19th Century Monterey Pine Stand will be removed from The Presidio of San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Planted by the U.S. Army in the 19th century, Monterey Pines have been standing for 130 years in The Presidio of San Francisco.

The trees' beginning is rooted in an army major's plans to build a forest in the Presidio. And now their end is about returning to roots that naturally exist in the park.

"I'm all for restoring the Presidio back to its natural habitat," said Noel Chasse, who has lived near the Presidio for 20 years. She supports cutting down the trees, which the Presidio Trust says are at the end of their lifespan and vulnerable to breaking or falling, especially during a winter storm.

Chasse says she worries about the same thing.

"We have concerns on high windy days, trying to say, stay away from the forest, because we don't know whether or not there's a safety issue with the trees," she said.

The three-acre Monterey Pine stand is along the Mountain Lake Trail, directly behind the Presidio Landmark apartments, where residents are acutely aware of the tenuous timber.

"A tree made this huge sound, nobody knew what it was, and people came looking and calling the office. We were frightened," exclaimed Sands Tucker, who lives in the apartment building and says last month, one of the pines crashed into a metal gate that borders the property. "I'm not for taking trees down, but if it's a safety issue, then go right ahead."

The pine trees will start coming down this week. The loud and dusty process will take place Monday-Friday from 8am-4:30pm for the next four to six weeks.

After the trees have been removed, the Presidio Trust says they'll be replaced over the next three years with native plants, like oak woodland, coastal dune scrub, and the federally endangered San Francisco lessingia, a dune annual wildflower.

The Presidio Hills tree removal is part of ongoing maintenance in the Presidio. Several other Monterey Pine groves were removed this summer - one along Park Blvd, just west of San Francisco National Cemetery, and the other, along Arguello Blvd near the Spire sculpture and the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

Reforestation from years past is taking shape with small but growing trees and plants. And, dying trees live-on, re-purposed as wooden works of art and park infrastructure.
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