April 2nd 2015 The San Francisco Board of Supervisors held hearings on access reform in the San Francisco Watershed. The hearings sponsored by Supervisor John Avalos and Co-Sponsored by Supervisor Scott Wiener with coordination from San Mateo Supervisor Dave Pine.
Advocates from Open the SF Watershed were attended, as were our wonderful allies at the SF Urban Riders who came in force. A representative of the Bay Area Ridge Council spoke, they have worked tirelessly to increase access to the Fifeild-Cahill trail in the watershed now and decades past.
There were a host of other voices in support of increased access in the Watershed including, Carl from TrailStompers represented long distance trail runners, Kamala Wolfe from San Francisco Peninsula Open Space Coalition and citizens who displayed a variety of reasons why it is logical and prudent to expand access as soon as possible, whist maintaining a balance between public access and environmental protection. Many noted the benefits increased access could have on the environmental dangers the watershed faces now. In total twenty people spoke in favor of increased access and two spoke in opposition.
One of the people who spoke in opposition is Jake Sigg, a person we respect but disagree with on this topic. The other was a surprise to us, Mike Ferreira, a representative of the Loma-Prieta Chapter on the Sierra Club. He seemed to be very angry many of our advocates were taken-a-back when he inferred that John Muir would not want people to walk on the service roads in the SF Watershed. This goes against the Sierra Club motto (Sierra Club Motto Explore, Enjoy, Protect) and also against the words and ethos of John Muir himself (some quotes below). We do very much respect the Sierra Club and the work they do. We do find it ironic that they would not only advocate against their own stated ethos. Also they would ask residents of San Francisco to spend oil to drive to Marin or the South Bay to find real open space, when they correctly often note the toll the carbon based energy sector has on our planet.
Supervisors Avalos, Wiener and Pine SF Watershed all noted that the public is knowledgeable of nature they can become stewards and increase their sense of responsibility for natural spaces, and that opening the watershed will do just that.
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
“The power of imagination makes us infinite.”
“One may as well dam for water tanks the people's cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.” (Speaking of the construction of the O'Shaughnessy Dam that filled in the Hetch Hetchy valley with water, which now flows into the SF Watershed).
About Open The SF Watershed
The SF Watershed is a 23,000 acre open space on the SF Peninsula that is currently closed to the public. ‘Open the SF Watershed’ is an organization of advocates promoting responsible access to the network of historical roads in the (Crystal Springs) SF Watershed. ‘Open the Watershed’ is working with the SFPUC, local and state officials, and the public, to see the current roadways opened for responsible public hiking, cycling and equestrians. For more information you can also contact Andy of OSFW at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Representatives from the Golden Gate National Recreation spoke in favor of plans which connect to GGNRA land
San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine spoke in favor of seeing this land accessible for responsible public access while understanding concerns brought up by Sierra Club which he feels can be remedied
Tim Ramirez of the San Francisco Public Utitlites Commission spoke about the work they are doing to open more of the watershed to responsible public use. The timing is perfect as all parties work to move this forward.
San Francisco Supervisors John Avalos and Scott Weiner sponsored the public hearing which was moderated by the City Clerk.