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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.

IUCN Puts Endangered Species Big Year in the Mix for Best Conservation Idea of the Year!

The United Nations has declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, and now the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year as one of the best conservation ideas of the year!

Now you can vote online to put the Big Year at the top of the list. Click here to make the GGNP Endangered Species Big Year the number one international conservation project of 2010!

The IUCN’s Countdown 2010 project aims to raise public awareness about biodiversity loss while empowering governments and citizen groups to halt the extinction crisis by achieving goals set forth in existing international treaties and agreements. As part of the project, the IUCN is highlighting innovative conservation ideas to inspire others to reconnect with nature and halt biodiversity loss.

Over 1,000 partners across the globe, including the Wild Equity Institute, have become a part of Countdown 2010, but only a limited number have projects listed among the best conservation ideas of the year. Vote now for the Big Year to put us at the top of the list!

Two New Articles Document Continued Decline of Bay Area Golf Market

Two new media articles indicate that the Bay Area’s golf market continues to collapse, adding more pressure on San Mateo and San Francisco Counties to close the money-losing, endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course and replace it with a park everyone can enjoy.

“The Bay Area golf market is violating a fundamental law: the law of supply and demand,” said Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute. “There are too many golf courses and not enough golfers, and that’s why it’s time to restore Sharp Park: we can build a better, more sustainable park that everyone can enjoy while stabilizing the golf market before better golf courses are forced to close.”

A Restoration Vision for Sharp Park

An article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat explains that the recession, an oversupply of golf courses, and the ongoing decline in golf’s popularity has forced several courses into bankruptcy, and highlights one course where a $3.1 million dollar investment failed to attract additional players, resulting in ongoing deficits.

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Pacifica Climate Committee Urges Further Study at Sharp Park

The Pacifica Tribune recently reported on a letter written by Pacifica’s Climate Committee urging San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department to consider how climate change and sea level rise will impact the viability of the controversial Sharp Park Golf Course.

In the letter the Committee states that the Department’s all-golf alternative report for Sharp Park “omitted any analysis of sea-level rise and climate change impacts” and that “therefore the scope of this report is too narrow upon which to base long-term planning decisions.” The Committee urged San Francisco to “commit to long-term planning for the impacts of sea-level rise and climate change to Sharp Park and to delay any planning decisions regarding Sharp Park until such planning is complete.”

A Restoration Vision for Sharp Park.

Sharp Park Golf Course is unsustainable economically and environmentally. Golf advocates are therefore pushing to privatize course management while armoring Sharp Park’s coastline at public expense—to the detriment of coastal access, endangered species, and the sustainability of our beaches. But we can build a better public park at Sharp Park if we all demand that the Recreation and Parks Department do so. Download and send in a community support letter today and join our growing coalition of groups working for a better solution to the golf course’s numerous problems.

This Week's Big Year Trip

This weekend we offer another opportunity to try and find the elusive endangered sea creatures of the Golden Gate National Parks, this time while doing some habitat restoration for non-Big Year species that call the Park home:

  • Sea Watch and Habitat Restoration, February 20, 2010, 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.: Help protect and preserve the California coastline while listening for the howls of Stellar Sea Lions just off Point Lobos. With incredible views of the Farallon Islands, it’s also possible to catch a glimpse of the Southern Sea Otter and Humpback Whale! Join Alex Hooker of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy at Lands End to help cleanup the beaches and plant native species. Dress in warm layers, wear sturdy shoes and bring lots of friends! We provide snacks, tools and gloves. Meeting spot is the trailhead at the Lands End parking lot. RSVP Required—click here to do so.

This Week's Big Year Trips

We’ve got three great trips for you this week that will help you see and save our imperiled neighbors:

  • Spotted Owls After Dark. Sunday, February 14, 2010, 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.: After hours at Muir Woods when no one is around, hear the water in the creek, the gentle drops of redwood seeds on tanoak leaves, and learn how protecting nesting northern spotted owl led to the National Park Service’s efforts to preserve the natural soundscape of Muir Woods. Bring a flashlight, dress in layers, and wear sturdy shoes. Heavy rain cancels the trip. Meet at Muir Woods National Monument Visitor Center. Park entrances fees apply, but the trip is free. Reservations required; click here or call 415-388-2596.

First Big Year Winners Announced!

Over a dozen GGNP Endangered Species Big Year competitors won a subscription to Bay Nature magazine last month by entering their first action item or endangered species sighting on the competition’s website. Join the competition and be eligible to win more prizes and compete for the $1,000 grand prize!

Share Wild Equity Institute on Facebook!

We’ve added new functionality to our website: now you can share Wild Equity Institute news clips with your friends on Facebook with a simple mouse click, and you can do the same every time you enter an action item or species sighting for the GGNP Endangered Species Big Year! Try it out and let us know what you think!

Join the Wild Equity Institute

We can’t thank you enough for supporting our campaigns to build a more equitable world for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth. In honor of the year 2010, our first full year in operation, the Wild Equity Institute is building 10 founding supporters who will donate $2,000 each and 2000 members who will donate $10 each to help us fulfill our mission. And for those of you looking for a level of support that is just right, we’re rounding out our campaign by building 100 supporters who will contribute $100 each to WEI. If you are interested in becoming a founding supporter, a member, or contributing to our work at any level please make a contribution today and help our programs thrive!

Feds Find Funding to Protect Franciscan Manzanita in 2010

Responding to a petition filed by the Wild Equity Institute, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has secured funding to start the Endangered Species Act protection process for the Franciscan manzanita in 2010.

A single Franciscan manzanita plant was rediscovered in the wild by Dr. Daniel Gluesenkamp this winter. The species was last seen in the wild nearly seventy years ago. The individual plant has been moved to a more secure home in the Presidio of San Francisco, and with the help of the Endangered Species Act the recovery efforts for the entire species can begin in earnest. Learn more here.