Vandals Target San Francisco's Trees

Friday, Jul 23, 2010  |  Updated 1:00 PM PDT
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Daniel Ramirez

A trail in Golden Gate Park. Photo by Daniel Ramirez, via Flickr.

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San Francisco parks officials are disturbed and baffled by a rash of tree vandalism over the past few months -- mostly in Golden Gate Park.

Forty-five trees have been either felled or damaged since mid-May in five separate incidents, according to Recreation and Parks Department spokesman Elton Pon. The most recent vandalism was discovered Wednesday, when 15 young elms and one sycamore were cut down in the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park, Pon said.

The saplings appeared to have been sliced clean through with some kind of saw, he said.

"We will get occasional instances of vandalism, but not a whole spate of incidents in a short amount of time like this," Pon said. "The other night's incident lends credence to the fact that  there's a pattern here."

Pon said the elms were valued at $500 each. "There's the monetary value, but also the benefits that they bring to our parks," he said.

The night before, a young magnolia in the park was sawed in half, Pon said. In early June, 12 young cypress and pine trees were uprooted and the bark at the bottom of four mature cypress trees.

The reason for the vandalism is still a mystery.

"They're not using the trees, they're just being left," Pon said.

Parks officials are now working with police to increase nighttime patrols in the area.

Photo from Daniel Ramirez, via Flickr.

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