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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 1, 2017

Contact: Arthur Feinstein, Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter, 415-680-0643

As a result of a last-minute Agreement reached between environmental organizations and the SF Recreation and Park Department, the Department has agreed to withdraw its plans to raise golf fairways and fill wetlands at the Sharp Park golf course. This golf course redevelopment had been incorporated into the Department’s Natural Resource Areas Management Plan EIR over environmental groups’ opposition. As part of the Agreement, environmental organizations withdrew their appeal of the EIR. 

The Agreement reached between environmentalists and the SF Recreation and Parks Department will improve the chances for survival for two endangered species, the California red-legged frog (made famous in Mark Twain’s short story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County) and the San Francisco Garter Snake from the impacts of the damaging golf course project. The species use the fairways and its wetlands as habitat.

“It is always hard to reach decisions at the very last moment but we believe that this Agreement goes far towards protecting these species on the brink of extinction. And by removing the elements of the project that constitute a golf course redevelopment, the Natural Areas program that we all support can now move forward,” said Arthur Feinstein of the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter.

Sharp Park Golf Course, owned by San Francisco and located in Pacifica, is habitat for the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake and California Red-legged frog. Scientists at various institutions, including Cal Academy of Sciences and San Francisco State University, have criticized the golf course as threatening rare and dwindling habitat for the endangered species.

The coalition of environmental groups that signed the appeal included Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Wild Equity Institute,  Golden Gate Audubon, Sequoia Audubon, Surfrider Foundation San Francisco Chapter, SAVE THE FROGS!

 

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For Immediate Release: January 17, 2017
Press Contact: Brent Plater, bplater@wildequity.org, 415-572-6989

Environmental Groups Appeal SF Plan to Redevelop Money-losing Sharp Park Golf Course

Endangered San Francisco Garter Snake and California Red-legged Frog threatened by development

SAN FRANCISCO, CA and PACIFICA, CA – Today a coalition of environmental groups filed an appeal of a plan to redevelop Sharp Park Golf Course. The Recreation and Park and Planning Commissions recently approved the project that is one part of a citywide Natural Resources Management Plan.

“In 2009 the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department promised in writing that a controversial proposal to redevelop Sharp Park Golf Course would never be inserted into the Natural Resources Management Plan,” said Brent Plater of Wild Equity. “The Department broke this promise, and in the process broke the law and any pretense of honest, open governance of our parks.”
2006 Natural Resources Management Plan for Sharp Park

2006 Natural Resources Management Plan for Sharp Park. The original plan’s management boundary (depicted by areas shaded in brown) was limited to the natural lagoon at Sharp Park. No modifications to the golf course were proposed. Environmental groups unanimously supported this plan.


Sharp Park Golf Course, owned by San Francisco and located in Pacifica, is habitat for the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake and California Red-legged frog. Scientists at various institutions, including Cal Academy of Sciences and San Francisco State University, have criticized the golf course as threatening rare and dwindling habitat for the endangered species.

2016 Natural Resources Management Plan for Sharp Park. After no public hearings, the plan significantly changed for Sharp Park. The boundary has been expanded to include the golf course. The plan now includes raising several fairways to “reduce flooding,” moving holes, and modifying hole lengths. Scientists warn this plan threatens one of the last remaining habitats for the endangered species.


“It’s a shame that the golf course redevelopment is part of an otherwise sound plan,” said Arthur Feinstein of the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter. “We support other elements of the Natural Resources Management Plan, so we’re asking the Board of Supervisors to take out the golf course redevelopment, and let the rest of the plan go forward.”

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), which joined today’s appeal, issued the following statement: “We’re simply asking the City to make good on their promise to conduct a complete, separate environmental review of any changes to the Sharp Park golf course,” stated Neal Desai of NPCA. “Raising fairways and moving holes may improve playability but scientists warn it will harm species. San Francisco shouldn’t jam an unrelated golf course development into a natural areas plan.”

Back in 2011, the Board of Supervisors voted to turn Sharp Park Golf Course over to the National Park Service. However, Mayor Ed Lee, a golf enthusiast, vetoed the decision.

“New records show that Sharp Park Golf Course lost more than $600,000 in 2014/15 alone,“ says Plater. “At a time when the Mayor is asking departments to cut budgets, it’s irresponsible to pour millions of taxpayer dollars into a golf course that loses money year after year. We have five other public golf courses in San Francisco that are more popular and accessible to residents. And unlike Sharp Park Golf Course, they don’t harm endangered species.”

Many golf courses have closed in recent years because of the declining popularity of the sport.

Other groups that oppose the golf course redevelopment include Golden Gate Audubon, Sequoia Audubon, Surfrider Foundation San Francisco Chapter, SAVE THE FROGS!, and SF League of Conservation Voters.

Our recent winter rains have allowed Sharp Park’s Laguna Salada wetland complex to drink deeply, reclaiming areas that Sharp Park Golf Course drains and mows to create fairways and greens.

But if the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department’s plan to redevelop Sharp Park Golf Course is finalized, the fringing wetlands you see today will be filled with dredged spoils and lost forever.

Click on any image below to get a full view of what’s possible for Sharp Park, and then write the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and tell them to get Sharp Park Golf Course out of our natural areas, before it’s too late.



Will San Francisco squander one of the last opportunities to help the endangered San Francisco Garter Snake?  

Unless you stand with us now, the City of St. Francis probably will.  

San Francisco Garter Snakes!

Is it too late for our namesake snake?

For years Wild Equity has been leading the fight against the money-losing, endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course.  

In the first weeks of 2017 we will lead a challenge to a terrible plan to redevelop the golf course, a plan that the City just authorized a few weeks ago.

But we can’t do it alone.  When you join Wild Equity, you make sure San Francisco creates a more just and sustainable community for all: including North America’s most beautiful serpent.

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!

Brent PlaterThank you so much!

Brent Plater




Brent Plater
Executive Director



Wild Equity’s new online store is now live! So day or night you can get your hands on Nancy Morita’s beautifully heartbreaking ‘Wild in the City’ poster; or our famous “I ‘Bird’ SF” T-shirts; or one of our gorgeous, reusable, non-toxic, 100% recycled aluminum, made-in-the-USA water bottles.  

If you’re looking for something else, consider shopping at AmazonSmile and designate Wild Equity Institute as your charity of choice.  When you do,  Amazon.com will give a portion of the website’s profits to Wild Equity: at no extra charge to you!  Look for items with “Eligible for Amazon Smile donation” in the product description, and again, be sure to designate Wild Equity as your favorite charitable organization.  

Thursday, December 15, 1pm, San Francisco City Hall Room 400: Join us at a San Francisco Planning Commission and Recreation and Park Commission joint meeting where the commissioners will vote on a taxpayer funded bailout of the money-losing, endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course. This meeting will likely be a long one: we need you to come early, stay late, and demand that the commissioners oppose this terrible project. A coalition of environmental, environmental justice, social service and neighborhood park groups have come together to oppose this golf course project, demanding that the City eliminate it from the environmental review of the Significant Natural Resource Area Management Plan: and if they don’t demanding that they reject the environmental review process all together. Golf industry groups have pressured San Francisco’s Mayor to bailout Sharp Park Golf Course for years, and the Recreation and Parks Department and in 2009 it drafted a controversial proposal to redevelop Sharp Park Golf Course. This proposal was heavily criticized by environmentalists, budget hawks, and Bay Area scientists, and the proposal died on the vine. But in an Orwellian move, seven years later the Recreation and Park Department inserted the golf course redevelopment project into the final environmental review for San Francisco’s Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan ("SNRAMP"), a plan that many, including Wild Equity, once supported. This was done even though the Department promised the public in 2009 that the golf course redevelopment project would never be integrated with the SNRAMP plan: Wild Equity, the Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, San Francisco Tomorrow, S.F. League of Conservation Voters, National Parks Conservation Association, S.F. Green Party, Sequoia Audubon and others all agree: the environmental benefits proposed by SNRAMP in other areas are far outweighed by the environmental destruction the golf course bailout would cause at Sharp Park. We need to stop this proposal, and that’s why we are asking you to join us at 1pm on December 15 at City Hall Room 400 to demand that the golf course project be removed from SNRAMP’s environmental review process, and if the City refuses to remove it, demand that the entire environmental review document be rejected.

San Francisco’s Significant Natural Resource Areas Program was to be one of the great urban conservation programs in America. But in 2016, San Francisco released a Final Environmental Impact Report (“FEIR”) for the Significant Natural Resource Area Management Plan (“SNRAMP”) that will, if adopted, turn the program on its head.

The FEIR removes SNRAMP’s original plan for Sharp Park’s natural areas and replaces it with a project to redevelop Sharp Park Golf Course within the “recovery” area for two imperiled species, the San Francisco Garter Snake and the California Red-Legged Frog.

Sharp Park Golf Course is arguably San Francisco’s greatest economic and ecological mistake. It loses hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, taking money away from San Francisco’s neighborhood parks and community centers. It kills two endangered species as it operates, and its location along California’s coast means that before long it will be flooded by sea level rise: already several links have been washed out to sea.

Golf purists nonetheless demanded a taxpayer bailout for Sharp Park Golf Course, and in 2009 the Recreation and Parks Department conceded to their demands by releasing a controversial proposal to redevelop Sharp Park Golf Course. Known as “A18,” the proposal was heavily criticized by environmentalists, budget hawks, and Bay Area scientists, who stated

It is our conclusion that the minimal habitat enhancement proposed by the Park Department in their preferred 18-hole alternative is inadequate to allow the recovery of the San Francisco garter snake and red-legged frog at the site, and is set up to fail with climate change and sea-level rise.[source]

Map demonstrating changes to Sharp Park Golf Course under the A18 Proposal

When this criticism became public A18 appeared dead on arrival at City Hall. Indeed, shortly after A18 was criticized, the Recreation and Parks Department publicly stated:

Because redesigning or eliminating the Sharp Park Golf Course is a separate proposal being studied by SFRPD, it will not be included or evaluated as part of the proposed [Significant Natural Areas Management Plan] project analyzed in the EIR. Should changes to the Sharp Park Golf Course be proposed, they would undergo a separate regulatory review, including CEQA environmental review.[source]

Yet in November 2016 the Department released a SNRAMP FEIR that removed the original plan for Sharp Park and replaced it with A18, the Golf Course redevelopment project. Moreover, the FEIR declares the Golf Course a Historic Resource that CEQA must protect—even though the original design was washed away by ocean storms decades ago—and therefore refused to consider alternatives that would protect Sharp Park’s environment from this devastating and controversial project.

Sharp Park, inarguably San Francisco’s most ecologically and biologically important natural area, would be devastated by implementation of A18, and in the seven years since A18 was first announced, many of the SNRAMP proposals for San Francisco’s 31 other natural areas have moved forward or implemented, because they either didn’t require environmental review or because they were incorporated into other park projects.

Nonetheless, to ensure that SNRAMP’s good proposals for the City’s other natural areas wouldn’t be affected by the disasterous proposal for Sharp Park, Wild Equity and an array of environmental and community supporters demanded that the Sharp Park Golf Course redevelopment plan be segregated out of SNRAMP and its environmental review process, so the golf course project could stand or more likely, fall on its own merits.

But these reasonable proposals have fallen on deaf ears. The Recreation and Parks Department has informed San Francisco’s environmental community that we must sacrifice our most precious biological resource if we desire modest conservation gains in San Francisco’s other natural landscapes.

Now Wild Equity, the Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, San Francisco Tomorrow, S.F. League of Conservation Voters, National Parks Conservation Association, S.F. Green Party, Sequoia Audubon and others all agree: the environmental benefits proposed by SNRAMP in other areas are far outweighed by the environmental destruction the golf course bailout would cause at Sharp Park. We need to stop this proposal, and that’s why we are asking you to join us at noon on December 15 at City Hall Room 400 to demand that the golf course project be removed from SNRAMP’s environmental review process, and if the City refuses to remove it, demand that the entire environmental review document be rejected.

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?

Please join Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute, for a photographic exploration of the remaining wild areas in San Francisco, discuss the threats they face, and learn how you can help these areas thrive.

We will also be discussing San Francisco’s Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan, parts of which imminently threaten the species mentioned above.

Come find out how you can become more engaged with regional wildlife and ecosystems!


San Francisco’s 32 preserved natural areas