S.F. national park trashed for Fourth in 'wanton destruction'
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a much beloved swath of public parkland hugging the San Francisco Bay, and is annually among the most-visited units in the national park system.
The Fourth of July was an unfortunate case in point.
Authorities said several hundred picnickers descended on the Great Meadow at Fort Mason on Wednesday, barbequing, drinking, setting off fireworks and leaving behind so much trash that it required four dump trucks to haul it all away Thursday morning.
One of the mountains of rubbish was dumped in front of park headquarters and greeted workers as they arrived Thursday. More than 50 Golden Gate employees left their desks to join in the garbage patrol.
"We have never seen the trash levels like this before," said park spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet. "It was wanton, it was egregious."
Park officials were baffled by the size of the crowd. The broad meadow is used by dog walkers and is part of a hiking trail system, but has no BBQ pits, no picnic tables and one bathroom. No fireworks displays were visible from the grassy area.
Picavet said people brought their own metal BBQs and left them behind, along with raw meat, beer bottles and countless coolers. One group constructed a bar, which was still standing Thursday.
Picavet said local law enforcement was called to the scene Wednesday afternoon and nearly a dozen people were cited for urinating in public.
"This was not a Fourth of July celebration, it was wanton destruction in this park," she said. "We want people to come out to their parks. That’s our business, that’s what we are here for. But this was something else."
Photo: Restroom at Fort Mason at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Credit: Alexandra Picavet / National Park Service