Have you walked along the Glen Park Greenway recently?
Many who live in Glen Park use the trail through the Greenway to walk from the BART station and the shops on Diamond Street towards the Recreation Center in Glen Canyon Park; to stretch their legs, clear their mind or walk their dog. Visitors from other neighborhoods pass through it as they hike along the Crosstown Trail from Candlestick Park to Lands End that uses the Greenway’s trail for about 1% of its 17 mile length. The Greenway stretches for about 1,000 feet between Brompton and Burnside Avenues and covers slightly more than one-and-a-half acres alongside Bosworth Street.
The Greenway is a project of the San Francisco Parks Alliance, organized by the Friends of the Glen Park Greenway. It aims to establish functioning natural surroundings in the heart of our neighborhood by raising communities of native plants along its corridor with an improved walking path leading in between the parcels.
These communities maximize a long list of ecosystem benefits, from foliage that mitigates urban noise and moderates air temperature; root systems and ground cover that absorb stormwater and sequester carbon; a variety of habitats for a wide range of birds, reptiles and small mammals; and the complex combination of light, sound and scent that can infuse joy into each of our days.
So far the Glen Park Greenway has been working on establishing two such communities: the California Native Meadow and the California Oak Woodland.
During 2022 Greenway project volunteers planted over 1,000 meadow plants on both sides of the California Native Meadow trail–about one third of them last January and the rest of them at the beginning of December. It will take two or three years for the Native Meadow to start establishing itself and it will continue, for many years, to grow in complexity as well as in the quality and range of ecosystem services that it provides to us.
Although most of our recent attention has been focused on the wonderful California Native Meadow, we have been tending our California Oak Woodland as well.
Whereas the Native Meadow will become a recognizable meadow within two or three years, the Oak Woodland is proceeding at a much more stately pace. It is only after at least five years’ effort that we are beginning to see its emergence, and we expect that it will take two or three decades to appear as an obvious woodland.
Our Greenway’s California Oak Woodland so far includes nine Island Live Oaks and 57 Coast Live Oaks. We plant the oak trees as the existing trees fall or are removed because they have become hazardous.
The Island Live Oaks were planted in December 2017 as young trees that had been raised in a nursery for 7-8 years. They are doing very well and this year some of them produced their first acorns.
Thirty-six Coast Live Oaks were sown as acorns in December 2017 and 21 were sown in December 2020. These are referred to as “direct-seeded oaks” and were all sown in carefully chosen locations in tight little groups of three. We will care for all of them until they are so big that the trees in any group start to interfere with each other’s growth. Then we will select the most vigorous tree in any such group and remove the other two. This process will produce nineteen sturdy Coast Live Oaks spread along the Oak Woodland.
The acorns sown in 2020 are just starting to get going and are not yet easily seen in the landscape. However, the oaks sown in 2017 are now fairly well established.
The graph shows the height of the tallest in each of the 12 triads of the 2017 direct-seeded oaks. They range in height from just under three feet to almost eight feet tall with a median height of four and a half feet. The base of each tree is surrounded by a four foot square of burlap so most are easily visible on the embankment that slopes up from the trail to Bosworth Street.
Check them out the next time that you walk along the Greenway trail, and see if the place brings you the joy that it is created to deliver.