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Wild Equity Ties Antioch and SF Communities, Conservation Struggles Together

The Wild Equity Institute and the Wilderness Arts & Literacy Collaborative ("WALC") at Downtown High School recently completed another successful Endangered Species Big Semester by helping students explore the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, learn how environmental justice victories in San Francisco are linked to a fossil fuel power plant construction boom in Antioch, and take action to help the Refuge’s endangered species recover.

WALC students remove invasive weeds at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.
Invasive weed growth is exacerbated by pollution from power plants that ring the Dunes.

Successful environmental justice campaigns in San Francisco led to the closure of two power plants in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill and Bayview-Hunters Point communities since 2006. In part to recoup the power lost when these power plants closed, the California Energy Commission approved five power plants, all ringing the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge. The concentration of power plants in this location threatens community health and three endangered species found at the Refuge. The Wild Equity Institute is bringing environmental justice advocates and grassroots conservation organizations together to challenge this massive power plant expansion.

On WALC’s third and final trip of the Endangered Species Big Semester, students connected our successful struggles for conservation and environmental justice in San Francisco with the new fossil fuel power plants in Antioch, observed endangered species threatened by this proposal, and then took action to help these species recover.

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5/5, High Noon: Join Us for "Turbulent Blue" at Crissy Field

Join the Center for Biological Diversity, San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club, Wild Equity Institute, Pacific Institute and others as we “connect the dots” between global warming, sea-level rise, and the impacts on communities, animals and plants in a dramatic, interactive human wave at San Francisco’s restored tidal marsh Crissy Field, in the Presidio under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

RSVP at 350.org. Get transit directions and precise location information here.

Wear blue and bring a pair of blue jeans, a blue T-shirt or blue sheet. The wave of blue we’ll create together will dramatically illustrate sea-level rise, as well as the more frequent and severe storms, storm surges and erosion that we can expect at places like Crissy Field — unless we can start slowing climate change now. We’ll even be filmed!

The event will also feature impact “dots” — “dot” being our word for an informative poster — which will represent impacts and solutions. The “impact dots” will share facts about climate impacts on people and other species here in the Bay, including threats posed by sea-level rise, erosion and ocean acidification. Our “action/solution dots” will identify actions that can help us avoid these impacts — cutting carbon in our atmosphere by stopping the Keystone XL pipeline and Arctic drilling plans, enforcing the Clean Air Act, and restoring Sharp Park.

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Judge Cites Evidence Sharp Park Golf Course Is Harming Endangered Frogs

April 26, 2012



Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 669-7357
Arthur Feinstein, Sierra Club, (415) 680-0643

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Tax Season Blues? Donate to the Wild Equity Institute Today!

What would your rather do: give your money to the government, or to the causes you care most about? With tax deadlines fast approaching, we suspect many of you might choose the latter!

Fortunately the Wild Equity Institute makes it easy for you to contribute to our work, and get a tax break while you are at it. All while building a better world for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth!

Make a generous contribution to the Wild Equity Institute today and get a head-start on next year’s tax deductions. We promise we won’t spend a dime of your hard-earned money on foreign wars, corn syrup subsides, or bridges to nowhere—a promise you know the other guys can’t keep! There are many ways you can contribute:

Become a Member of the Wild Equity Institute.

  • Become a member now with a credit card or a PayPal account:
  • Download a membership form and mail it to: Wild Equity Institute PO Box 191695 San Francisco, CA 94119

Become a Monthly Donor.

The best way to sustain our organization is to become a monthly donor. Monthly donations allow us to spend less time fundraising and more time building a healthy and sustainable community for all.

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New Infographic Tells Sharp Park Story

Stalwart Wild Equity Institute member Eric Mixon created this new infographic to cut through the hype and tell the true story of the money-losing, endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course. Download a high-resolution copy and share it with everyone you know—and even those you don’t!

Wild Equity, Mission Beacon & WALC Tackle Big Year

In 2012, the Wild Equity Institute is partnering with Downtown High School’s Wilderness, Arts, & Literacy Collaborative and the Mission Beacon Center at Everett Middle School to help at-risk youth discover the connections between the plights facing their communities and the plight of our local endangered species.

WALC’s Catherine Salvin helps students with their field journals
during an Endangered Semester trip to Mori Point.

Wild Equity Institute Executive Director Brent Plater helps Mission Beacon
students find Western Snowy Plovers at Ocean Beach.

The joint project is called “Endangered Semester,” an off-shoot of the Wild Equity Institute’s signature education project, the Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year. Generously supported by Audubon/Toyota TogetherGreen, the California Wildlands Grassroots Fund of the Tides Foundation, and Patagonia SF, the project provides students from these schools with opportunities to see and help save endangered species in the field, while earning prizes for learning how to communicate with public officials, make sustainable and healthy lifestyle choices, and take ownership of their local green spaces and parks.

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Mission Blues Flying Now; Log a Sighting & Win a Prize!

Informal reports from several locations suggest that the Mission Blue Butterfly is flying in the GGNRA right now. That means it’s the right time for Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year participants to score points in the year-long competition to see and save the park’s endangered species.

To give you an extra incentive, the Wild Equity Institute is offering a $25 Sports Basement gift certificate to the first person who logs a GGNP sighting of the Mission Blue on our website!

Mission Blue Butterfly, © Margo Bors.

The Mission Blue is a small, quarter-sized butterfly. Males are characterized by dark-bordered, silver blue to violet blue upper wings, while females have brown upper-wings with blue traces. The species flies from March until mid-June, but an adult Mission Blue Butterfly only lives for 6-10 days, so the time for observing any one individual is short. It uses one of three species of perennial lupines as a host plant: the silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons) the Lindley varied lupine (L. variicolor) and the summer lupine (L. formosus). Sometimes the butterfly makes it easy to spot: the species has the unique behavior of actually sitting on its lupine host for a while.

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New Study Adds Urgency to Eliminating Nitrogen Emissions in Antioch

A recent, well-publicized study suggests that cost-effective methods for eradicating invasive weeds may harm the Lange’s metalmark butterfly, adding urgency to the Wild Equity Institute’s efforts to eliminate the underlying cause of weed growth in the species’ habitat: nitrogen deposition from power plants in the vicinity of the species’ last stand at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.

Effects of Herbicides on Behr’s Metalmark Butterfly, a Surrogate Species for the Endangered Butterfly, Lange’s Metalmark, published in the journal Environmental Pollution by two Washington State University entomologists and a US Fish and WIldlife Service scientist, assessed the effects on butterfly larvae of three herbicides — chemicals that are intended only to impact plants. They studied a near relative of the Lange’s metalmark butterfly. The authors applied the herbicides directly onto butterfly larvae and recorded survivorship. They found that the chemicals reduced by 1/4 to 1/3 the number of larvae surviving to pupal stage — and thus the number of healthy adults.

Nitrogen emissions from facilities like the Gateway Generating Station, above, may spell the end for three endangered species
(L-R): the Antioch Dunes evening primrose, the Lange’s metalmark butterfly, and the Contra Costa wallflower.

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Will the GGNRA Learn Pet Management Lessons from SoCal?

In a rapid response to poor pet management, the Rancho Palos Verde city council closed its pilot off-leash dog beach a mere two months after it was created.

The beach, illegally used for off-leash dog walking despite city ordinances prohibiting dogs on beaches and golf courses, was opened in February to accommodate demands for free off-leash dog access. Unsurprisingly, the lack of restrictions unleashed a massive influx of dogs from all over Los Angeles county, where there are only two other beaches that allow dogs. “Frankly,” said Councilwoman Susan Brooks, “it was like Woodstock for dogs. This is not the space, not the place.”

Mayor Steve Wolowitz supported the decision to close the park and “cited an ‘intimidation factor’ presented by some animals, possible dangerous encounters between dogs and children, and the responsibility of the city to step in when ‘interests of a limited group conflict with the public at large.’”

The contested beach lies below the Ocean Trails Ecological Reserve, a spectacular area very similar to San Francisco’s Fort Funston in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The beach continues past the Trump National Golf Course.

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Partnership with Patagonia SF Makes a World of Difference

The Wild Equity Institute works with dozens of partners, but one of our most beneficent is Patagonia’s San Francisco store. Over the past year the store gave us several grants for our work, and its customers elected us their Voice Your Choice Grand Prize winner in 2011.

Clockwise from top left: Wild Equity Institute volunteers Mark Russell and Erica Ely used Patagonia gear to find endangered species in need of protection; Roxy Ramirez used her Patagonia gear helping us organize support for our campaigns; Zindy won a Patagonia Jacket through the Endangered Species Big Year; and Natasha Dunn helped us convince the Board of Supervisors to restore Sharp Park.

Their support has also helped our volunteers in a variety of ways. Patagonia’s product donations have helped our volunteers stay warm and dry, indoors and out, as we’ve campaigned for a healthy and sustainable world for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth. We can’t thank the Patagonia store enough for all their support, but we hope these photos of our wonderful volunteers in their amazing Patagonia gear are a good start!

If you are interested in supporting our work, you can contribute online in a variety of ways. You can become a member, give a gift membership, obtain matching grants from your employer, volunteer, donate office items or other products, and even go solar with Sungevity while supporting our work. Thanks for all you do!

Wonder What it's Like Working with Wild Equity?

Winning campaigns and building a movement isn’t always easy. But we can make it rewarding. At the Wild Equity Institute, we strive to make our internships and campaigns vigorous and inspiring. But don’t take our word for it: you can hear what some of our past interns and students have to say about working with the Wild Equity Institute’s Executive Director Brent Plater in this short, super sweet video. Then apply for your internship right away!

As Taxpayer Golf Bailout Continues, More Politicians Side With Restoring Sharp Park

Last year the Wild Equity Institute helped pass legislation to restore Sharp Park, only to see it vetoed by the Mayor. But the veto only made the campaign stronger as evidence continues to mount against the money losing, endangered species-killing golf course.

Indeed, in her first vote after being appointed to the Board of Supervisors by the Mayor, Supervisor Christina Olague sided with a majority of the Board to overturn the Mayor’s veto, solidifying our majority at the Board.

And conservation organizations from around the country have rallied to our cause, from the National Wildlife Federation to Change.org, petitioning the Mayor to reverse his veto. We were enjoying a sample of the eloquent responses from our supporters when Save the Frogs! announced it would make restoring Sharp Park the centerpiece of Save the Frogs Day 2012!

And this was before Sharp Park closed another fiscal year in the red draining over $126,000 from declining recreation budgets, and was caught killing California red-legged frogs—again—this winter.

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March 17, 10am: Search for Twain's Frog and the Beautiful Serpent

The Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year is off to a rapid start, with students and members of the public competing to see and save our local endangered species. This weekend we’ll search and help save two of the most imperiled species of all: the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog. Join us for a great hike in a gorgeous place and guaranteed wildlife sightings!

  • Twain’s Frog and the Beautiful Serpent—Saturday, March 17, 2012 10:00 am to 12:00 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 both species from the brink of extinction. RSVP required: please use this website to RSVP. Meet at the Mori Point Entrance Gate, at the intersection of Bradford Way and Mori Point Road, Pacifica, CA, 94044. Rain or Shine. Part of the Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year, a competitive event to help endangered species recover.

Sharp Park Golf Course Caught Killing Endangered Frogs, Tampering With Evidence

March 5, 2012



Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 669-7357
Arthur Feinstein, Sierra Club, (415) 680-0643

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Feb. 25, Noon: Life's a Beach: Searching for Western Snowy Plovers

The GGNP Endangered Species Big Year is in full swing, and we’re helping you compete this weekend by leading a trip to see and help save the diminutive Western Snowy Plover at Ocean Beach! Come join us as we search for these little guys and learn how we can all take part in the species’ recovery. See you outside!

Saturday, February 25, 2012, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm: Join Brent Plater of the Wild Equity Institute as we take a leisurely walk from the San Francisco Zoo to Ocean Beach searching for the threatened snowy plovers. Once we reach Ocean Beach we’ll head north observing wildlife and searching for these cryptic birds. RSVP required: please use this website to RSVP. Meet at the San Francisco Zoo Parking Lot Entrance on Sloat Blvd., near the Great Highway, San Francisco 94132. Bring a lunch. Free. Rain Cancels. Part of the Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year, a competitive event to help endangered species recover.

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The Wild Equity Institute Partners with the San Francisco Green Film Festival

The Wild Equity Institute is a partner of the 2nd annual San Francisco Green Film Festival, which runs March 1-7, 2012. This year’s Green Film Festival includes premieres of 40 international films focused on the environment, sustainability and other green issues, as well as many filmmakers and panel discussions.

WEI is honored to co-present the film Green Fire by local filmmakers Ann and Steven Dunsky, who also created the film Butterflies and Bulldozers. Green Fire looks into the life of Aldo Leopold, one of our greatest and influential conservation heroes.

“The first full-length documentary film ever made about legendary environmentalist Aldo Leopold, Green Fire highlights Leopold’s extraordinary career, tracing how he shaped and influenced the modern environmental movement. Leopold remains relevant today, inspiring projects all over the country that connect people and land.” http://www.greenfiremovie.com/

Aldo Leopold’s vision of humanity’s relationship with wilderness and his work in conservation has influenced many and connects with WEI’s mission to unite the grassroot conservation and environmental justice movements in campaigns that build a healthy and sustainable global community for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth.

Join the Wild Equity Institute for Green Fire, showing March 5, 2012 at 5:30pm, and many other wonderful films at the San Francisco Green Film Festival. Also, check out the festival’s new Action Steps resources. The festival is located at the San Francisco Film Society Cinema, 1746 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94115. See you there!

Make Your Tax-Deductible Contribution to WEI Today!

2011 was an inauspicious year for the Bay Area’s environmental and justice movements. Park and community service budgets were slashed, and environmentally destructive developments were green-lighted by public officials around San Francisco Bay.

But I know we can reverse this trend if you join the Wild Equity Institute today. On the ground, in the courts, and at City Hall, the Wild Equity Institute succeeded against great odds in 2011. Over 70 different media outlets recognized our efforts this year; Audubon and Toyota gave me one of five prestigious TogetherGreen environmental fellowships in California; and the Sierra Club’s Arthur Feinstein observed that our turnout for the restore Sharp Park campaign was “one of the largest the environmental community has ever generated in San Francisco.”

Supervisor John Avalos Helped Us Convince
the Board of Supervisors to Restore Sharp Park

We’ve built an effective organization. But we’re not here to build an organization: we’re building a powerful movement that scales-up to the massive environmental threats we face. A movement that creates a healthy and sustainable global community for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth.

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Urban National Parks Go International

A Huffington Post article by Dr. David Suzuki indicates that Canada is jumping on the Golden Gate National Parks bandwagon by creating the country’s first national park in an urban area.

The announcement follows a report that recommended national park status for the area outside of Toronto to protect its important recreational and biological values—right next door to Canada’s largest metropolis.

Canada’s act is a reminder that the GGNP was ahead of its time in bestowing national park status on urban areas with incredible biological and recreational resources. It is also notice that our work isn’t over—national parks can still be developed and created right here in the Bay Area near our urban core. And in many ways, it is these areas that deserve national parks the most—they are the most accessible to the most people and often protect lands that are in the most need of a little TLC.

Huzzah for Canada! And long live the Golden Gate National Parks!

12/22 SF Chronicle Features Brent Plater and the Big Year

Click either page for a .pdf download:

Mayor Lee Rejects Sharp National Park, Pushes Back-room Golf Development Deal

December 20, 2011



Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Kerry Kriger, Save the Frogs, (831) 600-5442
Arthur Feinstein, Sierra Club, (415) 680-0643

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Lawsuit Launched Challenging Massive Power Plant Expansion in Northern California

December 20, 2011



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Federal Agency Rejects San Francisco's Sharp Park Plans

December 16, 2011



Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Arthur Feinstein, Sierra Club, 415-680-0643
Neal Desai, National Parks Conservation Association, (510) 368-0845

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Join the Wild Equity Institute Today!

As our second full year draws to a close, the Wild Equity Institute has had several remarkable successes. And people are noticing. Over 70 different media outlets covered our work in 2011, including a cover story in the San Francisco Chronicle, an appearance on KQED’s Forum with Michael Krasny, and features in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

We’ve also built a sound financial model with growing foundation support. This year Patagonia awarded us the San Francisco store’s Voice Your Choice grand prize, and our executive director was one of five Californian’s to receive a TogetherGreen fellowship for environmental leadership.

As remarkable as our second year has been, our work is not complete: and we need your support to continue. If you’ve been waiting to see if our theory of change can work, I think our recent results will inspire you to join now, just as media outlets and foundations have been compelled to cover and fund our efforts. I want you to become a Wild Equity Institute member today: with you standing with us, 2012 will bring more campaign victories that build a stronger environmental movement for all.

The Wild Equity Institute believes we can achieve extraordinary environmental victories while building a larger, more resilient environmental movement. Throughout 2011, we implemented this theory by uniting grassroots conservation and environmental justice groups in campaigns that build a healthy and sustainable global community for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth. When you contribute to our work you achieve measurable environmental gains on the ground: and you ensure that our movement grows so that the scale of our efforts can match the size of the threats facing our communities, our landscapes, and the Earth.

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Call Mayor Lee at (415) 554-6141 & Demand He Support the Sharp Park Ordinance!

Last week San Francisco took an important step towards a healthy and sustainable future for Sharp Park. The Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that directs the City to negotiate a long-term management agreement for Sharp Park with the National Park Service, and then review that agreement as a proposed project under the California Environmental Quality Act. The City will be able to consider all feasible alternatives to the National Park Service agreement during this process. It will then select a future for Sharp Park that provides the best public policy outcomes for the land.

But golf purists and the Chamber of Commerce would rather you not have a say about Sharp Park’s future. They are lobbying Mayor Ed Lee right now, demanding that he veto this common-sense ordinance.

What are these golf development interests afraid of? And will they be able to subvert popular political will and convince the Mayor to sanction their back room golf bailout with his veto pen?

Not if you call the Mayor today and demand that he support this reasonable ordinance. The future of Sharp Park should be based on the merits—not what the golf lobby and developers are able to extract behind closed doors.

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Sharp Park Ordinance's "Good Government" Design Appeals to Moderates & Progressives

An extraordinary victory for people and the environment was won this week when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to begin restoration planning with the National Park Service for Sharp Park, a City-owned wetland in Pacifica.

A restoration vision for Sharp Park.

For many years the City has been operationg a money-losing, endangered species-killing golf course on the property. The new ordinance requires the City to pursue a new vision for the land—a national park vision that provides recreation everyone can enjoy while saving San Francisco money.

How the Campaign Was Won: Subcommittee Turnout

The victory was won this week, but involved years of grassroots campaigning. It culminated on December 5 when we delivered a massive turnout to a subcommittee hearing on the ordinance. Our supporters filled the hearing, spilled into the hallway, and filled the overflow rooms with turquoise T-shirts—the emblematic color of the San Francisco Garter Snake.

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Board of Supervisors Approves Sharp Park Ordinance!!

December 6, 2011



Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Michelle Myers, Sierra Club, (415) 646-6930
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 669-7357

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Supes Forward Sharp Park Ordinance for Full Board Vote!

After a lengthy public hearing today, the Community Operations and Neighborhood Services subcommittee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors forwarded Avalos’ Sharp Park Ordinance for a full board vote tomorrow, Dec. 6. The vote will likely happen around 4:30pm.

Dozens of supporters from community organizations, neighborhood park groups, environmental advocates, and people from San Mateo County and Pacifica attended to support the ordinance. The ordinance would initiate a negotiation between the National Park Service and the City and County of San Francisco to transfer land management and build a new national park on the land.

There’s still time to contact your supervisors. Supervisor David Chiu [(415) 554-7450], Supervisor Jane Kim [(415) 554-7970], Supervisor Scott Wiener [(415) 554-6968], and Supervisor Malia Cohen [(415) 554-7670] all need to hear from you. Feel free to contact them right away!

Lawsuit Over Sharp Park Golf Course Harm to Endangered Species Will Continue to Trial

November 30, 2011



Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 669-7357
Michelle Myers, Sierra Club, San Francisco Bay Chapter, (415)-646-6930

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What You've Been Waiting For: Supes Vote to Restore Sharp Park Dec. 5, 10am!!

At long last, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is set to vote on an ordinance that will build a new national park at Sharp Park! Please stand up for the “underfrog” by attending the hearing on Monday, Dec. 5, 10am at San Francisco City Hall, Room 250, and tell the Supervisors your support restoring Sharp Park!

On Dec. 5, San Francisco will vote to save it’s namesake serpent.

At this hearing the Board’s City Operations and Neighborhood Services subcommittee ("CONS") will vote on an ordinance introduced by Supervisor John Avalos—who also chairs CONS—and improved with feedback from planners, city attorneys, and neighborhood and community groups who support restoring Sharp Park.

Sharp Park Golf Course loses hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, kills two endangered species, and is eroding away as our climate warms and sea level rises. Despite all these constraints, some golfers are demanding a taxpayer bailout for the golf course so they can continue to play subsidized golf on unsustainable land.

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New SPUR Report Recommends Restoration Planning at Sharp Park

A new report issued by SPUR (the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association) makes several recommendations that support building a new national park at Sharp Park. It also provides helpful suggestions that have improved legislation pending before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

“SPUR’s report makes clear that the City of San Francisco must immediately cease all activities that harm endangered species at Sharp Park, and begin a process that builds a better public park on the land,” said Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute. “SPUR’s comments have also been incorporated into Supervisor Avalos’ Sharp Park Ordinance: substitute language now ensures restoration planning occurs in a collaborative and deliberative process, and we thank SPUR for helping make these processes possible.”

Among other things, SPUR’s report recommends that:

  • Over the next 1-3 years “the city should proceed as quickly as possible to implement a legally sound plan to restore and protect frog and snake populations”
  • Over the next 3-10 years “SFRPD should evaluate the feasibility of partnership with another entity to manage and/or operate the site, including the GGNRA
  • Over the next 5-50 years “SFRPD should consider a change of land use for the entire Sharp Park site. A more naturalistic setting, including an enlarged lake with an outlet to the ocean, may provide better habitat conditions and recreational opportunities, and be less expensive to manage on a day-to-day basis than a frequently flooded golf course”

SPUR also made suggestions to help improve legislation pending at the Board of Supervisors. Recognizing that changes at Sharp Park deserve to be made through a deliberative process, Supervisor John Avalos’ Sharp Park Ordinance makes clear that San Francisco must only move forward with a new management agreement at Sharp Park if the National Park Service agrees to partner with the City, and only after scrupulously complying with the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA"). If either CEQA compliance or partnerships with the National Park Service are not possible, the City’s obligations under the ordinance end.

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