tree2.jpgGolden Gate Park will look a little bit greener after more than a dozen trees torn down last summer in a rash of vandalism are replanted in the Music Concourse today.

Seventeen trees were to be planted in a morning ceremony at the same spots where trees were uprooted over the summer.

Elton Pon, a San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department spokesman, said 17 elm trees, nine tea trees and one coastal redwood tree had been vandalized since last May.

“The elm trees were completely sawed off at their base,” Pon said.

“It was pretty disconcerting to see them all cut down.”

The new trees will be paid for with $30,000 given to the San Francisco Parks Trust by corporate donor Chase Freedom. Pon said the elm trees would be replaced by London plane trees, a hybrid of the Oriental plane tree and the American sycamore.

Supervisor Eric Mar was scheduled to join the San Francisco Parks Trust in the planting, and even planned to help place one of the London plane trees in the ground, Pon said.

“Crews will be out there planting trees and public officials will do a tree planting together,” he said. “I think it’s important that the community sees that people are willing to step up for our parks.”

Pon said the trees were not the only park plants destroyed in the wave of vandalism.

“Later in the summer, a four-wheeler was driven through the golf course and totally destroyed two holes and damaged three,” Pon said. “The repair costs amounted to over $100,000.”

Vandals also tore up the rose garden, he added.

“There were a total of 36 rose bushes that were chopped down in various stages,” Pon said. “Some were snipped to the nubs of the branches and others were severely pruned.”

While a total damage estimate for the landscaping was not available, Pon lamented that the destruction hurt more than just the city’s wallet.

“It was more of a loss of park resources,” he said. “The flowers were not there for people to enjoy. It’s less about the monetary cost and more about keeping the parks clean, safe and fun.”

Pon said he hopes that increased law enforcement and bolstered public support will protect the trees from future damage.

“We’ve been working closely with the police, specifically Richmond and Park stations, and we’ve asked citizens to be more vigilant,” Pon said.

“Golden Gate Park is 1,017 acres and just one of 220 parks that we are in charge of. It’s tough to oversee every square inch,” he added.

Kristen Peters, Bay City News

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