Sunday, July 20, 9:00am: Laura Horton, Wild Equity Institute staff attorney, will discuss how the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Bush-era bird nest policy encourages the destruction of nests. Learn how Wild Equity is fighting to change this disastrous policy and what needs to be done to protect to migratory birds.

This is a great event to wear your I “bird” SF t-shirt.

Saturday, July 19, 11:00am: Ever wonder what surfers and California Red-legged Frogs have in common? Get the answer at the surfer edition of our popular Mori Point hike. We are stoked (surfer lingo) to be heading out on this adventure with the folks from the San Francisco Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.

Enjoy a leisurely stroll through Mori Point in search of two of the most imperiled species on the San Francisco Peninsula: the San Francisco Garter Snake and the California Red-legged Frog. Learn about the ongoing habitat restoration at Mori Point and the efforts being taken to save the snakes and the frogs from extinction.

Pack your binoculars because Mori Point is wonderful place to see birds and other wildlife. We will have binoculars to share too.

This is a great outing for kids!

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

This event is rain or shine.

Please RSVP above or on our Meetup group page.

Thursday, July 10, 7:30pm: 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 above or on our Meetup group page.


Lakeview/Ashton Mini Park Natural Area.

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.

For Immediate Release, July 8, 2014

Contact:  Laura Horton, lhorton@wildequity.org, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 235-0492

Federal Judge Tells EPA: No More Delays on Wild Equity Institute’s Antioch Dunes Petition

San Francisco, Calif.—Yesterday a federal court judge ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to respond to Wild Equity Institute’s concerns over the impacts of PG&E’s power plant pollution on community health and the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, one of North America’s most imperiled species.

“EPA has ignored PG&E’s pollution problem long enough,” said Laura Horton, Staff Attorney at Wild Equity Institute. “The agency’s delay has put the local community and the highly endangered Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly at risk, and the federal court agrees it is time for EPA to step up.”

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Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, August 17, 2012.
Photo © Liam O’Brien, http://www.sfbutterfly.com.


Last year, Wild Equity filed a petition with EPA over a permit issued to PG&E’s Gateway facility under Title V of the Clean Air Act. Gateway’s proposed permit failed to include air pollution control requirements to protect endangered species and the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, even though Title V permits must include “all applicable” requirements.

Wild Equity demonstrated this failure to both EPA and the local permitting agency, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, through a formal legal petition process established by the Clean Air Act. The petition process requires EPA to respond to the petition within 60 days. However, EPA failed to respond to this petition at all and the proposed permit became final. Wild Equity then filed a lawsuit against EPA in March of this year to compel the agency to respond to the petition.

Federal court judge James Donato in the Northern District of California questioned EPA’s long delay in responding to Wild Equity’s petition, and ordered the agency to take action on the petition and provide a substantive response to Wild Equity’s concerns by October 17, 2014.

There are only a few dozen Lange’s metalmark butterflies remaining in the world. The Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that nitrogen pollution from power plants near the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is “virtually certain” to cause the species to go extinct, and earlier this year independently demanded that EPA and PG&E consult with experts and mitigate Gateway Generating Station’s pollution.

Background on the Gateway Generating Station and the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.

Gateway Generating Station is a large, natural-gas-fired power plant in Antioch, California that pollutes nearby communities, worsens the global climate crisis, and threatens the survival of the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.

Wild Equity has for years been informing EPA and PG&E that they must work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to assess the impacts of Gateway’s nitrogen emissions on the butterfly, as required under the Endangered Species Act. However, to date EPA and PG&E have not fulfilled this legal duty.

The Lange’s metalmark butterfly is a brightly colored, fragile and highly endangered butterfly that has been protected by the federal Endangered Species Act since 1976. The species is endemic to the Antioch Dunes in Contra Costa County, a relict desert landscape left behind as California’s prehistoric deserts retreated from the Bay Area 140,000 years ago. Because of the Antioch Dunes’ isolation, many species found in the dunes are unique and very rare.

Sand dunes like the Antioch Dunes are nitrogen deficient, and increased amounts of airborne nitrogen emitted from Gateway changes the chemical composition of the dunes, creating soil conditions that are only suitable for the growth of invasive weeds. Under these polluted conditions, the butterfly’s host plant is lost to the invasive weeds, resulting in a population decline for the butterfly. Gateway’s emissions also harm local communities by contributing more ozone pollution and soot to an area already disproportionately overwhelmed by power plant pollution.


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

http://wildequity.org/

###

Thursday, June 26, 6:30pm: Please join Wild Equity for the anime epic Princess Mononoke.

The story follows a warrior’s involvement in the struggle between the supernatural guardians of a forest and the humans who consume its resources.

Leonard Klady of Variety said “…is not only more sharply drawn, it has an extremely complex and adult script” and the film “has the soul of a romantic epic, and its lush tones, elegant score by Joe Hisaishi and full-blooded characterizations give it the sweep of cinema’s most grand canvases.”

We will have freshly popped popcorn.

The screening is free, but donations are welcome.

Please RSVP above or on our Meetup group page.

Staff Attorney Position

Position Summary.

Wild Equity is hiring a Staff Attorney to manage and prosecute environmental cases in state and federal courts. This full-time position is based in Wild Equity’s San Francisco office, and offers an extraordinary opportunity to join a growing organization and shape its future.

To apply for this position, please submit a resume, two recent samples of your own writing, list of references, law school transcript, and a cover letter describing your interest in our work to info@wildequity.org. The position will start on August 1, 2014.

Major Responsibilities.

Under the direction of the Executive Director and in collaboration with outside counsel, the Staff Attorney will:

  • Evaluate new cases and identify administrative and litigation opportunities.
  • Conduct legal research and writing.
  • Prepare court filings and represent Wild Equity at oral argument.

In addition to these responsibilities, the Staff Attorney will also support partner organizations participating in our campaigns, represent Wild Equity at public meetings and in the media, write summaries of our cases for public distribution, and help with administrative and fundraising tasks.

Desired Qualifications.

  • Juris Doctor degree.
  • Admission to the California Bar or commitment to pass the California Bar.
  • Excellent writing, research, and oral advocacy skills.
  • Familiarity with key environmental laws such as NEPA, CEQA, ESA, and CAA.
  • Demonstrated commitment to environmental and social justice.
  • Strong work ethic with a keen attention to detail.
  • Entrepreneurial spirit that desires responsibility.
  • Advanced skills in basic computer programs such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel.

Salary and Benefits.

Salary will be commensurate with experience and litigation caseload. The total compensation package will be comparable to similarly sized non-profits. Wild Equity’s benefit package includes a flexible work environment, generous vacation time, medical insurance and commuter subsidies.

About Wild Equity.

The Wild Equity Institute unites the grassroots 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. We accomplish this by working on projects that highlight and redress the inequitable relationships across our human communities while improving our relationship to the lands in which we live.

Representative projects include transforming an endangered species killing, money losing golf course into a new public park everyone can enjoy; working with conservation, environmental justice, and social service organizations to reduce emissions from power plants in Antioch, CA; and helping to build a more sustainable relationship between our communities and urban parks in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. To find out more, go to http://wildequity.org.

Wild Equity Staff Attorney Laura Horton kicked off the summer component of her Toyota TogetherGreen project last week at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge. The project, funded by a Toyota and National Audubon Society grant, was created to engage high school students in the protection of local endangered species at the Refuge through education and restoration in collaboration with Louis Terrazas of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Rick Barton of Antioch High School. The project consists of a spring program, aimed at bringing larger groups to the Refuge for high-impact restoration, and an application-based summer program, which focuses on specialized land management training for a small group. Students in the summer program also receive a stipend for their work.


Summer participants Adeeb Nazam, Daja Miller, and Emily Hendricks with Laura Horton (left to right).

Sixty students participated in the successful spring restoration program, and the project was featured in Examiner.com and Contra Costa Times. Following the spring program, Laura gave a presentation to the students in April on environmental jobs and invited them to apply to the summer program.

Antioch High School students Daja Miller, Adeeb Nazam, and Emily Hendricks were chosen to participate in the summer program, among many talented applicants. Daja is a recent Antioch High School graduate who will be attending Howard University in the fall and majoring in biology. She is very passionate about fair treatment for animals and helping others. Adeeb also recently graduated from Antioch High School. He has a strong interest in helping animals and working on environmental issues. Emily will be starting her junior year at Antioch High School in the fall. Her passion is learning about nature and the environment and she has worked on several conservation projects in the past.

Daja, Adeeb, and Emily will gain valuable land management and conservation skills at the Refuge and will also have the opportunity to collaborate with students from nearby schools. In addition, they will receive a stipend and certificate for their hard work, which will directly contribute to the conservation of endangered species at the Refuge, including the highly endangered Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.


Antioch High School’s Rick Barton and Fish and Wildlife Service
Refuge Manager Louis Terrazas (left to right).


The students will help plant native plants such as the naked-stemmed buckwheat;
the host plant for the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.

Saturday, June 14, 10:00am – 1:00pm: Please join the Wild Equity Institute and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy for wetland restoration at Mori Point. Mori Point is important habitat for two federally protected animals, the California Red-legged Frog and the San Francisco Garter Snake.

The Parks Conservancy requires all volunteers to bring a completed volunteer form, available here. Please disregard the expiration date in the corner of the form. This form has not expired.

This event is rain or shine. Wear clothes that can get dirty. Long pants and closed-toe shoes are required. Bring layers for changing weather and rain gear if necessary. Bring a personal water bottle and sunscreen. No experience is necessary and tools will be provided.

Wild Equity staff participated in a very special event on Saturday, June 7: the release of five juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons, four of which were injured in the Oakland tree trimming incident last month. The event was hosted by our partner Golden Gate Audubon Society as well as International Bird Rescue, the organization that has been caring for the birds since the incident.

Bird lovers, conservationists, and members of the press gathered to watch young members of GGAS’ education program release the birds into a habitat area at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline park in Oakland.


Members of GGAS’ youth education program prepare to release the birds.
Photo: Laura Horton, Wild Equity.


Two Herons check out their new surroundings. Photo: Laura Horton, Wild Equity.

GGAS’ new Executive Director also took the opportunity to spread the word about their new brochure offering advice to both professional tree trimmers and backyard gardeners about taking care to avoid situations like the one in Oakland.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, apparently kowtowing to political pressure from an anti-environmental congressman, dropped charges against the tree trimmer hired by the U.S. Postal Service, and has not prosecuted the Postal Service at all. Although the Migratory Bird Treaty Act clearly prohibits harming or disturbing migratory birds and their nests, the Fish and Wildlife Service often uses its discretion in making enforcement decisions. However, Wild Equity requested information from the Postal Service under the Freedom of Information Act regarding the incident, which will help shed light on the agency’s involvement. In light of the clear MBTA violations, Wild Equity will be seeking full prosecution for those responsible.

In 2012, Wild Equity petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service over its disastrous nest destruction policy. The policy allows and even encourages the destruction of inactive nests (nests without birds or eggs). The result of the policy is inconsistent enforcement between inactive and active nests and broad latitude for those with no biological background or understanding of birds to decide whether a nest should be destroyed. Wild Equity urged the Service to establish a consistent policy that clearly requires a trained biologist to assess an area and a permit to be issued before nests are destroyed, whether active or inactive. The inconsistency in policy and enforcement has led to countless incidents of bird nest destruction and bird disturbances.

Learn more about the petition here, and come see Wild Equity Staff Attorney Laura Horton give a talk on Wild Equity’s migratory bird work on Sunday July 20 at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 9 am. Event details are here.


One of the released Herons. Photo: Laura Horton, Wild Equity.

Three Herons still not quite sure what to do. Photo: Laura Horton, Wild Equity.

Staff members ran into Wild Equity supporters Tom and Diane! Photo: Laura Horton, Wild Equity.

Staff Attorney Laura Horton will give a talk on Wild Equity Institute’s migratory bird work on Sunday, July 20, 2014 as part of the Unitarian Universalist Forum series. Laura will discuss the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s nest destruction policy, which has led to the destruction of countless migratory bird nests since it was enacted in 2003. This issue was recently spotlighted after an appalling encounter between the U.S. Postal Service and baby black-crowned night herons in Oakland.

The horrific scene in Oakland, where tree trimmers hired by the Postal Service fed branches full of heron nests and chicks into a wood chipper, sheds light on the Fish and Wildlife Service’s disastrous policy. Witnesses say baby birds were falling out of the trees and that there were significant injuries of the birds and disturbance of their nests. The Fish and Wildlife Service has stated that it is investigating the incident.


Baby Black-crowned Night Herons being cared for at International Bird Rescue center in Fairfield.
Photo: Isabel Luevano, International Bird Rescue

Killing and injuring migratory birds and destroying their nests is illegal under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (“MBTA”). However, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s nest policy incorrectly interprets the statutory language of the MTBA by unlawfully distinguishing “active” from “inactive” nests. The policy allows and even encourages the destruction of inactive nests (nests without birds or eggs), even if the nest is being used as shelter or a bird returns to the nest each year. The result of the policy is inconsistent enforcement between inactive and active nests and broad latitude for those with no biological background or understanding of birds to decide whether a nest should be destroyed.


This Great Horned Owl in an empty Osprey nest shows that a seemingly unused nest
may still be used as shelter by other birds. Photo: J.D. Phillips.


In July 2012, Wild Equity asked the Service to establish a consistent policy that clearly requires a trained biologist to assess an area and a permit to be issued before nests are destroyed, whether active or inactive. Wild Equity filed a formal administrative petition with the Service urging it to change its policy. In December 2013, the Fish and Wildlife Service sent Wild Equity a letter rejecting the petition, citing limited resources and policy disagreements as the reasoning. However, the Service did say it was “reviewing options for enhancing protection for nests of cavity-nesting species, such as the burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia),” and that Wild Equity’s regulatory suggestions were “helpful in this regard, and [the Service plans] to give them further consideration.”

Wild Equity is currently reviewing the Service’s response to the petition, as well as the investigation into the Oakland incident, and will be taking further steps to avoid this kind of situation in the future; stay tuned for future updates and opportunities to get involved.

Laura’s talk will take place on Sunday, July 20 at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin Street at Geary, Martin Luther King Room at 9:30 AM. Check the Wild Equity calendar or contact lhorton@wildequity.org for more details.

The Wild Equity Institute is working with dozens of community, recreation, environmental, and social justice groups to build a better public park at Sharp Park. This is a partial list of our partner organizations:

Wednesday, May 7, 7:30pm: Join panelists Brent Plater of the Wild Equity Institute, Amber Hasselbring of Nature in the City, master birder Dominik Mosur, and moderator Jason Mark of the Earth Island Journal for a discussion about the issues associated with human density and respectful dog ownership in San Francisco.

This is going to be a fantastic discussion! Arrive early to get a good seat. The seats will fill up quickly.

Please RSVP above or on our Meetup group page.

Click here to learn more about the GGNRA and off-leash dogs.

Wednesday, April 30, 6:30pm – 8:30pm: 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?

Brent Plater, Wild Equity’s executive director, 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 above or on our Meetup group.


Lakeview/Ashton Mini Park Natural Area.

WildEquity_logo_large 3
 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.
 

For Immediate Release, March 26, 2014

Contact:  Laura Horton, lhorton@wildequity.org, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 235-0492

Wild Equity Institute Sues EPA for Failing to Curb PG&E Pollution in Antioch

San Francisco, Calif.— The Wild Equity Institute today filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) for failing to address the impacts of PG&E’s power plant pollution on community health and one of North America’s most imperiled species: the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, which is found only at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.

“PG&E needs to play by the same rules as everyone else,” said Laura Horton, Staff Attorney at Wild Equity Institute. “Other power plants have already taken measures to do right by communities and our imperiled wildlife, and EPA cannot let PG&E off the hook just because the utility is the biggest player on the block.”

metalmark8-25-11_large_medium 2
Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly photo © Liam O’Brien, http://sfbutterfly.com


EPA’s legal violation involves Title V of the Clean Air Act. Title V is a permit process that applies to “major sources” of pollution such as PG&E’s Gateway Generating Station, and results in a permit that incorporates “all applicable” air pollution control requirements in a single set of documents.

A proposed Title V permit for Gateway was released last year, and shockingly it failed to include air pollution control requirements to protect endangered species and the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, even though another power plant a few miles down the road agreed to mitigate its pollution this past year.

Wild Equity demonstrated this failure to both EPA and the local permitting agency, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, through a formal legal petition process established by the Clean Air Act. The petition process requires EPA to respond to the petition within 60 days. However, the EPA has failed to respond to this petition at all—and in the interim, the proposed permit became final, without any provisions in place to protect the Lange’s metalmark butterfly.

There are only a few dozen Lange’s metalmark butterflies remaining in the world. The Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that nitrogen pollution from power plants near the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is “virtually certain” to cause the species to go extinct, and earlier this year independently demanded that the EPA and PG&E consult with experts and mitigate Gateway Generating Station’s pollution.

Background on the Gateway Generating Station and the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.

Gateway Generating Station is a large, natural-gas-fired power plant in Antioch, California that pollutes nearby communities, worsens the global climate crisis, and threatens the survival of the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.

Wild Equity has for years been informing the EPA and PG&E that they must work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to assess the impacts of Gateway’s nitrogen emissions on the butterfly, as required under the Endangered Species Act. However, to date the EPA and PG&E have not fulfilled this legal duty.

The Lange’s metalmark butterfly is a brightly colored, fragile and highly endangered butterfly that has been protected by the federal Endangered Species Act since 1976. The species is endemic to the Antioch Dunes in Contra Costa County, a relict desert landscape left behind as California’s prehistoric deserts retreated from the Bay Area 140,000 years ago. Because of the Antioch Dunes’ isolation, many species found in the dunes are unique and very rare.

Sand dunes like the Antioch Dunes are nitrogen deficient, and increased amounts of airborne nitrogen emitted from Gateway changes the chemical composition of the dunes, creating soil conditions that are only suitable for the growth of invasive weeds. Under these polluted conditions, the butterfly’s host plant is lost to the invasive weeds, resulting in a population decline for the butterfly. Gateway’s emissions also harm local communities by contributing more ozone pollution and soot to an area already disproportionately overwhelmed by power plant pollution.


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

http://wildequity.org/

###

Saturday, March 29, 9:00am – 4:00pm: Visit the Wild Equity, booth #10, in the Exhibitors Tent at BioBlitz 2014. Come by to say hi and help some lost wildlife find their way home. The event is rain or shine. The day will be filled with activities and music. This is a fantastic event for kids and adults!

Tuesday, March 25, 3:00pm – Please join the Wild Equity Institute at San Francisco City Hall to speak up and demand a full environmental review of the Sharp Park Pumphouse Project. We need to pack the chamber with supporters!!!

A full environmental review is needed 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.

• After reviewing the mitigation proposal, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated, in writing, that it does not have the resources to implement the measures listed by Recreation and Park Department.

• The Pumphouse Project will have significant environmental effects on the water quality and hydrology at Sharp Park.

• Experts have proposed a feasible alternative to the current Pumphouse Project: allow the wetland complex’s water levels rise in spring and summer to drowned the aquatic vegetation that grows only in shallow water.

• 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.

RPD staff refuse to analyze alternatives.

• The Board deserves to at least have a less harmful alternative reviewed before it approves such a controversial project in RPD’s most ecologically important asset.

Download a summary of the appeal here. The full appeal is available in three parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Please RSVP above or through our Meetup group San Francisco Wildlife Enthusiasts


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

Michelle Meyers, Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter, (415) 646-6930

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

Tuesday, March 25—3 pm San Francisco Board of Supervisors, City Hall, Room 250

SAN FRANCISCO— The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department’s environmental review document for a controversial wetland draining project at Sharp Park’s Laguna Salada wetland complex is under fire for falsely claiming that the project’s proposed mitigations were approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The Recreation and Park Department has repeatedly stated that this project had the express approval of a federal wildlife agency, and we all presumed this was true,” said Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute. “But last week the Fish and Wildlife Service informed us that it had never seen a crucial and controversial mitigation provision for the project—let alone approved it. For too long the Department has played fast and loose with the facts, and tomorrow we’ll ask the Board of Supervisors to put an end to the department’s duplicity.”

“Sharp Park is home for two species protected under the Environmental Protection Act. These species deserve a careful and complete Environmental Impact Report,” said Michelle Myers, director of the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter.

The 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.

Experts have explained to the Department that the aquatic vegetation it 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 it 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 increasing the amount and rate of water drained from our wetlands, we deserve an honest assessment of environmental impacts, as well as a consideration of alternatives,” said Plater. “To date the Department has failed to honestly assess the environmental impacts of this project, and refused to consider any alternatives to it. We expect the Board of Supervisors to right the course tomorrow.”


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


http://wildequity.org/



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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:

• The Recreation and Park Department’s (RPD) Pumphouse Project proposes an invasive dredging project in a wetland complex that is the most biologically important part of RPD’s property.

• The Preliminary Mitigated Negative Declaration did not consider any alternatives to the Pumphouse Project; a full EIR is needed to adequately consider environmentally superior alternatives.

• After reviewing the mitigation proposal, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated, in writing, that it does not have the resources to implement the measures listed by RPD.

• The remediation plan for the acids that the dredging project will release into the water column has not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

• Experts have proposed a feasible alternative to the current Pumphouse Project: allow the wetland complex’s water levels rise in spring and summer to drowned the aquatic vegetation that grows only in shallow water.

• Higher water levels will prevent the vegetation from growing back permanently.

• This alternative is the environmentally and economically sustainable plan. It would reduce the amount of aquatic vegetation in the wetland complex without harming the frog, would not require regular intensive dredging, and would cost taxpayers less money.

• This alternative will meet the project objective of eliminating aquatic vegetation and will not increase flood risks for the golf course because it will not affect winter rainy season water levels.

RPD staff refuse to analyze this alternative, and has not presented it to the Commission or the Board of Supervisors for consideration.

• The Board deserves to at least have this less harmful alternative reviewed before it approves such a controversial project in RPD’s most ecologically important asset.

• RPD’s proposal will establish a vicious cycle of dredging and vegetation regrowth: intensive dredging to remove vegetation and increase wetland drainage rate, increased drainage rate lowers water levels in spring and summer, aquatic vegetation grows back during spring and summer in low water levels, vegetation regrowth slows drainage rate, intensive dredging to remove aquatic vegetation and increase drainage rate, and the cycle repeats over and over. The repetition of this cycle will have significant negative cumulative effects.

• Experts have stated that even a mitigated Pumphouse Project will have significant negative effects on the local California Red-legged Frog and San Francisco Garter Snake populations.

• Experts have stated that the Pumphouse Project will have significant environmental effects on the water quality and hydrology at Sharp Park.

• The overgrowth of vegetation in the wetland that the Pumphouse Project proposes to remove was itself caused by mismanagement of the wetland.

• Sharp Park is suffering from a piecemeal approach to planning.

• The Pumphouse Project is inconsistent with several laws and plans:
o California Coastal Act
o 1995 and 2006 Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plans
o San Francisco Bay Basin Water Control Plan
o California Red-Legged Frog Recovery Plan

Download a summary of the appeal here. The full appeal is available in three parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Thursday, March 20,6:30pm – 8:30pm: Please join us for a wonderful film and an informative discussion with the film’s director.

Award winning documentary, San Francisco—Still Wild At Heart, is a virtual case study of the arrival of coyotes in our urban communities. This film has been described as “uplifting, lyrical, moving” and “an absolute treasure of a film.”

Unfolding first in San Francisco, the film follows the story of the coyote across the national canvas—to New York City’s Central Park; to Chicago, where more than 2,000 coyotes live today; and to rural California, where sheep ranchers find promise in innovative non-lethal predator control methods to protect their livestock.

View the trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNeBBfStBRE

Freshly popped popcorn and beverages will be available.

About the filmmaker: Melissa Peabody’s credits include Turner Broadcasting (Dolphins In Danger) and an Animal Planet 13-part series (Wyland’s Ocean World), as well as many other documentaries for international TV broadcast. She is the executive producer and owner of Living World Films LLC.

Please RSVP above or on our Meetup group to ensure we pop enough popcorn.

Sunday, March 16, 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. This event is rain or shine.

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

To RSVP, please see above or visit our Meetup group San Francisco Wildlife Enthusiasts.

Wild Equity staff members Laura Horton and Amy Zehring recently attended the 32nd Annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at the University of Oregon Law School in Eugene. The conference is a premier gathering for environmental lawyers and activists worldwide, and is distinguished as the oldest and largest of its kind. Laura organized and led a panel discussion on Wild Equity’s work protecting migratory bird nests and shared information on the Fish and Wildlife Service’s harmful nest destruction policy. The panel was titled The Government’s Empty Nest Syndrome: Towards a Rational and Valid MBTA Nest Policy and included animal law attorney Danny Lutz and ornithologist Dan Gleason. In addition, Laura and Amy connected with other advocates throughout the weekend and attended panels on important topics such as endangered species protection and environmental justice.


Laura, Danny, and Dan

The National Audubon Society and Toyota recently recognized Wild Equity’s Staff Attorney Laura Horton as a conservation leader with the prestigious Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship. Laura is using the grant from Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship to involve students from Antioch High School in the restoration efforts at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge in Antioch, CA.

In January and February, 60 students and Laura collaborated with employees from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove invasive plants and plant 500 native plants, including the endangered Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose and the naked-stemmed buckwheat. Naked-stemmed buckwheat is the host plant for the endangered Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly. Laura’s project with the Antioch High School students will continue through the summer, culminating in a community-wide event with parents, teachers, and students celebrating the students’ achievements through their restoration efforts.

The California Least Tern is one of three least tern subspecies in North America, all of which are listed as endangered species under the Federal Endangered Species Act.
Found in California only during the breeding season—April to September—the California Least Tern spends the remaining parts of the year in southern latitudes. Although only here for half the year, these little birds put on quite a show.

The California Least Tern has an elaborate courtship display that is a necessary precursor to nesting. It begins with a male flying and calling with a fish in its beak. These males are then chased by a receptive female, undoubtedly impressed by the male’s fishing prowess. The chase is stupendous: spirited and swift, the terns weave high into the air and then hurtle towards the ground in unison. Back on the ground, the male will approach the female with the fish, strutting and dancing to impress. If the female accepts the advance, she’ll join in the dance. The female will eventually lay 1-3 cryptically colored eggs in a small depression: no nests are built, as the species relies on cryptic coloration and cooperation among colony members to help ward off potential predators. All the while, the male California Least Tern will feed the female while she incubates their eggs.

Unfortunately for the California Least Tern, the very areas it needs to nest are also highly sought-after by humans for development and recreation. The species needs expansive stretches of shoreline near abundant supplies of prey—primarily small, nearshore fish—to survive and flourish. Historically, these areas were abundant, and the species could be found in great numbers from Moss Landing, Monterey County, California to San Jose del Cabo, southern Baja California, Mexico. But growing development and recreational pressures have destroyed habitat, disturbed birds, and increased predation by introduced and native species. The construction of the Pacific Coast Highway brought all these threats to much of California’s coast, and by the 1940s, terns were gone from most beaches of Orange and Los Angeles counties and were considered rare elsewhere.

To avoid humans, some tern colonies nest at more inland mudflat and dredge fill sites, which appears to make them more susceptible to predation by foxes, raccoons, cats and dogs. Indeed, some biologists believe that the Bay Area’s sole nesting population—which is outside the historic range noted for the species—was created by forced expansion of birds from the south that were pressured out of their original habitats.

Saturday, February 22, 10:00am – The Wild Equity institute invites you join us in a Wild Quest to save the endangered species in the San Francisco Bay Area. Get outside, have fun and save the natural treasures around us.

Take a closer look at Crissy Field and look for hidden treasures. Come out for your chance to win 1 of 2 Sports Basement gift cards and to learn more about Wild Quest!

SEE IT, SAVE IT. Wild Quest is a yearly competition in 10 installments or “quests”. To complete each quest you must see and help save the highlighted endangered species of the month. Each month you’ll be challenged to get outside in search of a different endangered critter and to complete a task that could change the course of the specie’s decline. Each month you have the chance to win prizes and collect points towards our end of year $1000 award.

Come see and save the California Red Legged Frog!

With the ongoing draught they need all the help they can get to restore their habitat. We will be meeting at the Main Gate to Mori Point. then we will go on a small hike and talk about our history trying to save the California Red Legged Frog. We will end our time together restoring Mori Point!

Get ready: SIGN UP to the Wild Equity website. You must be a member to participate in Wild Quest.

Set:check your inbox for the confirmation email with instructions and a link to sign up to Wild Quest.

Quest!

Having trouble signing up? send us an email

SEE IT. SAVE IT. LOG IT.

Once you start your quest keep track of your progress through our website. If you see one of our highlighted endangered species go to your home page and log it. If you complete our challenge to save it, don’t forget to log it.

You will only be considered to win the $1000 award at the end if you have kept track of your work through our website

The Honor system:

At Wild Equity we want to create a just world for every living thing. When we created this competition we kept that goal in mind and endeavored to make an even playing field for all participants. We trust you to do the same:

Only log sightings and actions that you have actually performed, recently. If you saw a San Francisco garter snake three years ago, congratulations they are really hard to find, unfortunately that won’t count for this competition. Go back to the place you saw it and try again.
In the same spirit if you volunteered in the Antioch dunes Wildlife Preserve a week before Feb 22nd it won’t count towards completing your quest. All institutions taking care of wildlife,plants and, habitats are in constant need of help, so go back again!

The Endangered Species Act is arguably the most powerful conservation law ever enacted by any nation. It is also one of the most beautiful: not because of its eloquent prose, but because it is a shining example of our Nation’s democratic principles, our humility, and our compassion for those that are least like us.

Enacted by Congress in 1973 and signed into law by President Richard Nixon—a Republican who is perhaps our country’s greatest environmental president—the Endangered Species Act was the country’s response to a disturbing body of scientific evidence calculating the rate of species extinctions around the globe.


Click the image above to read the full Endangered Species Act

Extinction, of course, is a natural phenomenon that is intertwined with evolution the way death is intertwined with life. The extinction of a single species therefore is normally not cause for panic, let alone federal legislation.

However, as Congress recognized in passing the Endangered Species Act, the rate of extinction had become wholly unnatural. Between ten and one-hundred species are estimated to go extinct every day: the natural “background” rate of extinction, in contrast, is approximately one species per century. Scientists now estimate that approximately 20% of all birds, 25% of all primates, and 33% of all amphibians are in danger of extinction.

The cause of this high rate of extinction is a single species: Homo sapiens. The exponential growth of our population and economy has too often come at the expense of our environment, and today habitat destruction, the purposeful and accidental spread of invasive species, the overuse of resources, pollution, and global climate change have made us the primary agent of a mass extinction event.

We are not the only species capable of causing extinction on the planet. But we have the capacity to understand concepts like death and extinction that other forms of life do not. Our capacity for humility and selflessness, the very things that make us human, are what create our responsibility to preserve those things that are least like us. The Endangered Species Act is our nation’s attempt to capture these ideals and make them law.

The Endangered Species Act Works

The Endangered Species Act is America’s safety net for plants and animals on the brink of extinction. Today it protects over 1,200 species and the habitats upon which they depend within the United States and its territories.

The Endangered Species Act works. The Bald Eagle, the Gray Whale, and the Peregrine Falcon are some of the Act’s most well known conservation successes, but literally hundreds of other species have benefited as well. The California Brown Pelican, theSouthern Sea Otter, the Least Bell’s Vireo, and many other species have seen their populations increase thanks to the Endangered Species Act.

Indeed scientists now know that over 98% of the species ever protected by the Endangered Species Act have had their extinction prevented. Scientists also estimate that extinctions in the United States would have been an order of magnitude greater than they have been but for the Endangered Species Act.

The Endangered Species Act works because it requires decisions about a species’ status to be based on the best available science, not politics or popularity. It works because it makes the preservation of endangered species a higher priority than the primary missions of government bureaucracies. And the Endangered Species Act works because Congress explained, and the Supreme Court has found, that the web of life that sustains us is of incalculable value, and therefore we must preserve it whatever the cost to developers and corporations.


The ESA helped save the Brown Pelican, which was declared recovered and delisted in 2009.

But most importantly, the Endangered Species Act works because at its core it is a democratic statute. The Act empowers the citizenry to initiate conservation actions for imperiled species, and does not rely on government bureaucracies alone to be nimble enough to save endangered species in every instance. As the race against extinction is ultimately a race against time, Congress’ decision to allow any person to present scientific data to the government and get timely responses regarding the protection of endangered species is perhaps the most important aspect of the Endangered Species Act.

The Endangered Species Act and the Bay Area

The Bay Area is renowned for its open space and connection with nature. However, this was not always the case: rampant development in San Francisco destroyed between 95-97% of its indigenous habitats. One of the casualties of this development was a species called the Xerces Blue Butterfly.

The Xerces Blue Butterfly was indigenous to the coastal sand dunes of what is now the Sunset District of San Francisco. As the Sunset District was developed, the habitat upon which the Xerces Blue depended was destroyed, and the butterfly could no longer survive. The last Xerces Blue Butterfly was seen in the early 1940s. It is the first American butterfly to become extinct as a result of habitat destruction caused by development.

Since the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, the possibility of another Xerces Blue Butterfly has been greatly diminished. Millions of acres of Bay Area land have been protected thanks to the Endangered Species Act, preserving open space for future generations to enjoy. From San Bruno Mountain to open spaces in the East and North Bay, the Endangered Species Act has helped us move towards a more sustainable future.

We thoroughly encourage you to get outside and see the endangered species of the month. On the other hand we want you to be aware of the impact you may have if you are not careful. Before heading out the door read our Ethical Principles:

Be a responsible Park, Open Space, and Refuge visitor.

  • Never take any animal, plant, or any other item from the Park.
  • Keep clothes and shoes clean. You never know what may hitch a ride, invasive plant seeds are known to spread this way.
  • Learn and respect the rules and values of the Park, Open Space, or Refuge you are visiting.
  • Promote the protection and preservation of natural resources and values for future generations.
  • Share these ethics by word and by example.

Respect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

  • Walk and talk softly. You’ll have better luck observing animals this way.
  • Stay on trails and within designated public areas; exercise caution to avoid disturbing or modifying endangered species habitat.
  • Never feed wildlife. Allow wild animals to carry on their lives without disruption.
  • Never use calls, recordings or other intrusive methods to attract threatened or endangered species.
  • Properly dispose of trash; leave behind only footprints.
  • Leave pets at home.

Respect the rights of others.

  • Observe all laws and regulations governing roads and public areas.
  • Behave in a courteous manner that will generate goodwill for the naturalist community.

This is our old donation page. If you got here, it’s because you’ve followed an out-of-date link. We’re sorry about that.

Instead, please go to our new donation page. Thank you very much!

HOW TO PLAY WITH WILD QUEST

Saturday, February 1, 9:00am – 12:00pm: You are invited to join the Wild Equity Institute and the Golden Gate Audubon Society at Pier 94 to restore habitat for the endangered California seablite.

In the 1960’s, the California seablite population was so small the plant could only be found in Morro Bay. Today, seablite has been successfully reintroduced at Pier 94 in San Francisco and parts of the East Bay. We need your help to keep these populations growing.

We will be weeding and planting (and looking for birds). Please wear sturdy close-toed shoes, weather appropriate clothes, hat and/or sunscreen. Bring a water bottle and a snack. The Golden Gate Audubon Society will provide instructions, gloves, and tools. To RSVP, please see the instructions above or visit our Meetup site – San Francisco Wildlife Enthusiasts

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.

But there’s a simple answer to this dilemma: if San Francisco closes the money-losing Sharp Park Golf Course and allows the National Park Service to transform the land into a new National Park, the City could reinvest the savings into community gardens and other recreation opportunities that San Franciscan’s actually demand.

For example, RPD only spent $370,560 to maintain community gardens between 2006-2011, a woefully inadequate amount given resident’s high demand for these facilities. During the same time period RPD lost $450,913 operating Sharp Park Golf Course.

Fiscal Year RPD Community Garden Spending RPD Sharp Park Golf Course Losses
06/07 $98,821 – $64,685
07/08 $58,947 – $119,758
08/09 $51,809 $29,446
09/10 $96,432 – $134,699
10/11 $64,551 – $161,217
TOTALS $370,560 – $450,913

RPD could have increased funding for community gardens by 222%—without charging San Francisco taxpayers an additional cent—by closing Sharp Park Golf Course and reinvesting the money RPD saved in community gardens. And while San Francisco makes more community gardens in its neighborhoods, the National Park Service will create more hiking and biking trails—San Francisco’s #1 recreational demand—at the new Sharp Park National Park.

So, next time you hear the tired tune about lack of funding for urban gardening, dig deeper. Ask the Recreation and Park Department to stop subsidizing Sharp Park Golf Course, and reinvest the money in recreation opportunities modern San Franciscans demand. Please contact Mayor Lee at (415) 554-6141 and the RPD at (415) 831-2700 today. Ask them to reassess Sharp Park Golf Course’s wilted greens to make way for fresh garden greens.

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) has released a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Dog Management Plan. The updated plan contains new data and expanded monitoring strategies as well as other additions.

The Dog Management Plan was a recent topic of discussion on KQED’s Form with Michael Krasny. Neal Desai, Wild Equity Board Member and associate director of the National Parks Conservation Association, explains how we must work to enhance “balance and equity” for all park visitors. The park is for everyone’s enjoyment, not just for people with off-leash dogs.

Wild Equity encourages a proactive, precautionary approach to dog management at the GGNRA.

Enclosed off-­leash dog areas are the best way to keep dogs and wildlife safe. It gives park visitors the choice of whether or not to have an off-leash dog experience.

Also, enclosed off-leash dog areas exemplify the non-impairment mandate of the National Park Service: to ensure that today’s activities do not degrade existing resources or future recreational opportunities by permitting risky activities without adequate safeguards in place.

Keeping dogs leashed, or in fenced areas, is beneficial for visitors and wildlife, like the federally protected Western Snowy Plover.

Don’t miss your chance to make public comment on the Dog Management Plan. The comment deadline is February 18, 2014 at 11:00pm. Click here to go to the comment webpage.

You are invited to attend a public forum on the Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s draft Dog Management Plan on Thursday, January 30, 8:30am – 10:00am.

This is your chance to voice your concerns regarding recreation and wildlife in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area directly to GGNRA representatives and Congressperson Speier.

We need everyone to attend, and this is the perfect occasion to wear your I “bird” SF t-shirt!!!

When: Thursday, January 30, 8:30 am – 10:00 am

Where: Stern Grove Trocadero Clubhouse, 2750 19th Avenue, San Francisco (Shuttles from 19th Ave will be available)

Speakers:

  • Congresswoman Jackie Speier
  • GGNRA Superintendent Frank Dean
  • SF Supervisor Scott Wiener
  • Howard Levitt, National Park Service
  • Marlene Finley, Director of San Mateo County Parks
  • Phil Ginsburg, General Manager of San Francisco Recreation and Parks
  • Neal Desai, Field Director of National Parks Conservation Association
  • Mike Lynes, Golden Gate Audubon Society
  • Bob Planthold, Disability Access Advocate
  • Martha Walters, Crissy Field Dog Group

Get the facts about off-leash dogs in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area by clicking here.

Thursday, January 16, Noon: Please join the Wild Equity Institute at San Francisco City Hall to speak up and demand a full environmental review of the Sharp Park Pumphouse Project. We need to pack the chamber with supporters!!!

A full environmental review is needed 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.

Please RSVP above or through our Meetup group San Francisco Wildlife Enthusiasts

After many continuances, the Sharp Park Pumphouse Project CEQA Appeal Hearing is finally confirmed for Thursday, January 16 at Noon, San Francisco City Hall, Room 400. We need to fill the room!!! Show your support for our appeal by attending and giving public comment.

Here are some talking points for your comment.

We believe a full Environmental Impact Report (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.

In October 2013, the Wild Equity Institute appealed the Preliminary Mitigated Negative Declaration released for Sharp Park Pumphouse Project, arguing that the city should do a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR). When this pump is used to drain Sharp Park Golf Course, it drains so much water that the California Red-legged frog egg masses are left out to dry and this kills future generations of frogs. The appeal document is attached in 3 parts. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

After reviewing our appeal, the San Francisco Planning Department’s recommendation remains unchanged. The Planning Department wants to see the Preliminary Negative Declaration approved because it is more expedient. If we are going to save the federally protected wildlife living at Sharp Park, the time needed to conduct a full EIR for the Sharp Park Pumphouse Project is essential. The Planning Department’s response can be found here.

The wildlife that calls Sharp Park home needs us to speak up for them! Thursday, January 16 at Noon, San Francisco City Hall, Room 400, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.

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.

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

City Hall is close to Muni and BART. Plan your trip at 511.org

Saturday, January 4, 9:00am – 12:00pm: You are invited to join the Wild Equity Institute and the Golden Gate Audubon Society at Pier 94 to restore habitat for the endangered California seablite.

In the 1960’s, the California seablite population was so small the plant could only be found in Morro Bay. Today, seablite has been successfully reintroduced at Pier 94 in San Francisco and parts of the East Bay. We need your help to keep these populations growing.

We will be weeding and planting (and looking for birds). Please wear sturdy close-toed shoes, weather appropriate clothes, hat and/or sunscreen. Bring a water bottle and a snack. The Golden Gate Audubon Society will provide instructions, gloves, and tools. To RSVP, please see the instructions above or visit our Meetup site – San Francisco Wildlife Enthusiasts

For Immediate Release, November 6, 2013

Contacts:
Laura Horton, Wild Equity Institute, lhorton@wildequity.org, (415) 235-0492
Agatha Szczepaniak, Audubon, aszczepaniak@audubon.org, (212) 979-3197

LAURA HORTON RECEIVES
AUDUBON TOYOTA TOGETHERGREEN FELLOWSHIP

Prestigious National Award and $10,000 Grant
Furthers Efforts of Local Environmental Leader

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.— Toyota and the National Audubon Society today announced that a Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship will be awarded to a San Francisco-based environmental attorney. After a competitive nationwide selection process, Wild Equity’s Laura Horton was selected for the year-long fellowship program and a $10,000 grant.

Audubon and Toyota select 40 high-potential conservation leaders to receive Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowships each year. With their $10,000 grants, Toyota TogetherGreen Fellows conduct community projects to engage diverse audiences in habitat, water or energy conservation. In addition to receiving support to help launch their conservation initiatives, Toyota TogetherGreen Fellows also benefit from specialized training and membership in a diverse national network of conservation professionals.

Horton will launch a project to engage high school students in the protection of local endangered species at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge through education and restoration in collaboration with the Fish and Wildlife Service, Antioch High School, and past TTG fellows.

“This project will bring together students, teachers, refuge specialists, and activists in an effort toprotect the environment,” said Horton. “Wildlife and public health in Antioch are at risk and we will all work collaboratively to build a healthier and more sustainable community.”

The Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship Program invests in conservation leaders of all backgrounds, providing them with resources, visibility and a growing peer network to help them lead communities nationwide to a healthier environmental future. Since 2008, 240 conservation leaders from across the country have been awarded Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowships. They have engaged nearly 150,000 people in a wide variety of conservation efforts nationwide.

“Toyota TogetherGreen Fellows help people engage with nature. They look like America: diverse, passionate and patriotic,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold (@david_yarnold). “They are environmental heroes and we’re excited to give them a chance to invent the future.”

A complete list of 2013 Toyota TogetherGreen Fellows and details about their conservation projects can be found at www.togethergreen.org/fellows.

About Wild Equity Institute
The Wild Equity Institute unites the grassroots 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. Our team of experts in law, management, design, and education accelerates the transition to this more equitable world through innovative, education programs, nature-inspired design, science-based petitions, and vigorous enforcement of environmental laws.

About Toyota TogetherGreen
Toyota and the National Audubon Society launched the Toyota TogetherGreen initiative in 2008 to foster diverse environmental leadership and invest in innovative conservation ideas. Toyota
TogetherGreen funding recipients have improved more than 30,000 acres of habitat, mobilized 420,000 individuals, conserved 15 million gallons of water and leveraged $10.5 million in volunteer hours. For more information, visit www.togethergreen.org.

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


http://wildequity.org/

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

December 19, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

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

Final Franciscan Manzanita Critical Habitat Announced,
Creates First Ever Habitat Recovery Opportunities in San Francisco County

Designation sets the stage for a collaborative recovery planning process
to Bring San Francisco’s “Miracle Manzanita” Back from the Brink of Extinction

SAN FRANCISCO— In a major advancement in one of San Francisco’s most important biological discoveries, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will announce tomorrow the final critical habitat designation for the Franciscan Manzanita. The designation includes approximately 200 acres of land that provide the best, and possibly last opportunity to bring San Francisco’s namesake manzanita back from the brink of extinction.


The last wild Franciscan Manzanita—but not for long!

“Species with critical habitat designations are twice as likely to recover as those without,” said Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute. “This announcement will help us all bring this incredible story to a happy ending: a fully recovered species no longer needs protection under the Endangered Species Act, just as we’ve done with our Bald Eagle, Brown Pelican, and Steller Sea Lion populations.”

Under the Endangered Species Act, the protection of a species’ “critical habitat” is closely tied to the ultimate recovery of the species. Because much of the Franciscan Manzanita’s historic habitats have been destroyed by unsustainable development, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s critical habitat designation emphasizes areas that are suitable for reintroduction or the establishment of new populations that have suitable habitat characteristics.

The final critical habitat designation includes five areas within the Presidio Trust (Fort Point, Fort Point Rock, World War II Memorial, Immigrant Point, & Inspiration Point) and six areas within San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and other lands (Corona Heights, Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson, Diamond Heights, McLaren Park, & Bayview Park).  

In the largest change from the critical habitat proposal released earlier this year, the Fish and Wildlife Service removed all areas of Bernal Heights Park from the critical habitat designation. San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department had allowed the park to become “highly degraded” by unsustainably high use, making it impossible for conservation efforts to succeed at that park.

The Fish and Wildlife Service also excluded areas that do not contain habitat for the species, such as roads, gun batteries and 1.4 acres of forest in the Presidio; heavily degraded off-leash dog play areas at Corona Heights; and areas in Diamond Heights, Bayview and McLaren Parks that do not have needed habitat conditions for the Franciscan Manzanita.

Today’s announcement also addressed some myths about critical habitat. It stated that critical habitat designations only affect federal activities: private landowners therefore will have no additional regulatory constraints unless they attempt to conduct federal projects on their lands. It also reaffirmed the scientific basis for designating portions of Mount Davidson as critical habitat, finding that appropriate geologic and soil conditions exist there for the species to thrive.

“Now is our opportunity to show the world that great cities can thrive without destroying indigenous plants and animals,” said Plater. “By collaborating with educational institutions, fish and wildlife agencies, and conservation groups, San Francisco can demonstrate that it is truly committed to sustainability for all.”

Background

In 2009 Dr. Daniel Gluesenkamp rediscovered the Franciscan manzanita, presumed extinct in the wild for over 60 years, while exiting the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco. This subtly charming flowering shrub was only known from San Francisco, but it was tragically lost despite heroic acts by botanists striving to keep the species alive. In a last act of desperation, in 1947 botanists stood in front of earth-moving equipment to wrest the last known wild plants from a construction site. The plants were sent to a botanical garden, and no one found the plant in the wild again: until Dr. Gluesenkamp’s miraculous discovery.

The individual plant was subsequently moved to a more secure location in the Presidio to avoid disturbance from the ongoing construction of the Doyle Drive project. While the individual plant was saved from immediate threat, no formal protection was provided to ensure the entire species recovered.

The Wild Equity Institute therefore petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the species under the Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife Service agreed, protecting the plant as endangered and proposing to protect its critical habitats in 2012. The full story of the plant’s rediscovery and path toward recovery is available here.

The Endangered Species Act requires creation of a binding recovery plan for the species; it prioritizes federal funding for the species’ recovery efforts; and it ensures that the species’ critical habitats, both those currently occupied and those that are needed for reintroduction, are protected. Together, these protections have made the statute the most successful conservation law in the world.

For more information about the Franciscan Manzanita, please visit our website at wildequity.org.



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


http://wildequity.org/



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For Immediate Release, December 17, 2013

Contact:  Laura Horton, lhorton@wildequity.org, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 235-0492

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PG&E Fail to Protect Endangered Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly—Again

ANTIOCH, Calif.— The Wild Equity Institute today submitted a legal notice of its intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) for yet again failing to address the impacts of PG&E’s power plant pollution on one of North America’s most imperiled species: the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, which is found only at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.

“At every step of the way, EPA and PG&E have let down our community, our national wildlife refuge, and the most imperiled butterfly in the state,” said Laura Horton, Staff Attorney at Wild Equity Institute. “It is time to do what is right and protect this endangered butterfly before it is too late.”

metalmark8-25-11_large_medium 2
Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly photo © Liam O’Brien, http://sfbutterfly.com

 

The most recent legal violation involves Title V of the Clean Air Act. Title V applies to “major sources” of pollution such as the Gateway Generating Station, and results in a permit that incorporates “all applicable” air pollution control requirements in a single set of documents. 

Recently a proposed Title V permit for Gateway was released, and shockingly it failed to include air pollution control requirements to protect endangered species and the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.

Wild Equity demonstrated this failure to the EPA through a “petition” process established by the CAA, which required the EPA to respond to the petition within 60 days.  However, the EPA has failed to respond to this petition at all—and in the interim, the proposed permit became final, without any provisions in place to protect the Lange’s metalmark butterfly.

There are only a few dozen Lange’s metalmark butterflies remaining in the world. The Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that nitrogen pollution from power plants near the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is “virtually certain” to cause the species to go extinct, and earlier this year independently demanded that the EPA and PG&E consult with experts and mitigate Gateway Generating Station’s pollution.

Background on the Gateway Generating Station and the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.

Gateway Generating Station is a large, natural-gas-fired power plant in Antioch, California, that pollutes nearby communities, worsens the global climate crisis, and threatens the survival of the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.

Wild Equity has for years been informing the EPA and PG&E that they must work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to assess the impacts of Gateway’s nitrogen emissions on the butterfly, as required under the Endangered Species Act. However, to date the EPA and PG&E have not fulfilled this legal duty.

The Lange’s metalmark butterfly is a brightly colored, fragile and highly endangered butterfly that has been protected by the federal Endangered Species Act since 1976.  The species is endemic to the Antioch Dunes in Contra Costa County, a relict desert landscape left behind as California’s prehistoric deserts retreated from the Bay Area 140,000 years ago. Because of the Antioch Dunes’ isolation, many species found in the dunes are unique and very rare.

Sand dunes like the Antioch Dunes are nitrogen deficient, and increased amounts of airborne nitrogen emitted from Gateway changes the chemical composition of the dunes, creating soil conditions that are only suitable for the growth of invasive weeds. Under these polluted conditions, the butterfly’s host plant is lost to the invasive weeds, resulting in a population decline for the butterfly. Gateway’s emissions also harm local communities by contributing more ozone pollution and soot to an area already disproportionately overwhelmed by power plant pollution.



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

http://wildequity.org/



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Sunday, December 15, 11:00 am – 1:30 pm: You are invited to join Brent Plater of the Wild Equity Institute at Muir Woods to see the threatened Coho Salmon, Central California Coast Evolutionary Significant Unit, and the Steelhead, Central California Coast Distinct Population Segment. Witness the semelparous spawning behavior of the Coho Salmon.

Meet at Muir Woods National Monument Entrance Gate, Mill Valley, CA, 94941.
Please note, everyone pays their own $7 entrance into the park.

This event is rain or shine.

To RSVP, please see above or visit our Meetup page – San Francisco Wildlife Enthusiasts.

Wild Equity’s web store is now live. Take a peak at our current offers below, and check the Wild Equity web store frequently for new items.

I “Bird” SF T-shirt, Only $20 + Shipping!

Share your love of San Francisco’s wildlife everywhere you go with Wild Equity’s exclusive “I ‘Bird’ SF” T-shirt! Made in the U.S.A. out of 100% organic cotton, the shirt features a silhouette of our City’s favorite puffball of feathers, the Western Snowy Plover. Wild Equity logo on the left sleeve too: to show your pride in our work! Comes in S, M, L, and XL in Unisex and Ladies Half-scoop designs. Specify your design and size choices by clicking on the corresponding buttons below.

Small Ladies Half-scoop:

Medium Ladies Half-scoop:

Large Ladies Half-scoop:

XL Ladies Half-scoop:

Small Unisex:

Medium Unisex:

Large Unisex:

XL Unisex:

Wild Equity 100% Recycled Aluminum Bottle, Only $15 + Shipping!

These gorgeous Wild Equity-branded reusable bottles are made in the U.S.A. out of 100% recycled aluminum, and are lined with a BPA-free, non-toxic, food-grade coating to keep your drinks fresh and the bottle easy to clean. Comes in green or white: specify your color by clicking the corresponding button below.

White Wild Equity Reusable Bottle:

Green Wild Equity Reusable Bottle:

“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.

Now we are asking you to reinvest in our work: please make a tax-deductible contribution to the Wild Equity Institute today.

As the SF Weekly recognized, we’ve had a remarkable year making a difference against incredible odds:

These victories are remarkable: with your support we can accomplish even more in 2014:

  • Your contribution will create a better public park at Sharp Park, funding advocates who will fight for what you believe in at City Hall and in neighborhoods around the Bay Area.
  • Your contribution can halt other power plants that are polluting our communities and poisoning the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, retaining experts that will tell the butterfly’s story, before it is too late.
  • Your Contribution will help us run our successful education project, the Endangered Species Big Year, and support our two new Big Year staff: Clay Anderson and Marcela Maldonado, as they build new park advocates people throughout the Bay Area.

Imagine the world we will build together: a more equitable world for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth. Thank you for supporting this vision and contributing to our work today!

Thank you from all of us at the Wild Equity Institute,

Brent Plater, Executive Director

with, from left to right:

Amy Zehring, Community Organizer

Marcela Maldonado, Project Coordinator

Clay Anderson, Project Coordinator

Laura Horton, Staff Attorney



P.S.—Consider becoming a monthly donor. For as little as $5 a month, you’ll help us spend less time raising funds and more time wining campaigns for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth! You can do this online at the Wild Equity Institute’s website. Thank you!

Despite the cold weather, a group of 20 Wild Equity volunteers enjoyed a morning of planting and weeding with Jonathan Barber from Golden Gate Audubon on Saturday at Pier 94. Pier 94 is home to the endangered California Seablite. This rare plant was reintroduced to the area after it was discovered the plant, once abundant, was found only in Morro Bay.


Intently listening to planting instructions.

We pulled weeds of invasive species and transferred a total of 500 young Yarrow, Red Fescue, and Western Blue-Eyed Grass plants into the ground. The volunteers included several high school students earning community service hours for graduation.

When the restoration of Pier 94 began over ten years ago, volunteers were hauling away old tires and scrap metal. Today, volunteers enjoy a much different experience. On Saturday, volunteers paused to see pelicans, sandpipers, and avocets. The students were especially excited to come across an earthworm. This presented a wonderful opportunity to discuss the importance of worms to soil health. When we volunteer at Pier 94 we are doing more than restoring habitat, we are building community.

Please support Wild Equity’s commitment to building stronger communities by becoming a member today! And check the calendar for the next restoration day at Pier 94.

Monday, Dec 09, 8:00am – 12:30pm: The staff of the Wild Equity Institute will be attending the “Meeting the Challenges of Sea Level Rise in San Mateo County” conference to hear from federal, state, and local experts about the impact of sea level rise on San Mateo County. Please join us!!! This is a great opportunity to participate in the dialogue about how communities will address the challenges brought on by sea level rise. The conference is free and open to the public, but you do need to register. Please visit http://sanmateosealeverise.wordpress.com/ for more information or to register.

Agenda
Keynote Speaker – John Englander, nationally acclaimed author of “High Tide on Main Street
Projected impact of sea level rise on San Mateo County – Will Travis, Former BCDC Executive Director
Challenges and Options in San Mateo County and the Bay Area
Local Initiatives & Action
Policy Developments at the Federal, State and Local levels

Saturday, Dec 8, 9:00am – 12:00pm: You are invited to join the Wild Equity Institute and the Golden Gate Audubon Society at Pier 94 to restore habitat for the endangered California seablite.

In the 1960’s, the California seablite population was so small the plant could only be found in Morro Bay. Today, seablite has been successfully reintroduced at Pier 94 in San Francisco and parts of the East Bay. We need your help to keep these populations growing.

We will be weeding and planting (and looking for birds). Please wear sturdy close-toed shoes, weather appropriate clothes, hat and/or sunscreen. Bring garden gloves, a water bottle, and a snack. The Golden Gate Audubon Society will provide instructions, gloves, and tools. To RSVP, please see the instructions above or visit our Meetup site – San Francisco Wildlife Enthusiasts


Skip the gym and join us at Pier 94 for your Saturday workout!

In preparation of tonight’s celebration for the Franciscan Manzanita, the Wild Equity Institute has compiled the remarkable story of this little plant’s most recent history. It is a genuine Endangered Species Act success story, one that we hope will inspire us all. And there is no better day to share this story than today, the day the plant formally receives federal Endangered Species Act protection nearly 70 years after it was mistakenly deemed extinct in the wild.

The Process.

Rare plants do not receive automatic protection simply because they are on federal lands. And the Franciscan manzanita was worse than rare—it was presumed extinct in the wild, and extinct species receive no protection at all.

So when the Franciscan manzanita was rediscovered in the the Presidio Parkway’s construction footprint, CalTrans could have destroyed it without any legal consequence, particularly since the project had already been approved through CEQA and NEPA.

It was only through a coordinated effort of multiple parties that this outcome was avoided. One of the parties that played a role in this was the Wild Equity Institute, which, along with the California Native Plant Society and the Center for Biological Diversity, filed an emergency administrative petition to list the plant as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

A petition is not a lawsuit—it is a formal, legal request to protect the species, combined with the best available science that demonstrates how the species meets the criteria for listing under law. The Fish and Wildlife Service reviewed this petition and determined that the petition presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing this species may be warranted: a decision it made unilaterally and without litigation.

Shortly thereafter, the Service wrote a rule to protect the plant, but the rule became buried in the federal rulemaking process, somewhere between the Service’s regional office in Sacramento and the Federal Register’s publishing office in DC. When that happened, Wild Equity worked with San Francisco’s local and federal politicians to get the process moving again.

While a lawsuit ultimately was filed as a part of this work, it was not fully briefed, because the suit caught the attention of agency insiders with the power to take the written rule and send it to the Federal Register for printing. That simple act was all the species needed for it to finally receive full protection under law. Once that happened the case was voluntarily dismissed.

The Priority.

It is hard to imagine a more pressing conservation priority than the last known wild plant of an entire species that is ‘in the way’ of a multi-billion dollar construction project connecting San Francisco to the Golden Gate Bridge. Nonetheless, some critics—typically unsophisticated or uninformed, but occasionally spiteful—have suggested that the plant is undeserving of protection. the most spiteful criticisms suggest that Franciscan Manzanita protection prevents some other deserving conservation priority from being achieved.

Unlike these commentators, the Fish and Wildlife Service has always considered the Franciscan manzanita to be a top-tier conservation concern: in 1980 the Service ranked it a Category 1 conservation concern, losing out on formal protection only because it was thought extinct in the wild.

But even if it were true that other species deserve higher priority than the Franciscan Manzanita, the assertion that protecting the Manzanita negatively affected the Service’s other conservation priorities is not true. The Service was able to use this species’ remarkable story to secure specific funding to process the listing rule. No one has ever suggested that this listing rule took funding away from the protection of any other species in need.

Other uninformed criticisms suggest that recovery planning will never occur for this species, because no private entity or local government will spend the funds to do it. But the Federal government creates recovery plans for listed species, not local governments or private entities: therefore, the argument that entities like San Francisco’s Natural Areas Program will not aid recovery because it is inept or underfunded is simply non sequitur.

Moreover, when Dr. Peter Baye drafted the official federal recovery plan for Coastal Plants of the Northern San Francisco Peninsula about a decade ago, he included recovery recommendations for the Franciscan manzanita, one of the many acts of prescience in his remarkable career. Much of the investment needed for recovery planning has thus already been done.

The Plant.

Perhaps the most uninformed—and surprisingly heartless—criticism is that the Franciscan Manzanita is a “weak” species, unable to survive in the limited habitats where it was found. In fact, the recovery plan states that the species is “easily cultivated,” “thrives on neglect after established on a wide range of substrates,” has “good soil adaptability,” and “sets viable seed that can be propagated,” all of which indicates the species is perfectly capable of thriving if left to its own devices. The historic record also indicates that franciscana was a robust species: until it was deliberately destroyed by urban development. It exists today because of the heroic acts by some of California’s greatest botanists who saved specimens from imminent destruction: and because developers just happened to miss a spot.

The Promise.

The Endangered Species Act listing will give botanists the best tools ever adopted by any nation to recover Arctostaphylos franciscana, and with so many Arctostaphylos experts in the Bay Area, we are confident it will recover and one day be delisted like the Brown Pelican, the Bald Eagle, and dozens of other Endangered Species Act success stories.

If you join Wild Equity on an adventure to see and save wildlife, you are likely to overhear at least one conversation about binoculars. We are always happy to share ours, but if you are thinking of getting your first pair of binoculars or looking to upgrade, you may find the 2014 Audubon Guide to Binoculars helpful. The article, along with recommendations, is attached in two parts. Part 1, Part 2


2012 Sea Watch at Fort Funston

Thursday, November 14, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm: Please join us for an evening of thought provoking conversation. Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute, will discuss Wild Equity’s theory of change and contrast it to some of the ideas put forward by Peter Kareiva, Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy, and Emma Marris, journalist.

To RSVP, please see above or visit our Meetup page – San Francisco Wildlife Enthusiasts.

Sunday, November 03, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm:Wild Equity and Save the Frogs are joining forces to look for the California Red-legged Frog at Mori Point. We are actually crossing our fingers for rain in hopes of finding some egg masses. Bring your rain gear because we are heading out on this adventure rain or shine.

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

To RSVP, please see above or visit our Meetup page – San Francisco Wildlife Enthusiasts.


Partially exposed California Red-legged Frog egg mass

The wild Coho Salmon population found in Marin is about to vanish. In order to prevent this amazing fish from going extinct, we must restore riparian habitat and prevent destructive development. On Oct 29, the Marin Board of Supervisors ignored the plight of the salmon and passed an ordinance that will end a building ban in the San Geronimo Valley. Read more about this “unusual hearing” in the the Marin Independent Journal.

Join Wild Equity, our partners at SPAWN and 28 conservation and fishing organizations to demand stronger protections for Marin’s endangered Coho salmon.

The Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment features Wild Equity’s Brent Plater and our work protecting Antioch’s people and endangered species in the Foundation’s most recent newsletter.


Click the image to read the full article.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

A coalition of conservation and community advocates led by the Wild Equity Institute created a new $2 million grants fund at Rose Foundation dedicated to mitigating pollution in low-income communities in Antioch and Oakley, as well as to mitigating harm to endangered species at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, the last home of the critically imperiled Lange’s Metalmark butterfly.

In the past several years, the California Energy Commission authorized three new power plants within one mile of two existing power plants in Antioch. While the energy will be distributed to San Francisco and other urban areas, the concentrated emissions threaten public health in nearby communities and push the Lange’s Metalmark butterfly, whose last wild habitats will be partially surrounded by power plants, closer to extinction.

As Brent Plater, Executive Director of Wild Equity Institute, a non-profit dedicated to building a healthy and sustainable global community for people, plants and animals, explains, “endangered species recovery efforts will take a giant leap forward and public health efforts in Antioch and Oakley will be recharged. By bringing grassroots conservation and environmental justice concerns together, we’ve improved the well-being of us all.”

Thank you Brent and the rest of the coalition! We’re honored to be entrusted with these funds and look forward to sending out the first Request for Proposals next year.

And we thank the Rose Foundation for supporting our work and inspiring us to create a more just and sustainable world for all!

Stay tuned for updates on the fund and additional actions we’ll be taking in Antioch to protect people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth.

Thursday, October 24, 2013, 6:30pm – 8:30pm: Please join the Wild Equity Institute for the screening of three fantastic short films: Return Flight, Achieving Balance, and Returning Home. A discussion with writer, producer, director, and co-founder of Filmmakers Collaborative, SF, Kevin White will follow the screening.

Return Flight: Follow the journey of the bald eagle’s recovery from DDT contamination, overhunting, and egg collecting.

Achieving Balance: Narrated by John Cleese, this film chronicles the efforts of state and federal resource managers to remove rats from Anacapa Island.

Returning Home: Over the span of ten years, dedicated scientists worked with local schools and government agencies to restore the Common Murre to their ancestral home off the coast of San Francisco.

To RSVP, please see above or visit our Meetup page – San Francisco Wildlife Enthusiasts.

For Immediate Release

Contacts:
Golden Gate Audubon Society Executive Director Mike Lynes, (415) 505-9743 cell
Wild Equity Institute Executive Director Brent Plater, (415) 572-6989
Sierra Club, San Francisco Bay Chapter, Arthur Feinstein, (415) 680-0643
SPRAWLDEF President, Norman LaForce, (415) 932-7465

Environmental Groups Criticize SF Board of Supervisors’ Hearing on Proposed GGNRA Dog Rule

Representatives of local environmental groups urge Board of Supervisors to focus on funding and improving San Francisco parks


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.— Representatives of local environmental groups are declining to take part in a hearing called by Supervisor Scott Wiener on the proposed regulation of dogs in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area – and are instead urging the Board of Supervisors to focus on pressing issues affecting San Francisco’s own parks.

The Board of Supervisors does not have jurisdiction over the GGNRA, a federal agency. While a public hearing is ostensibly intended to elicit public input on important policy matters, Supervisor Wiener has predetermined the outcome of the hearing and already drafted a resolution condemning the GGNRA plan.

“This hearing is really only an opportunity for Supervisor Wiener and others to make a public display of their support for unlimited off-leash dog recreation in the GGNRA,” said Arthur Feinstein, on behalf of the San Francisco Chapter of the Sierra Club. “It appears he’s trying to gain points with a minority of extremist dog owners by attacking the National Park Service’s effort to strike a balance between dog-related recreation and other activities in the GGNRA.”

At the hearing on Monday, October 21, it is expected that Supervisor Wiener will introduce a resolution co-sponsored by Supervisors Breed and Tang condemning the GGNRA’s proposed Dog Management Plan, as urged by some off-leash dog advocates. In 2011, also at the urging of off-leash dog advocates, Supervisor Wiener introduced a similar resolution that had no effect on the National Park Service’s proposed rule.

“Supervisor Wiener and the rest of the Board should spend their time ensuring that the city’s own parks are fully funded and that leash laws within the city are enforced,” said Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute. “The city’s park system is in crisis—the Supervisors have cut funding even as demand is increasing—and the Board is wasting time on a meaningless resolution instead of working on real solutions to the city’s problems.”

If adopted, the National Park Service’s proposed dog rule would make the GGNRA the most accommodating unit for dogs in the National Park system. In addition, the city of San Francisco has more than 28 off-leash dog play areas and leash laws in other park areas are unenforced, making San Francisco the most dog-friendly city in North America. Despite that, off-leash dog advocates, and their political allies like Supervisor Wiener, are rejecting any attempt to regulate dogs in the GGNRA.

“The proposed Dog Management Rule is about accommodating all reasonable uses in an appropriate way within the GGNRA,” said Mike Lynes, Executive Director of the Golden Gate Audubon Society. “The proposed rule—while far from perfect—creates clarity so that dog walkers know where on- and off-leash recreation is appropriate and so that others, who do not wish to interact with dogs, can also enjoy the GGNRA. Right now, that’s just not happening.”

About the Sierra Club, San Francisco Bay Chapter
The San Francisco Bay Chapter is a local Chapter of the Sierra Club, America’s largest and most effective grassroots environmental organization. The Bay Chapter is comprised of the 30,000 Sierra Club members who live in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Francisco counties.

About Golden Gate Audubon
Golden Gate Audubon has been dedicated to protecting Bay Area birds, other wildlife, and their natural habitat since 1917. We conserve and restore wildlife habitat, connect people of all ages and backgrounds with the natural world, and educate and engage Bay Area residents in the protection of our shared, local environment.

About SPRAWLDEF
SPRAWLDEF works to educate the public about landfill issues and connection between landfills, recycling, landfill expansion, the loss of habitat and the need to protect habitat from unwarranted land fill expansions. SPRAWLDEF also works to educate the public on the benefits of recycling and how to improve recycling. Additionally, SPRAWLDEF works to educate the public on the benefits of limiting sprawl development and protecting critical habitat from destruction.

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


http://wildequity.org/

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Part-Time Project Coordinator Position
2014 Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year

Position Summary.

Wild Equity Institute is seeking a Part-Time Project Coordinator for the 2014 Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year competition. The Project Coordinator will be responsible for reviewing participant evaluations and project partner feedback from previous iterations of the project; revising the event structure and prize schedule for the project; and scheduling events that will implement the project throughout 2014.

The Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year (a new project title is under discussion) is a race against time to observe each of the endangered and threatened species found within the Golden Gate National Parks, while taking discrete conservation recovery actions that will prevent these species from going extinct. It is a competitive event: the person who sees and helps the most species during the year will win the competition.

The project enables participants to explore the diverse habitats of the GGNP while helping each of the endangered and threatened species that call the Park home. In the process, we hope participants will discover the humility, compassion, and hope embodied in the legal protections for this land and our imperiled neighbors.

Major Duties and Responsibilities.

  • Review feedback from previous iterations of the project. Consult with project partners and supporters to clarify feedback as needed.
  • Propose structural changes to the event and prize structure of the project for 2014 for adoption by Wild Equity’s Board of Directors.
  • Coordinate project logistics including field outings and other events, prizes, and some fundraising.
  • Communicate with the public about the project through press releases and events, writing newsletters and social media content, and collaborating with organizing staff and volunteers.
  • Track participation and evaluate project events.

Desired Qualifications.

  • An undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies or related field.
  • Strong knowledge of Bay Area plants and wildlife.
  • Demonstrated project and/or event management experience.
  • Excellent writing skills.
  • Keen attention to detail.
  • Ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously while meeting deadlines.
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills.
  • Computer skills including Word, PowerPoint, Excel.
  • Flexibility working hours, with ability to work some evenings and weekends.

This job is expected to require 20 hours per week and will be based in Wild Equity’s office in San Francisco’s Mission District. Compensation is commensurate with experience.

To apply for this position, please submit a resume, a writing sample, a list of references, and a cover letter describing your interest in our work to info@wildequity.org. The position is available immediately.

Sunday, October 20, 9:00am – 11:00am: Normally, we visit Mori Point to look for California Red-legged Frogs and San Francisco Garter Snakes, but this time we will be looking for birds.

This area is home to an incredible diversity of birds. The San Francisco (or Salt Marsh) Common Yellowthroat , a California Species of Special Concern, breeds here. The rare wetland and coastal lagoon ecosystem attracts rarities and vagrants every year, like the Tropical Kingbird.

This bird outing will be led by Noreen Weeden, Golden Gate Audubon Conservation Project Manager, and Eddie Bartley,wildlife photographer. Set your alarm clocks because we are heading out early for this trip.

To RSVP, please see above or visit our Meetup page – San Francisco Wildlife Enthusiasts.


Photo © Catherine Salvin

Celebrate the 2013 International Young Eco-Hero Awards!

When: Friday, October 18, 2013, 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Hear from six inspiring young environmental activists, winners of our International Young Eco-Hero Awards, 8- to 16-years-old, who are campaigning, conducting research, and encouraging others.

Keynote Speaker: Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute, a non-profit organization that unites grassroots conservation and environmental justice movements.

Delicious Refreshments – Silent Auction – Awe-inspiring Video

Where: American Institute of Architects, 130 Sutter Street, Suite 600, San Francisco, CA. Close to public transportation, including BART. Across from Crocker Galleria Garage on Sutter Street.

RSVP with names of attendees to mail@actionfornature.org (or call 415.922.6155 or 415.513.2421).

People of all ages welcome! If you are unable to attend, please consider making a donation to the address on this invitation or online.

By supporting the Restore Sharp Park campaign, golfers can have it all. Restore Sharp Park will create a National Park and improve affordable golf. Local communities will benefit, and unique local wildlife will thrive. But we need golfers’ support to make that happen.

Good for golf.

The Bay Area golf market is in trouble:

  • Golf is overbuilt. There are 6 million more golf rounds each year than golfers want to play.
  • Golf’s popularity peaked in 2004. Now the game loses about 3 million US players each year. Golf’s popularity will not recover.

Under these conditions, some Bay Area golf courses must close. The only question is which ones.

Sharp Park Golf Course is one of San Francisco’s worst performing golf course. It lost more than $1 million over the past eight fiscal years and receives failing grades in nearly every category that the National Golf Foundation uses to rate golf courses. Winter rains cause flooding at the Golf Course, and it is threatened by rising seas.

Winter flooding at Sharp Park Golf Course.

The Golf Course’s legal and environmental problems add to its financial problems, diverting funds away from the City’s other affordable golf courses.

Closing Sharp Park Golf Course will improve San Francisco’s Golf Fund, the quality of affordable golf in the City, and Bay Area golf’s social and environmental legacy.

Improve Bay Area Golf’s Legacy.

Sharp Park Golf Course is an ecological disaster and an economic failure. It is a blemish on Allister MacKenzie’s otherwise successful career.

MacKenzie ignored the value of Sharp Park’s natural systems. His design destroyed the natural flood protection provided by wetlands, lagoon, and barrier dunes. Unsurprisingly, the opening day for the Golf Course was delayed two times due to flooding.

After the course opened, ocean storms swept away the holes that were built on flattened sand dunes. Few MacKenzie-designed holes remain.

It is better that MacKenzie be remembered for his most successful courses rather than the ecological destruction and economic folly that is Sharp Park Golf Course.

Restoring Sharp Park will Benefit Your Community.

San Francisco, Pacifica, and San Mateo County residents all stand to benefit from Sharp Park National Park. Sharp Park Golf Course, on the other hand, drains taxpayer resources, threatens local wildlife, and provides recreation for a shrinking portion of the population.

Together, at Sharp Park National Park, we can fulfill both our responsibilities to our neighbors, to nature, and to providing easily accessible, affordable golf at better golf courses around the Bay.

Sunday, October 13, 9:30 am – 12:30pm: You are invited to join Brent Plater of the Wild Equity Institute on a bike ride through some of San Francisco’s last wildlife habitats. We will search for and learn how to save the endangered species living within the Golden Gate National Parks. We will have the opportunity to see the Gowen Cypress, Raven’s Manzanita, Humpback Whale, San Francisco Lessingia, the Western Snowy Plover, and if we are very lucky, the Steller Sea Lion, the Marbled Murrelet, and the Southern Sea Otter!

We will start and end at Bazaar Cafe, 5927 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94121. Bring water and snacks. Rain cancels.
RSVP required. Please see above for details or visit our Meetup page – San Francisco Wildlife Enthusiasts.


We hope you will join us on this great adventure!

Saturday, October 12, 10:00am – 6:00pm: Wild Equity is an exhibitor at the 2013 WCN Wildlife Conservation Expo. The day will include speakers and environmental exhibits from around the world.

View the full schedule at http://wildlifeconservationnetwork.org

Today Patagonia’s San Francisco store awarded Wild Equity $3,000 for our campaign protecting community health and endangered species near the Antioch Dunes.


Wild Equity’s Laura Horton, Amy Zehring, Brent Plater, Sarah Fliesher, and Virginia Delgado
receive $3,000 from Patagonia’s Niko George at the San Francisco store.

This award is just the latest example of the store’s generous support of our work. In 2011 Wild Equity was awarded the store’s Voice Your Choice Award, and the store’s grants and in-kind donations have helped nearly all of our projects.

Our heartfelt thanks to the entire Patagonia SF Crew for investing in our work, for keeping us warm and dry, and for being such a big part of our vision for a more just and fair world for all.

If you are interested in supporting our work, you can contribute online using our donation page today. There are many options to choose from: you can become a member, give a gift membership, obtain matching grants from your employer, volunteer, or donate office items, all through our donation page. Just let us know how you want to be involved: and thanks for all you do!

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



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

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

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

Sunday, September 29, 11:00am – 4:00pm: Come get crafty at the Wild Equity Institute table at Sunday Streets in the Excelsior. We will be making frog masks!!!

The Sunday Streets Excelsior Route: Senceca Ave (Between San Jose & Mission) and Mission (Between Seneca & Avalon).

While we make frog masks, we will be highlighting and gathering support for Wild Equity’s campaign to restore Sharp Park and save the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake and the threatened California Red-legged Frog.

We need volunteers to help table. If you are interested, please email Amy at azehring@wildequity.org

Friday, September 27, 9:00am – 11:00am: You are invited to join Wild Equity and Darren Fong, Aquatic Ecologist for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, to learn about and see the Tidewater Goby in its natural habitat. Then spend an hour helping clean-up beautiful Rodeo Lagoon.

This is our first goby outing since 2010! Don’t miss it!

Please meet at Building 1061, Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito, CA 94965. There is a limit of 30 participants.
To RSVP, please see above or visit our Meetup page – San Francisco Wildlife Enthusiasts.

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.

Thursday, September 19, 6:00pm – 10:00pm: Wild Equity is joining our friends at the California Academy of Sciences for their NightLife celebration. The theme for the evening is Into the Woods.

NightLife is a 21 and over event. Tickets are available through the California Academy of Sciences.

Sunday, September 15, 10:00am – 12:00pm: You are invited to join Brent Plater of the Wild Equity Institute for a leisurely walk along Ocean Beach to search for the threatened Western Snowy Plover. This small shorebird is highly threatened by human activities and habitat degradation. Join us to see this adorable species in its native habitat and learn ways that you can help before it is too late!

Meet at the patch of grass at the intersection of Taraval and the Great Highway.
The L Taraval Muni train stops two blocks from our meeting point. Check 511.org for details

For more information or for carpool arrangements, please contact us at info@wildequity.org

Humpback Whales received extensive media coverage following the sojourn of a mother and her calf, nicknamed Delta and Dawn, up the Sacramento River. Along this journey, the Humpbacks passed right under the Golden Gate Bridge and through the waters of the Golden Gate National Parks.

Humpbacks are one of the most numerically depleted large whales, with a current population estimated at only one-tenth of the number alive before commercial whaling. These majestic animals have been protected as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act since the Act’s passage in 1973.

The northern California sub-population of Humpbacks winters off the coast of Mexico; their prime summer feeding grounds are the area off the continental shelf around the Farallon Islands, not far from the Golden Gate. GGNP Endangered Species Big Year participants have had success searching for Humpback Whales at Fort Funston’s observation deck.

They possess distinctively long flippers, up to one third of their body length. During the winter breeding season, males produce very long—up to thirty minutes—complex and repetitive songs. These animals have a remarkable repertory of feeding strategies, including the use of columns or nets of expelled bubbles to concentrate fish, and cooperative fishing that is thought to include auditory signaling for synchronization.

Factors limiting the recovery of the Humpback population include entanglement in fishing nets, loss of habitat due to development, collisions with ships, and pollution, which can accumulate in the species’ long-lived bodies over time.

The best time to see Humpback Whales from the GGNP is during their migration season, from July to November. They are an acrobatic species: watch for them breeching off-shore.

Sunday, September 08, 11:00am – 4:00pm: Come get crafty at the Wild Equity Institute table at Sunday Streets in the Western Addition. We will be making frog masks!!!

The Sunday Streets Western Addition Route: Fillmore (Between Geary and Fulton), Fulton (Between Fillmore and Baker), Grove (Between Baker and Central), Central (Between Grove and Fell)

While we make frog masks, we will be highlighting and gathering support for Wild Equity’s campaign to restore Sharp Park and save the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake and the threatened California Red-legged Frog.

We need volunteers to help table. If you are interested, please email Amy at azehring@wildequity.org

The face of the Presidio is changing and our input is needed. The Presidio Trust is acting on long-term plans to create a cultural space at the historic site of the former Commissary. As Sports Basement transitions elsewhere in the Presidio, the new space promises to be a cornerstone of the park going forward. We have the opportunity to see that the changes both embody and strengthen the mission of the National Park Service. The Trust is currently considering three proposals for the Presidio’s former Commissary site, now occupied by Sports Basement: the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, the Bridge/Sustainability Institute, and the Presidio Exchange.

The Wild Equity Institute believes that the Presidio Exchange (PX) creates the greatest sense of place by focusing on the beautiful and distinctive Presidio park space, while also housing a cultural and historical center. The proposed Lucas Cultural Arts Museum simply does not embody the spirit of the Presidio or the National Park System. While the Bridge/Sustainability Institute proposal attempts to incorporate the unique setting that is the Presidio, the plans come across as interchangeable with any other sustainable business building complex.


Crissy Field Marsh and Lagoon restoration could benefit from a good design for the Commissary.

However, the Sustainability Institute proposal does contain one element that should be explored and potentially adopted by the PX proposal: expanding Crissy Field Marsh and Lagoon into the Commissary property. Due to a variety of constraints, the restoration of Crissy Field Marsh and Lagoon several years ago was limited to a smaller zone than is needed for the lagoon to fulfill its intended ecological functions. The PX proposal should review the sustainability institute’s proposal to expand the lagoon and incorporate that element into its project to the maximum extent possible.

While the PX proposal is the best fit of the three choices for this location, it tries to be too many things to too many people all at once, and in the process short-changes the unique elements of its National Park setting. The National Park Service’s Organic Act, which established the agency, includes a non-impairment mandate. This mandate requires the agency to “conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” This is the National Park Service’s unique contribution to the multitude of open space agencies in the Bay Area, yet remains a relatively unknown element of park management. We would like to see the PX live up to this mandate by making a greater commitment to interpreting and explaining the National Park Service’s unique mission.

The former Commissary site at the Presidio has the potential to be a place of magic and beauty where the story of the unique land management mandates of the GGNRA and the Presidio are widely told. The Wild Equity Institute suggests that the Presidio Exchange receive the bid, but that the proposal should be modified to ensure that the programming is fully committed to the mission of the National Park Service.

Tell the Presidio Trust that you support the Presidio Exchange with modifications. Submit your comments at http://www.presidio.gov/about/Pages/commissary-proposals.aspx today!

Mark your calendar for September 23, 2013, 6:30 pm, 385 Moraga Avenue in the Presidio. Public presentations of final Commissary proposals followed by a question and answer session.

Sunday, September 1, 9:00am – 1:00pm: Wild Equity is super excited to be part of the fun at the Inner Sunset Farmers’ Market. Stop by the Wild Equity table to color a butterfly or a frog after you pick up some delicious produce.

Please Note: The market is relocating temporarily to the basketball courts at the Laguna Honda School located at 1350 7th Avenue, San Francisco.

Sharp Park Golf Course is a drain on San Francisco’s resources, but Sharp Park can be transformed to benefit the City. We must urge the City to transform Sharp Park into a National Park.

Sharp Park National Park will:

  • Allow the Recreation and Parks Department (RPD) to reinvest its funds in services within San Francisco’s city limits.
  • Allow the National Park Service to transform Sharp Park to better meet San Francisco resident’s recreation preferences. The National Park Service has stated three times in writing that it wants land, but not the golf course.
  • Protect the San Francisco Garter Snake that bears the City’s name, and the California Red-legged Frog that has played a prominent role in California’s history.

The City can do all this while saving money:

Sharp Park Golf Course’s financial problems on the cover of SF Weekly

Reinvest in City Neighborhoods
Rather than lose taxpayers’ hard-earned money, creating a National Park at Sharp Park will transfer land management to the National Park Service, which will fund the creation of a new park everyone can enjoy. The RPD can then reinvest in services within San Francisco, without the losses Sharp Park imposes. Affordable golf, neighborhood parks, and social services will benefit.

Improve Recreation
Providing hiking and biking trails at Sharp Park will better meet San Francisco residents’ recreational needs. Sharp Park National Park will connect the California Coastal Trail and the Bay Area Ridge Trail with miles of new hiking trails.

In a 2004 survey conducted by the Neighborhood Parks Council, more hiking and biking trails are San Francisco residents’ #1 priority for recreation in the City. Golf ranked 16th out of 19 options.

Protect Rare Frogs and Snakes
We have a duty to the California Red-legged Frog and the San Francisco Garter Snake. Our responsibilities are twofold. As rare and beautiful creatures, the Snake and Frog have a right to live. Future generations of Californians have a right to observe them in real life. Together, at Sharp Park National Park, we can fulfill both these responsibilities.

How can you make affordable golf, more hiking and biking, and a better city budget part of San Francisco’s future?

Pacificans can help their city prosper by supporting a new National Park at Sharp Park.

The National Park at Sharp Park will continue Pacifica’s efforts to sustainably adapt to sea level rise. It will bring real dollars to Pacifica’s economy while improving Pacifica residents’ access to open spaces within their city. Local schools will benefit from access to the Park’s education programs. Everyone – rare wildlife and people – will benefit from the opportunities a new National Park will provide.

These are benefits that Sharp Park Golf Course just can’t provide.

Sharp Park Golf Course: Giving a Good Game a Bad Name.

Sharp Park Golf Course fails to contribute to Pacifica’s economy and inhibits access to local parks. Despite decades of opportunities, Sharp Park Golf Course hasn’t generated revenue for Pacifica’s economy. Yet to keep it in place, sea walls need to be constructed to protect the Golf Course from sea level rise. This puts Pacifica at increased risk for catastrophic flooding.

Golf course proponents, however, are closing their eyes to the real threats of sea level rise. The damage Sharp Park Golf Course operations do to rare local wildlife is also minimized.

Sharp Park Golf Course drains funds from other affordable golf courses as well. Read more about how Sharp Park Golf Course harms affordable golf at our page for Golfers.

Sharp Park National Park

Pacifica’s Economy will Benefit.

National Parks drive the economy at the national and state levels. In 2011, California’s National Parks generated $1.192 billion in revenues. That wasn’t a fluke. Taxpayers earn an average of $10 for every $1 invested in the National Parks Service. Pacifica can take advantage of the economic opportunity a National Park provides.

Sharp Park National Park has an additional economic edge. It will be the Southern Gateway to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). The GGNRA is the most visited National Park in the nation. A visitor center at Sharp Park National Park will allow Pacifica to be a gateway for these visitors in San Mateo County, and help Pacifica draw visitors from around the globe.

Map of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s current boundary.

Help Pacifica adapt to rising seas.

Sea level is rising and Pacifica must choose how to respond.

Expanding Sharp Park’s wetlands will help Pacifica adapt to sea level rise. Thriving wetlands will protect Pacifica neighborhoods from floods. Wetlands are nature’s best defense against floods – they act like a sponge, slowing down water during times of high flow to help prevent flooding.

By relying on wetlands, not higher and higher sea walls, to adapt to sea level rise, Sharp Park National Park will allow Sharp Park Beach to adapt as well. If Pacifica chooses to continue armoring sea walls, Sharp Park Beach will disappear. The beach south of the Pacifica Pier will soon look like the beach north of the Pacifica Pier. It will be ocean crashing against concrete and rocks – the sandy beach lost long ago to the sea.

Sharp Park National Park will prevent this tragic loss.

Illegal Berm Armoring at Sharp Park Beach

Pacifica’s children will benefit.

Pacificans need access to nature education that a golf course does not provide. With a visitor center, local wildlife, and thriving wetlands and lagoon, Sharp Park National Park will be an unparalleled resource for school children around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Frogs and Snakes

Finally, we have a duty to the California Red-legged Frog and the San Francisco Garter Snake. Our responsibilities are twofold. As rare and beautiful creatures, they have a right to exist. Future generations also have a right to observe them in real life, not just textbooks. Together, at Sharp Park National Park, we can fulfill both these responsibilities.

How can you support Sharp Park National Park?

Now is the time for San Francisco to decide the future of Sharp Park. The city has three options:

  1. Leave Sharp Park as is, and allow the course to continue losing money and killing imperiled species
  2. Close the golf course and restore Laguna Salada to its natural state
  3. Pay for expensive improvements to the course and the protective sea wall, which will necessitate privatizing the course

Partnering with the National Park Service to create a better public park for everyone is the best choice San Francisco can make at Sharp Park. But don’t take our word for it—compare the options for yourself.

 

Impact on: The Status Quo Restore Sharp Park Privatize Sharp Park
The Course Sharp Park remains a poorly maintained, underperforming golf course Sharp Park and the club house become the National Park Visitor Center for San Mateo County Sharp Park becomes a private course that costs over $120 for a round of golf
The Environment Sharp Park continues to illegally harm California red-legged frog and San Francisco garter snake Creates diverse habitat where California red-legged frog and San Francisco garter snake thrive Sharp Park receives permit to legally harm red-legged frogs during operation; garter snakes are still at risk
Pacifica Sharp Park golf course draws few tourists and does little to boost the Pacifica’s economy National Park Visitor Center draws tourists and becomes a cornerstone of redevelopment of downtown Pacifica Sharp Park golf course draws even fewer golfers and tourists because of high cost of a round of golf
San Francisco Sharp Park drains $30,000 to $300,000 a year from San Francisco city budget, City parks suffer budget cuts while the city subsidizes a San Mateo golf course Costs the city of San Francisco nothing. Frees up money for city parks and recreation Costs the city of San Francisco nothing
Recreation Provides recreation opportunities for a small number of San Francisco and Pacifica golfers Provide more hiking trails which are in high demand in the Bay Area. Also connects the 400-mile Bay Ridge Trail to the sea Accommodates an even smaller number of golfers, as high prices drive away casual golfers and school groups
The Beach The sea berm continues to cause beach erosion, which will likely destroy Pacifica’s beach within decades A restored tidal lagoon system at Sharp Park will absorb ocean waves, slowing beach erosion A $30 million reinforced sea wall will contribute to and possibly even accelerate beach erosion in Pacifica
Federal Taxpayers Costs federal taxpayers nothing Costs taxpayers only operating costs of the National Park Service Federal government pays more than $30 million for course improvements and sea wall
Flooding Course flooding threatens Pacifica homes Gradual phasing out of the sea berm and replacement of natural lagoon system will protect Pacifica homes from flooding Course flooding will continue to threaten Pacifica homes
Labor Union job opportunities stay the same Union job opportunities stay the same or increase, since the National Park System in unionized Union job opportunities disappear, because private course workers will not be unionized

Sunday, August 25, 9:00am – 1:00pm: Wild Equity is super excited to be part of the fun at the Inner Sunset Farmers’ Market. Stop by the Wild Equity table to color a butterfly or a frog after you pick up some delicious produce. This week’s featured item at the market is watermelon.

Please Note: The market is relocating temporarily to the basketball courts at the Laguna Honda School located at 1350 7th Avenue, San Francisco.

Sunday, August 18, 11:00am – 4:00pm: Come get crafty at the Wild Equity Institute table at Sunday Streets in the Tenderloin. We will be making frog masks!!!

The Sunday Streets Tenderloin Route: Larkin St (Between O’Farrell and Grove), O’Farrell St (Between Larkin and Post), Post St (Between O’Farrell and Jones), Golden Gate Ave (Between Jones and Hyde), Hyde St (Between Golden Gate and Grove)

While we make frog masks, we will be highlighting and gathering support for Wild Equity’s campaign to restore Sharp Park and save the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake and the threatened California Red-legged Frog.

We need volunteers to help table. If you are interested, please email Amy at azehring@wildequity.org

Sunday, August 11, 10:00am-12:00pm: You are invited to join Brent Plater of the Wild Equity Institute at Fort Funston to learn about the endangered sea creatures of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This is an opportunity to see some of the more elusive inhabitants of the ocean. We will be looking for: Humpback Whale, Steller Sea Lion, Southern Sea Otters, and Marbled Murrelet.

Bring spotting scopes and binoculars if you have them. Also bring water, a snack, and a warm layer.

Meet at the Fort Funston Observation Deck, San Francisco, CA.

Please see above to RSVP.

For more information or for carpool arrangements, please contact us at info@wildequity.org

Friday, August 09, 2013, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm: Please join the Wild Equity staff as we raise our glasses to bid our fantastic summer interns farewell. They have been with us only a few months, but they have done great work and we are sad to see them go.

Meet us at Gestalt Haus located at 3159 16th St, San Francisco (between Valencia and Guerrero). Please RSVP using the form above. We hope you will join us!

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.”

The Wild Equity Institute discovered the practice when it attempted to submit comments on a permit for Swaim Biological Inc., a private, for-profit firm that was issued an endangered species permit for work at Sharp Park Golf Course.

In 2011, biologists from San Francisco State University observed Sharp Park Golf Course’s wetlands being pumped out and drained in a project overseen by Swaim Biological. Disastrously, this draining exposed dozens of California red-legged frog egg masses to the air, killing them and jeopardizing an entire generation of this protected species. The biologists witnessed several of these dead egg masses and identified their location.

The SFSU biologists immediately informed Swaim Biological’s staff of the wanton destruction of this protected species.  When the SFSU biologists returned to the site in the next days, the dead egg masses were gone.


Desiccated California Red-legged Frog Egg Mass
A desiccated California Red-legged Frog egg mass at Sharp Park.

The same location showing the egg mass removed.
The identical location showing egg mass was removed.

The Wild Equity Institute was attempting to report the incident to the Service when it learned that Swaim Biological’s permit to manage endangered species needed renewal. Wild Equity asked that the Service investigate that matter further, but the organization was told that the Service had already reissued the permit without any oversight or public notice and comment. Wild Equity was further told that the agency routinely renewed permits for industry consultants without any public oversight, and had been doing so for years.

Swaim Biological had a limited permit to harm endangered species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, Section 10(a)(1)(A).  Under Section 10(c), all permits to harm endangered species must go through a public notice and comment period before they are issued or are renewed, and the Service must determine if permit terms and conditions are complied with before renewing permits under these provisions. The Service failed to follow this procedure thus allowing a consultant to receive a permit without first conducting an investigation into whether the applicable permit standards were met.

“Public review of endangered species take permits is essential, especially where there is a history of questionable management that has resulted in direct take of protected species,” said Mike Lynes, executive director of Golden Gate Audubon Society. “But, instead, the Service appears to be rubber-stamping permits for industry consultants to kill endangered wildlife without public oversight. The Service’s process should be open and transparent before another generation of endangered species is lost.”

Background

The California red-legged frog, Rana draytonii, is the largest frog native to the western United States. It has been lost from over 70% of its historic range, and has suffered a 90% population decline. It is currently only found in select coastal drainages from Marin County south to Baja California, with a few isolated populations near the Sierra Nevadas and the Transverse ranges. In 1996, the Fish and Wildlife Service listed the California red-legged frog as a threatened species under the ESA.

Under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA, agencies such as the Fish and Wildlife Service may issue permits to industry consultants if they claim that their work will “enhance the propagation or survival of species listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA.” These permits allow the permit holder to harass, harm, pursue, kill, trap, capture, or collect endangered species.  In part because of the breadth of these permits, applications for such permits, whether new, amended, or renewals without changes, must be published in the Federal Register and the public must be given an opportunity to submit comments, as required under 16 USC § 1539(c), 50 C.F.R. § 17.22, and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s own Director’s Order 143.  But the Fish and Wildlife Service in several regions has adopted a policy to avoid all public oversight for permit renewals so long as the permittee did not request any changes to its original permit.  This policy allowed permits to industry consultants to be renewed indefinitely and without any public oversight in perpetuity, and precluded the Service from receiving new information about the permittee’s qualifications or activities.

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


http://wildequity.org/

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Sunday, July 28, 11:00am – 4:00pm: Come get crafty at the Wild Equity Institute table at Sunday Streets in the Mission. We will be making frog masks!!!

The Sunday Streets Mission Route: Valencia Street (Between Duboce Avenue & 24th Street) and 24th Street (Between Valencia Street & Hampshire Street).

While we make frog masks, we will be highlighting and gathering support for Wild Equity’s campaign to restore Sharp Park and save the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake and the threatened California Red-legged Frog.

We need volunteers to help table. If you are interested, please email Amy at azehring@wildequity.org

Wednesday, July 24, 6:30pm – 8:30pm: Please join Wild Equity for a screening of the film The Legend of Pale Male. The International Wildlife Film Festival called the film a “triumph of wildlife and the human spirit.” Enjoy light refreshments and learn about Wild Equity’s work to prevent the destruction of migratory bird nests. Discussion with Laura Horton, Wild Equity Staff Attorney, and Noreen Weeden, Golden Gate Audubon Conservation Project Manager, will follow the film.

Please see above to RSVP.

The Sunday Streets Tenderloin/Civic Center route: Larkin St (Between O’Farrell and Grove), O’Farrell St (Between Larkin and Post), Post St (Between O’Farrell and Jones), Golden Gate Ave (Between Jones and Hyde), Hyde St (Between Golden Gate and Grove)
For a more detailed map of Sunday Streets, go to Sunday Streets

Sunday, September 29, 11:00am – 4:00pm: Come get crafty at the Wild Equity Institute table at Sunday Streets in the Excelsior. We will be making frog masks!!!

The Sunday Streets Excelsior Route: Senceca Ave (Between San Jose & Mission) and Mission St (Between Seneca & Avalon).

While we make frog masks, we will be highlighting and gathering support for Wild Equity’s campaign to restore Sharp Park and save the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake and the threatened California Red-legged Frog.

We need volunteers to help table. If you are interested, please email Amy at azehring@wildequity.org

Seneca Ave (Between San Jose Ave and Mission St) and Mission St (Between Seneca Ave and Avalon Ave)

Friday, September 27, 9:00am – 11:00am: You are invited to join Wild Equity and Darren Fong, Aquatic Ecologist for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, to learn about and see the Tidewater Goby in its natural habitat. Then spend an hour helping clean-up beautiful Rodeo Lagoon.

This is our first goby outing since 2010! Don’t miss it!

Please meet at Building 1061, Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito, CA 94965. There is a limit of 30 participants.
Please see above to RSVP.

Sunday, September 08, 11:00am – 4:00pm: Come get crafty at the Wild Equity Institute table at Sunday Streets in the Western Addition. We will be making frog masks!!!

The Sunday Streets Western Addition Route: TBD

While we make frog masks, we will be highlighting and gathering support for Wild Equity’s campaign to restore Sharp Park and save the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake and the threatened California Red-legged Frog.

We need volunteers to help table. If you are interested, please email Amy at azehring@wildequity.org

Last year Wild Equity issued a press release about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to list the Franciscan Manzanita, Arctostaphylos franciscana, as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act and to designate critical Manzanita habitat in the Bay Area.

The public comment period on this proposal has been extended through July 29, 2013. This is your opportunity to stand up for the Manzanita! We need you to send a message to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to urge them to formalize the protection of this imperiled species and its critical habitat.

We encourage you to personalize the message below. Please cut and paste and submit your comment via the form found at http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FWS-R8-ES-2012-0067-0079

I am writing to support the designation of critical habitat for the endangered Franciscan manzanita. Restoring this plant to a fully-functioning species provides us with an incredible conservation opportunity. Arguments that this will negatively impact recreational opportunities in San Francisco are unreasonable and should not overshadow the importance of preserving native plants. In fact, protecting land to allow the Franciscan manzanita to grow naturally provides new recreation opportunities for the public to steward the lands where the species are found. It will also provide new recreation resources by restoring landscapes and vistas that have been taken away from the public domain because of mismanagement or poor vegetation choices. There are other benefits as well, including providing more restoration jobs and opportunities for local economies in San Francisco. I strongly urge you to designate suitable habitat areas for the endangered Franciscan manzanita as critical habitat.

Please let us know that you submitted a comment by posting in the section below.

Funcheap is giving away $4,000 to one San Francisco Bay Area charity this fall!!! Please encourage Funcheap to award this generous donation to Wild Equity. Simply click on the green link to visit Funcheap’s Facebook page and share why you think Wild Equity should win. These funds will help Wild Equity continue with our mission of uniting environmental communities to work towards a sustainable community for people, plants, and animals.

If you don’t want to leave Wild Equity’s success to chance, please donate at http://wildequity.org/donate

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.

A National Park at Sharp Park will also meet San Francisco’s biggest recreation needs, creating the new hiking and biking trails that are in highest demand. It will connect the Bay Area Ridge Trail to the coast, opening California’s diverse topography of sheer cliffs and bluffs, beaches, lagoons, creeks, canyons, grasslands, scrublands, forests, and hills to exploration.

Restoring Sharp Park will harness National Parks’ proven economic power to benefit our local communities, while creating better outdoor education and recreation opportunities for everyone.

For Immediate Release, July 8, 2013

Contacts:
Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Shana Lazerow, Communities for a Better Environment, (510) 302-0430 × 18
Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 436-9682 × 318

Legal Settlement Brings Millions of Dollars to
Antioch’s Communities and Endangered Species

ANTIOCH, Calif.— A legal settlement announced today requires a proposed natural gas-fired power plant to provide $2 million to mitigate pollution in low-income communities in Antioch and Oakley, Calif., as well as to mitigate harm to endangered species at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, the last home of the critically imperiled Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly. 

The settlement is the result of the efforts of a coalition of conservation and community advocates led by the Wild Equity Institute, Communities for a Better Environment and the Center for Biological Diversity.


Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly photo © Liam O’Brien, http://sfbutterfly.com.

“Endangered species recovery efforts will take a giant leap forward and public health efforts in Antioch and Oakley will be recharged,” said Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute. “By bringing grassroots conservation and environmental justice concerns together, we’ve improved the well-being of us all.”

The funds will be distributed by the Rose Foundation for Communities & the Environment, and will support public-health programs offered by La Clinica de la Raza in nearby Oakley; endangered species recovery efforts implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Antioch Dunes Wildlife Refuge; and other local institutions. Funding will be made available as early as December, many months in advance of the Oakley Generating Station’s starting date, and will continue for the next 10 years.

“We’re honored to have the opportunity to reinvest these funds back into the local communities and ecosystems that are most impacted by the pollution,” said Tim Little, executive director of the Rose Foundation.

“The funds will allow us to work with our community to prevent, control, and manage public health illnesses, including asthma. By investing in prevention, we hope to improve the well-being of the communities we serve as well as decrease health care costs,” said Jane García, La Clínica’s CEO.

In the past several years, the California Energy Commission has authorized three new power plants within one mile of two existing power plants in Antioch. While the energy will be distributed to San Francisco and other urban areas, the concentrated emissions will threaten public health in nearby communities and push the Lange’s metalmark butterfly, whose last wild habitats will be partially surrounded by power plants, closer to extinction.

“This small area houses a disproportionately large number of power plants, each of which emits greenhouse gases and pollutants that are toxic both to the people who live, work and go to school near the plants, and the surrounding environment,” said Shana Lazerow, an attorney at Communities for a Better Environment.

The settlement resolves litigation brought under the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act. The conservation organizations and community advocates asserted that the Oakley Generating Station would emit carbon- and nitrogen-based pollutants that would harm human health and endangered species, while contributing to global warming without the necessary permits required by two laws.

“The Lange’s metalmark butterfly is a Bay Area jewel that’s already way too close to extinction,” said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This agreement will help throw a lifeline to one of the world’s most endangered species.”

“For too long pollution from power plants has threatened local communities and the butterfly’s survival,” said Plater. “It’s time for our energy infrastructure to become part of the solution. We call on all of the power plants polluting Antioch and Oakley to contribute to a solution.”

Background on the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly:
The Lange’s metalmark butterfly is a brightly colored, fragile and highly endangered butterfly that has been protected by the federal Endangered Species Act since 1976. The species is endemic to the Antioch Dunes in Contra Costa County, a relict desert landscape left behind as California’s prehistoric deserts retreated from the Bay Area 140,000 years ago. Because of the Antioch Dunes’ isolation, many species found there are unique and very rare.

The sole food plant for the Lange’s caterpillar is the naked-stemmed buckwheat, a native plant adapted to survive in the nutrient-poor soils found in the Antioch Dunes. The butterfly’s population is dependent on this plant, but nitrogen emissions from power plants are changing the chemical composition of the dune soil, and invasive weeds are now so common that they are crowding out the dune’s indigenous flora and fauna. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that nitrogen emissions from power plants near the dunes are “virtually certain” to cause harm to endangered species.


To find out more about Wild Equity’s work protecting Antioch’s communities and the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge visit http://wildequity.org/

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

and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth.

http://wildequity.org/


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Saturday, July 6, 9:00am – 12:00pm: You are invited to join the Wild Equity Institute and the Golden Gate Audubon Society at Pier 94 to clear the weeds and make room for the endangered California seablite. In the 1960’s, the California seablite population was so small that the plant could only be found in Morro Bay. Today, seablite has been successfully reintroduced at Pier 94 in San Francisco and parts of the East Bay. We need your help to keep these populations growing.

Meet at Pier 94, 480 Amador St, San Francisco. Please wear sturdy close-toed shoes, weather appropriate clothes, hat and/or sunscreen. Bring garden gloves, a water bottle, and a snack. The Golden Gate Audubon Society will provide instructions, gloves, and tools. RSVP requested. Please see details above.


Skip the gym and join us at Pier 94 for your Saturday workout!

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.

“Sharp Park Golf Course illegally kills endangered species, and San Francisco taxpayers continue to foot the bill for this environmental crime,” said Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute. “We look forward to working with the City to implement today’s order and craft a new public park at Sharp Park everyone can enjoy—including endangered wildlife.”

In the order, Judge Illston wrote that “defendants denied they were causing any take of the [threatened California red-legged frogs] or [endangered San Francisco garter snakes] at Sharp Park,” but expressly rejected this defense, noting that “as a result of construction activities and golf course maintenance operations, all Frogs, all Snakes, and 130 egg masses will be subject to incidental take.” Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the definition of “take” includes acts that kill, injure, and harass protected species.

Judge Illston went on to state that “plaintiffs’ litigation goal was the halt [SIC] defendants’ taking of the Frogs and Snakes without first obtaining authorization pursuant to the ESA. . . . The Court also finds that this objective was met.”

Although Judge Illston did not award all of the fees requested by the conservation groups, the $386,000 award adds to the financial losses facing Sharp Park Golf Course, which is bleeding San Francisco’s recreation budgets dry. In its most recent budget, SFRPD has proposed to increase the General Fund subsidy to golf courses by $2.5 million, a 47% increase over last year (p. 5). RPD claims that this massive shortfall is caused by low demand for golf and environmental problems at Sharp Park Golf Course (p. 2).

None of these expenditures would be necessary if SFRPD would consider creating a 21st Century public park at Sharp Park in partnership with the National Park Service. Congress has preapproved this new public park, the National Park Service has stated on several occasions that it would be willing to manage the property as a new National Park, and a majority of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors has voted to implement this plan on five different occasions.

The Washington, D.C. public-interest law firm Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal represents the coalition of conservation groups in the lawsuit.

Background

Sharp Park is a wetland owned by San Francisco but located in San Mateo County. The City drains Sharp Park year-round to operate a golf course 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.

More than three-dozen San Francisco community, recreation, environmental and social-justice groups have called for closing the golf course and creating a more sustainable public park at Sharp Park. This request was supported by a 2011 peer-reviewed scientific study by independent scientists and coastal experts which concluded that the most cost-effective option for Sharp Park is to remove the golf course and restore the functions of the original natural ecosystem, which will also provide the most benefit to endangered species.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors most recently passed legislation in December 2011 to create this 21st Century public park, but Mayor Ed Lee, an avid golfer, vetoed the legislation.

Under the Mayor’s direction, SFRPD is instead pursuing a plan to invest millions into recreating Sharp Park Golf Course’s original design, a design so poorly conceived that it was destroyed by coastal storms and flooding within a few years of the course’s opening date.

If the Mayor’s plan succeeds, Sharp Park’s endangered species will be lost, prices at Sharp Park Golf Course will likely rise to between $80 and $120 per round, and millions of dollars in general fund monies will be diverted annually from San Francisco’s neighborhood parks and community services to subsidize a suburban golf course.

To find out more about Wild Equity’s campaign to build a new National Park at Sharp Park visit http://wildequity.org/.

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

and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth.

http://wildequity.org/

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

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


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

Since each of these herbicides controls plant growth using a different active agent, the authors speculated that the impact on the butterflies is from the herbicide’s “inactive” ingredients. Indeed, some herbicides are mixed with naphtha, a known toxic substance. Others, like Poast — one of the three herbicides studied in this article — are mixed with naphthalene, an insecticide that is the active agent in moth balls.

Whatever the mechanism, the study indicates it is more urgent than ever to address the root cause of the Lange’s metalmark butterfly’s ongoing decline: non-native weed growth driven by nitrogen emissions from several nearby power plants. The Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is similar to a desert ecosystem in many ways, including the nutrient-poor condition of the soil. These conditions allowed the Lange’s metalmark butterfly and two other endemic, endangered species — the Antioch Dunes evening primrose and the Contra Costa wallflower — to evolve and adapt to these generally difficult conditions.

However, the California Energy Commission has recently approved several natural gas-fired power plants in the immediate vicinity of the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge. The power plants emit hundreds of tons of nitrogen into the air, which then can deposit in the wildlife refuge. Nitrogen is a potent fertilizer, and the addition of nitrogen into the system is changing its chemical composition of the soil so that it favors non-native invasive weeds. If this continues, the endangered species on the site could be lost.

Moreover, the concentration of pollution in the Antioch/Oakley area from power plants is also jeopardizing human health in predominantly minority, low-income communities. By addressing the root cause of harm to people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth, we can build a more sustainable and just future for all.

The Wild Equity Institute has initiated legal proceedings against the EPA, the California Energy Commission, and several private energy companies to stop this harmful activity. The Center for Biological Diversity and Communities for a Better Environment have joined us in this matter.

Sunday, June 30, 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. This event is rain or shine. Meet at the Mori Point Entrance Gate, at the intersection of Bradford Way and Mori Point Road, Pacifica, CA, 94044.


Please see above to RSVP.

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

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

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

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

Dead California red-legged frog egg masses at Sharp Park.

Meanwhile in San Mateo County, the golf market continues to collapse, making golf development deals unlikely. Golf’s popularity in the county continues to wane, forcing general fund dollars to cover golf’s operating losses. And while San Francisco and San Mateo County seem intent on subsidizing golf at the expense of community centers and social services, President Obama proposed ending charitable easements for golf courses, saving the government nearly $600 million dollars in the process.

The Wild Equity Institute will continue to lead the campaign to restore Sharp Park in court, City Hall, in the press, and in the scientific literature. Thank you for inspiring us to keep working on this campaign—stick with us and we will soon enjoy a new national park at Sharp Park!