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

It was the scariest moment we’ve ever faced.


Too many days were spent like this in 2014.

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

This time last year we knew next to nothing about brain cancer. Since then we’ve learned that many researchers now believe there will not be a “silver bullet” cure for glioblastoma. It is much more likely that a cure will be forged from several different treatments, each fighting a different aspect of the disease.

We transformed what we learned into a treatment “cocktail” that seems to be working. Rose’s latest scans are clear, and she’s still fighting fracking throughout California.


Rose rallying thousands just days after treatment.

What is most striking about this seemingly insurmountable challenge is that our struggles and insights parallel Wild Equity’s theory of change.

Wild Equity believes that no one strategy or technique will solve our systemic problems, so we wield a variety of tools—education, public relations, litigation, & grassroots organizing and lobbying—to win campaigns and create a sustainable and just world.

More so than any other Bay Area organization, Wild Equity has the suite of skills needed to wield each of these tools successfully, and we’ve demonstrated our effectiveness in wielding them time and again.

Now more than ever we need you to reinvest in our work: please renew your membership and/or make a tax-deductible contribution to the Wild Equity Institute today.

Even during this exacting year, your support has helped Wild Equity make great strides towards a more just and sustainable community for all:

  • You helped us bring another lawsuit against the endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course. With Save the Frogs! & Sequoia Audubon, Wild Equity is challenging Sharp Park Golf Course’s new attempt to drain critical wetlands for endangered species. With each successful claim we not only help wildlife, we increase the odds that San Francisco will stop wasting funds on this wildlife-killing golf course, and redirect them to San Francisco’s most impoverished neighborhood parks.


Photo © Liam O’Brien

These victories are exceptional; with your support we can accomplish even more in 2015:

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!

With deepest gratitude,

Brent Plater, Executive Director

Rose Braz, Chairperson

PS — Don’t forget to buy an “I ‘Bird’ SF” shirt for you and everyone you love! All sizes are currently in stock. Thank you!

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

Thursday November 6th, 6pm,

at the Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics 

Thank you from all of us at Wild Equity!



Wild Equity Party

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

Buy Your Ticket Now!



 

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

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

Tickets are on sale now for only $15! Space is limited, so reserve yours today!
(No one turned away for lack of funds.)

We can’t wait to see you!

The Wild Equity Institute’s Park Equity Project builds a more sustainable relationship between our communities and urban parks in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Our work focuses on protecting natural areas for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth, ensuring that those communities with the fewest resources are able to experience the natural world.

In the Bay Area we are blessed to live near the Golden Gate National Parks, perhaps our nation’s greatest urban national park. The GGNP was established during the National Park System’s “parks to the people” era of park creation, an era defined by bringing the values of the National Park System closer to where people live. During this era, some 35 years ago, our nation realized that the values preserved in the National Parks System were not reaching all of America’s communities equitably. With most national parks preserving places far from urban areas, those with the will and wherewithal to visit were primarily wealthy and white.

The National Park Service’s response to this information was, in hindsight, its first environmental justice program. The GGNP was part of this response: as explained by Congress in 1973, “many families in this urban impacted area do not enjoy the affluence which would enable them to take advantage of the outdoor recreation areas located even as close as the Point Reyes National Seashore,” and thus there was a pressing need to provide National Park values to Bay Area residents.

Today the GGNP gives people who otherwise cannot or won’t drive to Yellowstone or Yosemite National Parks an opportunity to enjoy San Francisco as interpreted by the preservationist values that are the core of the National Park System. This of course applies to those without the fiscal resources to travel to our distant National Parks, but it also provides opportunities for the over-worked and time-stressed individuals who, because of life’s daily grind, cannot scrape the time together to visit far-away places.

The GGNP is also a hope-filled example of the transition communities can make from war and militarism to environmental protection and contemplative recreation. Much of the land that comprises the GGNP today was once used by the United States military to defend the San Francisco Bay and the Nation. The GGNP is a global model for the coming transition from militarism to environmental justice and reconciliation.

National Parks such as the GGNP cannot accomplish this purpose while simultaneously accommodating all forms of recreation enjoyed by the public without restriction. The National Park Service has thus recognized that the role of the National Park System is to “provide opportunities for forms of enjoyment that are uniquely suited and appropriate for the superlative natural and cultural resources found in the parks” and that the park service will “defer to local, state, and other . . . organizations to meet the broader spectrum of recreational needs and demands.”

The Wild Equity Institute’s work encourages the GGNP to meet its objectives of building diverse audiences for national parks while protecting the unique mandate of the National Park System.

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.

“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!

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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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.

At Wild Equity, we love our dogs. We dote on them and give them the best doggie-life possible.

But we also take our role as dog guardians to heart. And that includes making sure our dogs are safe and ensuring they don’t disturb the people, wildlife, and plants around us.

So stand with us and contact the Board of Supervisors and tell them to support safe dog parks and leash law enforcement today.

Unfortunately, the City of San Francisco doesn’t take this obligation seriously, and its failure is causing numerous preventable problems. For example, in 2012, the City ranked fifth among U.S. Cities in total letter carrier attacks with 38: per square mile of land, the City ranked first.

Postal workers aren’t the only ones at risk. In April, an off-leash dog killed two Canadian goslings at Crissy Field. Last year, a dog was ferociously mauled to death in Nob Hill Park, and a police horse was attacked at Crissy Field, injuring both the horse and rider.

These statistics are surprising to some because the city of St. Francis has always welcomed animals. But there are two clear reasons why the City’s dog bite statistics are extraordinary: fortunately, there are also two clear ways to reduce the number of incidents.

First, most of San Francisco’s off-leash dog parks do not include the most basic element of good dog park design: they lack physical barriers that are necessary to keep our dogs safe.. Second, leash laws are not adequately enforced outside these areas, allowing dogs to roam freely most everywhere in San Francisco.

Dog guardians, often unwittingly, put their dogs and other park users at risk when they let their dogs roam off-leash in illegal areas or in poorly designed dog parks. Dogs run the risk of getting lost, running into oncoming traffic, disturbing wildlife and other park users, and in places like Fort Funston, falling off steep cliffs.

All these incidents could be greatly reduced or prevented altogether if the City fully enclosed our dog parks with physical barriers, and then enforced leash laws outside of these areas so we all become accustomed to letting our dogs enjoy off-leash activity in areas where it is safe to do so.

Municipalities are starting to recognize the importance of these basic safety concepts. Indeed, earlier this year Tiverton, Rhode Island adopted a leash law for the first time, with most dog owners supporting the law.

As dog owners, we have an obligation to our fellow San Franciscans to keep our dogs under control. Let’s tell San Francisco we want safe parks for everyone, including our canine pals. Contact the Board of Supervisors and tell them to support safe dog parks and leash law enforcement today.

On April 18, San Francisco resident Mikiye Nakanishi—a bird lover and dog owner—was watching a goose family waddle into San Francisco Bay from Crissy Field lagoon. But before the goslings could make it over the waves, an off-leash dog attacked the goose family.

“Then another dog came running and grabbed one,” Nakanishi recounted. “A second dog grabbed another one. A third dog came and pushed them all out. The geese had no place to go. People were surrounding them. The dog owners were saying, ‘Oh, they’re not going to hurt them.’”


A gosling killed by off-leash dogs at Crissy Field, April, 18, 2013.

Two goslings were killed before the parent geese could lead their flock to safety. And while the stunned bird-lover was trying to understand what happened, the irresponsible dog owners fled the scene of the crime.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident: off-leash dogs consistently harm people, our pets, wildlife and park resources at the GGNRA because it simply isn’t safe to run off-leash dogs in the Park. According to the GGNRA, there have been at least nine incidents in which park visitors or employees were bitten by dogs so far in 2013. Last year was filled with one heartbreaking off-leash dog attack after the next.

And yet the GGNRA still has not enforced leash laws in the park.

At the Wild Equity Institute, we love our dogs. But we also love all other forms of life. We believe that to protect all of us, leash laws must be enforced at the GGNRA, and off-leash dog play areas must be fully enclosed with a physical barrier and located far away from sensitive resources and people.

If you agree, make your voice heard by contacting Howard Levitt, Director of Communications and Partnerships for the GGNRA, and tell him we need leash laws enforced today, and modern off-leash dog play areas that are fully enclosed and keep everyone safe. You can reach him at howard_levitt@nps.gov or 415 561-4730.

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

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


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

That’s right folks: our I Bird SF shirt is worth our entire future as a civilization!

Lucky for you we’re giving them away—to members who contribute $60 or more to our end of year membership drive! Either join Wild Equity or renew your membership at the $60 level or more and you’ll get an I Bird SF T-shirt on the house!

Already have plenty of shirts? No problem! You can substitute a Wild Equity branded reusable water bottle made in the USA from 100% recycled aluminum!


The Wild Equity bottle is made of 100% recycled aluminum in the USA.
24oz with twist-off cap. Select green or white.

Want the bottle and the shirt? We’ve got a solution for you too: if you contribute at the $100 level or more, we’ll send you one T-shirt and one water bottle at no extra charge!

Ladies and gentlemen, there hasn’t been a Wild Equity membership deal this good since….well ever! Not only do you get some cool sustainable products, you also get to contribute to our work saving San Francisco’s Natural Areas Program so it can continue stewarding our local plants and wildlife; transforming Sharp Park Golf Course into a new national park everyone can enjoy; and saving the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly and empowering local communities to end pollution from power plants that destroy the species’ habitat.

So join now and let the world see that you’re part of our movement. Of course, you can always decline the stuff and let all of your contribution go directly to our work: just let us know what you prefer in the notes section of your order! Be sure to specify color for the bottle, and size for the shirt! And thank you for believing in our work!

Sincerely,

Brent Plater
Executive Director

ps—If you already gave this year and earned a shirt and/or a bottle, we’ve got you covered! We’ll contact you when they are ready to ship and take your order. Or contact us anytime and let us know what you want! We expect first shipments to go out in late January.

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

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

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

Around the same time I received this note from a student who participated in Wild Equity’s Endangered Species Big Semester, our environmental education project that helps disadvantaged students see and save our local endangered species:

“I got a lot from your program, like great memories and the chance to meet amazing people. I’m so thankful Wild Equity made it possible to help me learn, not only was it educational, but also it was fun and exciting. I absolutely loved all the field trips and would enjoy doing it again.”

We are proud that in just three short years we’ve improved lives and inspired leaders to build a stronger environmental movement for all.

But we can’t do it alone: and that’s why we’re asking you to become a Wild Equity Institute member today.

The Wild Equity Institute believes we can achieve extraordinary environmental victories while building a larger, more resilient environmental movement. We do this by uniting grassroots conservation and environmental justice groups in campaigns that build a more equitable world for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth.

At a minimum, this means our work must focus on preventing other species from going extinct, and ensuring that no community is burdened with a disproportionate share of environmentally harmful activities.

In 2012, we implemented this theory of change in several ways:

But we aren’t done yet. In 2013, we will work to save San Francisco’s Natural Areas Program so it can continue stewarding our local plants and wildlife; transform Sharp Park Golf Course into a new national park everyone can enjoy; and save the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly and empower local communities to end pollution from power plants that destroy the species’ habitat.

In each of these efforts, we build capacity for our movement by engaging new allies and building the power we need to tackle our most pressing environmental problems.

That’s why when you contribute to our work you get a twofer: we achieve measurable environmental gains on the ground, but more importantly, we ensure that our movement grows so that the scale of our efforts can match the size of the threats we face.

But movements are not defined by the effectiveness of organizations. They are defined by the inspiration, the passion, the commitment of the people these organizations serve. This is why we need you to demonstrate your commitment by becoming a Wild Equity member today.

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 for joining us today!

Sincerely,

Brent Plater
Executive Director

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!

With the campaign mailer deluge hitting our mailboxes, it appears that the supporters of San Francisco’s Proposition B are spending almost as much money trying to pass the proposition as the City might generate with the bonds Prop B. authorizes!

To cut through the clutter, the Wild Equity Institute provided some initial reasons to vote no on Prop. B several days ago, but the latest mailers sparked some additional research: and confirmed our suggestion that you vote no on Prop. B.

There is a pronounced difference between funding capital improvements and funding ongoing operations. Operations have simply not been a funding priority of our elected officials, and as a result RPD has been driven to pursue additional funding in the form of concessions and services. . . . It does not makes sense to spend money improving buildings or restoring parks if we can’t afford to open those buildings or operate those parks. There needs to be a sustained commitment to operations to support any capital program. . . . In fact, our hope has been that the operating deficit would be addressed first.

Prop. B makes this problem worse: it forces San Francisco to build new capital projects without providing any stream of income to maintain the projects over time. Like all bonds, Prop. B can only fund capital projects—not a dime of the money Prop. B raises can be used to address the existing operating and maintenance backlog. Let alone the additional operations and maintenance burdens that new capital projects will impose on our park budgets.

To truly solve our parks’ budget problem, RPD needs to join with park advocacy groups demanding larger operation and management budgets at the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor’s office, where we can obtain the annual operating and maintenance money our parks need. But to date, RPD has refused to join with us, and instead it has pursued bloated capital funding, and wasted operating budgets subsidizing suburban golf in San Mateo County. Perhaps, as the SPUR report suggests, this is because RPD has failed to properly prioritize its revenue problems.

  • As RPD’s maintenance and operating budget becomes more dire, the City’s Natural Areas Program suffers the most. The Natural Areas Program is not a priority within RPD, and it is funded last nearly every time budgets are reduced. If we build more capital than we can afford to maintain, the City’s operations and maintenance budgets will become even more stressed. As budgets become more constrained, staff will be cut, and it is most likely that Natural Areas Program staff will bear the brunt of those cuts. Again, Proposition B makes this problem worse by providing no funding for operations and maintenance while building several new projects RPD will be required to operate and maintain indefinitely.
  • All the projects specified in the bond have been declared categorically exempt from CEQA. The Bond language incorporates categorical exemptions from CEQA for nearly all the identified projects specified in the bond. This is an abuse of CEQA, and something environmentalists and conservationists should not support.
  • Building our way out of repair and maintenance is extremely environmentally harmful. RPD has suggested that Prop. B will address its maintenance backlog by getting rid of items that need repair, and building new projects in their stead. But we can think of no more environmentally harmful way to address our maintenance backlog. Is our decline into a throw-away culture so complete that even our infrastructure is now disposable? We think that in the City where single-use plastic bags have been banned, we can do better than creating throw-away capital projects. San Francisco demands better than this, and our environment requires it.
  • Strategy. There is little doubt that San Francisco politicians generally, and Recreation and Park officials specifically, give little heed to conservation concerns. This is in no small measure because the conservation community needs to become more effective applying political pressure in most campaigns—Wild Equity’s campaign to restore Sharp Park being one of the few exceptions, which was the only land-use issue to get a majority vote at the Board of Supervisors in several years. To turn this around, we need to express political displeasure to those who make decisions antithetical to our concerns. This was done by opposing bond initiatives on environmental grounds in the East Bay a few years ago, and since that time East Bay parks have had a much stronger relationship with the Sierra Club. We can do the same here.

We can understand why some institutions might determine that the short-term benefits of specific, promised projects outweigh the long-term negative impacts that Prop. B imposes on our parks. Surprisingly, SPUR endorsed this proposal, albeit with an important caveat: that the long-term funding problem be addressed sooner rather than later. But Wild Equity is in it for the long-haul, and Proposition B will fundamentally make park financing more difficult if it passes.

That’s why we urge you all to vote NO on Prop. B.

Join Wild Equity to celebrate the official listing of the Franciscan Manzanita!

Friday, the 5th of October
7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

The Eric Quezada Center for Culture & Politics
518 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

Join us for food, specialty cocktails and music by DJ Justice!

Please R.S.V.P.

Join us at The Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics to celebrate this success. We’ll be drinking a new signature elixir called the “Franciscana” and dancing the “Manzanita”—a new dance move that will surely sweep the nation once the YouTube videos of the night hit the interwebs! There will be food and music, and another too rare event: an opportunity to celebrate with dozens of great people like you, people working to build healthy and sustainable global community for all!

$5 donation requested at the door.

Hope to see you all there!

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

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

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

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

This vicious cycle cannot be stopped with bond money: bonds can only be used for capital projects, and cannot be used to maintain the parks we love. It can only be stopped by better management of our park system: management that prioritizes eliminating RPD’s maintenance backlog, not new construction projects RPD cannot hope to maintain.

While RPD has promised to spend capital monies on specific projects across the City, none of these projects contain the innovative urban design principles that San Francisco has become celebrated for implemented on our street scape. Rather than taking a step forward with these designs, its proposal regresses into park projects that are at best benign, and at worst antithetical to modern recreation demand and environmental sensibilities.

Even worse, Proposition B eliminates safeguards found in previous park bonds that required RPD to spend the money on projects actually proposed, so in this election voters have inadequate assurance that bond money will be spent on the specific capital projects RPD has promised.

RPD must be reformed for parks to become economically and environmentally sustainable. Burdening RPD with environmentally harmful capital projects will make its problems worse by creating more infrastructure than it can afford to maintain, leaving a degraded environment and park system in its wake.

That’s why the Wild Equity Institute is urging all San Franciscans to vote NO on Proposition B.

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

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

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

  • We will expand our challenge to power plants in Antioch while protecting the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly.
  • We will pass new legislation to protect San Francisco’s natural areas while creating a new National Park at Sharp Park.
  • We will ensure that the Franciscan Manzanita obtains the critical habitat and endangered species protections it deserves.
  • We will host endangered species bike rides, movie nights, and more to build a stronger community for conservation and justice right here in San Francisco.

We can’t do any of this without your support: please join us now and watch our campaigns thrive! Become a member of the Wild Equity Institute today. If you are already a member, consider becoming a monthly donor or making a special contribution to our work.

Thank you for all you do to help us engage and win!

Here’s a riddle: which San Francisco public official is the strongest advocate for responsible dog ownership?

The Director of San Francisco Animal Care and Control? Nope. The Director has encouraged irresponsible, unsafe off-leash dog activity in San Francisco for years.

The Director of San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department? No way. RPD’s existing leadership has been openly hostile to responsible dog ownership, even attacking areas with sound pet management practices like the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The leadership at the SFSPCA and the balkanized Dog Owner Groups in the City? Hardly. They’re openly hostile to responsible dog ownership, preferring to let dogs get injured and killed first, and only then address unsafe conditions. Of course by then it’s too late.

Answer: the Postmaster! Check out this letter recently sent to all San Francisco residents threatening to stop mail delivery if dogs aren’t controlled in the City:


Click the image for a .pdf of the letter.

It’s a pretty sad state when the toughest dog cop in the City is the mail carrier. But it’s no wonder: San Francisco’s failure to enforce leash laws leaves mail carriers with few other options but to stop delivering the mail.

A rash of attacks by off-leash dogs in San Francisco parks has led to renewed calls for leash law enforcement—a safe, effective way to keep people, our pets, wildlife, and all park animals safe.

For example, in San Francisco’s Glen Park—one of the few places where coyotes are found in the City, and where it is illegal to run dogs off-leash at any time—a small off-leash dog was recently killed when it got too close to a known coyote denning area. San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control responded to this incident by stepping-up leash law enforcement, in hopes of keeping dogs and coyotes safe. But irresponsible dog owners responded by challenging the citations. “When I walk into that park, I understand I’m taking a risk. And I’m okay with that,” said one thoughtless dog walker. We suspect neither his dog, nor the coyotes, would agree.

At the Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s Crissy Field, which contains one of the last habitats in San Francisco for the threatened Western Snowy Plover, an off-leash dog recently attacked a Park Police horse. The horse bucked its rider, and was then chased back to its stables. Eventually Animal Care and Control’s Vicious and Dangerous Dog Division captured the dog, and the dog owner was imprisoned. The horse and the park police rider are recovering from their injuries.

Astonishingly, this is not the first time either of these incidents occurred in San Francisco. In 2007, two coyotes were killed in Golden Gate Park after they defended their den from Rhodesian ridgebacks. Ridgebacks were bred to hunt lions and are about twice the size of a coyote: the breed cannot be seriously harmed by coyotes. Yet Animal Care and Control had the coyotes killed, rather than enforce the leash law.

And in 2003, a San Francisco police horse was attacked by a pit bull owned by an SFPCA dog trainer. The trainer was kicked in the head by the horse, the dog was shot by the police, and the police horse was so shaken that it never worked again. All because an SFPCA dog trainer wanted to test ‘voice control’ over her dog in an area where leashes are required.

These incidents fall on the heels of many other attacks: all of which could have been prevented by responsible dog ownership. As the SF Weekly summarized: in May a Concord toddler and a Castro Valley toddler were each mauled by off-leash dogs; in a separate incident that month, an off-leash dog mauled an on-leash dog so severely it was euthanized; a dog killed a pregnant Pacifica woman in April; a Fairfax police officer was attacked in March.

2012 has shown—once and for all—that San Francisco’s laissez-faire experiment with pet management has failed. People, our pets, wildlife—all of us are put at unnecessary risk by unsafe off-leash dog play areas and the lack of leash law enforcement everywhere else.

It is time for the National Park Service, San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department, and Animal Care and Control to enforce leash laws and contain off-leash activity to fully-enclosed, safe off-leash dog play areas. People and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth deserve nothing less.

Join the Center for Biological Diversity, San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club, Wild Equity Institute, Pacific Institute and others as we “connect the dots” between global warming, sea-level rise, and the impacts on communities, animals and plants in a dramatic, interactive human wave at San Francisco’s restored tidal marsh Crissy Field, in the Presidio under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

RSVP at 350.org. Get transit directions and precise location information here.

Wear blue and bring a pair of blue jeans, a blue T-shirt or blue sheet. The wave of blue we’ll create together will dramatically illustrate sea-level rise, as well as the more frequent and severe storms, storm surges and erosion that we can expect at places like Crissy Field — unless we can start slowing climate change now. We’ll even be filmed!

The event will also feature impact “dots” — “dot” being our word for an informative poster — which will represent impacts and solutions. The “impact dots” will share facts about climate impacts on people and other species here in the Bay, including threats posed by sea-level rise, erosion and ocean acidification. Our “action/solution dots” will identify actions that can help us avoid these impacts — cutting carbon in our atmosphere by stopping the Keystone XL pipeline and Arctic drilling plans, enforcing the Clean Air Act, and restoring Sharp Park.

Almost 4 million Americans live less than four feet above current high-tide levels. Scientists predict approximately 2 to 7 feet of sea-level rise this century.

Marshes such as Crissy Field are particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise. In the worst-case scenario, 93 percent of San Francisco Bay’s tidal marsh could be lost in the next 50 to 100 years.

In a rapid response to poor pet management, the Rancho Palos Verde city council closed its pilot off-leash dog beach a mere two months after it was created.

The beach, illegally used for off-leash dog walking despite city ordinances prohibiting dogs on beaches and golf courses, was opened in February to accommodate demands for free off-leash dog access. Unsurprisingly, the lack of restrictions unleashed a massive influx of dogs from all over Los Angeles county, where there are only two other beaches that allow dogs. “Frankly,” said Councilwoman Susan Brooks, “it was like Woodstock for dogs. This is not the space, not the place.”

Mayor Steve Wolowitz supported the decision to close the park and “cited an ‘intimidation factor’ presented by some animals, possible dangerous encounters between dogs and children, and the responsibility of the city to step in when ‘interests of a limited group conflict with the public at large.’”

The contested beach lies below the Ocean Trails Ecological Reserve, a spectacular area very similar to San Francisco’s Fort Funston in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The beach continues past the Trump National Golf Course.

The similarity to San Francisco and the GGNRA regrettably does not stop at the nature of the terrain. For years, the GGNRA has allowed the park’s most treasured locations to be operated as unofficial, unsafe off-leash dog parks. Presently park management is considering formalizing this practice, making each of these areas an official off-leash dog park. If the lesson from Southern California provides any indication, this will make the numerous management problems facing the GGNRA—off-leash dogs being lost, injured, and sometimes killed; people being harassed and intimidated; guide dog users being excluded from the park; and incessant wildlife harassment and habitat degradation—even worse.


This “People Behaving Badly” segment contains heartbreaking footage
of an off-leash dog attacking a sick seabird at Ocean Beach.

The only proven and consensus-based way to allow off-leash dogs in parks with multiple user groups is to create fully-enclosed off-leash dog play areas, and only in areas where there is no risk of environmental harm. Inside those areas, rules and regulations must be enforced to keep the dog park healthy and safe for all of our dogs, and outside of those areas leash laws must be strictly enforced—where dogs are allowed at all. During the GGNRA’s extensive and protracted negotiated rule making for pet management at the GGNRA, anti-wildlife groups like the SFSPCA joined with local wildlife champions like the Sierra Club, Golden Gate Audubon, and the Center for Biological Diversity reached consensus to create an off-leash dog trail in Marin County based on these principles, while failing to reach consensus on anything else.


One of many rescues conducted by the GGNRA
when off-leash dogs fall off cliffs at Fort Funston.

Given the reluctance of GGNRA policy and staff to aggressively manage off-leash dog walking as stringently as other impacts, such an idea will only get traction if enough people protest aggressively enough against the current onslaught of off-leash dogs. That is the other lesson from Rancho Palos Verde: park policy will respond to noise and numbers.

Contact the GGNRA loudly and often to complain about off-leash dogs in the GGNRA and to demand creation of enclosed, off-leash dog parks.

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area may finally start enforcing leash laws at the GGNRA: and you will have two opportunities to encourage them to do so in the coming weeks.

Off-leash dogs at the GGNRA negatively impact people, our pets, wildlife, and park resources. Imperiled wildlife like the western snowy plover are frequently harassed by off-leash dogs; guide dog users are regularly interfered with—and occasionally attacked—by off-leash dogs; and perhaps most alarmingly, hundreds of off-leash dogs have been lost, injured, or killed when they fall off cliffs, run into traffic, or otherwise lose their owners.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can make off-leash dog play areas that are safe for everyone, including our dogs.

The first step is to enforce leash laws in the GGNRA. Already animal welfare groups like the ASPCA, PETA, American Humane Association, Action for Animals, and Dogs Deserve Better have called for leash law enforcement at the GGNRA.

The second step is to design off-leash dog play areas within the park that are safe for everyone. In 2001 the California Department of Parks and Recreation conducted a study on safe off-leash dog play areas and concluded that this means enclosing the area with a physical boundary, so that dogs can’t run away from their owners and get into trouble, and so people can choose to enter these areas on their own terms.

You have two opportunities to help these recommendations become a reality. First, KQED’s Forum is collecting statements about how off-leash dogs impact your user experience while visiting the National Park. Let them know your story and encourage KQED to support leash law enforcement at the GGNRA.

Second, on January 14, 2011 the GGNRA will be releasing its long-awaited Draft Environmental Impact Statement on pet management at the GGNRA. This draft document will contain several alternatives for managing off-leash dogs in the park: and one of them will be labeled the GGNRA’s preferred alternative. Once released, the public will have 90 days to comment on the document. Keep checking wildequity.org for updates and more information as the process moves forward: we’ll provide you with an analysis of the draft document and help you submit your own comments to the park.

A Huffington Post article by Dr. David Suzuki indicates that Canada is jumping on the Golden Gate National Parks bandwagon by creating the country’s first national park in an urban area.

The announcement follows a report that recommended national park status for the area outside of Toronto to protect its important recreational and biological values—right next door to Canada’s largest metropolis.

Canada’s act is a reminder that the GGNP was ahead of its time in bestowing national park status on urban areas with incredible biological and recreational resources. It is also notice that our work isn’t over—national parks can still be developed and created right here in the Bay Area near our urban core. And in many ways, it is these areas that deserve national parks the most—they are the most accessible to the most people and often protect lands that are in the most need of a little TLC.

Huzzah for Canada! And long live the Golden Gate National Parks!

This past spring, the Wild Equity Institute submitted comments to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area concerning the Park’s Pet Management Plan. Unfortunately the GGNRA’s plan is heading the wrong direction.

For many years the GGNRA has illicitly permitted off-leash dog walking in many locations. When park visitorship and the number of dogs were low, this had little impact. But today the GGNRA receives millions of visitors annually and San Francisco purportedly now has more dogs than kids. This has led to increasing numbers of negative impacts in the park: dogs are being lost, injured, and killed; people and horses are being bitten and attacked; endangered wildlife are put at risk; and it has even impacted the diversity of the GGNRA’s users.

The GGNRA’s ad hoc off-leash policy is no longer tenable. The GGNRA is currently reviewing comments on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement that discusses pet management in the Park. The outcome of this environmental impact assessment process will dictate how the park is managed for many years.

We all love our dogs. The question facing us all is whether we love each other enough to recognize that how we recreate with our dogs at the GGNRA has impacts on other people and other forms of life. The Wild Equity Institute believes that the GGNRA has not struck a proper balance with its draft document, because it fails to ensure that off-leash dogs remain safe in the park.

The best way to ensure dogs remain safe while roaming off-leash is to ensure that any off-leash area is enclosed with a physical boundary. These boundaries could be post-and-cable fences or natural features. But if a physical boundary cannot be placed around a specific off-leash area, than that area should not be an official off-leash area: it is simply too risky for our dogs.

You can read the Wild Equity Institute’s comments here, and find out more about pet management at the GGNRA at our GGNRA Off-leash Dog FAQ. We expect a final determination from the GGNRA on its pet management plan in 2012.

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area has released its long-awaited Dog Management Plan, and will be taking public comment on the proposal for the next 90 days. The Wild Equity Institute’s Executive Director Brent Plater will be a guest on KQED’s Forum (88.5 FM) to discuss the plan Monday, January 17th at 9:00 a.m. You can bring your voice to the debate by calling 866-733-6786 or emailing forum@kqed.org.

Weighing-in at over 2,000 pages and over six years in the making, bystanders might look at the plan and conclude that the GGNRA’s priorities are misplaced. If, for example, the GGNRA tackled more pressing environmental problems like climate adaptation this thoroughly, we might have a carbon neutral park by now.

Yet in other respects pet management contains the same moral dilemmas as our most pressing environmental problems:

  • Who should bear the burden of activities conducted in National Parks: the individuals taking action or the public as a whole?
  • When should individual entitlement take precedence over public responsibility?
  • Does the Park have a duty to proactively protect park visitors from harm, or should the Park simply facilitate recompense after an injury has occurred?

These are common questions to most environmental problems, yet despite the plan’s length and delay, it still fails to address some basic problems with pet management at the GGNRA.

Off-leash dogs have long been negatively impacting people, our pets, wildlife, and park resources at the GGNRA. Imperiled wildlife like the western snowy plover are frequently harassed by off-leash dogs; guide dog users are regularly interfered with—and occasionally attacked—by off-leash dogs; and perhaps most alarmingly, hundreds of off-leash dogs have been lost, injured, or killed when they fall off cliffs, run into traffic, or otherwise lose their owners.

“The proposed plan contains some improvements, but fails in significant respects to protect people, our pets, wildlife, and park resources,” said Plater. “The first rule of good off-leash dog park design is to make sure our dogs are safe. But the dog play areas proposed by the Park Service do not contain safety barriers, do not require dog owners to certify that their dogs are trained before allowing them off leash, and the plan’s basic structure is to wait for park visitors to be injured before protective measures are put in place. We look forward to working with the Park Service to correct these obvious flaws before the plan is finalized.”

Sensible management measures like enclosing dog play areas with fences or other physical barriers can resolve many of these problems, and give park visitors the opportunity to choose off-leash dog experience on their own terms, rather than having the choice imposed upon them. Already animal welfare groups like the ASPCA, PETA, American Humane Association, Action for Animals, and Dogs Deserve Better have called for leash law enforcement at the GGNRA. Over the next 90 days you’ll have the opportunity to add your voice to theirs by submitting comments in support of leash law enforcement in the Park. Don’t delay: make your comments today!

Yesterday by a 2 to 1 vote, the San Francisco Board of Supervisor’s Land Use and Economic Development Committee passed a resolution condemning the Golden Gate National Recreation Area for attempting to manage off-leash dogs in the park. This misguided resolution is driving a wedge in San Francisco’s progressive community, pitting environmental, social welfare, and justice groups against a fraction of dog owners who wish to recreate with their dogs without regard to the impacts on other people and other forms of life.


Leash laws and enclosed off-leash play areas are essential safeguards for us all.

There are solutions to this problem: the most obvious solution is to ensure that our off-leash areas are safe by enclosing them with a physical barrier. After two years of negotiation, the GGNRA’s pet management rulemaking committee reached consensus about creating a fully enclosed off-leash dog walking trail in Marin County. This can serve as a model to solve this ongoing debate: and is in stark contrast to the resolution passed by the Committee yesterday condemning our great Urban National Park experiment.

We all love our dogs. The question is do we love each other enough to recognize that how we allow our dogs to behave can have negative impacts on other people—not to mention the wildlife that find their last refuge in the GGNRA. The Weiner resolution doesn’t help us address this core question: and that’s why it should be opposed.

The full Board of Supervisors will vote on the resolution today. [UPDATE: the resolution has been delayed for 2 weeks: giving you more time to respond!] Please make your voice heard by urging your public officials to oppose this misguided resolution. Click here to take action today!

San Francisco continues to subsidize an endangered species-killing golf course in Pacifica even though the City’s community services are being cut.

We deserve better!

In honor of Save the Frogs Day, please join the Wild Equity Institute, SAVE THE FROGS! and the Center for Biological Diversity for the Endangered Communities, Endangered Species Rally. The event is endorsed by Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth.

Join us and tell San Francisco to stop the wasteful spending, save the environment while helping our communities, and create a public park that everyone can enjoy by restoring Sharp Park! There will be speakers and informational tables.

A new survey released by the Neighborhood Parks Council shows that San Franciscans want more sustainability in their park system and fewer expenditures on golf: which is precisely why restoring Sharp Park is great public policy for San Francisco.

“Restoring Sharp Park is a sensible solution that helps the Recreation and Parks Department supply what park users demand,” said Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute. “We can reduce wasteful spending on regional golf in San Mateo County while providing a sustainable solution to the myriad problems the golf course faces. It isn’t often you get win-win solutions in park management: the City should seize this one immediately.”

The Neighborhood Parks Council surveyed 1,443 San Francisco residents in October and November of 2010, asking dozens of questions about San Francisco’s parks. In one question, respondents were asked to list three priorities for park funding. Of the nearly 100 different responses, sustainability came in 5th, behind only general park maintenance, better athletic fields, more programming, and improved safety. In a second question, respondents were asked to list three expenses they’d like to see cut. Of the over 80 different responses to this question, cutting golf expenses came in 5th, behind only salaries and overtime pay, construction projects, regional attractions, and wasteful spending.

Sharp Park Golf Course is a wetland that San Francisco drains regularly so golfers can play there for about $30 a round. The course loses money every year, siphoning scarce recreation dollars from San Francisco’s community centers and city services. A broad coalition has been working to transfer Sharp Park to the National Park Service and redirect the money San Francisco saves back to neighborhood parks, where the money belongs.


Flooding is a chronic problem at Sharp Park Golf Course.

The Golden Gate National Parks are currently undergoing an accessibility study to improve access for people with disabilities. Today, the Wild Equity Institute submitted these comments to the Golden Gate National Parks requesting that the park improve its off-leash dog management as part of its accessibility plan.

Off-leash dogs are one of the key accessibility problems at the Golden Gate National Parks. A 2003 survey conducted by a national guide dog user group indicates that 89% of guide dog users have had their dogs interfered with by off-leash dogs, and 42% of guide dog users have had their guide dogs attacked by off-leash dogs. At best, this can be disorienting for guide dog users. In the worst cases, service dogs have been killed or injured in ways that make them incapable of providing the services the dog was trained for.

Because of this, organizations such as Guide Dogs for the Blind recommend that their graduates avoid any place where off-leash dogs are known to roam. Since off-leash dogs are permitted to roam in nearly every National Park unit in San Francisco, the off-leash policy is a de facto exclusion for guide dog users: in the very park Congress created to make National Park values more accessible to people.

There is a simple solution to this problem: ensure off-leash dog areas are safe by enclosing them with a physical barrier. This is the recommendation of many dog advocates, and has been adopted by the California State Parks in their 2001 pilot program for off-leash dogs. Physical barriers protect our pets from running into harm’s way; they allow park users to choose to enter the area, rather than having off-leash dogs imposed upon their recreational choices; they ensure that people and wildlife remain free from interference and disturbance; and they clearly demarcate the off-leash area, enabling people to easily comply with park regulations.

If you would also like to encourage the GGNRA to implement safe off-leash dog areas while keeping the park accessible, you may submit comments on this web form.

Here are a few Photos of our newest National Park, Port Chicago National Memorial, where hundreds of mostly African-american military personnel were killed in a munitions explosion on 7/17/44, and then court-martialed when they demanded training on how to load the munitions safely. One of the key injustices that ultimately led to the desegregation of the military, the story is now being interpreted by our Nation’s best steward of history, the National Park Service. Reservations are required to visit: click here to make yours. You may also want to check out Dr. Robert Allen’s book, The Port Chicago Mutiny: the Story of the Largest Mass Mutiny Trial in U.S. Naval History.