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June 12: The Fantastic Fountain Thistle

This week the GGNP Endangered Species Big Year is heading to San Mateo County to see and help save the Fountain Thistle, a beautiful plant on the brink. See you outside!

The Fantastic Fountain Thistle—Saturday, June 12, 2010, 10:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.: Join Ken Himes and Jake Sigg for a stroll into the usually inaccessible Crystal Springs Watershed to search for the endangered Fountain Thistle. Afterward, join a restoration work party on nearby Caltrans land to remove exotic plants invading the species' habitat. Meet at the Lexington Avenue Gate at the South end of Lexington Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94402. RSVP required:e-mail Jake Sigg.

Sign-up for your Endangered Species Big Year here.

New Fence Shuts-out All Recreation at Sharp Park, Except Species-killing Golf

In another Orwellian move, the Recreation and Parks Department has installed a fence along Sharp Park to keep birders and hikers from accessing the property. WEI supports the enforcement of strong ethical principles to ensure outdoor recreation has no impact on the natural world. But birders and hikers have never harmed endangered species at Sharp Park. Yet just behind the fence the Department continues to drain aquatic habitats and run lawn mowers on the land, activities that do kill endangered species.

The exclusion of other recreation users from Sharp Park is about the Department’s skewed priorities, not protecting the environment. This is particularly disturbing because the Department’s own survey shows that the #1 recreational demand is for more hiking trails; golf comes 16th out of 19 options in the same survey. It’s time for the Department to restore Sharp Park and get its priorities in-line with the public’s.

Matier & Ross Falsify Franciscan Manzanita Funding: Will Fox News Be Next?

The Franciscan Manzanita

Last week San Francisco Chronicle columnists Matier & Ross claimed that the City and County of San Francisco was stuck with a $200,000 bill to move the rediscovered Franciscan Manzanita from the path of the Doyle Drive construction project. The article caused a firestorm: it was the most viewed item on the Chronicle's website last week, and now Sean Hannity of Fox News is calling around to do a hit-piece on the plant.

Trouble is, Matier & Ross' accusation is false. According to Doyle Drive Project Spokesperson Molly Graham, "this money isn't coming from the City of San Francisco's coffers."  In fact, the transplant was funded by a pre-existing environmental mitigation budget sponsored by all Bay Area counties.  Although the discovery of the Manzanita wasn't anticipated, not one new taxpayer dollar was needed to fund the move.  Moreover, the total proposed to be spent on this species recovery action is less than .01% of the entire budget for the Doyle Drive project.

CalTrans Video of the Manzanita Move

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SF Weekly Exposes Park Department's Dishonesty

UPDATE: SF Weekly Exposes Park Department’s
Dishonest Assessment of Sharp Park Golf Course

June 2: Hump Day Habitat Restoration

Can you think of a better way to get over the mid-week blues than by helping save the diminutive wildflowers endemic to San Francisco? Neither can Michael Chasse of the National Park Service or the GGNP Endangered Species Big Year: and that’s why we’ll be out in the beautifully restored Lobos Creek Valley to save this charming little wildflower!

San Francisco Lessingia

June 5: Twain's Frog & the Beautiful Serpent will Jumpstart Your June Big Year Competition

This weekend we’re leading a trip to Mori Point to search for the the San Francisco Garter Snake and the California Red-legged Frog: the perfect opportunity for you to see at least one of these species and win a copy of Last Child In the Woods. See you outside!

Help a Herp, Become a Bookworm!

Thanks to REI’s generous support of the 2010 GGNP Endangered Species Big Year, we are happy to bring you a new interim Big Year competition to win nature prizes during the month of June!

From June 1 until June 30, any 2010 Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year competitor that (1) completes the action item for the San Francisco Garter Snake; (2) completes the action item for the California Red-legged Frog, and (3) sees at least one of these two herpetological species will win a free copy of Richard Louv’s seminal book, Last Child In the Woods: Saving Our Chidren From Nature-deficit Disorder.

To win the prize you must sign-up for the GGNP Endangered Species Big Year, complete the action items for the San Francisco Garter Snake and the California Red-legged Frog, see either the Frog or the Snake, and log your actions and sighting into the GGNP Endangered Species Big Year website by 11:59:59 p.m. on June 30, 2010.

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What Will Newsom Do: Subsidize Suburban Golf or San Francisco City Services?

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will release his budget proposal to the public June 1. A growing chorus of environmental and social service groups are hoping the Mayor’s budget will help save community services by closing the money-losing, endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course.

Add your voice by contacting the Board of Supervisors & the Mayor. Demand that the City stop subsidizing suburban golf in San Mateo County by closing Sharp Park Golf Course and reinvesting the money saved back in our neighborhoods, where the money belongs.

WEI Executive Director Brent Plater Speaks at a Budget Justice Rally May 26

San Francisco is poised to cut millions from community centers and neighborhood services this year to close the City’s budget deficit.

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Win Prizes on the Tiburon Paintbrush Conservation Trip May 29!

Just in time to help you win Jack Laws’ Pocket Guide to the Bay Area, the Wild Equity Institute is organizing a trip to help save the Tiburon Paintbrush. Remember, the first four 2010 Endangered Species Big Year competitors to complete this action for the Tiburon Paintbrush will win a copy of the pocket guide, so sign up for your Big Year and come on this special trip!

Tiburon Paintbrush      Laws Guide to SF Bay

Save Some, Win Something: Tiburon Paintbrush Competition Is On!

Thanks to REI’s generous support of the 2010 GGNP Endangered Species Big Year, we are happy to announce our next reward for seeing and saving endangered species!

This competition focuses on the Tiburon Paintbrush, a beautiful little wildflower that can only be seen in a few select places within the Golden Gate National Parks. It was likely always rare, but habitat modification in its remaining strongholds threatens the viability of the species.

And that’s where you come in: the first four people to help save the Tiburon Paintbrush by completing the conservation action item for the species will win a copy of John Muir Laws’ new Pocket Guide Set to the San Francisco Bay Area!

Tiburon Paintbrush       Laws Guide to SF Bay

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WEI Engages Allies to Restore Sharp Park

As San Francisco proposes massive cuts to city services, more and more residents are demanding that San Francisco close the money-losing, endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course.

WEI Allies: Bring Our Money Back

San Francisco is proposing massive cuts to youth services while privatizing our parks and open spaces. These cuts will disproportionately impact poor, disenfranchised communities in San Francisco, precisely when services are needed to offset the impacts of the financial crisis.

Yet at Sharp Park, San Francisco continues to subsidize suburban golf in San Mateo County by up to $300,000 each year, and is planning to spend tens-of-millions more to try and build an elite golf course on the property.

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5/22 Tidewater Goby Trip Cancelled--by Oil Spill

As the Gulf Oil Spill crisis enters its second month, the scale of the oil spill is requiring more hands on the ground then ever.

This week our local Tidewater Goby expert, the National Park Service’s Darren Fong, was called to Mobile, AL to help with oil spill clean-up efforts.

Among the other unfortunate things that this prefaces, this weekend’s Go-Go Gobies! trip must also be cancelled: at least until Darren returns.

Good luck Darren, and thanks for all you do to deal with crises on our coasts.

REI Loves WEI, Heats Up Big Year

Download Your Big Year Checklist
and Start Seeing and Saving Endangered Species

REI’s San Francisco Store is partnering with the Wild Equity Institute’s GGNP Endangered Species Big Year by providing a slew of interim prizes for competitors with a knack for seeing and saving endangered species.

The prizes, which include books, field guides, binoculars, backpacks, and other tools to explore the Golden Gate National Parks, will be offered in the coming weeks to Big Year competitors that reach interim competition milestones.

Details about the interim competitions will be announced shortly. Check the WEI website here for announcements about the interim competitions. Some restrictions will apply, so be sure to read the rules carefully.

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Congresswoman Speier Slowly Supporting Science-based Restoration

Congresswoman Jackie Speier has introduced a bill to spend a billion federal dollars and create a new federal office dedicated to San Francisco Bay wetland restoration.

It’s a great sign that, after some early missteps, the Congresswoman finally understands the importance and timeliness of science-based wetland restoration projects.

Now we need the Congresswoman to display the same vision for coastal wetland restoration at Sharp Park.

Wetland restoration is one of the best investments we can make to build a healthy and sustainable global community for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth, particularly in coastal areas that will be affected by sea level rise.

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Oil and Equity

The Gulf Oil Spill is a heartbreaking disaster, more so because it could have been prevented if proper environmental review had been conducted before exploration occurred.

And as oil reaches coastal communities and the explosion continues to spew carbon into the atmosphere, it is clear that those with the least resources to adapt to a polluted planet—low income communities and the non-human world—will bear the brunt of the catastrophe.

There is plenty of blame to go around, and politicians will hold hearings trying to punt that blame to the other side of the aisle, or onto the corporations that profit off oil drilling. But nothing will come of this dog-and-pony show if we fail to direct our moral outrage into concrete demands, and place those demands at the feet of those who wield power.

A starting point is demanding that our government cap carbon emissions so that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere stabilize at no more then 350 parts per million. This will inevitably require an end to off-shore oil and gas exploration once and for all. Consider joining Bonnie Raitt, James Hansen, the Center for Biological Diversity, 350.org, and many others by signing this petition to request that the EPA cap carbon emissions now.

A Little Bird in the Belly

In this Wild Equity Institute update from Trinidad, we’ve got a cute video for you of a little bird with a big surprise. Enjoy!

Video: One More Way Plastic Bottles Can Ruin a Turtle's Day

Some of you may know that the Wild Equity Institute is helping draft new regulations to protect leatherback sea turtles in Trinidad and Tobago, the twin island nation in the Caribbean off the coast of Venezuela. Trinidad has the 2nd largest nesting colony of leatherback sea turtles on Earth, and WEI is helping ensure that the population remains robust.

But the ways our lifestyles impact the leatherback sometimes confound even the most elegantly drafted rules. On April 27, 2010, a nesting leatherback sea turtle was digging her nest at Matura Beach in Trinidad when a wholly unnatural sound came from her nesting hole. The turtle had struck a plastic bottle four feet under the sand, jeopardizing her nesting attempt.

This was particularly disheartening because hundreds of volunteers had recently scoured the beach picking-up thousands of pieces of plastic trash to prepare the beach for turtle nesting season. This particular bottle may have been buried long ago, so the volunteers couldn’t have found it.

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WEI Collaborators in the News

At the Wild Equity Institute we are fortunate to collaborate with some of the most accomplished environmentalists on Earth, and many of them have been making wonderful news recently.

Dr. Peter Baye was recently featured in this article about the California Seablite, a GGNP Endangered Species Big Year species. Dr. Baye is a preeminent coastal ecologist who has prepared the scientific rationale for sustainable restoration options at Sharp Park. You can watch him in action here:

John Muir Laws, one of the great artist and illustrators of the natural world, helped WEI highlight the fate of the San Francisco Lessingia in 2008 with a field sketching class using wild Lessingia as the model. Now he’s produced these foldout guides of local flora and fauna. They should be outstanding aids to help people see and care for the planet.

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May Day Is for Mission Blues

This week you’ll get one more chance to see the Mission Blue Butterfly with last year’s Big Year co-champion Liam O’Brien. With the recent sighting of a Mission Blue mud-puddling for reproductive success, this may be your best chance to see the species yet! Plus you can bend O’Brien’s ear for some tips on winning the Big Year. See you outside!

Big Year Competitor Molly Latimer Spots a Mission Blue

Earth Day the Wild Equity Way

You could buy an eco toothbrush holder with that extra $10 in your pocket this Earth Day. Or you could get the best bang for your environmental buck by donating to the Wild Equity Institute today!

We run a lean, mean, equity machine over here at WEI, but we can’t do it without your support. This Earth Day join 2,000 others and become a member of WEI for $10 (or more) so we can continue our work. Send your contribution to Wild Equity Institute, PO Box 191695, San Francisco, CA, 94119, or join now with PayPal:

This Week's Big Year Trip: Flying Pansies

This week get outside and search for the Mission Blue Butterfly with last year’s Big Year co-champion Liam O’Brien. With the recent sighting of a Mission Blue mud-puddling for reproductive success, this may be your best chance to see the species yet! Plus you can bend O’Brien’s ear for some tips on winning the Big Year. See you outside!

The Things You'll See: New Butterfly Behavior Seen on Big Year Trip

Participants in last weekend’s GGNP Endangered Species Big Year Mission Blue Butterfly hike got a rare and scientifically important treat: they not only saw a Mission Blue, but also watched it engage in a behavior not previously proven to occur in the subspecies.

Mission Blue Butterfly Mud-puddling in the GGNP

The rare butterfly was seen “mud-puddling” from the SCA trail in Marin County. Mud-puddling occurs when butterflies congregate on moist soils or other substrates to obtain nutrients, such as amino acids and salts. These nutrients are believed to help the butterflies reproduce: males that mud-puddle tend to increase their reproductive success, if only because they sometimes transfer the nutrients to the female while mating as a nuptial gift! We’re glad to see one of the rarest butterflies in the GGNP finding new ways to gain a reproductive edge.

Although other members of the genus were known to mud-puddle, it was unclear if Mission Blue Butterflies engaged in this behavior: butterfly experts had debated this point. The new observation with photographs provides evidence of mud-puddling in this subspecies.

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Strange and Sorrowful: Golf Ball, Other Ocean Debris Found in Dead Gray Whale

The Cascadia Research Collective reports that a dead Gray Whale stranded in Puget Sound this week contained a large amount of ocean debris in its stomach when it died: including a golf ball.

This is the fifth Gray Whale stranding in Puget Sound this season. Although the whale’s cause of death can’t be declared definitively, researchers called the debris in the whale’s stomach a sign of our poor ocean stewardship.

Gray Whales are no longer protected under the Endangered Species Act, but still face many threats. The Wild Equity Institute’s staff and board have partnered with the Cascadia Research Collective’s scientists to protect whales on many occasions in the past.

Big Year Travels to Kids Near You

The Wild Equity Institute is proud to announce new Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year programming that can travel to kids near you!

WEI has developed endangered species-themed puzzles and games for elementary school children, and we can bring these materials to your school or event to introduce children to our local endangered species and what we all can do to help them recover.

Kids Enjoying WEI’s Endangered Species Games

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How Do You Spell Tax Relief? W-E-I

Federal tax returns are due this week, and there’s no better way to reduce your tax exposure than by donating to the Wild Equity Institute today!

The Wild Equity Institute depends on support from people like you, and our 2010 membership drive—building 10 members at $2,000 each—is one of the best ways to build a stronger environmental movement: while exceeding the Federal standard deduction limit! Please join the Wild Equity Institute today!

Send your contribution to Wild Equity Institute, PO Box 191695, San Francisco, CA, 94119, or join now with PayPal:

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San Francisco Golf Program Covers-up Golf Course Losses


New documents obtained through San Francisco’s Sunshine Ordinance show that the controversial Sharp Park Golf Course is predicted to lose money yet again this upcoming fiscal year: despite the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department’s presentation on April 1st to the Recreation and Parks Commission claiming otherwise.

Yet the Department is proposing to continue subsidizing suburban golf in San Mateo County while cutting nearly 4 million dollars from San Francisco’s urban recreation programs and services.

The new documents provide more support for creating a better public park at Sharp Park by transferring ownership to the National Park Service, which already owns adjacent lands.

Watch “The Restoration Vision” to learn more
about sustainable solutions at Sharp Park

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Pacifica Quarry Sold, Development Threat Continues

The San Mateo County Times reports that the privately-owned Pacifica quarry, located just south of the Golden Gate National Parks’ Mori Point, has been sold to a real estate investment affiliate.

Plans for the quarry are unclear, but the threat of development will remain until the lands are protected and incorporated into the Golden Gate National Parks.

Restoring Sharp Park, which is located just north of Mori Point, has therefore never been more urgent: as the surrounding private lands are developed and degraded, the long-term survival of the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog may depend upon Sharp Park restoration.

This is why the Wild Equity Institute has advocated for managing Sharp Park, Mori Point, and the Pacifica quarry as a single conservation unit under the National Park Service’s direction. This would allow the Park Service to open the first San Mateo County visitor center for the Golden Gate National Parks. Such a plan would preserve endangered species while stimulating the local economy, and allow us to replace an under-used, money-losing golf course with recreational opportunities modern Bay Area residents actually demand.

Watch “Twain’s Frog & the Beautiful Serpent” and learn more about the endangered species at Sharp Park! Watch “The Restoration Vision” to learn why we should create a national park at Sharp Park!

The ongoing development threat at the Pacifica quarry has also been one of the largest criticisms of San Francisco’s alternative plan for Sharp Park. The cornerstone of the plan is evicting both endangered species from the controversial Sharp Park golf course and forcing them to move to Mori Point and the Pacifica quarry lands.

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All in April: Threatened Owls, Endangered Butterflies, Secret Ridges

The Wild Equity Institute has some great GGNP Endangered Species Big Year trips scheduled in April. Come check them out for your chance to win the GGNP Endangered Species Big Year!

Restoring Northern Spotted Owl Habitat.

  • Thursday, April 15, 2010, 9:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.: Join Michael Chasse and Ellen Hamingson, ecologists and local botanical experts from the National Park Service, at Nicasio Ridge for a day monitoring rare and endangered plants, including the Tiburon Paintbrush and the Marin Dwarf-flax. Nicasio Ridge is usually closed to public access, so this is a rare chance to visit one the most spectacular habitats in the Golden Gate National Parks! Note: monitoring does not satisfy the Big Year action item, but can count as a sighting. Meet at the beginning of Laurel Canyon Road at the intersection of Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, Marin, CA 94956, NW of the Nicasio Reservoir. Parking area is on the north side of Point Reyes-Petaluma Road near Laurel Canyon Road. Participants will carpool up to the ridge. Due to the sensitivity of the habitat, and the requirement to coordinate with private Landowners for access to the ridge, the trip is limited to 20 participants only. Must RSVP: call 415-561-2857 or email Michael Chasse."

Searching for Endangered Wildflowers at Nicasio Ridge.

The Endangered Mission Blue Butterfly.

Climate, Coral Reefs, and Equity

Coral reefs provide billions of dollars of economic benefits to the world, and some 30 million of the poorest people on the planet are completely dependent on reefs for their livelihood and survival.

But a new report on climate and biodiversity suggests that if we fail to stabilize carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere at 350 parts per million or less, coral reefs will not survive. If our reefs are lost, some of the world’s poorest, most vulnerable people will be further impoverished.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity ("TEEB") study makes these claims in a climate update released recently on the TEEB website.

The link between how we treat each other and how we treat other forms of life becomes more apparent as our climate warms and our policy makers fail to take action. The poor and disenfranchised—along with our imperiled species and ecosystems—are bearing the brunt of this failure, and the longer we wait the more likely that these consequences will be catastrophic and irreparable.

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Franciscan Manzanita Relocated, CalTrans Videographers Document

After the amazing discovery of the Franciscan manzanita in the Presidio, the Wild Equity Institute filed a petition under the Endangered Species Act to ensure that the long-term recovery planning process for the species was conducted using the best recovery tools available.

As part of the short-term plans to protect the individual plant, biologists from several agencies determined the plant should be moved to a more secure site within the Presidio. This video documents some of the work done on the project.

Now that the move is complete, long-term recovery planing for the species—in addition to the work to save this individual plant—will now move forward.