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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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WEI Executive Director Brent Plater Awarded Prestigious Conservation Fellowship

Elizabeth Sorrell (212) 979-3185
Kaberi Kar Gupta (559) 357-3157
Mira Manickam (609) 356-3908
Brent Plater (415) 572-6989
John C. Robinson (707) 688-2848
Ian Signer (917) 843-2759

Five California Environmentalists Singled Out for Leadership
Honorees Receive Audubon/Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowships

New York, NY, November 16, 2011 – Five California residents are the recipients of a national fellowship that will enable them to help build on conservation work in the state.

Supported by a conservation alliance between Audubon and Toyota, the TogetherGreen Fellowship offers specialized training in conservation planning and execution, the chance to work and share best practices with gifted conservation professionals, and assistance with project outreach and evaluation. Each Fellow receives $10,000 towards a community-focused project to engage local residents in conserving land, water and energy, and contributing to greater environmental health.

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On 11/18/11 You Can Stand Up for the "Underfrog!"

On November 18, 2011, the Honorable Susan Illston will hear oral argument in the Wild Equity Institute’s lawsuit against the money-losing and endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course. All supporters of our campaign to restore Sharp Park are welcome to attend the hearing. The hearing will begin no earlier than 9:00am, and will occur at the United States District Court in San Francisco. E-mail us if you think you will attend so we can help you prepare for security clearance at the court house.

At the hearing, Judge Illston may finally provide relief to the California red-legged frog and the San Francisco garter snake, both of whom have been illegally killed by Sharp Park Golf Course for several years. Our coalition, which includes Surfrider, the Sierra Club, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Center for Biological Diversity, & Sequoia Audubon, will be represented by Wild Equity Institute Executive Director Brent Plater and the the environmental law firm Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal.

Dead California red-legged frog egg masses and chopped San Francisco garter snakes
have been all too common at Sharp Park Golf Course.

Judge Illston will review our request for preliminary injunctive relief, relief that will keep both endangered species safe from harm until a full trial can be conducted. If granted, our request will halt pumping activities that harm the California red-legged frog’s egg masses, and stop mowing and golf cart activities that have killed San Francisco garter snakes on holes 9-18 at Sharp Park.

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Avalos' Legislation to Repurpose Sharp Park Receives Accolades from Diverse Interests, Including Golfers

Watch this short video to learn about the problems facing Sharp Park,
and Supervisor Avalos’ bold legislative solution.

Supervisor John Avalos recently introduced legislation to repurpose Sharp Park Golf Course into a new public park in partnership with the National Park Service. Repurposing Sharp Park is a sustainable and common sense solution to the economic, ecological, and recreational troubles facing this golf course. Through this legislation, Sharp Park will become a new National Park that provides more public access for recreation, saves San Francisco money, sustainably addresses sea-level rise, and helps two endangered species recover.

The legislation has been endorsed by the following groups and individuals:

In addition, two-dozen Bay Area golfers have expressed their support for repurposing Sharp Park! Sharp Park Golf Course is San Francisco’s worst performing municipal golf course, and it contributes to the financial problems facing the oversupplied golf market in the Bay Area. Closing Sharp Park Golf Course will allow the City to redirect funds to its better golf courses, improving the golf experience in San Francisco. Moreover, the Avalos legislation grants Pacifica residents the same rates that San Francisco residents receive at San Francisco’s five other public golf courses, dramatically increasing access to affordable golf for existing Sharp Park Golf Course patrons.

Are you a San Francisco Golfer? Download and send in this letter expressing your support for building a new National Park at Sharp Park!

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Natural Areas Program Degraded; Wild Equity Comments Help Improve Plan

San Francisco’s Natural Areas Program was to be one of the great urban conservation programs in America. But after years of misguided political beatings, the program has lost integrity. The program recently released a Draft Environmental Impact Report for its program management plan—but the plan has been radically altered, particularly at Sharp Park.

The new Sharp Park plan incorporates an 18-hole golf course into the “recovery” area for the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog—even though the golf course is the primary threat to both species’ existence at Sharp Park. The plan also suggests that Sharp Park Golf Course is an historic resource—even though the City’s own Historic Preservation Commission could not concur that the golf course retains historic integrity. Based on these misguided beliefs, the Draft Significant Natural Resource Area Management Plan Environmental Impact Report refused to consider a full restoration alternative at Sharp Park.

Watch this annotated audio excerpt of the Historic Preservation Commission hearing.

The Wild Equity Institute submitted comments opposing the Sharp Park portion of the Significant Natural Resource Area Management Plan, as did the Sierra Club, Golden Gate Audubon Society, Nature in the City, and many other conservation organizations.

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Comments Submitted on GGNRA's Pet Management Plan

This past spring, the Wild Equity Institute submitted comments to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area concerning the Park’s Pet Management Plan. Unfortunately the GGNRA’s plan is heading the wrong direction.

For many years the GGNRA has illicitly permitted off-leash dog walking in many locations. When park visitorship and the number of dogs were low, this had little impact. But today the GGNRA receives millions of visitors annually and San Francisco purportedly now has more dogs than kids. This has led to increasing numbers of negative impacts in the park: dogs are being lost, injured, and killed; people and horses are being bitten and attacked; endangered wildlife are put at risk; and it has even impacted the diversity of the GGNRA’s users.

The GGNRA’s ad hoc off-leash policy is no longer tenable. The GGNRA is currently reviewing comments on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement that discusses pet management in the Park. The outcome of this environmental impact assessment process will dictate how the park is managed for many years.

We all love our dogs. The question facing us all is whether we love each other enough to recognize that how we recreate with our dogs at the GGNRA has impacts on other people and other forms of life. The Wild Equity Institute believes that the GGNRA has not struck a proper balance with its draft document, because it fails to ensure that off-leash dogs remain safe in the park.

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SF Historic Preservation Commission: Sharp Park Golf Course Lacks Historic Integrity

In a stunning rebuke to golfers grasping to keep San Francisco subsidizing suburban golf in San Mateo County, on September 21, 2011 San Francisco’s Historic Preservation Commission stated that it does not concur that Sharp Park Golf Course is an historic resource.

Watch this annotated audio excerpt of the Historic Preservation Commission hearing.

Sharp Park Golf Course has been losing money and killing endangered species for many years. In September Supervisor John Avalos introduced legislation to transform Sharp Park into a new national park, while providing Sharp Park’s current golfers with additional access to affordable golf courses in San Francisco.

But golf privatization groups who oppose national parks convinced San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department to make-up a case that Sharp Park Golf Course should be protected as an historic resource under the California Environmental Quality Act. As part of this process, the Department asked the Historic Preservation Commission to rubber-stamp its proposal.

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Injunction Sought to Halt Illegal Sharp Park Golf Course, Protect Endangered Species

September 26, 2011



Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 669-7357
Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Arthur Feinstein, Sierra Club, San Francisco Bay Chapter, (415) 680-0643

Court Motion Filed to Restrict Illegal Sharp Park Golf Course Activities, Protect Endangered Species

SAN FRANCISCO— Six San Francisco conservation groups are seeking a preliminary injunction in federal court against the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department to stop illegal pumping of water from wetlands and prohibit harmful mowing and motorized golf-cart use on ten golf course holes near wetlands at the Sharp Park golf course in Pacifica. The injunction will help protect endangered San Francisco garter snakes and California red-legged frogs from these harmful activities.

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9/14--Endangered Species Campaigning at CounterPULSE

  • September 14, 2011, 7:30 p.m.—Shaping San Francisco: Endangered Species Campaigning: Shaping San Francisco/CounterPULSE hosts a discussion about endangered species campaigning with Todd Gilens, creator of the Endangered Buses art project; Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute; and Jessie Raeder of the Tuolomne River Trust. You’ll learn about some of the most pressing issues facing San Francisco’s local endangered species, and how you can become part of the solution and help these species thrive. RSVP for the event here.

Todd Gilens Endangered Buses Project.

Endangered Status Proposed for SF's Miracle Manzanita

September 7, 2011



Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 669-7357

San Francisco’s Rediscovered Franciscan Manzanita
Proposed for Formal Endangered Species Status

Proposed Rule to Protect San Francisco’s Miracle Manzanita to be Released Tomorrow

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Take Action: Help Pass Legislation to Restore Sharp Park!

On September 6, 2011, Supervisor John Avalos introduced legislation at San Francisco City Hall to restore Sharp Park in partnership with the National Park Service! Now the Board of Supervisors needs to hear from you: tell them to support this legislation and restoring Sharp Park!

Watch this short video to learn about the problems facing Sharp Park,
and Supervisor Avalos’ bold legislative solution.

San Francisco is renowned for its thoughtful-yet-impactful environmental policies, and Supervisor Avalos’ legislation is one of the City’s most important ideas yet. The legislation will enable San Francisco to partner with the National Park Service to transition land management at Sharp Park from an unsustainable golf course into a new National Park that everyone can enjoy. In the process, we can sustainably adapt the land to sea level rise and climate change; help save two endangered species; and provide recreational opportunities that match modern recreation demands. The legislation also gives Pacifica residents access to San Francisco-resident rates at San Francisco’s remaining five public golf courses, ensuring that affordable golf is made more accessible than ever.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors will pass this ordinance: but only if they hear from you. Please write the supervisors using this Action Alert, and then call your member of the Board regularly to let him know you want Sharp Park restored!

Legislation Introduced to Restore Sharp Park!

September 6, 2011



Neal Desai, National Parks Conservation Association, (415) 989-9921 × 20
Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Meredith Thomas, Neighborhood Parks Council, (415) 621-3260
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 669-7357
Arthur Feinstein, Sierra Club, San Francisco Bay Chapter, (415) 680-0643
Mike Lynes, Golden Gate Audubon Society, (510) 843-6551

Groups Applaud Legislation to Restore Sharp Park
and Partner With National Park Service

Proposal Would Improve Recreation, Save Money, Protect Endangered Species

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Downtown High School Completes Endangered Semester with Wild Equity

In 2011, the Wild Equity Institute partnered with Downtown High School in San Francisco to give students and endangered species a second chance at life. The joint project was called “Endangered Semester,” and it provides students who have not succeeded in traditional classrooms an opportunity to see 10 endangered species in the field, while taking 10 actions that help these species recover. It was a competitive event: as the students see and help save endangered species, they earn prizes that help their class succeed.

Endangered Semester Presentation at Downtown High School

The Endangered Semester was completed in four phases. First, students were provided an in-class description of the project, including specific instructions on how to see endangered species in the field ethically and how to complete actions that help species recover. Next students were taken on three field trips to observe species and conduct recovery actions. Third, students were provided with self-directed opportunities to see endangered species near their homes, and make healthy lifestyle choices that would also benefit conservation. Finally, the students’ scores were tallied and prizes awarded in an end of the semester celebration.

On January 13, 2011, students completed their first trip to help see and save Coho Salmon at Muir Woods National Monument and Muir Beach. Although inclement weather made it difficult to spot salmon, the students marshaled on and planted 120 native plants along creek beds to help improve spawning habitat for the anadromous fish.

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Golfonomics 101

Golf courses across the nation are suffering from a quintessential economic problem: too much supply and not enough demand. How the game responds to this problem may define its trajectory in American sport for decades to come.

As articles in the LA Times and the New York Times recently explained, golf developers expected Tiger Woods to drive golf demand to new heights when he joined the PGA tour. In anticipation, developers built additional golf courses. And then a few more, and a few more after that.

However, for a variety of reasons—the time-constrained nature of modern-day life, Lance Armstrong and the growth of cycling, the rise of self-directed activities like Yoga, and other unanticipated factors—the demand never materialized.

Suddenly the game had too many golf courses and not enough golfers to play them. The Bay Area golf market in particular is overbuilt: it supplies 6 million more rounds annually than golfers demand. Under these market conditions, golf courses will close: the only question is which ones. If we subsidize under-performing, low-quality courses, we will force better courses to close instead, and the future of golf will suffer as its best courses are lost.

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What's Better than Dressing up like Snakes and Frogs? Actually Saving Them!

Finally, something frogs and snakes can agree on.

The California red-legged frogs and San Francisco garter snakes support Restoring Sharp Park! You can too by signing the petition!

The San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog need our help! Every year they are victim to poor management operations at Sharp Park Golf Course. Wild Equity has a plan to help save these endangered species and stop San Francisco from subsidizing a failing golf course. You can add your voice to our campaign by going to Change.org and signing the petition to restore Sharp Park!

Delay, Duplicity Lead to Lawsuit to Protect San Francisco's Miracle Manzanita

June 14, 2011


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

Delay, Duplicity
Leads to Lawsuit
to Protect San Francisco’s Miracle Manzanita

SAN FRANCISCO — The Wild Equity Institute today filed a lawsuit against Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to protect the recently rediscovered Franciscan manzanita under the Endangered Species Act.

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