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Another Wetland Restoration Success Story: South Bay Salt Ponds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sea Level Rise, Waterfront Development, and Sharp Park

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

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

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

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

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Restoring Sharp Park...For Everyone

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

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

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

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

Massive water draining at Sharp Park Golf Course

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

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

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

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

Annual flooding reduces golf activity at Sharp Park Golf Course

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

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

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

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

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#RestoreSharpPark for #WorldSnakeDay!

Happy World Snake Day!

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

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

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

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 For Immediate Release: June 18, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wild Equity's Executive Director Brent Plater on Resistance Radio

‘One of the things I love about your work is that it bridges the gap between theory and work on the ground…
You seem to be manifesting that combination of theory and practice that I think is so important.’

- Derrick Jensen

Derrick Jensen is the author of numerous radical environmental volumes, including the highly critical Endgame, and is the co-founder of activist organization Deep Green Resistance. He has been called “the poet-philosopher of the ecological movement”* and now he’s taken an interest in the work we’re doing at Wild Equity.

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Action Alert: Hearing at the California Coastal Commission!

Dear Protectors of Sharp Park wetlands!

Your attendance is requested for a critical public meeting on Thursday April 16th in San Rafael (Marin County). That afternoon, the California Coastal Commission will be responding to the City of San Francisco’s request for a permit to dredge and continue draining Sharp Park wetlands. Your voice is needed to inform the Commission why the wetlands should not be dredged and why the City needs to end its ongoing degradation to the wetlands and the wildlife that depend on it. This will be the first and ONLY time an agency with a mission to protect wetlands will review the project!!

Will you join members of the Restore Sharp Park Coalition? Please contact for more information or to RSVP. We can answer questions and provide you with talking points, too. Details of the meeting below!

WHAT: Coastal Commission meeting where Sharp Park dredging and wetlands draining will be considered, and either denied or permitted.
WHEN: Thursday April 16th at 12:30pm. The Sharp Park agenda item is likely to come up right after lunch. Please arrive at 12:30pm and join fellow supporters for lunch at the cafeteria within the building.
WHERE: Marin County Board of Supervisor’s meeting room. Marin Civic Center. 3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 329, San Rafael, CA 94903.
WHY: This is our best opportunity to stop this misguided project. Please lend your voice at this important meeting!

**** Talking Points ****

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Wild Equity Bands with Allies to Challenge Sharp Park Pumphouse Project

At 10:00am on Friday April 3rd, Wild Equity, Sequoia Audubon Society, and Save the Frogs will present oral arguments at San Francisco Superior Court over a project that will destroy and drain Sharp Park’s Laguna Salada wetland complex, arguably the most ecologically important portion of the Department’s most biologically rich land.

“This senseless project will destroy critical wetlands, harm endangered species, and waste taxpayer money,” said Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute. “Experts have demonstrated that a feasible alternative to this project exists that will not harm wetlands and will save taxpayers money. But San Francisco has refused to consider this alternative, so we will ask the court to bring common sense back to the Recreation & Park Department."

You can attend the hearing to show solidarity with our movement, but of course court proceedings do not permit public testimony. Contact for details if you’d like to attend the hearing: we’d love to have you there!

Wild Equity Secures Challenge to Lower Court Opinion

On March 11, 2015 Wild Equity appeared at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in our ongoing legal challenged to the money-losing, endangered species killing Sharp Park Golf Course. A few days later the court issued a short opinion that clears the way for Wild Equity to “vacate” a mistaken element of a district court decision issued in 2012.

Specifically, the Ninth Circuit agreed with Wild Equity that our challenge became “moot” due to intervening events. Wild Equity proposed that the court therefore must either (1) declare the case moot so that the lower court opinion could be vacated, or (2) wield an exception to the mootness doctrine and rule that the lower court opinion was wrong on the merits. The court chose the former option, and now Wild Equity can move forward with vacating the mistaken element of the lower court’s position.

This ruling upholds Wild Equity’s lower court victories finding the Golf Course illegally killed endangered species for years, harming their populations, and ordering the Golf Course to pay nearly $400,000 in court costs for its illegal actions. It also paves the way for new legal challenges against the Golf Course for its actions that harm taxpayers and the environment. Stay tuned for the latest updates in our campaign to Restore Sharp Park.

100 Parks for 100 Years!

Wild Equity has been calling for new National Parks for a long time — especially at the notorious Sharp Park in Pacifica — and as it turns out, we’re not the only ones! Numerous organizations and constituencies have banded together in different areas of the country to expand the U.S. National Parks system. One of these organizations, RESTORE, has recently put together a campaign called New National Parks that is dedicated to celebrating the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary in an extraorindary and creative way.

From their website:

In 2016, Americans will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. There could be no better time for a bold campaign to expand the National Park System for the next century. Why not 100 new parks — or more — to mark the centennial? Such a campaign can inspire conservationists, rally public support, and convince Congress and the president to take positive action. Future generations will thank us for having the foresight to save our unprotected natural and historic treasures as their priceless national park legacy.

This is the vision of the New National Parks (NNP) campaign.

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Golfonomics: The Millennial Challenge

Golf needs millennials — but attracting them is proving to be difficult. The industry wants insight, and the Pro Golf Association (PGA) has created a task force aiming to redefine the golf experience. The sport’s popularity has been waning, and efforts to orient the game toward the values of young people have never been more important. The youth prioritize social and environmental consciousness, and in this regard golf has an unfortunate reputation. With black marks like Sharp Park Golf Course on record, the game too often presents itself as socially and environmentally reckless. The industry must repair this image if it is to meet the millennial challenge.

Since its peak around the year 2000, golf has lost nearly 5 million players across all age groups. Among young people these unfavorable rates have been even higher. Participation of players under 18 has dropped 40% since 2005, and among players aged 18-35 it has dropped 30% . It’s a problem that negatively affects projections regarding the future of the sport, and one study has found that golf participation could further drop a startling “40% to 60%” by mid-century. This tenuous long-term outlook needs improvement; it is crucial to reinvent the game in ways that engage young people.

Groups like the PGA’s task force need to understand what it is that turns millennials off about golf. One undeniably significant factor is social and environmental consciousness. Millennials have a strikingly different set of values from previous generations, and they prioritize wider ethical considerations even in their most personally significant choices. They’ll take a pay cut to work for companies that create positive social impacts, and they identify with brands that reflect their values and actively support social causes. They emphasize environmentalism, and will go to great lengths to demonstrate their ideological commitment to sustainability. At the recent People’s Climate March in NYC, over 50,000 young people filled up ten city blocks to protest human-made climate change. Even those who do not consider themselves environmentalists value sustainability.

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Join Wild Equity Today!

2014 has been a challenging year. On December 20, 2013, Rose Braz—Wild Equity’s Chairperson, my wife, and the person I call “the greatest human I’ve ever met” without reservation—had a seizure. That Christmas Eve she was diagnosed with an invasive and aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma.

It was the scariest moment we’ve ever faced.

Too many days were spent like this in 2014.

Our lives have been transformed. Rose has since had two brain surgeries and endured radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Much of my time has been dedicated to Rose’s care, and searching the literature for treatments that may fight this disease.

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Tonight's the Night: Wild Equity's Anniversary Celebration!

Tonight's the night: Wild Equity's five year anniversary celebration!  A limited number of tickets have been reserved for sale at the door for only $15, so come on by! 

Thursday November 6th, 6pm,

at the Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics 

Thank you from all of us at Wild Equity!

Wild Equity Party

These are not actors: it's an actual scene from Wild Equity's most recent bash!!

Buy Your Ticket Now!

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Nov. 6, 6pm: Five Years Fighting, Wild Equity's Anniversary Celebration!

On November 6th, 6pm, at the Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics Wild Equity will be proudly celebrating our five year anniversary! That’s right, it’s already been Five Years Fighting, and we’ve decided to throw you, the people who’ve made Wild Equity possible, a party!

Please join us for food, drinks, games, goodies, and most importantly good company! We’ll have live music by singer/songwriter Kristin Plater, as well as an outdoor gear raffle and vintage endangered species artwork up for auction at this celebratory end-of-year fundraiser. We’ll also showcase what we’ve accomplished to date, and, of course, show how we intend to keep Wild Equity’s momentum growing!

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Wild Equity Institute Challenges Harmful Sharp Park Water Quality Decision

For Immediate Release, July 24, 2014

Contact:  Laura Horton,, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 235-0492

Wild Equity Institute Challenges Harmful Sharp Park Water Quality Decision

San Francisco, Calif.—Wild Equity Institute is challenging the Bay Area Regional Water Quality Control Board’s approval of a controversial dredging project led by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department at Sharp Park’s Laguna Salada wetland complex. The decision to approve the project was made despite clear harm to water quality and local species including the California Red Legged Frog and the San Francisco Garter Snake. The challenge will go before the State Water Resources Control Board.

“Rec and Park’s Sharp Park dredging project will cause devastating impacts to the water quality and imperiled species that depend on the area for survival,” said Laura Horton, Staff Attorney at the Wild Equity Institute. “We gave fair warning of these impacts to the Regional Water Quality Control Board, but our concerns were ignored and now the State Board needs to step in.”

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California Red-Legged Frog, Photo © Brent Plater

Rec and Park is proposing to dredge and remove aquatic vegetation in Sharp Park’s Laguna Salada wetland complex—arguably the most ecologically important part of Rec and Park’s most biologically important land—so it can drain the wetland more rapidly during winter rains that cause flooding on the Sharp Park Golf Course. The project is called the Sharp Park Safety, Infrastructure Improvement and Habitat Enhancement Project and it has long been criticized by the environmental community. Rec and Park applied for a Clean Water Act Section 401 “Water Quality Certification” for the project, and in a shocking move, the Regional Board recently issued the certification even after acknowledging the potential harmful impacts of the dredging project to water quality and species at Sharp Park.

The dredging will cause the resuspension of sulfide in the water, which causes harm to wildlife, and Wild Equity requested that further testing be done on the site in comments to the Regional Board. Moreover, experts have explained that the aquatic vegetation to be removed can only grow in shallow water. If Rec and Park destroys the vegetation while draining the wetland to shallow levels, the vegetation will grow back, creating an ongoing, expensive, and harmful cycle of dredging and draining.

Despite the clear scientific evidence and likelihood of future harm, the Regional Board is allowing the project to move forward, citing poor data as a basis for its decision. Wild Equity is challenging the Regional Board’s decision at the State Board level in hopes that the decision will be overturned and further testing will be conducted to fully assess the potential impact of the dredging project.

The Wild Equity Institute is building a healthy and sustainable global community for people
and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth.


July 10, 7:30 pm: The Wilds of San Francisco & You Slideshow

Thursday, July 10, 7:30pm, at the Randall Museum: San Francisco has 32 pockets of undeveloped land set aside for the preservation of the natural world. These pockets hold the last remnants of wildness once found across the lands where we now live, but do we have room in our parks and our hearts for nature in this city?

The San Francisco Natural History Lecture Series hosted by the San Francisco Naturalist Society welcomes Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute, for a photographic exploration of the remaining wild areas in San Francisco. Brent went on a three day quest to see each of these natural areas for himself, understand what’s proposed for these lands, and identify a plan to save these areas from the City’s mismanagement. Join Brent for a slideshow of his quest, add your thoughts to the conversation, and discover how we can help these areas thrive.

Please RSVP here or on our Meetup group page.

Lakeview/Ashton Mini Park Natural Area.

Wild Equity Sues SF Rec. & Park Over Sharp Park Wetland Destruction Project

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 For Immediate Release: April 22, 2014

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

Conservation Groups Sue San Francisco's Recreation and Park Department
Over Controversial Sharp Park Golf Course Wetland Destruction Project 

 SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — The Wild Equity Institute, Sequoia Audubon Society, and Save the Frogs sued Mayor Edwin Lee and the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department in San Francisco Superior Court today over a project that will destroy and drain Sharp Park’s Laguna Salada wetland complex, arguably the most ecologically important portion of the Department's most biologically rich land.

“This senseless project will destroy critical wetlands, harm endangered species, and cost taxpayers over $1,000,000 to implement,” said Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute.  “Experts have demonstrated that a feasible alternative to this project exists that will not harm wetlands and will save taxpayers money.  But San Francisco has refused to consider this alternative, so on Earth Day we ask the court to bring common sense back to the Recreation & Park Department.”

“The wetlands at Sharp Park are critical to the survival of the endangered California red-legged frogs that live on the property, so it is essential that the City of San Francisco conducts a thorough environmental review before continuing to pump the wetlands out to sea,” said Kerry Kriger, executive director of Save the Frogs.

“Sequoia Audubon’s mission is to protect native birds and other wildlife and their ecosystems,” said Edwin Geer, conservation committee chair for Sequoia Audubon Society. “We remain vigilant in guarding our coastline through effective conservation measures and legal protections.”

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

To mitigate the environmental impacts of this project, the Department proposed a series of complex mitigation measures that required another agency—the federal Fish and Wildlife Service—to review, approve, and enforce a series of actions contemporaneous with the project’s construction.

But During a March 19 meeting with wetland experts from around the Bay Area, the Fish and Wildlife Service stated that it had not heard about these measures, and further explained that it would not be possible for the agency to implement them: all of its resources are consumed meeting its own mandates under federal endangered species law, and it could not spare resources to help local jurisdictions meet state law environmental requirements.  The agency confirmed this sentiment in follow-up emails.

Nonetheless, the City approved the project a few days later, based on assurances from Recreation & Park Department staff that the proposed mitigation measure did not actually require Fish and Wildlife Service actions and approvals—a position that is flatly inconsistent with the mitigation measure itself.

Moreover, experts have explained that the aquatic vegetation Recreation & Parks wishes to remove can only grow in shallow water.  If it destroys the vegetation while draining the wetland to shallow levels, the vegetation will grow back, creating an ongoing, expensive, and harmful cycle of dredging and draining if the Department wishes to maintain open waters in the wetland complex.

These same experts have explained that if the Department simply allowed enough water to remain in the complex during the spring and summer months the vegetation would die off naturally and would not grow back: because the water would be too deep for the vegetation to survive.  Moreover, this proposal would not increase winter flooding events at Sharp Park Golf Course, because the higher water levels need only be maintained in the spring and summer—and the golf course does not flood during these seasons.

“Before we spend a million dollars of taxpayer funds destroying wetlands, we deserve an honest assessment of environmental impacts, as well as a consideration of alternatives,” said Plater.  “To date the Recreation & Park Department has failed to honestly assess the environmental impacts of this project, and refused to consider any alternatives to it.  We expect the court to rectify that mistake.”

The Wild Equity Institute builds a healthy and sustainable global community for people

and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth.

Environmental Groups Will Ask Board of Supervisors to Reject Misleading Environmental Report on Sharp Park

Building a healthy and sustainable global community for people
and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth

March 24, 2014



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

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3/25 - Join Wild Equity at City Hall to Protect Rare Frogs & Snakes

The Wild Equity Institute along with our partners: Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter, Center for Biological Diversity, National Parks Conservation Association, Save the Frogs!, and Golden Gate Audubon have appealed the Preliminary Mitigated Negative Declaration released for the Sharp Park Pumphouse Safety and Infrastructure Improvement Project, a project led by San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department (RPD). The appeal will go before the full Board of Supervisors on Tuesday March 25, 3:00pm at City Hall Room 250. We need you to join us at the Board of Supervisors meeting!

If the Pumphouse Project is approved in its current form it will be disastrous for the federally protected California Red-legged Frog population of the Laguna Salada Wetland Complex. The only way to get a full assessment of the significant environmental damage of the Pumphouse Project and to have an environmentally superior alternative considered is to have a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) completed for the project.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has the power to order a full EIR. Our coalition has never lost a vote on this issue at the Board—so far. But we need you to attend this hearing and raise your voice for: the California Red-legged Frog, the San Francisco Garter Snake, this rare wetland complex and all of us who want a more environmentally friendly and fiscally responsible RPD. Please join us on March 25 at 3:00pm at San Francisco City Hall Room 250!

Here are some talking points to include in your comment to the Board of Supervisors on March 25:

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Help Us Grow in 2014!!!

“What do you get out of it? Why do you keep trying?”

The reporter’s questions caught me off-guard. I had been expecting to discuss Wild Equity’s role protecting the Franciscan Manzanita—a gorgeous plant presumed extinct in the wild for decades, but now on the verge of reintroduction throughout the City. I hadn’t anticipated the need to defend my life’s purpose.

As my mind considered the questions, I realized that only my heart could answer them. “I get a chance to make the world more equitable, more beautiful,” I replied. “I know the odds are long, but thousands of people have trusted in our ability to make this vision reality. When I’m toiling away late at night, pouring over thousands of pages of government documents or pounding away at another legal brief, I reflect on how grateful I am for their support, and it makes all the sacrifices worthwhile.”

When the SF Weekly article finally came out, it emphasized Wild Equity’s work protecting this miracle plant, and noted that we’ve won “a number of other high-profile lawsuits in the name of conservation, including this summer’s triumph over Sharp Park Golf Course for killing endangered red-legged frogs and garter snakes.”

But it failed to note that these conservation victories aren’t ours alone. Your contributions—your commitment to our vision, your trust in our staff, your donations to our programs—make each victory possible.

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Pumphouse Project Goes Before Planning Commission

Wild Equity appealed the Preliminary Mitigated Negative Declaration released for the Sharp Park Pumphouse Project, arguing that the city should do a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR). We will be going before the San Francisco Planning Commission to make our case for a full EIR as soon as it the item is placed on the agenda.

We believe a full EIR is necessary because:

  • Experts have stated even a mitigated Pumphouse Project will have significant impacts on the California Red-legged Frog and San Francisco Garter Snake populations at Sharp Park.
  • The Pumphouse Project will have significant environmental effects on the water quality and hydrology at Sharp Park.
  • There are alternatives to the Pumphouse Project and an EIR is needed to adequately consider these alternatives.
  • Sharp Park is suffering from a piecemeal approach to planning.
  • The Pumphouse Project conflicts with the Coastal Act.
  • The impact on the recovery plan for the California Red-legged Frog is not addressed in the Pumphouse Project.

For more information, Wild Equity’s appeal document is available for download. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Watch the SAVE THE FROGS! Academy Webinar on Restoring Sharp Park

On September 25, 2013, Wild Equity Executive Director Brent Plater teamed-up with SAVE THE FROGS!’ Kerry Kriger to tell the world about our campaign to create a new public park at Sharp Park. The discussion was the latest installment of the SAVE THE FROGS! Academy, the world’s greatest free resource for amphibian conservation knowledge.

Watch our webinar below. The first 1/2 hour focuses on our work at Sharp Park, and the second 1/2 hour discusses SAVE THE FROGS! work to ban the importation of bullfrogs into California, a campaign Wild Equity heartily endorses. If you like what you see, you can view past SAVE THE FROGS! Academy webinars on the Academy’s archive page.

Wild Equity Catches Agency Rubber-Stamping Permits to Kill Endangered Species

For Immediate Release, July 31, 2013

Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Mike Lynes, Golden Gate Audubon Society, (510) 843-9912

Fish And Wildlife Service Caught Rubber-Stamping
Permits To Kill Endangered Species

Lawsuit launched to end back-room deals for industry consultants

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.— Conservation groups today filed a formal notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for quietly rubber-stamping permits for industry consultants to kill endangered species.  The practice has been going on for years, but was only recently discovered because the Service had avoided public notice and comment procedures that typically apply to endangered species permitting processes. 

“What is the Fish and Wildlife Service afraid of?” asked Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute. “If the activities of the industry consultants can’t withstand the light of day, then the Service shouldn’t be permitting them.”

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A Better Mix of Greens

Today in San Francisco people are more interested in growing salad greens than golf greens. In a survey commissioned by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, city residents ranked the kinds of recreation they want to see more of in the City. Community gardens came in 3rd place, while golf facilities ranked a distant 16th.

Demand for community gardens is much greater than San Francisco’s supply. According to the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), San Francisco’s approximately 100 garden plots don’t have enough space for the 500+ residents eagerly waiting for space. Most garden waitlists are at least two years long, and some are close to 20.

In contrast, San Francisco’s six municipal golf courses are under used, because there aren’t enough golfers in the Bay Area to support them. Data collected by the National Golf Foundation show that golf’s popularity peaked in 2004. Today the Bay Area supplies 6 million more rounds of golf annually than golfers actually demand, and so San Francisco’s Sharp Park and Lincoln Golf Courses can only sell about 45% of their golf rounds. According to golf industry expert Jay Miller, golf’s popularity is not going to recover.

It’s time for San Francisco to rethink its recreation supply. We need a better balance between golf greens and community gardens. But if we provide more community gardens, the Recreation and Park Department will need to invest more money in their maintenance: and San Francisco’s budget is already stretched thin.

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Department of the Interior (DOI) Report: National Parks make economic as well as ecological sense

Sharp Park offers us an exciting opportunity to expand National Parks along the California coast and capitalize upon the economic benefits described in a recent DOI report. A new National Park at Sharp Park, complete with a visitors’ center, will act as the Southern Gateway into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It will be a powerful driver of the local economy. Restoring Sharp Park will protect endangered wildlife, revitalize local economies, and create a park that everyone can enjoy.

Creating a National Park at Sharp Park will drive job production and economic activity on the coast. The DOI revealed that, on average, one taxpayer dollar invested in the National Parks Service earns ten dollars in return. California’s 26 National Parks alone contributed $1.192 billion to the economy in 2011. Not only that, but transferring Sharp Park to the National Park Service will relieve San Francisco taxpayers of the current burden posed by Sharp Park Golf Course’s environmental costs.

A 21st century park at Sharp Park will benefit endangered wildlife as well as the economy, providing them with a healthy wetland habitat. These thriving wetlands will then offer San Francisco and San Mateo County students opportunities for desperately needed outdoor environmental education.

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Judge: Wild Equity Wins Lawsuit, Sharp Park Golf Course Must Pay $386,000 for Legal Violations

July 2, 2013


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

Conservationists Win Lawsuit
Sharp Park Golf Course Must Pay $386,000
for Illegally Killing Endangered Species

San Francisco— U.S. District Judge Susan Illston today found that six conservation organizations “prevailed” in a lawsuit against the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department’s (SFRPD) Sharp Park Golf Course, and ordered the golf course to pay $386,000 for illegally killing endangered species.

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Join Wild Equity at City Hall on 6/21 at 10:00am to Stop the Bailout of Sharp Park Golf Course

There is going to be a special session of the Budget and Finance Committee tomorrow, Friday, 21 June at 10:00 am, City Hall, Room 250. This your opportunity to give public comment on the Mayor’s proposed budget. We need you to let the Supervisors know that the money allocated for golf, specifically for the Sharp Park Golf Course, could be spent more efficiently.

Here are the facts:

  • The Mayor’s Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013-14 presumes that revenue from the City’s golf courses will decline by $1.4 million compared to last year.
  • This makes sense, because the Golf Fund will fall almost $1 million short of its projected revenue for FY2012-13.
  • The City’s own budget updates explain that the shortfall was caused by low demand for golf and the environmental problems at Sharp Park Golf Course.
  • Nonetheless the Mayor’s Proposed Budget for FY2013-14 authorizes the Golf Fund to spend approximately $2.5 million more than the Golf Fund earned during FY2012-13.
  • To make up this difference the Mayor is proposing to increase the general fund subsidy to the Golf Fund by approximately $2.5 million.
  • That’s $2.5 million that the City could spend on just about anything: HIV prevention, maintenance of neighborhood parks and community centers, reducing fees at the Arboretum, after school programs, legal services to the poor….or anything else that might reflect our priorities.
  • Instead, the Mayor is proposing to throw this money at a suburban golf course in San Mateo County that consistently has lower than projected demand, floods every winter, and kills two endangered species as it operates.
  • San Franciscan’s deserve better.

Please join Wild Equity at City Hall, Room 250 on Friday, 21 June at 10:00 am and ask the Board of Supervisors to stop the bailout for Sharp Park Golf Course, and redirect the money the City saves toward San Francisco’s true priorities.