On Monday, March 26, 2012, the San Francisco Forest Alliance (SFFA) gave a presentation to a neighborhood association in San Francisco about the Natural Areas Program. SFFA expressed its objection to the destruction of healthy non-native trees and vegetation which is useful to wildlife, the use of pesticides, and the closure of trails in the so-called “natural areas” as well as the money being spent on these destructive projects.
Jake Sigg, one of the leading proponents of native plant “restorations” in San Francisco was invited by the neighborhood association to give a rebuttal. For some reason that remains mysterious, Mr. Sigg chose to speak exclusively about Mt. Sutro which is not owned or managed by the Natural Areas Program. Therefore, there was a bit of a disconnect in these two presentations, with the common theme being only the destruction of non-native trees for the purpose of restoring native plants.
During his presentation, Mr. Sigg said that SFFA’s presentation was “disinformation” and/or “nonsense.” However, he provided no specific examples of these misdeeds, so SFFA is unable to respond to these accusations.
The following day, March 27, Mr. Sigg published an exchange about the SFFA presentation with one of his fans on his internet blog, “Nature News from Jake Sigg.” Mr. Sigg’s fan said he “…was so aghast at this evening’s display of ignorance and mendacity…” And Mr. Sigg agreed: “The ignorance and ill will of the Forest Alliance was on full view for anyone caring to look. The cherry-picking of facts, the distortions and outright lies were transparent.”
The presentation by the Forest Alliance was based on public documents and nothing was said that could not be documented by the public record. So, naturally SFFA was mystified by these accusations. SFFA allies wanted to know if the SFFA presentation contained any factual errors, so they asked Mr. Sigg, “What were the ‘outright lies?’”
Mr. Sigg responded to the question, but not with an answer: “I don’t have any reason for answering this, as I’m time-short…” In addition to being busy, Mr. Sigg wasn’t really in a position to answer the question because he admitted that he hadn’t listened to the presentation: “I listened to the presentation for the first five minutes, then decided my time was better spent tightening up my talk outline; there wasn’t enough substance to make listening worthwhile.”
The accusation of lying, and the refusal to be specific about it, is particularly ironic because of Mr. Sigg’s plea during his presentation that “demonizing the other side is not leading to accommodation or understanding.” On this we can agree. Calling people liars and refusing to tell them specifically what you think they are lying about, is clearly not leading to “accommodation and understanding.”