McLaren Park's Environment
an overview


John McLaren park is an enchanted...

. . .bit of country in the City. Watched over by a devoted community of volunteer gardeners, trash collectors, dog owners, civic activists and a small, dedicated Rec and Park crew, the park contains that rarest of finds in San Francisco: unprogrammed open spaces filled with plants and birds, trees and meadows, natural sounds and smells.

McLaren Park is a hidden jewel, offering nature-starved urbanites a respite from the rush and rattle of city life. 

Late Spring in McLaren Park
Summer in McLaren Park
Poppies and wild oats on the southeastern slope
SMP photo by Ed Brownson

You can run with your dog on meandering trails, watch hawks soar above, and listen to an ever changing aria of birdsong as you stroll through forests of pine, cypress, and eucalyptus, patches of willows, groves of redwoods, acres of coyote scrub, and rolling hills of grasslands and wildflowers.  

Large flowered Linanthus
Large flowered Linanthus, native to McLaren Park
SMP photo by Ken McGary
[click picture for more about McLaren's plants]

A bird's-eye viewpoint above San Francisco reveals the remnants of an ancient wild landscape. Scattered here and there are small oases of wildlife that escaped the transformation from wildland to metropolis. These are San Francisco's natural areas, where a remarkable diversity of plants, birds, reptiles and amphibians, endangered butterflies, and mammals survive.  In many cases these nature preserves are the only places where wildlife such as the red-tailed hawk, gray fox, great horned owl, and endangered mission blue butterfly still live and thrive in the city.
-- from Significant Natural Areas
Management Plan


The infrastructure required for an 18-hole disc golf course, while less than that required for a regular golf course, is substantial in it's impact. Woodchipped trails will be constantly "maintained" (meaning even more woodchips are spread onto the course). Metal baskets, signage, and large tree nets will blot the landscape.  This has already happened on the Golden Gate Park disc golf course, and we have no doubt of the same result in McLaren Park. The unique untamed character of this open space would be lost, and a special interest group would imprint its requirements over a vast 30 acres (over 20 football fields) of prime park space. 


The proposed [disc golf] site appears to be among some of the best coastal scrub habitat, which has been significantly reduced throughout the California coast, but especially within San Francisco where it remains only in small, fragmented remnants...
Golden Gate Audubon Society
Letter to SF Rec/Park

American Painted Lady butterfly
American Painted Lady butterfly
alight on Philosopher's Hill
SMP photo by Ed Brownson
[click picture for more about McLaren's animals]



In fact, several of Recreation and Parks Department’s own programs are in conflict with the proposed course, including the Dog Play Area, Philosopher’s Way, Sensitive Bird Habitat, as well as various stewardship and educational programs.  Looking forward, Hunter’s Point/Lennar, Balboa Park BART redevelopment, Candlestick Point, and other development projects in the southeast quadrant of the City will put ever-increasing pressure on our remaining open spaces. 

Thousands of volunteer hours are spent each year enhancing natural and recreational features in Natural Areas. Development of site stewardship and recreational uses that are compatible with natural resource protection is one of the main goals of this plan.

-- from Significant Natural Areas Management Plan



Most any public event that causes trampled greenery in a city park requires some sort of payment for the damage. For the proposed disc golf course, this is not the case. Rather, a small non-profit organization would be largely responsible for many acres of parkland, encouraging a sport that by its very nature would be an ongoing threat to McLaren's flora and fauna. No doubt about it, disc golf will damage rather than cherish this rapidly diminishing resource.

See before and after pictures
of the Golden Gate Park
disc golf course


Read reports on the environmental impact of disc golf

Study maps
of the proposed McLaren Park
disc golf course

Aerial map of proposed disc golf course

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