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Dec. 15, 1pm: Stop the Sharp Park Golf Course Bailout!

Thursday, December 15, 1pm, San Francisco City Hall Room 400: Join us at a San Francisco Planning Commission and Recreation and Park Commission joint meeting where the commissioners will vote on a taxpayer funded bailout of the money-losing, endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course. This meeting will likely be a long one: we need you to come early, stay late, and demand that the commissioners oppose this terrible project.

A coalition of environmental, environmental justice, social service and neighborhood park groups have come together to oppose this golf course project, demanding that the City eliminate it from the environmental review of the Significant Natural Resource Area Management Plan: and if they don’t demanding that they reject the environmental review process all together.

Golf industry groups have pressured San Francisco’s Mayor to bailout Sharp Park Golf Course for years, and the Recreation and Parks Department and in 2009 it drafted a controversial proposal to redevelop Sharp Park Golf Course. This proposal was heavily criticized by environmentalists, budget hawks, and Bay Area scientists, and the proposal died on the vine.

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San Francisco Moves to Bailout Controversial Sharp Park Golf Course

San Francisco’s Significant Natural Resource Areas Program was to be one of the great urban conservation programs in America. But in 2016, San Francisco released a Final Environmental Impact Report ("FEIR") for the Significant Natural Resource Area Management Plan ("SNRAMP") that will, if adopted, turn the program on its head.

The FEIR removes SNRAMP’s original plan for Sharp Park’s natural areas and replaces it with a project to redevelop Sharp Park Golf Course within the “recovery” area for two imperiled species, the San Francisco Garter Snake and the California Red-Legged Frog.

Sharp Park Golf Course is arguably San Francisco’s greatest economic and ecological mistake. It loses hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, taking money away from San Francisco’s neighborhood parks and community centers. It kills two endangered species as it operates, and its location along California’s coast means that before long it will be flooded by sea level rise: already several links have been washed out to sea.

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A New Vision for Sharp Park

A new vision for one special place in Pacifica could help bring some desperately needed respite for imperiled wildlife, while helping protect the town’s homes and vital infrastructure.

A restoration vision for Sharp Park.

One of the rarest, and arguably most beautiful snakes in the world, and Mark Twain’s Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County once thrived together in Pacifica’s cool, fog-swept coastal wetlands. Here, the San Francisco garter snake and California red-legged frog played out the ancient dance of predator and prey among the town’s ponds and muddy rushes—protected from the salty battering of the sea by an extensive network of dunes, wetlands, and lagoons.

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Wetlands on Tuesday's Ballot for Bay Area Voters

Wetland restoration efforts in the South Bay have enabled the population rebound of Ridgway’s Rail, seen here. (Source: Wild Equity Institute)

Wild Equity’s vision for Sharp Park has called for restoring the wetlands and repurposing the lands as a new national park for the public to enjoy. This proposal has been passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors 5 times, and a huge community of partners from different areas have endorsed our restoration vision as well.

On June 7th, Bay Area residents will vote on Measure AA, a wetland restoration initiative that would do something similar for the Bay side of our region. If passed, Measure AA would raise $500 million over 20 years for wetland restoration projects around San Francisco Bay. The funding would come from a $12 annual parcel tax in the 9 Bay Area counties: San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, and Solano.

Restoring wetlands is the best tool for mitigating sea level rise because wetlands break up wave energy. Furthermore, the restoration of wetlands provides many other benefits such as improved water quality, increased public access to shorelines, and ameliorated habitat conditions for wildlife. Wetland restoration projects in the South Bay, for instance, have enabled the return of wildlife such as Ridgway’s Rail and the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse. Climate models and recent scientific reports indicate that we can expect sea levels to rise 3 to 8 feet by the turn of the century, and that sea levels are now rising at the fastest rate in 28 centuries. If we don’t take action now, taxpayers can expect to shell out billions of dollars for new coastal infrastructure.

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This National Trails Day, Tell Mayor Lee to Restore Sharp Park

Restoring Sharp Park would provide new hiking opportunities for all

This Saturday, June 4th is National Trails Day- a day to celebrate the 200,000 miles of trails in the United States which allow us to exercise, connect with the natural world, escape from the chaos of daily life, and much more.

Hiking is one of the most beloved recreational activities by San Francisco residents. In fact, the last user survey performed by San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department found that out of 19 options, hiking and biking trails were by far the most in-demand. Meanwhile, golf placed 16th in the survey results, indicating low desirability amongst people surveyed.

Survey results indicate that San Franciscans want more walking and biking trails

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It's Air Quality Awareness Week: Who Bears the Brunt of Air Pollution?

This week (May 2-6) is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Air Quality Awareness Week. Unfortunately, the EPA is still giving the green light to projects (e.g. new power plants) which poison the air and compromise the health and wellbeing of local communities and wildlife.

In fact, Wild Equity has spent years challenging the EPA’s ongoing failure to protect communities and endangered species in Antioch, CA, from PG&E’s Gateway Generating Station- a power plant that emits tons of nitrogen pollution annually, poisoning sensitive wildlife habitats and irritating the lungs of local residents. The EPA has allowed Gateway Generating Station to pollute without performing a legally mandated consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service about the pollution’s impact on endangered species at the adjacent Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge- the last home for one of our nation’s most imperiled butterflies.

Achieving environmental justice has always been the backbone of Wild Equity’s mission. It is far too often the underprivileged, the poor, working-class communities of color that are disproportionately burdened with the impacts of pollution and of climate change. This paradigm is evident in many scenarios that have drastically altered the way of life in some communities, a few of many examples being:

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Washington Golf Course to be Repurposed as a Public Park

An aerial view of Wayne Golf Course, soon to be a public park. (Source: Charlie Raines/Forterra)

As the golf market remains in the doldrums, courses across the United States continue to close. In 2015 alone, five courses were shut down in the Bay Area, including courses in Sunol, Livermore, & Pleasant Hill. Considering the size of a golf course and the volume of courses now closing annually, what will become of these closed courses?

Wayne Golf Course, located in the Seattle suburb of Bothell, Washington, was recently acquired by local environmental group Forterra in an effort to protect the wildlife habitat and turn the lands into a public park. Developers originally proposed to transform the course into housing, those plans fell through and Forterra was able to purchase the lands with a loan. In total, 89 acres will be preserved along the Sammamish River, which runs through Wayne Golf Course and provides habitat to Chinook Salmon, Lake Washington Kokanee, and Steelhead. Wayne Golf Course also sits adjacent to Blyth Park, a popular park for trail hiking, running, and other recreational activities, making the course a prime location for a new public park.

The initiative by Forterra is similar to Wild Equity’s plan for Sharp Park Golf Course. Both campaigns have been supported by the public, and have many other parallels as well. Like Wayne, Sharp Park Golf Course is the subject of poor decision making on the part of our local governments, and capital projects threaten the livelihood of wildlife residing on the course. Plus, Sharp Park Golf Course is also located adjacent to a popular park that is already part of the GGNRA (Mori Point). Due to economic realities, Sharp Park has no promising future as a golf course, and like Wayne Golf Course, can feasibly be restored and turned into a new public park.

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GGNRA Dog Plan Enhances Diversity

The following is an Op-Ed written by Nina Roberts, professor at San Francisco State University and director of the Pacific Leadership Institute, for the San Francisco Examiner. April 28, 2016. You can access it on the SF Examiner website here

Some say limiting dog access in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area may reduce diversity within the parks, but all sides in the debate must be considered — including parkgoers who wish to enjoy the outdoors without dogs. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/2011 AP)

For more than 20 years, I have been working on efforts across the country to enhance ethnic diversity in our national parks and other public lands, with a more recent focus on connecting students to outdoor experiences and conducting research to help parks design community engagement strategies. Perhaps nowhere have I seen such a commitment by park managers to welcome all visitors than our backyard; one of our country’s premier urban national parks, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

What I see in the GGNRA is among the best of our national parks: a willingness to welcome all visitors while protecting our nationally significant resources and heritage for generations to come. The list of efforts for how they welcome “all” is commendable extending the park from the Peninsula to Marin.

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New Proposed Dog Management Plan Creates Better Park Experience For All

Last month, the National Park Service announced a new Proposed Rule for Dog Management in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area- and with a little bit of improvement it would ultimately enhance the park experience for visitors, protect our fragile natural resources, and improve the park experience for visitors, wildlife, employees, and dogs.

The GGNRA has had many instances of dogs being attacked by wildlife, falling off cliffs, biting or threatening park visitors and wildlife, and disturbing sensitive habitats. This is because our off-leash dog play areas are unsafe and because leash laws have not been enforced in any meaningful way. But the new proposed rule would help ensure that our off-leash areas are safe and would enforce leash laws vigorously outside of these designated areas.

An essential step towards creating a better, more equitable park experience for all, the new proposed rule provides important safeguards for people, our pets, wildlife, and the entire park system by providing for specific areas where dogs may roam off-leash, including Fort Funston, Ocean Beach, and Crissy Field. In addition, the proposed rule provides for hundreds of additional miles of trails where dogs will be welcome on-leash and ensures that these areas are clearly demarcated so that park visitors can choose their own experiences at the GGNRA and not have the experience thrust upon them unwillingly.

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Bay Area Still Not Serious About Preparing for Sea Level Rise

Sharp Park Golf Course has flooding issues as it is. Sea level rise will only make it worse.

New reports say that sea levels are now rising faster than they have at any point in the common era, and the clock is ticking on the opportunity to restore Sharp Park, which would protect the lands from flooding brought on by sea level rise.

According to Justin Gillis of the New York Times, a new report posted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that sea levels are now rising at the fastest rate in 28 centuries. Towns such as Annapolis, Maryland have experienced 394 days of flooding between 2005 and 2014, a stark contrast from the 32 days of flooding in the same area between 1955 and 1964. In just a matter of 50 years, the impacts of sea level rise have become increasingly observable and problematic, and will only get worse from here on out.

The science seems to fall on deaf ears, however, as Pacifica, San Mateo County, and San Francisco continue to authorize shortsighted seaside development projects. The last thing we should be doing is punting adaptation 30 years down the line, yet San Francisco continues to fight against the restoration of Sharp Park and has approved a number of large scale waterfront projects, such as the contentious new billion dollar stadium for the Golden State Warriors in the Mission Bay neighborhood.

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SFRPD's Illegal Operations Continue Unpunished at Sharp Park Golf Course

SFRPD has been knowingly violating the Coastal Act at this beach without consequence for years

The California Coastal Commission is and has been allowing San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department to lawlessly develop and maintain a seawall on the beach at Sharp Park Golf Course. Our allies at Surfrider Foundation, San Francisco and San Mateo County chapters, have written a letter to California Coastal Commission to bring attention to this issue.

"SFRPD is violating and has been violating the Coastal Act for several years, by constructing and maintaining a rock revetment on the property (which is ‘development’ under the Coastal Act), without a required [Coastal Development Permit]”, the letter reads.

On multiple occasions since 2013, Surfrider Foundation provided the CCC with notice of SFRPD’s violation. Following an investigation in 2013, the Commission concluded that SFRPD was indeed in violation of the Coastal Act. Subsequently, the Commission gave the Parks Department a deadline of March 11, 2013 “by which it was required to remedy the violation” i.e. either submit an application for an after-the-fact Coastal Development Permit, or entirely remove any development that had been placed on the beach.. When SFRPD failed to meet the deadline to apply for the permit, the CCC granted an extension to the deadline…and as SFRPD has continued to miss the deadline, and CCC has continued to grant extensions.

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El Nino Wreaks Havoc Upon Pacifica and Sharp Park Golf Course

Pacifica is in a state of emergency after heavy El Nino storms have posed a significant risk to the safety of seaside residents. But this is no first: Pacifica residents have previously been evacuated as a precautionary measure when storms have jeopardized the safety of Pacificans and their homes. This time around, El Nino has caused sections of the cliffside to collapse (a video of which can be seen here) and temporary closures at Sharp Park Golf Course, as seasonal flooding and high winds created substantial safety hazards for golfers.

But the harsh weather may cause more trouble for the golf course than just wet fairways and falling trees: the California Coastal Commission has provided Sharp Park Golf Course with a condition that dictates that the golf infrastructure must be permanently removed should Sharp Park Golf Course be threatened by coastal surges. With several more months of El Nino to go, Sharp Park Golf Course’s days may be numbered.

In addition to all of the climate-related risks associated with operating the course, Sharp Park Golf Course has lost nearly 1.8 million dollars since 2004, and keeping it open is a sure way to further lose hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars that could be better invested in the best interest of the public.

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Thanks to everyone who came out to the Salmon Hike at Muir Woods!

We wanted to pass along our thanks to everyone who came out to the hike at Muir Woods this past Sunday. We had a lot of fun and hope you did too!

We have some more events coming up that we would love to see you at, including Butterfly Habitat Restoration on January 23rd at San Bruno Mountain, and Nature Slideshow: Saving Endangered Wildlife Near You on February 17th at Wild Equity’s office at 474 Valencia Street.

Follow the links, join us on meetup, or check out our online event calendar to learn more and stay up to date with all of our upcoming events!

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Brent Plater Discusses Wild Equity in December Issue of Save The Frogs! Magazine!

Check out the December 2015 edition of Save the Frogs! Magazine, featuring some exciting developments on their work, as well as an interview with Wild Equity’s Executive Director, Brent Plater!

2015: Another Year of Losses at Sharp Park Golf Course

Sharp Park Golf Course has little value proposition, especially during annual winter flooding

San Francisco’s money-losing, endangered species killing Sharp Park Golf Course once again left City taxpayers with a whopping bill at the close of this fiscal year, bringing the grand total of taxpayer subsidy to 1.8 million dollars over the past decade- losing $160,467.16 per year, on average.

Fiscal Year RPD Sharp Park Golf Course Losses
04/05 - $110,299.00
05/06 - $338,025.60
06/07 - $64,685.80
07/08 - $119,758.00
08/09 $29,446.40
09/10 - $134,699.80
10/11 - $161,217.20
11/12 - $245,007.40
12/13 - $111,289.20
13/14 - $151,269.80
14/15 - $358,333.40
TOTALS - $1,765,138.80

Sharp Park Golf Course cost the city over $350,000 in fiscal year 2014-2015 alone- if losses continue at this rate, San Francisco taxpayers can expect to have to cough up another $1.6 million over the next 10 years in order to subsidize further operations at SPGC.

In addition, we should acknowledge that the costs associated with Sharp Park Golf Course are expected to increase in the coming years. As Wild Equity has noted in the past, the cost of operating Sharp Park Golf Course in the coming years is expected to be nearly $48.8 million, costs including: the $1.6 million noted above, $12-14 million for a full renovation, $32 million to restore the seawall for protection from storms, erosion, and sea level rise, and $1.2 million in permitting, habitat restoration, and construction relating to the Sharp Park Safety, Infrastructure Improvement, and Habitat Enhancement Project.

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Golf Industry Wants Taxpayers to Pay For Failed Golf Course

Why does San Mateo County want to manage this disaster of a golf course?

According to recent reports, San Mateo County is considering committing a financial boondoggle by acquiring Sharp Park Golf Course from San Francisco. Given environmental and economic realities, it would be reckless of San Mateo County to take on this golf course. The golf course has lost nearly 1.8 million taxpayer dollars since 2004, and the golf market has been steadily plummeting over the last decade. So who will be expected to pick up the tab for the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the course loses annually? The taxpayers of San Mateo County, no less.

Sharp Park Golf Course, located in Pacifica, is known for its atrocious environmental record, lack of favorability amongst golfers, and ability to hemorrhage several hundred grand on a yearly basis. However, delusional San Mateo County District Supervisor Don Horsley believes that with the right changes, they could reverse the course’s decade-long trend of financial drain.

Despite all the financial data available, Horsley claimed that “[Sharp Park Golf Course] will draw a lot of people. We believe the course makes money.”

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Be a Part of the Fight in 2016: Join Wild Equity Today!

Dear Reader,

Another year has passed, and yet our most challenging environmental and social problems remain. In fact, many seem to be getting worse: there is now more carbon in the atmosphere, more species on the brink of extinction, more inequity across our human communities.

This realization requires us all to pause and reflect on how we direct our efforts. Because neither we, nor the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth, can afford these trends to continue.

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Endangered Species Hike at Sharp Park!

Saturday, December 12th, 1:00pm – 3:00 pm: Join Brent Plater of the Wild Equity Institute to search for two of the most imperiled vertebrate species on the San Francisco peninsula: the California Red-legged Frog and the San Francisco Garter Snake. This will be a leisurely walk to enjoy the restoration work being conducted at Mori Point and to learn about the bold steps being taken to save the frogs and the snakes from the brink of extinction.

Note: California’s winter rains usher in the Red-Legged Frog’s breeding season each December, potentially providing a unique nature-viewing opportunity. Accordingly, we encourage you to join us rain or shine!

Meet at the Mori Point Entrance Gate, at the intersection of Bradford Way and Mori Point Road, Pacifica, CA, 94044.

RSVP on this page — or look us up on Meetup!

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SF's Natural Areas Plan is at Risk Due to Sharp Park Golf Course

For Immediate Release – November 19, 2015
Contact: Brent Plater, Wild Equity (415) 572-6989 or bplater@wildequity.org

California Red-Legged Frog, Photo © Brent Plater

Environmental Groups Unite to Tell City: Remove Golf Course From Natural Areas Plan!

Nine leading local environmental groups have united to send a single message to the City of San Francisco: The controversial proposal to redevelop Sharp Park Golf Course does not belong in the city’s proposed Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan.

Sierra Club, Golden Gate Audubon Society, Wild Equity Institute, Surfrider Foundation, San Francisco Tomorrow, S.F. League of Conservation Voters, National Parks Conservation Association, S.F. Green Party, and Sequoia Audubon posted letters to the Board of Supervisors urging them to remove the controversial Sharp Park Golf Course redevelopment project from the master management plan for the city’s natural areas.

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Recent Report Demonstrates Urgency of Restoring Wetlands at Sharp Park

A San Francisco Garter Snake, one of the residents of the wetlands at Sharp Park

A new report suggests that San Francisco cannot wait any longer to restore Sharp Park. The report, completed by over 100 scientists and 17 government agencies, states that at least 54,000 acres of wetlands surrounding the bay must be restored in the next 15-20 years in order to protect coastlines from sea level rise.

Sharp Park is one area that can and should be restored. Located on the shore of Pacifica, Sharp Park is filled with wetlands and endangered wildlife, making it both a feasible and ideal location for restoration, as has been proposed by Wild Equity and other groups. But alas, the golf course has turned a blind-eye to the sensitivity of the habitat by draining the wetlands and slaughtering the wildlife on the regular.

To add to the damage, the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department wants to not only keep draining wetlands at Sharp Park Golf Course, but in addition spend millions of taxpayer dollars on redevelopment that would put the area at higher risk of inundation due to sea level rise, ultimately putting the golf course on a path to an even more unsustainable future.

Given the urgent 15 year deadline highlighted in the report, San Francisco must take the advice Wild Equity has proposed for years, and shut down the money-draining golf course immediately to begin restoration. Closing the golf course and restoring Sharp Park would not only prepare the area better for the sea level rise anticipated by the end of the century, but would provide locals with countless recreational opportunities, provide the city of Pacifica with increased tourism-based revenue, and allow for the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake and California Red-Legged Frog to thrive in peace.

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Wild Equity Challenges EPA's Motion to Dismiss

Appearing before a federal judge in Oakland on October 21st, Wild Equity challenged the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s ongoing failure to protect communities and endangered species in Antioch, CA, from a PG&E power plant that emits tons of nitrogen pollution annually, poisoning sensitive wildlife habitats and irritating the lungs of community members.

The Gateway Generating Station poses a threat to the health and livelihood of local communities and the federally protected Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, Contra Costa Wallflower, and Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose.

The lawsuit centers on the operation of Gateway Generating Station, owned and operated by Pacific Gas & Electric. The EPA allowed the power plant to pollute without consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about the pollution’s impact on endangered species at the adjacent Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge- the last home for one of our nation’s most imperiled butterflies.

As of this year, the adult population of Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly was 108, a truly devastating collapse from the 25,000 that had inhabited the Refuge earlier last century. For years, the population has remained gravely low.

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Volunteer for Wild Equity at the Wildlife Conservation Expo!

Have a passion for conservation? The 2015 Wildlife Conservation Exposition will be taking place at the Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF this Saturday, October 10th, from 10am to 6:30pm. The event will feature fifty organizations and nineteen speakers dedicated to the protection of wildlife. Click here to learn more about the event!

Wild Equity will be tabling at the Expo, and we are looking for volunteers to help us out for the day. At given points throughout the day, volunteers will be able to access the rest of the Expo, including the live afternoon panel with Dr. Jane Goodall! For more information, contact Roman Berenshteyn at rberenshteyn@wildequity.org.

We hope to see you on Saturday!

Another Wetland Restoration Success Story: South Bay Salt Ponds

Ridgway’s Rail, one of the endangered species to return to South Bay Salt Ponds
(Source: Golden Gate Audubon Society)

Over the last several years, Wild Equity has been working on a campaign to close down Sharp Park Golf Course and hand over the lands to the National Park Service for restoration, as to allow the federally-protected California Red-Legged Frog and San Francisco Garter Snake to thrive peacefully. Recently, another major restoration effort in the South Bay has enabled the populations of two endangered species to rebound, according to an article published by San Jose’s Mercury News.

After 15,100 acres of salt ponds were acquired from Cargill Incorporated in 2003, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game, and the California Coastal Conservancy began a 30-year project to restore the wetland habitats, which were practically devoid of life upon implementation of the project in 2008. The restoration process has progressed rather quickly, and as of this past summer, two endangered species had returned to inhabit the South Bay Salt Ponds at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge: Ridgway’s Rail (formerly known as the Clapper Rail), and the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse. The return of these species is a major milestone for the restoration project, and more progress is yet to be made. Other goals of the project include establishing wildlife-based recreational opportunities, and to create a flood management system for the vicinity. You can read more about the project here.

The Salt Pond project was initially met with some doubt, and even opposition. They were able to do it, and we too can succeed at Sharp Park. Restoring Sharp Park would benefit everyone: beyond providing the CRLF and SFGS with a sustainable home, it will provide local communities with new recreation opportunities, increase tourism-based revenue for the city of Pacifica, and San Francisco will finally stop losing hundreds of thousands of dollars on an annual basis at Sharp Park Golf Course.

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Learning to Live Equitably: A Lesson for Sharp Park Golf Course

This figure demonstrates the location of a wildlife corridor at Sharp Park that would allow for passage across Highway 1

Given the massive impact human civilization has on Earth, an equitable relationship between people and the other species of the planet can seem like a challenge. But like the community plan for a new public park at Sharp Park, projects around California are trying to address this by creating habitat corridors so wildlife can cross busy highways safely.

For example, Caltrans, the state agency in charge of road and highway maintenance, planning, and infrastructure, has proposed building a wildlife bridge over Highway 101 in Aurora Hills, a Los Angeles suburb. This wildlife bridge would provide passage for bobcats, mountain lions, and other wildlife, in an effort to reduce instances of roadkill on the 101. At 200 feet in length, and 165 feet wide, this wildlife bridge would become the largest in the United States, if built. Other wildlife bridges (some quite impressive) already exist around the world- including a few in national parks in Montana, Canada, and Australia.

Projects that enhance coexistence in areas that are dominated by human presence, are not only feasible, they are inspirational- and San Francisco has an opportunity to be part of this effort. Sharp Park is home to two federally protected species under the Endangered Species Act- the California Red-Legged Frog and the San Francisco Garter Snake, but the City has been operating a golf course on the land that kills both species. In fact, Wild Equity has had to file multiple lawsuits against SFRPD for their failure to comply with measures put in place to protect the two species, resulting in large legal fees to the city and mandates to do more to protect endangered wildlife.

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Sea Level Rise, Waterfront Development, and Sharp Park

As sea levels rise, flooding at Sharp Park Golf Course will gradually worsen

Despite San Francisco’s progressive reputation, the city is doing a subpar job of preparing for the impacts of climate change. According to a Summer 2015 report on sea level rise in the San Francisco Public Press, San Francisco is rubber-stamping new waterfront development projects without taking into consideration the threat of future flooding.

One project highlighted by the report is a plan to build a new $1 billion arena for the Golden State Warriors near the Mission Bay neighborhood, in a location which is subject to flooding by the end of the century. Mayor Ed Lee has vowed that the arena will be constructed, despite opposition to the project. Unless Lee knows something about the future that we don’t, such projects are ludicrous, feeding into the paradigm of letting future generations deal with the consequences of whatever benefits us today.

Similarly, Mayor Ed Lee and the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department want to keep Sharp Park Golf Course around at a cost of millions of taxpayer dollars, without properly planning for future sea level rise, leaving the park vulnerable to flooding by the end of the century.

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Restoring Sharp Park...For Everyone

Click here to download a brochure that outlines our vision to restore Sharp Park!

Tomorrow morning you step out onto the edge of 400 acres of natural wetland, just as the sunlight breaks through the sea-breezed clouds overhead. You breathe deep the ocean-sprayed air and admire the rustling of wildlife as it awakens beneath the surface of the marsh.

Between the rows of natural grasses and bayous stretch dozens of miles of trails enjoyed by hikers, bikers and tourists. Families stroll through the wild landscape, pointing out native plants and animals.

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Former Sharp Park Golf Course Supervisor Turns Whistleblower Over Course’s Environmental Problems

Massive water draining at Sharp Park Golf Course

The allegations of Wayne Kappelman, a former supervisor at Sharp Park Golf Course, need to be put into perspective. Kappelman was showered with awards while he towed the party line as the course slaughtered endangered species, was recently forced out of course management after blowing the whistle on persistent water wastage.

Let’s start with a basic metric. The average person uses 80-100 gallons of water per day. This includes flushing toilets, showering, washing clothes, running dishwashers, cooking and drinking water, and other uses.

Kappelman alleges that the course leaks 50,000 gallons of water a day — a number equivalent to the daily water requirements of 1,000 people. That’s equivalent to 2.6% of the city of Pacifica’s daily household water use.

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The Crashing Golf Market and You: Why it doesn’t make sense to invest millions of your taxpayer money in San Francisco’s failing Sharp Park Golf Course

Annual flooding reduces golf activity at Sharp Park Golf Course

Sharp Park Golf Course has a lot going against it these days. Since 2005, the course has lost San Francisco nearly 1.4 million dollars (see table below). Take a look at player-written reviews of the course, and you’ll find that many consider golf at Sharp Park to be a less-than-pleasant experience, in regards to both the game and interactions with staff. To top it off, Sharp Park Golf Course drains wetlands and kills two endangered species when it operates, giving an environmental black-eye to the entire industry.

Fiscal Year RPD Sharp Park Golf Course Losses
04/05 - $110,299
05/06 - $338,025
06/07 - $64,685
07/08 - $119,758
08/09 $29,446
09/10 - $134,699
10/11 - $161,217
11/12 - $245,007
12/13 - $248,786
TOTALS - $1,389,253

At most, what people like about Sharp Park is its sentimental worth to those that have been playing there for years (granted, they also enjoy how inexpensive it is to play at, compared to your average course). Is that enough reason to justify the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department plan to gamble with $20 million of your taxpayer dollars on redeveloping this controversial golf course?

Not according to new statistics published in a Men’s Journal article, The Death of Golf, by Karl Taro Greenfield. According to Greenfield, golf courses in the United States are closing much faster than the new ones are opening- in 2014, there were approximately 16 course closures for every new course that had opened (and even though new courses are opening, there is no indication that they are faring well economically). Today, there are 19% fewer players now than there were in 2003, with players under age 34 losing the highest percentage of players when compared to other age groups. Even television viewership of golf is diminishing.

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#RestoreSharpPark for #WorldSnakeDay!

Happy World Snake Day!

At Wild Equity we love snakes of all shapes and sizes, but of course there’s one that’s out and away our favorite. The San Francisco Garter Snake is possibly the most imperiled vertebrate in the state, yet it is also one of the most alluring species on the continent.

So, in honor of all the world’s snakes – endangered or otherwise – here are some of our favorite photos of this charismatic serpent.

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Wild Equity Lawsuit Challenges Sharp Park Golf Course's Destruction of Coastal Wetlands

WildEquity_logo_large 3
 For Immediate Release: June 18, 2015

Contact: Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989

Wild Equity Lawsuit Challenges Sharp Park Golf Course’s Destruction of Coastal Wetlands 

 Redwood City, Calif. — The Wild Equity Institute has sued the Coastal Commission and the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department in San Mateo Superior Court over a project that will destroy and drain Sharp Park’s Laguna Salada wetland complex, arguably the most ecologically important portion of the Department's most biologically rich land.

Sharp Park Golf Course Drains Laguna Salada Wetlands, December 11, 2014.

“This senseless project will destroy critical wetlands, harm endangered species, and cost taxpayers over $1,000,000 to implement,” said Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute.  “The Coastal Act prohibits development in coastal wetlands with few exceptions, and none of the exceptions apply to this wasteful project.  But the Coastal Commission rubber-stamped the project without considering thousands of comments submitted by scientists and conservation groups. We expect the court to rectify this illegal act.”

San Francisco’s Recreation & Park Department is proposing to destroy aquatic vegetation in Sharp Park’s Laguna Salada wetland complex—arguably the most ecologically important part of the Department’s most biologically important land—so it can drain the wetland during winter rains. 

Among other things, the project will fill a portion of Laguna Salada’s wetlands with concrete to expand the foundation footprint for a shed that houses wetland draining pumps. This permanent loss of wetlands is illegal, because expanding a shed does not fit within any of the limited exceptions to the prohibition against destroying coastal wetlands. Nonetheless, the Coastal Commission deemed that expanding the shed qualified for the exception that applies to “expansion of roadbeds and bridges necessary to maintain existing traffic capacity,” and permitted the project under the Coastal Act.

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