San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will release his budget proposal to the public June 1. A growing chorus of environmental and social service groups are hoping the Mayor’s budget will help save community services by closing the money-losing, endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course.

Add your voice by contacting the Board of Supervisors & the Mayor. Demand that the City stop subsidizing suburban golf in San Mateo County by closing Sharp Park Golf Course and reinvesting the money saved back in our neighborhoods, where the money belongs.

WEI Executive Director Brent Plater Speaks at a Budget Justice Rally May 26

San Francisco is poised to cut millions from community centers and neighborhood services this year to close the City’s budget deficit.

Yet the City is simultaneously concocting plans to subsidize suburban golf in San Mateo County with an $8 million dollar irrigation project, a $15-30 million dollar sea wall, and up to $14 million dollars in golf course enhancements.

The Wild Equity Institute has proposed a more just solution: close Sharp Park Golf Course, deed the property to the Golden Gate National Parks, and return the money saved back to San Francisco communities, where the money belongs.

San Franciscans Demand Better at Sharp Park

Under our proposal, San Francisco can reinvest its money in local Government services, the killing of endangered species at Sharp Park would stop, and we’d all get a new National Park that everyone can enjoy.

Please send an e-mail to the Board of Supervisors & the Mayor and demand that the City stop subsidizing suburban golf in San Mateo County: close Sharp Park Golf Course and reinvest in our neighborhoods during these times of fiscal crisis.

Saturday, May 29, 2010, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: Join Greg Reza of the Marin County Parks and Open Space District to help restore the Tiburon Paintbrush’s habitat. Lunch is provided. After the noon lunch, there is an optional 40 minute hike to see the Tiburon Paintbrush. This counts as a Big Year action Item for the Tiburon Paintbrush, but sightings here are outside the GGNP Legislative Boundary and cannot be counted towards the Big Year competition. Rain or Shine. Meet at the Marin County Open Space District gate at the end of Taylor Road at the point where it becomes Fire Road, on the right hand side of Taylor Road, Tiburon, CA 94920. RSVP: call 415-499-3778.

Thanks to REI’s generous support of the 2010 GGNP Endangered Species Big Year, we are happy to announce our next reward for seeing and saving endangered species!

This competition focuses on the Tiburon Paintbrush, a beautiful little wildflower that can only be seen in a few select places within the Golden Gate National Parks. It was likely always rare, but habitat modification in its remaining strongholds threatens the viability of the species.

And that’s where you come in: the first four people to help save the Tiburon Paintbrush by completing the conservation action item for the species will win a copy of John Muir Laws’ new Pocket Guide Set to the San Francisco Bay Area!

Tiburon Paintbrush       Laws Guide to SF Bay
      

The Pocket Guide Set includes four user-friendly foldout field guides that are small enough to tote along in a pocket, yet durable enough to weather abuse at the bottom of any backpack. Each fold out covers a different Bay Area ecotype so you’ll have quick access to the plants and animals in the habitat you visit.

To win the prize you must be one of the first four competitors to sign-up for the GGNP Endangered Species Big Year, complete the action item for the Tiburon Paintbrush, and log your action into the GGNP Endangered Species Big Year Tiburon Paintbrush website.

LONGTIME COMPETITORS: PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS COMPETITION IS RESTRICTED TO NEW BIG YEAR COMPETITORS FOR 2010. IF YOU COMPETED IN 2008 YOU ARE INELIGIBLE FOR THIS PRIZE.

Good luck and see you outside!

Sorry, this trip has been canceled due to the fact that Darren Fong, the trip leader has been called to help with the oil spill in the Gulf.
You can still enjoy Endangered Species Day by participating with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy: http://www.parksconservancy.org/calendar

Saturday, May 22, 2010, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: Celebrate Endangered Species Day with the Tidewater Goby. Join 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 (note: this is not the Big Year action item for the goby). Meet at Building 1061, Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito, CA 94965. There is a limit of 30 Participants. Must RSVP: call 415-561-3077.

Thursday, May 20, 2010, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: Join Michael Chasse of the National Park Service and Shelley Estelle of the Presidio Trust to monitor for one of the only remaining populations of the endangered Presidio Clarkia, a beautiful wildflower. This satisfies the GGNP Endangered Species Big Year conservation action item for Presidio Clarkia. Meet at the Inspiration Point parking lot off of Arguello Blvd, just north of the Presidio’s Arguello Gate and the intersection of Arguello Blvd and Pacific Avenue, Presidio, San Francisco, CA, 94129. RSVP Required: Call 415-561-2857 or email michael_chasse@nps.gov.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier has introduced a bill to spend a billion federal dollars and create a new federal office dedicated to San Francisco Bay wetland restoration.

It’s a great sign that, after some early missteps, the Congresswoman finally understands the importance and timeliness of science-based wetland restoration projects.

Now we need the Congresswoman to display the same vision for coastal wetland restoration at Sharp Park.

Wetland restoration is one of the best investments we can make to build a healthy and sustainable global community for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth, particularly in coastal areas that will be affected by sea level rise.

And that’s why restoring Sharp Park makes so much sense. Restoring Sharp Park’s wetlands will create a better public park on the land that everyone can enjoy, preserve endangered species, and defend our coastal communities against a warming and rising sea.

A Restoration Vision for Sharp Park.

And under the Wild Equity Institute’s plan, restoration will also boost Pacifica’s struggling economy by creating the first and only visitor center for the Golden Gate National Parks’ San Mateo County properties. These facilities have a demonstrated track record of providing an economic boost to local economies, a boost that the current golf course has failed to provide to date.

Let’s get Congresswoman Speier on the right track on both sides of the San Francisco peninsula. Call her today at (202) 225-3531, thank her for introducing the new wetland restoration bill, and then encourage her to support similar efforts to restore Sharp Park.

Join Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute, for a presentation about local endangered species and thing you can do to help them recover. This talk will discuss Wild Equity Institute projects, including Restore Sharp Park, the GGNP Endangered Species Big Year, and Bay Climate Defense.

The Gulf Oil Spill is a heartbreaking disaster, more so because it could have been prevented if proper environmental review had been conducted before exploration occurred.

And as oil reaches coastal communities and the explosion continues to spew carbon into the atmosphere, it is clear that those with the least resources to adapt to a polluted planet—low income communities and the non-human world—will bear the brunt of the catastrophe.

There is plenty of blame to go around, and politicians will hold hearings trying to punt that blame to the other side of the aisle, or onto the corporations that profit off oil drilling. But nothing will come of this dog-and-pony show if we fail to direct our moral outrage into concrete demands, and place those demands at the feet of those who wield power.

A starting point is demanding that our government cap carbon emissions so that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere stabilize at no more then 350 parts per million. This will inevitably require an end to off-shore oil and gas exploration once and for all. Consider joining Bonnie Raitt, James Hansen, the Center for Biological Diversity, 350.org, and many others by signing this petition to request that the EPA cap carbon emissions now.

Saturday, May 1, 2010, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: Join lepidopterist Liam O’Brien at the old rifle range in Marin County’s Rodeo Valley to search for and learn about the endangered Mission Blue Butterfly. We’ll take a short hike around the abandoned rifle range in search of Mission Blues while learning the basics about butterflies and how to find them. Meet at the old rifle range in Rodeo Valley, which is within the GGNP’s Marin Headlands, off of Bunker Road, Sausalito, CA 94965. Contact Liam O’Brien for questions about the trip at liammail56@yahoo.com. RSVP required: see RSVP section above. Rain and/or overcast weather cancels.

Thursday, April 29th, 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.: Join Jennifer Maddox of the Golden Gate Audubon for an afternoon restoring habitat for the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline in Oakland. Participation counts as the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse action item for the Endangered Species Big Year competition; but because the Shoreline is not within the GGNP, sightings at the Shoreline cannot be counted towards the competition. Snacks, gloves, and tools provided. Heavy rain cancels. Limited to 15 participants. Please RSVP to Melissa at mmgrush [at] yahoo.com. Meeting spot is at the Arrowhead Marsh within the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, located off of Swan Way, Oakland, CA 94621. Meeting spot is by the water near the far end of the small parking lot at the end of the park entrance road. Click on the location above for the map and directions.

This week you’ll get one more chance to see the Mission Blue Butterfly with last year’s Big Year co-champion Liam O’Brien. With the recent sighting of a Mission Blue mud-puddling for reproductive success, this may be your best chance to see the species yet! Plus you can bend O’Brien’s ear for some tips on winning the Big Year. See you outside!

Big Year Competitor Molly Latimer Spots a Mission Blue

Meeting spot is Arrowhead Marsh in Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Park, off of Swan Way, Oakland, CA 94621.

For Public Transportation: Check with www.511.org

Directions:
From I-880 South take Exit 36 for Hegenberger Road toward the Coliseum/Oakland Airport, turn right onto Hegernberger Road, turn rigt onto Pardee Drive then turn left (east) on Swan Way, park entrance is on your right just past the large parking lot and before Doolittle Drive.
From Doolittle Drive in Oakland, turn east on Swan Way, park entrance is on your left just after Doolittle Drive.
Drive to the small parking lot at the end of the road.

Meeting spot is by the water near the far end of the small parking lot.

Participants in last weekend’s GGNP Endangered Species Big Year Mission Blue Butterfly hike got a rare and scientifically important treat: they not only saw a Mission Blue, but also watched it engage in a behavior not previously proven to occur in the subspecies.

Mission Blue Butterfly Mud-puddling in the GGNP

The rare butterfly was seen “mud-puddling” from the SCA trail in Marin County. Mud-puddling occurs when butterflies congregate on moist soils or other substrates to obtain nutrients, such as amino acids and salts. These nutrients are believed to help the butterflies reproduce: males that mud-puddle tend to increase their reproductive success, if only because they sometimes transfer the nutrients to the female while mating as a nuptial gift! We’re glad to see one of the rarest butterflies in the GGNP finding new ways to gain a reproductive edge.

Although other members of the genus were known to mud-puddle, it was unclear if Mission Blue Butterflies engaged in this behavior: butterfly experts had debated this point. The new observation with photographs provides evidence of mud-puddling in this subspecies.

To find out how you can see and help save the Mission Blue and the 35 other endangered species at the Golden Gate National Parks, click here to sign-up for your GGNP Endangered Species Big Year!

Remember, participants must follow the Big Year’s ethical principles. This butterfly was seen from the SCA trail, not off of it, so participants on last weekend’s trip can count the sighting as they compete for the GGNP Endangered Species Big Year’s grand prize!

Sunday, April 25, 2010, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: Join lepidopterist Liam O’Brien at the old rifle range in Marin County’s Rodeo Valley to search for and learn about the endangered Mission Blue Butterfly. We’ll take a short hike around the abandoned rifle range in search of Mission Blues while learning the basics about butterflies and how to find them. Meet at the old rifle range in Rodeo Valley, which is within the GGNP’s Marin Headlands, off of Bunker Road, Sausalito, CA 94965. Contact Liam O’Brien for questions about the trip at liammail56@yahoo.com. RSVP required: see RSVP section above. Rain and/or overcast weather cancels.

U.S. EPA Earth Day Festival
April 22, 2010‐ 11:00am‐3:00pm
Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

This week get outside and search for the Mission Blue Butterfly with last year’s Big Year co-champion Liam O’Brien. With the recent sighting of a Mission Blue mud-puddling for reproductive success, this may be your best chance to see the species yet! Plus you can bend O’Brien’s ear for some tips on winning the Big Year. See you outside!

U.S. EPA Earth Day Festival
April 22, 2010‐ 11:00am‐3:00pm
Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

Saturday, April 17, 2010, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.:
Visit Wild Equity Institute’s table and learn about our local endangered species at the Golden Gate National Park’s Earth Stroll. Many fun-filled activities are planned for kids of all ages. The Earth Stroll will occur at the relocated Crissy Field Center, 1199 East Beach Drive, in the Presidio, San Francisco, 94129, near the Marina Boulevard entrance to the park. A special activities passport costs $5.

Saturday, April 17, 2010, 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.: Join fishery biologist Michael Reichmuth on this talk and walk discussing the coho salmon life cycle and, in particular, the changes salmon undergo during their freshwater to saltwater transition. The walk will include a visit to our downstream migrant trap where participants will view our current monitoring program at work. We will also discuss the salmon habitat in lower Redwood Creek and what changes the National Park Service has made in order to improve coho salmon habitat in this area. Meet at Muir Beach parking lot. Rain or shine. Group limit is 25. Reservations required, 415-388-2596. If you need to cancel, please call to cancel, so that waitlisted people can attend.

Saturday, April 17, 2010, 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.: Join butterfly monitors Susie Bennett and Caroline Christman, both from the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, in the Marin Headlands to search for the endangered Mission Blue Butterfly in its beautiful and unique grassland habitat. They will lead you on a moderate hike where you will learn about the local wildflowers and the restoration work being done to help save this beautiful but rare butterfly from extinction. Meet at the Conzelman commuter lot. Space is limited. For reservations, phone 415-331-1540.

Thursday, April 15, 2010, 9:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.: Join Michael Chasse and Ellen Hamingson, ecologists and local botanical experts from the National Park Service, at Nicasio Ridge for a day monitoring rare and endangered plants, including the Tiburon paintbrush and the Marin dwarf-flax. Nicasio Ridge is usually closed to public access, so this is a rare chance to visit one the most spectacular habitats in the Golden Gate National Parks! Note: monitoring does not satisfy the Big Year action item, but can count as a sighting.
Meet at the beginning of Laurel Canyon Road at the intersection of Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, Marin, CA 94956, NW of the Nicasio Reservoir. Parking area is on the north side of Point Reyes-Petaluma Road near Laurel Canyon Road. Participants will carpool up to the ridge. Due to the sensitivity of the habitat, and the requirement to coordinate with private Landowners for access to the ridge, the trip is limited to 20 participants only. Must RSVP: call 415-561-2857 or email michael_chasse@nps.gov.

Sunday, April 11, 2010, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.: Join Kevin Phuong to remove invasive plants crowding out Northern Spotted Owl hunting grounds and help promote the endangered bird’s population at Muir Woods. Note: this satisfies the Big Year Conservation Action Item. Meet at Muir Woods National Monument main parking lot, Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, CA, 94941. Rain or Shine. There is a limit of 20 participants only. Must RSVP: Call 415-561-3044.

Saturday, March 27, 2010, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: Check out the early wildflower bloom and stunning views atop this wind blown ridge, while restoring habitat for the endangered Mission blue butterfly and the endangered San Bruno Elfin butterfly. Join Price Sheppy of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy at Milagra Ridge in northern Pacifica. Rain or Shine. Dress in warm layers, wear sturdy shoes and bring lots of friends! We provide snacks, tools and gloves. Meeting spot is at the Milagra Ridge entrance gate off Sharp Park Road. Group limit is 30 people. A carpool is available from Fort Mason, Building 34 – the third duplex on your left (leaving at 9:15 a.m.). RSVP required: see above. For carpool: call Price Sheppy 1-415-561-3073. Limited supply of T-shirts will be given to participants (while supplies last).

Sue Digre put this forum together with the help of Margaret Goodale. Attend if you can, it should be awesome!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In Pacifica, as elsewhere along the 700 mile coast of California, cliffs crumble and beaches wash away and return. Almost every year we are reminded that here along the San Mateo coastal erosion averages two feet a year. But the process is not orderly, and dramatic events often occur during El Nino years like the one we have experienced this winter.

On Saturday, March 27, join Pacificans at THE FORUM at 2:00 PM at the Hilton library. This FORUM is about Coastal Erosion, the first in an educational series free to the public on various topics.

~~~~~
Parking: on the street during library hours

December 15, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: BRENT PLATER, WILD EQUITY INSTITUTE, 415-572-6989

MORE LEGAL VIOLATIONS AT SHARP PARK UNEARTHED
GOLF COURSE HAS UNPERMITTED POLLUTANTS IN WATER
ALL GOLF ALTERNATIVE WOULD VIOLATE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT

SAN FRANCISCO— E. coli, fecal coliform, ammonia, phosphates, zinc, mercury, selenium, copper: these are just some of the pollutants found in the aquatic habitats for two endangered species at Sharp Park Golf Course, and two new legal notices filed by the Wild Equity Institute demand that the City clean-up its act.

“We’ve known for a while that the quantity of water at Sharp Park was an issue, but now the quality is an issue too,” said Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute. “Luckily there’s a single, economical solution to both issues: restore Sharp Park’s natural wetlands and let nature’s filters absorb the excess water and scrub the contaminants out for us.”

Sharp Park Golf Course maintains several culverts and drainage ditches which the golf course uses to collect storm water and irrigation run-off, and then discharges this water through point sources into endangered species habitats on the property. The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants into United States waters without a permit, but recently released water sampling data shows that Sharp Park’s discharges contain a variety of pollutants. The golf course does not have a permit, and in a letter prepared by the law firm Environmental Advocates, WEI demands that San Francisco put an end to these illegal discharges immediately.

A second notice letter alleges that San Francisco’s proposal to invest up to $11million dollars in golf course improvements designed to push endangered species off City property and onto adjacent lands violates the Endangered Species Act and jeopardizes recovery efforts for the species. The City’s plan has been heavily criticized as fundamentally flawed by ecologists, biologists, and coastal engineers because it fails to assess how climate change will affect the property and because it makes the preposterous assertion that picnickers are a greater threat to endangered species than golf course lawn mowers and pumping operations.

“The City’s all-golf alternative may provide job security for paid consultants, but it’s a pink slip for Twain’s Frog and the Beautiful Serpent said Plater. “Recovery efforts that actually work are already being implemented at Mori Point, next to Sharp Park: we should take a page from their recovery book rather than burning it.”

The controversial Sharp Park Golf Course is beset by numerous problems: it loses money, it harms endangered species, and it’s poor design and unfortunate placement causes the course to flood during normal winter rains, putting the surrounding communities at risk.

The best solution to these intersecting problems is to close the golf course, restore the natural flood-protection features that the golf course destroyed, and operate the land in partnership with the National Park Service, which already owns and manages properties adjacent to Sharp Park. A restored Sharp Park can reduce the risk and exposure of catastrophic flooding events, recover endangered species, spur Pacifica’s economy, and create recreational opportunities everyone can enjoy.

Sunday, March 14, 2010, 8:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.: Join local naturalists for a sea watch looking for Marbled Murrelet, California Sea Otter, and Steller Sea Lion. Because you never know…you might get lucky! RSVP Required: see above and/or email mbzlat[at]yahoo.com. Meet at Louis’ Restaurant, 902 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, 94121 and then walk to the sea watch location. Be prepared for all weather conditions and some light hiking.

Sunday, March 14, 2010, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: California’s smallest tern is also its most imperiled. You can help prepare habitat for the California Least Tern’s nesting season while earning prizes through the GGNP Endangered Species Big year. Meet at the gate for the proposed Alameda Wildlife Refuge, northwest corner of the former Alameda Naval Air Station, between hangers 22 & 23, Monarch street, Alameda, CA 94501. RSVP REQUIRED: e-mail Leora at leoraalameda@att.net (Best RSVP method) or call 510-522-0601.

Saturday, March 13, 2010, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Join Bob Flasher of the National Parks Conservancy at Muir Beach for a day of shared work to improve the habitat of a more natural creek and wetland system. Come improve the habitat for three species on the federal Endangered Species List: steelhead trout, coho salmon, and the California red-legged frog. Rain or Shine. Dress in warm layers, wear sturdy shoes and bring lots of friends! We provide snacks, tools and gloves. Meet at Muir Beach Parking Lot. RSVP Required: See above.

Saturday, March 6, 2010, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: Enjoy stunning vistas and work-off those holiday calories while removing invasive French Broom from Mission blue butterfly habitat in the Marin Headlands. Join Price Sheppy of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy at Alta Avenue , set atop a ridgeline above Sausalito and Marin City. Rain or Shine. Dress in warm layers, wear sturdy shoes and bring lots of friends! We provide snacks, tools and gloves. Meeting spot is Alta Avenue entrance gate. Group limit is 30 people. A carpool is available from Fort Mason, Building 34 – the third duplex on your left (leaving at 9:15 a.m.). RSVP Required: See above. For carpool: call Price Sheppy 1-415-561-3073. Limited supply of T-shirts will be given to participants (while supplies last).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: Join the Presidio Park Stewards at the Lobos Dunes to remove invasive species and restore habitat for the San Francisco Lessingia. Meet at the Lobos Creek Valley parking area at the intersection of Lincoln Blvd, Bowley Street and Howard Road near the Presidio’s 25th Avenue Gate, Presidio, San Francisco, CA, 94129. For more information call 415-561-2857. RSVP Required: See Above.

PROGRAM FULL. NO MORE RSVPs. Saturday, February 27, 2010, 4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.: Muir Woods marks the southern front in a battle for survival between two competing owl species. On this strenuous seven-mile dusk hike we will look and listen for the owls that make Muir Woods their home, learn more about their history and ecology, and receive the latest research updates on our most famous resident, the spotted owl, which is defending its habitat from the invading barred owl. Dress in layers and bring a flashlight, water, and snack. Heavy and/or slanting (high winded) rain cancels the trip. Meet at Muir Woods National Monument Visitor Center. Park entrances fees apply and $3 material fee requested. Group limit is 25. Reservations required, 415-388-2596. If you need to cancel, please call to cancel, so that waitlisted people can attend.

Sunday, February 28, 2010, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Naturalist and Historian David Schmidt will lead a hike from the San Francisco Zoo to see snowy plovers. RSVP required: see above and/or email info[at]CaliforniaNatureTours.com. Everyone is welcome. Free. Meet at the corner of Sloat Blvd. and Great Highway, San Francisco, near the San Francisco Zoo.

Saturday, February 27, 2010, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: For thousands of years, coho salmon and steelhead have come back to Muir Beach. Coming up from the ocean they travel up Redwood Creek to spawn and die, thus nourishing the ancient redwood forest. Now, these species are on the brink of extinction. Join Bob Flasher of the National Parks Conservancy at Muir Beach for a day of restoration work to improve the habitat for these species. Rain or Shine. Dress in warm layers, wear sturdy shoes and bring lots of friends! We provide snacks, tools and gloves. Meet at Muir Beach Parking Lot. RSVP Required: use links above.

Sunday, February 21, 2010, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: California’s smallest tern is also its most imperiled. You can help prepare habitat for the California Least Tern’s nesting season while earning prizes through the GGNP Endangered Species Big year. Meet at the gate for the proposed Alameda Wildlife Refuge, northwest corner of the former Alameda Naval Air Station, between hangers 22 & 23, Monarch street, Alameda, CA 94501. RSVP REQUIRED: e-mail Leora at leoraalameda@att.net (Best RSVP method) or call 510-522-0601.

Sunday, February 14, 2010, 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.: As the sun sets below the Dipsea Ridge and Muir Woods transitions from day to night, come see and hear the subtle changes of an ancient redwood forest. Travel slowly through the Woods with Ranger Lou Sian on this easy walk in search of the rich sounds of nature that are fast becoming endangered in this busy metropolitan area. After hours when no one is around, hear the water in the creek, the gentle drops of redwood seeds on tanoak leaves, the wind soughing through the canopies of these very tall and ancient redwoods, and learn how protecting nesting northern spotted owl led to the National Park Service’s efforts to preserve the natural soundscape of Muir Woods. Bring flashlight, dress in layers and sturdy shoes. Heavy and/or slanting (high winded) rain cancels the trip. Adults of all abilities welcome. Meet at Muir Woods National Monument Visitor Center. Park entrances fees apply. Reservations required, 415-388-2596.

This weekend we offer another opportunity to try and find the elusive endangered sea creatures of the Golden Gate National Parks, this time while doing some habitat restoration for non-Big Year species that call the Park home:

  • Sea Watch and Habitat Restoration, February 20, 2010, 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.: Help protect and preserve the California coastline while listening for the howls of Stellar Sea Lions just off Point Lobos. With incredible views of the Farallon Islands, it’s also possible to catch a glimpse of the Southern Sea Otter and Humpback Whale! Join Alex Hooker of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy at Lands End to help cleanup the beaches and plant native species. Dress in warm layers, wear sturdy shoes and bring lots of friends! We provide snacks, tools and gloves. Meeting spot is the trailhead at the Lands End parking lot. RSVP Required—click here to do so.

The Pacifica Tribune recently reported on a letter written by Pacifica’s Climate Committee urging San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department to consider how climate change and sea level rise will impact the viability of the controversial Sharp Park Golf Course.

In the letter the Committee states that the Department’s all-golf alternative report for Sharp Park “omitted any analysis of sea-level rise and climate change impacts” and that “therefore the scope of this report is too narrow upon which to base long-term planning decisions.” The Committee urged San Francisco to “commit to long-term planning for the impacts of sea-level rise and climate change to Sharp Park and to delay any planning decisions regarding Sharp Park until such planning is complete.”

A Restoration Vision for Sharp Park.

Sharp Park Golf Course is unsustainable economically and environmentally. Golf advocates are therefore pushing to privatize course management while armoring Sharp Park’s coastline at public expense—to the detriment of coastal access, endangered species, and the sustainability of our beaches. But we can build a better public park at Sharp Park if we all demand that the Recreation and Parks Department do so. Download and send in a community support letter today and join our growing coalition of groups working for a better solution to the golf course’s numerous problems.

Saturday, February 13, 2010, 8:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.: Join local naturalists for a sea watch looking for Marbled Murrelet, California Sea Otter, and Steller Sea Lion. Because you never know…you might get lucky! RSVP Required: see above and/or email mbzlat[at]yahoo.com. Meet at Louis’ Restaurant, 902 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, 94121 and then walk to the sea watch location. Be prepared for all weather conditions and some light hiking.

Thursday, February 11, 2010, 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Come learn about Mori Point, spot red-legged frogs, and help restore habitat for the critically endangered San Francisco garter snake and the threatened red-legged frog. This program will be led by Price Sheppy of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Rain or shine so please come prepared to enjoy being outside. Snacks, gloves, and tools provided. Meeting spot is the Mori Point entrance gate located at the intersection of Bradford Way and Moris Point Road, Pacifica, CA 94044. Room for 20 people; all ages welcome. Please RSVP to mmgrush[at]yahoo.com. A carpool may be available from Fort Mason: for more information, please contact Price Sheppy at 415-561-3073.

Study Session
BLUFF EROSION NORTH OF MANOR DRIVE, PACIFICA
February 10, 2010
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
City Council Chambers
2212 Beach Blvd.
Pacifica, CA 94044

Public Comments/Q&A – Please limit comments/question to three minutes

Attend if possible to give input re beach armorning

Sunday, February 7, 2010, 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: Join Ranger Lou Sian to learn about winter’s natural wonders including the redwoods. Look for coho salmon and steelhead, mushroom displays and the season’s first wildflowers. Dress for cold, wet weather and wear boots, as trails may be muddy. Heavy and/or slanting (high winded) rain cancels the trip. Meet at Muir Woods National Monument Visitor Center, Mill Valley, CA 94941. Park entrances fees apply. For information and reservations, phone 415-388-2596.

Saturday, January 30, 2010, 8:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.: Join local naturalists for a sea watch looking for Marbled Murrelet, California Sea Otter, and Steller Sea Lion. Because you never know…you might get lucky! RSVP Required: see above and/or email mbzlat[at]yahoo.com. Meet at Louis’ Restaurant, 902 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, 94121 and then walk to the sea watch location. Be prepared for all weather conditions and some light hiking.

More than two years after the Cosco Busan oil spill devastated San Francisco Bay, government agencies announced that they will move forward with restoration actions to mitigate for the harms caused by the spill.

However, their plans aren’t final yet, and you can help ensure that restoration work benefits people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth by reviewing the record of damage at the San Francisco Public Library and commenting on their proposals. Let them know that restoration actions should prioritize our most imperiled wildlife and the disenfranchised communities that lost nature-based recreation opportunities because of the oil spill.

Saturday January 23, 2010, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: Get your fingers dirty and help restore habitat for the critically endangered San Francisco garter snake, with a chance to see California red-legged frogs! Join Price Sheppy of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy for a day of planting around several newly created frog ponds at Mori Point in Pacifica . Rain or Shine. Dress in warm layers, wear sturdy shoes and bring lots of friends! We provide snacks, tools and gloves. Meeting spot is Mori Point entrance gate. Group Limit is 30 people. A carpool is available from Fort Mason, Building 34 – the third duplex on your left (leaving at 9:15 a.m.). RSVP Required: see above. For Carpool: RSVP required, call Price Sheppy 1-415-561-3073.

Monday, January 18, 2010, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: Join naturalist and historian David Schmidt to restore the habitat for Coho Salmon and Central California Coastal Steelhead Trout. Have fun planting native seedlings and/or removing invasive plants to help restore the Muir Beach wetlands and give the Coho Salmon and Steelhead Trout a place to transition from fresh water to salt water. If we are lucky, we might see some of the fish. RSVP required: email info@CaliforniaNatureTours.com. Meet at the Muir Beach parking lot.

Saturday, January 16, 2010, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Join naturalist and historian David Schmidt on a moderate 3-mile journey and learn about the lives of Coho Salmon and Steelhead Trout as the fish return from the Ocean to spawn in the waters of Redwood Creek. Dress for cold, wet weather and wear boots as trails may be muddy. RSVP required: email info[at]CaliforniaNatureTours.com. Meet at Muir Woods National Monument south parking lot near the Dipsea Trail Kiosk. Park entrance fees apply, but the hike is free.

Saturday, January 16, 2010, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: Enjoy stunning vistas and work-off those holiday calories while removing invasive French Broom from Mission blue butterfly habitat in the Marin Headlands. Join Price Sheppy of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy at Alta Avenue , set atop a ridgeline above Sausalito and Marin City . Dress in warm layers, wear sturdy shoes and bring lots of friends! We provide snacks, tools and gloves. Meeting spot is Alta Avenue entrance gate. Group limit is 30 people. RSVP: email: babethsemail[at]yahoo.com A carpool is available from Fort Mason, Building 34 – the third duplex on your left (leaving at 9:15 a.m.). Carpool RSVP required, call Price Sheppy 1-415-561-3073. Limited supply of T-shirts will be given to paricipants (while supplies last).

Get the 2010 Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year started with a bike ride to observe some of the threatened flora and fauna dwelling in the wild northwestern corner of San Francisco. This ride will travel to a few locations and check in on a variety of imperiled birds, animals, and plants before ending at the Sports Basement in the Presidio to join a kick-off party for the 2010 Endangered Species Big Year. Free food and drink once you are there! Rain cancels the bike ride, but not the kick-off party.

The GGNRA Endangered Species Big Year will celebrate its second edition at the Sports Basement in the Presidio. After a brief orientation and some complimentary drinks and snacks, we’ll head over to Crissy Field to search for the Western Snowy Plover!

Here at the Wild Equity Institute we spend most of our time concerned about the fate of our communities and the fate of our Earth—and we wield every fiber of our collective being to create a healthier and more sustainable global community for all. But the holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on the beauty and joy we still find in the world. We have much to be thankful for: the successful launch of our organization, the rediscovery of the Franciscan manzanita, and we’re even thankful for our strange bedfellows!


Franciscan manzanita, Arctostaphylos franciscana

We foresee great opportunities in 2010, but we also face great challenges: from climate change to callous public officials to a body politic so distressed that it’s difficult to focus public attention on our obligation to others. This holiday season, consider how you can partner with the Wild Equity Institute to overcome these obstacles and create a world you’ll be proud to leave behind for the next generation to enjoy. Contact us if you’d like to loan us your skills and help us accomplish our mission, and please consider supporting our work by making a contribution today on-line or through the mail. We can’t do it without you: thank you so much for your continued support!

Announcing the 2010 GGNP Endangered Species Big Year!

The 2010 Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year begins January 1, 2010! Celebrate the incredible diversity of life around you by participating in the 2010 GGNP Endangered Species Big Year Kick-off Celebration on January 9, 2010 at 1pm at the Sports Basement in the Presidio. We’ll present a short description of this year’s competition, enjoy some complimentary drinks and snacks, and then take a short hike to search for the Western Snowy Plover at the Crissy Field Wildlife Protection Area.

The Recreation and Parks Department released its controversial report about the future of Sharp Park last month. Now the San Francisco Board of Supervisor’s Government Audit & Oversight Committee will have an opportunity to hear from the Department—and from you—about the future we desire on this land. Please attend this important hearing on Wednesday, December 16th, 1pm at San Francisco City Hall room 263 and tell the Board of Supervisors that we deserve a better public park at Sharp Park!

Ecologists, biologists, coastal engineers, & restoration and recreation advocates have criticized the report because it has several fatal flaws: it fails to consider the impacts of climate change and sea level rise on Sharp Park; it fails to consider sensible restoration alternatives at Sharp Park; and it proposes that we manage Sharp Park like a zoological exhibit for the two imperiled species on the property, the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog, by surrounding the habitat with golf and a reinforced sea wall to keep picnickers away from the land. You read that right: the report suggests that picnickers are a more significant and widespread threat to the endangered species than the golf course, even though the golf course has killed many of the animals and picnickers have never been accused of harming a single one.

A Restoration Vision for Sharp Park

At this hearing, you will hear an impassioned defense of the report from paid biological consultants who will earnestly insist that surrounding the endangered species with threats and uninhabitable space will ultimately be good for the species because it will allow us to grow snakes and frogs like any other agricultural product and encourage future generations of endangered species to migrate away from Sharp Park altogether.

But we need not triage our biological heritage this way. There is still time for us all to choose a better future for Sharp Park by restoring Sharp Park’s ecology while protecting the endangered species on the property and providing recreational opportunities everyone can enjoy. We know it can be done: the National Park Service is already doing so at the adjacent property, Mori Point.

So please attend this hearing and speak up for a better public park at Sharp Park! If you cannot attend you can send comments via email to support the cause.

December 14, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: BRENT PLATER, WILD EQUITY INSTITUTE, 415-572-6989

DRIVE-BY SCIENTIST MAKES MIRACULOUS DISCOVERY:
SAN FRANCISCO’S NAMESAKE PLANT FOUND
SEVENTY YEARS AFTER GOING EXTINCT IN WILD

SAN FRANCISCO— A San Francisco resident recently got an astounding view while driving the Golden Gate Bridge—the first sighting of San Francisco’s namesake manzanita in nearly seventy years.

Dr. Daniel Gluesenkamp, Director of Habitat Restoration for Audubon Canyon Ranch, was driving home from speaking at a climate change conference when his attention focused on an unusual-looking plant. A few days later he revisited the site and discovered the first living specimen of the Franciscan or San Francisco manzanita (Arctostaphylos franciscana) seen in the wild in nearly seven decades.


The San Francisco Manzanita

The Franciscan manzanita is a subtly charming flowering shrub found nowhere else on Earth. Its tragic history is filled with heroic acts by botanists striving to keep the species alive. In 1906, the specimens first used to identify the species were rescued from the California Academy of Sciences as fires driven by the San Francisco earthquake ravaged the Academy’s collections. In 1947 a famous botanist 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.


San Francisco Manzanita at the Former Laurel Hill Cemetery, 1937

Until now. “We are fortunate to live in such a diverse land, and discoveries like these remind us that we can build a sustainable future for all,” said Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute. “With the help of the Endangered Species Act, the world’s most effective and comprehensive conservation law, we can work in partnership to recover the San Francisco manzanita’s population and ensure that the species doesn’t go extinct a second time.”

Surprisingly, the San Francisco manzanita had never been protected under the Endangered Species Act, despite its exceptionally rare status. Today the Wild Equity Institute submitted a petition to list the species under the Endangered Species Act to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and soon the Service will be able to deploy recovery planning techniques and effective conservation strategies refined through forty years of successful application of the law. The Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native Plant Society co-petitioned for the protections.

“This is a great opportunity for the Bay Area to close one of our coldest conservation cases,” said Plater. “With the best tools on the planet and some of the most innovative people in the country, I’m confident we’ll keep the Franciscan manzanita around for future generations to enjoy.”

For photos, interviews with manzanita scientists, or more information, call 415-572-6989
Click here to view the petition

In a new report released Tuesday, fiscal conservatives on Capitol Hill, led by Senator John McCain, highlight a $2.2 million dollar federal stimulus bailout for Sharp Park Golf Course—owned by the City and County of San Francisco but located in Pacifica, California—as one of one-hundred projects that benefit private interests over the public good and make improvements where they are not necessary.

“Sharp Park is not too big to fail, and we all deserve better than a multi-million dollar bailout of a money-losing, endangered species-killing golf course,” said Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute. “If federal dollars are spent on Sharp Park the American people deserve an asset in return, and the best asset would be a new National Park unit on the property that provides recreational opportunities everyone can enjoy, not just golfers.”

Currently Sharp Park Golf Course uses over 400,000 gallons of drinking water daily to irrigate fairways and greens during peak demand periods, but as California’s drought continues the Public Utilities Commission has capped sales of water from the Tuolumne River—The San Francisco Peninsula’s most important freshwater source—sending wasteful water users like Sharp Park Golf Course in search of alternative water supplies.

The golf course’s proposed solution would have federal, state, and San Francisco taxpayers fund an $8.8 million dollar recycled water project that would deliver 42 million gallons of recycled water to Sharp Park annually. One-third of the funding would come from federal taxpayers, but three-quarters of the water would go solely to the golf course.

But Sharp Park Golf Course, the report notes, is losing money, harming the environment, and is likely to be closed even if the water project is built: the report states that a great public outcry has stalled a controversial proposal to invest an additional $11 million dollars—above and beyond the money spent on the water project—in Sharp Park Golf Course to improve playing conditions at the golf course’s current, unsustainable configuration and location.

“Throwing good money after bad on Sharp Park Golf Course is not only environmentally unsound, it is also unjust,” said Mr. Plater. “When San Francisco is cutting services to community centers and neighborhood parks by 20-30%, it is inequitable to spend millions on golf in suburban San Mateo County. The time is right to partner with the National Park Service to create a better public park at Sharp Park, and return the money San Francisco saves back where it belongs: invested in our neighborhood parks and community centers.”

We can’t thank you enough for supporting our campaigns to build a more equitable world for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth. In honor of the year 2010, our first full year in operation, the Wild Equity Institute is building 10 founding supporters who will donate $2,000 each and 2000 members who will donate $10 each to help us fulfill our mission. And for those of you looking for a level of support that is just right, we’re rounding out our campaign by building 100 supporters who will contribute $100 each to WEI. If you are interested in becoming a founding supporter, a member, or contributing to our work at any level please make a contribution today and help our programs thrive!

Join Eddie Bartley, Noreen Weeden and Brent Plater for a birding and interpretive hike around Sharp Park and the National Park Service’s adjacent Mori Point property. We’ll search for Twain’s Frog, the Beautiful Serpent, and lots of birds, and learn more about the restoration vision for Sharp Park.

Thanks to the thousands of calls, letters, and email messages sent by all of you, Congresswoman Jackie Speier met with a delegation of people working to build a better public park at Sharp Park on Monday, November 30. The Congresswoman heard our voice, but is continuing to chair behind-the-scenes meetings with the golf lobby—and without us—to reduce public access to Sharp Park, privatize course management, and force taxpayers to foot the bill for the environmental problems the golf course has created. It is simply not just to privatize our public spaces while taxpayers foot the bill for golf’s environmental harms. Contact the Congresswoman and thank her for meeting with us, but let her know we need her help finding solutions for everyone at Sharp Park, not just the golf lobby.

The Government Audit and Oversight Subcommittee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisor’s will hear a report on the Recreation and Parks Department’s fatally-flawed alternative report on the future of Sharp Park December 16, 1pm at San Francisco’s City Hall. The report has been heavily criticized by scientists, geologists, and biologists because it fails to even discuss how sea level rise will impact Sharp Park in the coming decades and because it bizarrely suggests that picnicking—that’s right, picnicking—is too great of a threat to endangered species to seriously consider restoration options on the property. 60% of the folks who attended the last hearing, including the vast majority of Pacificans, rejected the fatally-flawed report and supported building a better public park at Sharp Park. We need your support again: please attend this hearing and help build a better public park at Sharp Park!

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.

To help the GGNP’s endangered species thrive, all GGNP Endangered Species Big Year participants must follow these Ethical Principles:

Be a responsible National Park visitor.

  • Never take any animal, plant, or any other item from the Park.
  • Keep clothes and shoes clean so you don’t inadvertently spread invasive plant seeds.
  • Learn and respect the rules and values of the National Park.
  • Promote the protection and preservation of park resources and values for future generations.
  • Share these ethics by word and by example.

Respect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

  • Walk and talk softly.
  • 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.

It may never be depicted on the cover of a major environmental groups complimentary calendar, but the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse is nevertheless a very cute little rodent. And it’s all ours: the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse exists only in the San Francisco Bay, living among the dense “pickleweed” stands in tidal and diked coastal salt marshes.

The Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse is no more than three-inches long—not counting their tails, which are at least as long as their bodies. They weigh less than half an ounce—about the same as a nickel. Like the much-more common Western Harvest Mouse, they have brown backs and grayish undersides, except that some individuals instead have a reddish-colored belly (hence their alternate moniker, the “red-bellied harvest mouse”). They are truly unique among the ranks of harvest mice, however, for two important reasons: They can swim really well, and they can drink salty water.

Those two characteristics make for a very interesting lifestyle. The Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse is largely nocturnal. It holds pieces of pickleweed in its two front paws and nibbles, just like we would with an ear of corn. When the tide comes in, the mice float, swim, or scurry up the stalks of taller vegetation growing on the periphery of the marsh. When breeding, they will sometimes use old bird nests they find on the ground.

Sadly, the odds of survival run heavily against the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse individually, and as a species. Its life span is brief—less than a year, and the females only bear one litter in a lifetime. It is liable to become food for hawks, owls, herons, and other predators any time it is forced out into the open. But most of all, the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse is at the mercy of development. Since 1850, more than 80 percent of the tidal marshes bordering San Francisco Bay—or roughly 164,000 acres—have been diked, drained, filled, or back hoed—often with the assistance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse has been protected by the Endangered Species Act since the Act’s inception in 1973.

Although the rate of destruction of the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse’s habitat has been slowed by Endangered Species Act protection, much of what’s left is too small, fragmented, degraded, or otherwise altered to do the struggling Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse much good. Isolated pockets of wildlife, unable to migrate when conditions change, are easily wiped out. And every population has a critical threshold below which it cannot survive.

In the GGNP the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse is very difficult to find, and may be extirpated. Your best bet is to look in the Marin lands for appropriate habitat, and be particularly observant on a full moon, watching for the mouse to move.

Tiburon Paintbrush is a short, shrubby perennial plant in the snapdragon family. As its name suggests, it is found on the Tiburon peninsula, but so are other species in its genus: the best way to distinguish it from its non-endangered relatives is to look for the simple, unbranched hairs and the lack of glands below the inflorescence.

Tiburon Paintbrush has yellow flowers often turn reddish after pollination. Although it has green or purplish leaves and can photosynthesize, It is a kind of parasite that survives by attaching to another plant’s roots.

It is a serpentine endemic: all known populations of the species are growing on this type of rock outcrop, in dry sites in grassland. As such, it has never been widespread. Once known only from two or three populations on the Tiburon Peninsula in Marin County, this plant has subsequently been discovered to grow elsewhere, including the GGNP, where it can be found in small numbers on the serpentinite rock plateau south of the Nicasio reservoir. This area is part of an unusual management strucutre: the land is owned by the GGNP but managed by the Point Reyes National Seashore. At the same site are other rare plants including Hesperolinon congestum, the Marin Dwarf-Flax.

The Tiburon Paintbrush’s numbers appear to be constant, but small. In 1995, the species was protected as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Ongoing threats to its existence come from the area’s cattle-grazing regime, fire, or natural causes. As a hemi-parasitic species the health of its host(s) are also important.

The California Clapper Rail is one of three geographically isolated clapper rail subspecies in California. It is slightly larger and paler than the other two subspecies in the state—the Yuma Clapper Rail and the Light-Footed Clapper Rail—but just as close to the brink of extinction.

The California Clapper Rail is a squat, short-necked, and long-legged bird with a modest streak. Appearing mostly brownish in color from afar, when seen up-close it becomes apparent that the bird has an intricate beauty: a rust-colored breast, brown streaks along its olive wings, and black-and-white bars on its flanks not only make it a wonderful sight, but also help the species hide in the pickleweed and cordgrass that typify its preferred habitats.

Once common in coastal salt marshes in northern and central California, the California Clapper Rail has declined precipitously in both range and number. Hunters killed thousands of rails each week prior to 1900, and widespread urbanization and diking of wetlands led to massive destruction of the California Clapper Rail’s habitats. Only 15% of the San Francisco Bay’s original marshland remains today, and much of it is highly fragmented and altered. Furthermore, nonnative predators such as red foxes, Norway rats, and feral cats prey on clapper rails and their eggs.

In 1970 the California Clapper Rail was listed as an endangered species under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Since that time the species has seen population increases but also in some years heartbreaking, somewhat unexplained declines.

In the lands that currently comprise the Golden Gate National Parks, it is likely that the California Clapper Rail was once common throughout all three Counties. Today, it is quite rare in the Park: most of the suitable habitat has been lost, and the few remaining places are not thought to host resident populations of the species. However, on a lucky day you can still find them in certain park lands in San Mateo and Marin Counties.