Trail, Habitat and Species Restoration with Sutro Stewards, San Francisco

, April 16, 2017

Few things remind you just how feeble you are than hoeing, heaving and clearing earth. Your arms and wrists feel it first, before the force mounts to cause a serious burn in the lower back. That’s how I started a recent Saturday with Sutro Stewards, after coming across the results of their outstanding work in a New York Times’ “California Today” newsletter.

Over the past 10 years, Sutro Stewards have managed to cultivate Mount Sutro’s 80-acre hill into a verdant bliss, watered by the notorious San Francisco fog. Walk along the park’s five miles of trails and you may come across coyotes, red foxes and great horned owls.

My morning’s work including the clearing of a 100ft section that will connect Sutro to the Clarendon trail, a project which will be completed ahead of National Trails Day (June 3rd in 2017). Below is a photo of what the trail looked like before we started with our morning labor.


Our team of four should also take credit for removing a 20ft-long piece of metal fencing which had dug itself into the topsoil, along with three posts which had to be had to excavated with their concrete sockets to intact. Other parties were planting habitat and mulching to create space for native seedlings, including one tenacious party which carved into a patch of poisonous oak.

Thankfully Fort Point Beer were there to quench our thirsts just after noon, paired with healthy eats from Luke’s Local. Few half-day events can provide the same sense of fulfilment and camaraderie. Even with the most basic gardening skillset or intuitions, it’s amazing how much can be done in a few hours of dedicated work. Volunteers don’t need to bring their own specialist equipment and fresh gloves are provided – just be sure to bring long pants because you’ll be delving into areas with poison oak, and of course a Nalgene bottled filled to the brim.

For more information on volunteering at Sutro Heights, visit