a kind of safe harbor for relinquished aquatic pets. An education campaign is also planned.

About 100 onlookers, including media, came out to Mountain Lake to watch the poisoning process, which was overseen by Park Police. A “Designated First Amendment Area” was marked with a sign, but no protesters came out.

In about 6 months, conservationists will begin reintroducing native species like three-spined sticklebacks, western pond turtles and chorus frogs.

Thanks to cub reporter David H. for help on this story.

Sarah B.

Two poisoned carp that were shown to the media. Photo: Pete Kiehart / The Chronicle

One of the beastly fish that was removed in prior eradication attempts. Photo by Jonathan Young

Some onlookers near the playground. Photo by David H.

Photo: Pete Kiehart / The Chronicle

Photo by David H.

Photo by David H.

5:35 pm | Posted under Parks | 19 comments

Local links: Mar’s water usage, Bib Gourmand winners, Mt Lake fish & more

The pipeline on the North Shore of Hawaii. Photo by Fred Larson

Here are some local links to take you into the weekend – have a great one!

  • While come California officials have increased their water consumption during the drought, our own Supervisor Eric Mar has proven to the biggest water conservationist, according to The Desert Sun. “The most miserly official in California was Eric Mar of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, who lives in a condominium in the Inner Richmond district, part of the city’s fog belt. He used 45 gallons per day in 2013 — about enough to fill a bathtub.” We asked Mar’s office for water-saving tips from the Supe, but they declined to comment. Could it be that he’s spending even more time at his beloved YMCA jacuzzi?
  • Michelin recently announced the 2015 Bib Gourmand winners, their award for the best moderately-priced restaurants. Several Richmond District restaurants made the list: Chapeau!, Hong Kong Lounge II, Kappou Gomi, Sichuan Home, and Troya. [EaterSF]
  • Remember all those creepy, prehistoric-looking fish that the Presidio Trust was trying to evict from Mountain Lake? After three years of unsuccessful eradication, the Trust announced recently that they will be using rotenone in the lake to finish the job. Rotenone is a short-lived chemical that only kills animals with gills, e.g. the fish in Mountain Lake. Workers will apply 47 gallons of the product in a 5 percent solution in liquid form at Mountain Lake during a single day in mid-November. Expect the lake to be closed a couple of days prior to the treatment, and for up to three weeks afterwards.
  • Photojournalist Fred Larson will be at the Richmond District branch library (351 9th Avenue) on October 28 at 6:30pm to share work from his latest trip to Hawaii “where he hung out with the surfers”. Watch his latest slideshow and get tips from this seasoned photographer. Free admission.
  • Looking for a new ‘do? Check out Kinship Salon & Barber, a new salon that opened on the corner of Clement Street and 4th Avenue. We love what they did with the interior of the space, and so far Yelpers are big fans of the Aveda salon. Owner Ashley tells us, “We have really been enjoying meeting all the neighbors of this amazing neighborhood.” Word on the street is that it’s a family affair – Ashley is married to the owner of Blue Danube cafe.
  • Good news for riders of the Muni 31AX bus. Peter Lauterborn, aide to Supervisor Mar, sent out an email recently about some planned improvements. “The good news is that Muni is hiring around 40 new drivers a month. This should have an immediate improvement in service City wide. Second, in the Spring of 2015 Muni will embark on the first round of service increases around the City. Based on your testimony and our pushing, the MTA has agreed to change their plan and include a service bump for the 31AX.”
  • There’s a new “small” business on Clement called Wee Scotty. Team member Dana tells us “We’re a fashion school and retail store and we just moved in at 609 Clement. We offer sewing classes for all ages and skill levels and have been working on getting to know the community.”
12:05 pm | Posted under Classes, Eric Mar, Events, Food, Muni, Parks | 4 comments

New fence going up around troubled property bordering Sutro Heights Park

Photo by Jason J.

We’ve written a couple of times on the blog about the troubles at the southern border of Sutro Heights Park, including one late night fire in January 2013, and the reclusive resident who lives adjacent to the park.

For several years, the adjoining property – more specifically the fence surrounding it – has been neglected. Homeless encampments have often found refuge within the fence boundaries, sometimes starting campfires.

The home (and the one next to it) is occupied by a Wing King, a licensed physician who last practiced endoscopy at UC San Francisco. In March 2013 the Examiner wrote a story about King and his house woes, which included multiple fires on the property since 2004, false 911 calls, and lawsuits related to his business dealings. When a fire does break out, it’s challenging for SFFD as they have to access the location from down below on Balboa Street.

But to the delight of some neighbors and park users, improvements are being made to King’s property which should help prevent further issues with homeless encampments.

Earlier this year, a chain link fence was installed along the western edge of the property that borders the trail that runs up from Balboa Street into the park’s south side.

And last week, we received the above photo from reader Jason J., who noticed private contractors were installing a new fence on the property’s north side.

“I was pleased to see that workers are repairing the horrible fence on the Dr. King property,” Jason wrote to us. “Perhaps this sort of positive event happens every few decades. Better late than never.”

In March of last year, the city tried to address King’s property neglect by giving him 15 days to prove that the homes are occupied or he faced penalties of up to $7,000 per home. We don’t know what happened with the case, and it’s unclear if these latest improvements are a result of city or legal pressure.

Whatever the impetus, let’s hope this prevents further homeless encampments and issues from arising.

Sarah B.

A diagram showing where the SFFD set up at 48th and Balboa to tackle the 2013
fire that broke out. The red line illustrates the path they took with their
hoses to fight the blaze.

5:12 am | Posted under Parks | 4 comments

Richmond Rec Center one of 32 places now offering free WiFi in the city

Today, the city of San Francisco rolled out free WiFi in 32 public spaces across San Francisco, including the Richmond Recreation Center on 18th Avenue between California and Clement.

The new service is part of a new program from the city’s Department of Technology, who used a $600,000 donation from Google to fund the initiative.

The 31 other locations now offering free WiFi include parks, recreation centers and plazas. 2 of the parks – Dolores Park and Boeddeker Park – are under construction and will come online in a few months. See the full list

The new network is called #SFWiFi, so if you’re in the vicinity of the free WiFi, look to connect with that name in your network list. The older the network name “_San_Francisco_Free_WiFi” will no longer be available.

This new program should make city teens happy, according to the Trust for Public Land’s Parks for People. Durign the program’s design phase, they held a focus group with teenagers and asked them what would make them go to parks more. Their answer was simple: “WiFi”.

Sarah B.

10:43 am | Posted under News, Parks | 2 comments

Beach at Mountain Lake closed due to algae bloom; steer clear of water

This week, the Presidio Trust closed off access to the small beach at Mountain Lake due to an occurrence of Blue-Green algae (Microscystis aeruginosa) in the lake, which has the potential to have adverse effects on human and animal health.

The full statement on the closure is below, sent out by Michael Boland, Chief of Planning, Park Projects, and Programs for the Presidio Trust.

In the meantime, keep your pooches on leash and your kiddos nearby, away from the water in the lake.

Sarah B.


As you may be aware, a large algae bloom is currently occurring in Mountain Lake. Annual summertime algae blooms occur in many water bodies around California and historically at Mountain Lake. Blooms are typically caused by a combination of excess nutrients, warmer temperatures and ample sunlight, and may last several months.

We expected a significant bloom at Mountain Lake this summer due to the recent above average temperatures and the amount of suspended nutrients in the water resulting from the recent dredging of the lake bottom. The current bloom is expected to dissipate in the fall. However we recently identified a type of Blue-Green algae (Microcystis aeruginosa), which has the potential to have adverse effects on human and animal health, in the lake. Out of an abundance of caution and to ensure the safety of park visitors and their pets, we are going to restrict access to the beach until this algae bloom subsides. This morning Trust crews temporarily closed off the access to the Mountain Lake beach, and we will be installing signage by the end of the day. Today we also plan to send an email to the Mountain Lake mailing list to be sure we get the word out broadly.

As you know, we are in the midst of ongoing work on a number of restoration projects at the lake including installation of an aeration system, eradication of invasive fish, replanting of submerged aquatic vegetation, and reintroductions of native plant and animal species. All of these measures will improve the health of the lake and help reduce the likelihood of large algae blooms in the future.

We will keep you informed on the safety of the lake as conditions progress and notify you when the beach is ready to reopen.


4:30 am | Posted under Parks, Pets | Add comments

KQED Forum discusses recent Golden Gate Park vandalism

Broken tree branches caused by a vandal in Golden Gate Park. Photo: Katie Meek, The Chronicle

KQED Forum host Michael Krasny took on the topic of vandalism in Golden Gate Park in this morning’s show. Last week, vandalism was reported in the AIDS Memorial Grove in the park in the form of damage to benches and trees, as well as one report of a city parks department truck getting its windows smashed.

Krasny asked what can be done about it, and he was joined by Marc Massarweh, San Francisco district attorney liaison assigned to work with Richmond Police Station, Captain Simon Silverman of the SFPD Richmond District station, and Phil Ginsburg, General Manager of SF Recreation & Parks Department.

There are a variety of challenges to preventing this kind of behavior including limited police patrols, the sheer size of the park (1,017 acres), and the unpredictable bad behavior of people who are mentally unbalanced.

Captain Simon Silverman asks residents to call police right away if they see something suspicious, such as vandalism or someone who seems suspicious or posing a danger to others.

One caller suggested that drones be used to monitor the park in the evening hours when legally, the park is closed to people and activity.

Massarweh said that only two people have been successfully prosecuted in the past year for vandalism in the park and that “it took a long time to build a case against them”.

Despite the ongoing issue of vandalism in the park, Ginsburg maintained that “we have the best urban park system in the country” but said that we need a “cultural shift so people will regard the park as sacred space”.

In one ironic moment, Krasny describes being in Marx Meadow over the weekend when a completely naked man sauntered through their picnic.

“There were people who were offended and felt that something should be done because children were there,” Krasny said.

Listen to the full audio of the Forum broadcast below:

Sarah B.

Tree vandalism continues in Golden Gate Park, saplings are latest targets
Who’s killing the trees in Golden Gate Park?

1:32 pm | Posted under Parks | 5 comments

Mountain Lake Park playground renovation nears its fundraising goal

A rendering of the new playground, as viewed from the Mountain Lake entrance

Last November, we told you about the project that is underway for a much needed renovation of the playground at Mountain Lake Park.

The planned renovation will feature brand new structures and separate play areas for preschool and school age children. The new playground will also have additional seating, expanded picnic and parents’ areas, and enhanced lake views. For improved safety and accessibility there will be limited entry points, smooth surfaces throughout, and improved sight lines for watching multiple children.

The playground was last renovated in the early 1980’s, and is well overdue for an upgrade. The $3.1 million cost for the playground renovation is primarily covered by a 2012 bond measure, but a small group of neighborhood Moms undertook the task of raising the remaining funds.

“It’s critical that we raise $750,000 by May of next year,” Claire Myers told us last November, who teamed up with friends and fellow moms Jen Fetner and Kate Green to create the Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground to lead the renovation effort.

A rendering of the new playground, as viewed from the 12th Avenue entrance

Fast forward to today and the group has some exciting news to share.

“Supervisor Mark Farrell successfully helped to secure an additional $250,000 in funding from the City for the playground renovation recently. This additional funding, as well as our very successful fundraising campaign this past spring, means that we only have the last $150,000 to raise to make our new playground a reality,” Myers told us in an email.

Now, Myers said, they’re on a final push to raise the remaining $150,000 which needs to be in place for construction to begin this Fall. If everything stays on schedule, kids will be playing on a new Mountain Lake Park playground in Fall 2015.

The FMLPP is now turning to the community (that’s you, readers!) to help them reach their goal. Donations are tax-deductible and can be sent in online through the Parks Alliance website, or by sending a check to:

San Francisco Parks Alliance*
P.O. Box 170160
San Francisco, CA 94117-0160
*In the memo line of your check, please write “Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground”

Any amount is appreciated – even $20 makes a difference – and donations at the $1,000 level or higher are eligible for recognition in the new playground via pavers, park benches and more. Merchants and businesses are also welcome donors.

To find out more about the Mountain Lake Park playground renovation, visit the FMLPP website or email info@flmpp.org.

Sarah B.

A rendering and examples of the structures in the pre-school side of the new playground. Click to enlarge

A rendering and examples of the structures in the school-age side of the new playground. Click to enlarge

4:30 am | Posted under Parks | 3 comments

Saturday family movie nights at Cabrillo Playground; starts Aug. 9

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Cabrillo Playground re-opened after a $4.5 million remodel. Beginning this Saturday night, the playground will host three movie nights for families.

The lineup is as follows:

August 9: Toy Story
September 6: Finding Nemo
October 11: The Incredibles

Movies are free and will be shown inside the Cabrillo Playground Clubhouse, located at 851 38th Avenue. Doors open at 5:30pm and the shows begin at 6pm. All children MUST be accompanied and SUPERVISED by an adult at all times.

Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets, pillows & sleeping bags to get comfy; PJ attire is optional.

The kitchen will also be available to attendees if they want to prepare snacks or meals.

Sarah B.

5:12 am | Posted under Events, Kids, Parks | 4 comments