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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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

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

Contacts:
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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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.

Sharp Park Golf Course Loses Even More Taxpayer Dollars

San Francisco’s endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course cost San Francisco taxpayers $177,000 more than it earned during the 2011-12 fiscal year, according to a new analysis by the Wild Equity Institute.

The analysis also demonstrates that the Recreation and Park Department will save money if it closes the course even if RPD is incapable of reducing its overhead costs. If only 20% of current Sharp Park golfers, 70% of which are San Francisco residents, reinvest their golf rounds into one of the City’s five other municipal courses, any legacy overhead costs would be completely offset by the increase in revenue at San Francisco’s other courses.

Golf industry developers—seeking a government bailout for Sharp Park Golf Course—and the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce—seeking “a new hotel and restaurant right on the ocean, right next door to Sharp Park Golf Course”—have denied that Sharp Park Golf Course loses money, hoping to convince public officials to pour more taxpayer dollars into their development proposals.

But their analyses counts taxpayer monies from San Francisco’s General Fund as part of the golf course’s revenue stream. This money is, of course, not income from the golf course’s operation: it is a taxpayer bailout. Wild Equity’s calculations remove this taxpayer bailout from the revenue stream for Sharp Park Golf Course to get a more accurate picture of how the course’s finances impact San Francisco’s limited recreation funding.

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San Francisco Recreation and Parks Caught Illegally Armoring Sharp Park Beach

March 21, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:

Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Bill McLaughlin, Surfrider Foundation, San Francisco Chapter, (415) 225-4083

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3/24, 11:00 am - Search for Twain's Frog and the Beautiful Serpent

Sunday, March 24, 11:00 am – 1:00 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 the frogs and the snakes from the brink of extinction.

Meet at the Mori Point Entrance Gate, at the intersection of Bradford Way and Mori Point Road, Pacifica, CA, 94044.

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Protections Sought for Endangered Frogs, Snakes at Pacifica's Sharp Park

January 7, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:

Neal Desai, National Parks Conservation Association, (415) 989-9925
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 669-7357

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Sharp Park: When You Win, The Other Guy Says You Lose


A restoration vision for Sharp Park.

Some of you may have read an article recently saying that Wild Equity’s lawsuit over Sharp Park Golf Course was dismissed, case closed. This article was spawned by a misleading press release by a golf industry front group. Here’s what really happened:

After our lawsuit was filed claiming that the golf course was killing endangered species without a permit, the golf course applied for the very permits our lawsuit claimed it needed.

In October a permit was issued: and it is a doozy. It contains over 50 pages of terms and conditions that burden the golf course with hiring biological monitors to walk in front of mowers, building new breeding and feeding ponds for endangered species, and restoring habitat to create a biological corridor connecting Laguna Salada to the national park next door, Mori Point.

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"This Shirt is Worth the Entire Future of Civilization"

Wild Equity Institute is receiving its first branded products soon, and the buzz is building. For example, a focus group participant at San Francisco State University had this to say about our new “I Bird San Francisco” T-shirt:

“This shirt has value far more important than its price. How much is it worth to promote environmental protection in your community? How much is it worth to use organic clothes? The shirt is worth our entire future as a civilization.”


I Bird SF 100% organic cotton T-shirt. Comes in natural color, sizes S, M, L, & XL.

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Help Move the World: Contribute to Wild Equity Today!

I’m starting this note with two short stories that inspired our work this year. After reading them, I believe you’ll be inspired to become a Wild Equity Institute member, so we can continue our extraordinary work.

Recently I returned from a weekend workshop where I discussed the future of the conservation movement with giants in our field—people like Dr. Michael Soulé, the founder of the field of conservation biology; Dr. Holmes Ralston III, a luminary in the field of environmental ethics; and Terry Tempest Williams, one of our great contemporary environmental writers.

It was an honor to simply be in a room with these incredible people. But as the meeting progressed, I was humbled to see that they found inspiration in the Wild Equity Institute’s work, and are incorporating our theory of change into a new era of environmental protection and conservation.

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Monday, Nov. 19, 1pm: Supes Vote to save SF's Natural Areas!

On Monday, November 19, at 1:00 p.m. in San Francisco’s City Hall Room 250, the Board of Supervisors will vote to remove a plan to redevelop Sharp Park Golf Course from the Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan, so that these two different projects with very different purposes can stand or fall on their own merits.

We need you to be there to support this resolution: attend the hearing and tell the supervisors to vote YES on the resolution!

Background.

Sharp Park is a wetland owned by San Francisco but located in San Mateo County. The City drains Sharp Park year-round so people can play golf on the land. The golf course loses money, harms two endangered species, and puts the surrounding community at risk when the course floods. The Wild Equity Institute is working to build a better public park at Sharp Park, a park that saves San Francisco money, protects the environment, sustainably adapts to sea level rise and climate change, and provides recreational opportunities that everyone can enjoy.


A restoration vision for Sharp Park.

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Supervisor Olague Introduces New Legislation for Sharp Park

Our work always seems to heat up in the Fall, and this year is no different. Supervisor Christina Olague has brought new legislation to City Hall, legislation that will defend San Francisco’s Natural Areas Program from anti-wild forces in San Francisco.

In 2005, San Francisco submitted its Significant Natural Resource Areas Management plan for environmental review—a plan that contains modest restoration goals for lands at Sharp Park managed by the City’s Natural Areas Program, but left all other Sharp Park lands, including the endangered species-killing and money-losing golf course found there, unchanged.

At the time, Wild Equity staff and others requested that the City consider a more ambitious restoration opportunity: to restore Sharp Park Golf Course, the money-losing, endangered species-killing golf course in suburban San Mateo County that San Francisco has been subsidizing with taxpayer dollars for years.

But San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department responded—in writing—in no uncertain terms: any changes to Sharp Park Golf Course proper could only be considered through a separate planning process.

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Vote NO on Prop. B San Francisco!

San Francisco voters: the Wild Equity Institute urges you to vote NO on Proposition B.

Proposition B is a bond measure that puts the financial position of the park system at risk while implementing anti-environmental infrastructure projects in San Francisco’s last open spaces.

For years the Recreation and Park Department, particularly under the leadership of Phil Ginsburg, has pursued anti-environmental projects that lose money while mismanaging our parks:

Because of RPD’s mismanagement, it does not have adequate funds to maintain its existing infrastructure. When operating deficits become too large to ignore, RPD tries to transform our recreation properties into revenue generating assets by proposing even more environmentally harmful development in our parks.

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This Weekend: Frog Film Friday, See Snakes Sunday!

This weekend Wild Equity is celebrating two endangered creatures close to our heart: the California Red-legged Frog & the San Francisco Gartersnake. Friday we’ve got a film to screen and Sunday we’ve got a hike to lead: and both will be more fun with you there!

So join us in the festivities this weekend: don’t forget to RSVP for each event!

  • JUMP: A Frogumentary—Friday, September 14, 2012, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.: Join Wild Equity to see JUMP: A Frogumentary by Justin Bookey. Every year in Calaveras County thousands of people compete in a frog jumping competition, an unusual tradition that historically starred the California Red-legged Frog and was made famous by Mark Twain’s short story The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calevaras County. The film follows three teams working non-stop to compete for a chance at the Hop of Fame. The frogumentary will be shown at the Sports Basement on Bryant St., 5th floor. Snacks and drinks will be served! Seating is limited so please RSVP here.


The California Red-legged Frog at Mori Point.


The San Francisco Gartersnake.

We Want You: To Become a Wild Equity Member!

So far, 2012 has been extremely productive for the Wild Equity Institute. But we need you to become a Wild Equity Institute member for us to advance our mission. Take a look at what we’ve already accomplished:

And this is just the beginning of what we can accomplish. We’ve got more ideas to build a sustainable and just world than we can implement by the end of the year!

But if you join the Wild Equity Institute today you can help us expand our work, engage new allies, and build a healthy and sustainable community for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth. By joining us today you will help us close out 2012 with a bang:

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Tatzoo's Bar 'Slither' Shines Light on Sharp Park

Tatzoo’s Bar ‘slither’ in the Mission brought dozens of San Francisco residents together to save the San Francisco Garter Snake.


The Tatzoo team pauses at the last stop of the night.

Chanting “Restore Sharp Park!” and answering trivia questions about the financial and ecological problems posed by Sharp Park Golf Course, over 60 participants spread good cheer and showed great support for closing the course and creating a new national park on the land. Dozens of others signed postcards to the Mayor demanding he transform the land post haste.


Tatzoo’s postcards went straight to the Mayor’s office.

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August 3, 8pm: San Francisco Garter Snake Bar "Slither"!

Tatzoo had a wonderful Happy Hour this past Tuesday! We had a chance to meet the 2012 Tatzoo group and hear of the wonderful ongoing projects to protect the Lange’s metalmark butterfly, the San Francisco garter snake and other endangered species.

The San Francisco Garter Snake team is hosting a bar “slither” Friday, August 3, at 8 p.m. starting at The Napper Tandy, 3200 24th St., (between Cypress St. & Van Ness Ave.), San Francisco, CA 94110. Hope to see you all there!

RSVP to join the conservation efforts of Tatzoo!

Golf Industry Front-group, San Mateo Politicians Caught Falsifying Official State Resolution on Sharp Park Golf Course

July 17, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:

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

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Wild Equity Requests International Protection for San Francisco Gartersnake

The Wild Equity Institute has filed a formal legal petition and submitted supporting comments to add the San Francisco gartersnake to the list of species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora ("CITES"). The request could be implemented as soon as March 3, 2013, when the CITES Conference of the Parties will be convened in Bangkok, Thailand.


Formal legal petition to add the San Francsico gartersnake to the list of species protected by CITES.

Although the Endangered Species Act has protected the San Francisco gartersnake since 1973, it has never been protected under treaties that prohibit international trade in endangered species and/or their parts. This has been the case even though poaching has been documented to adversely impact the San Francisco gartersnake, often referred to as “the most beautiful serpent in North America.”

Strangely enough, Northern Europe—not Northern California—is the global hotspot for San Francisco gartersnake fanciers and breeders. The snakes used in Northern Europe were originally taken from the wild, either before the Endangered Species Act was passed or illegally after the snake was protected. In either case, unregulated breeding—often solely to enhance the color and pattern of the species’ beautiful stripes—has in most instances made these specimens unsuitable for reintroduction to the wild.

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Golf Course Soon to Be Restored to Wildlife Habitat

Need proof that golf courses can be closed and restored to wildlife habitat? The Trust for Public Land just did it at the Ocean Meadows Golf Course in Goleta, CA.

40 years after wetlands were destroyed to create Ocean Meadows Golf Course, the wetlands are being restored. Under the leadership of the Trust for Public Land and many supporters, the golf course in Santa Barbara County will soon return to its unique natural habitat.

The restored wetland will provide habitat for wildlife; recreational opportunities for adults and children; and educational programs for students in the surrounding area.


The soon-to-be-restored Ocean Meadows Golf Course.

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Tailgaters Make a Big Bang at Sharp Park Golf Course

In May, tailgaters from Save the Frogs! and Wild Equity Institute made a big impact drumming for frogs at Sharp Park Golf Course while golfers held an anti-endangered species event at the golf course clubhouse.

Protesters occupying Sharp Park(ing lot) prevailed in numbers. While drumbeats echoed throughout the golf course, the key message did too: In order to protect endangered species, Sharp Park Golf Course must be closed and transformed into a new national park. See pictures from the successful turnout.

Interested in organizing your own event for the frogs? Click here for tips from Save the Frogs! on how to make it happen.


Michael Starkey of Save the Frogs! leads the tailgate drumming.

Tailgaters for Endangered Species Outshine Golf Bailout Supporters

On May 19 over 35 tailgaters for endangered species converged on Sharp Park Golf Course’s parking lot to protest an outrageous ‘celebration’ of the endangered species-killing, money losing Sharp Park Golf Course. With their message of drumming for frogs and occupying Sharp Park(ing lot), the tailgaters ate good food, played some interesting beats, and enjoyed good company, all while explaining to the media and the public why Sharp Park Golf Course should be closed and the land transformed into a new national park everyone can enjoy.

Below are a few photos of the event. Thanks to Save the Frogs! for organizing!






May 19: Sunflower Hike and Tailgate for Frogs!

The Wild Equity Institute is excited about two events this Saturday, May 19, and we hope you are too!

In the morning we’ll be offering a special trip to view the San Mateo Woolly Sunflower on normally inaccessible San Francisco Public Utilities Commission watershed lands. In the afternoon we’ll be joining Save the Frogs! at a tailgate celebration for endangered species in Sharp Park Golf Course’s parking lot! Join us for both— let us know if you’d like to carpool. Details below:

  • Tailgate & Drum for Endangered Species, Occupy Sharp Park(ing lot)!—Saturday, May 19, 4:30 p.m. — Join Save the Frogs! at Sharp Park Golf Course’s parking lot to tailgate and drum for endangered species and help occupy Sharp Park(ing lot)! That’s right: Save the Frogs! is occupying Sharp Park Golf Course’s parking lot, and we will all eat, drink, be merry, and express our love for endangered species and better public parks—*loudly and clearly so everyone knows that killing endangered species to play a game is wrong.* Bring food and drink to share if you like, and all your friends who stand with the “underfrog”! RSVP today using the Save the Frogs! Google Document or at the Tailgate’s Facebook page. If you can get there early to help organize or want to carpool, contact us and we’ll get you started. Get driving and transit directions to Sharp Park Golf Course here.