September 26, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 669-7357
Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Arthur Feinstein, Sierra Club, San Francisco Bay Chapter, (415) 680-0643
Court Motion Filed to Restrict Illegal Sharp Park Golf Course Activities, Protect Endangered Species
SAN FRANCISCO— Six San Francisco conservation groups are seeking a preliminary injunction in federal court against the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department to stop illegal pumping of water from wetlands and prohibit harmful mowing and motorized golf-cart use on ten golf course holes near wetlands at the Sharp Park golf course in Pacifica. The injunction will help protect endangered San Francisco garter snakes and California red-legged frogs from these harmful activities.
“No more business as usual at Sharp Park — illegal pumping and mowing of wetlands stops now,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The best scientific experts on endangered species are calling for a moratorium on harmful golf course activities in and near wetlands habitat, and we hope the court agrees.”
The Wild Equity Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, National Parks Conservation Association, Surfrider Foundation, Sequoia Audubon and Sierra Club filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on Friday on golf-course activities that are hurting endangered species. The injunction would last until a pending lawsuit is heard or the Recreation and Parks Department adopts an approved “habitat conservation plan” and obtains legal permits under the Endangered Species Act. The plaintiffs are represented by the environmental law firm Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal.
“These science-based restrictions will protect our most imperiled wildlife from harm while allowing golf on many of the course areas,” said Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute. “Their duration will provide us all an opportunity to evaluate proper permitting options and restoration activities at Sharp Park.”
A restoration vision for Sharp Park.
Leading scientific experts on the red-legged frog and gartersnake, with collective experience of more than seven decades of research and study of California amphibians and reptiles, submitted declarations in support of the requested injunction. These experts contend that golf course activities impair the long-term survival and recovery of the species and that the Parks Department’s alleged compliance plan is not being followed and is unworkable. See quotes below from these experts explaining why the injunction is justified.
Crumbling infrastructure, annual flooding problems, declining conditions and ongoing Endangered Species Act violations at the golf course require changing how Sharp Park is managed, but such changes are not financially feasible for San Francisco’s strained budget. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote next month on legislation introduced by Supervisor John Avalos to repurpose the golf course and transition management of Sharp Park to the National Park Service’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area to improve recreation and public access, protect endangered wildlife and save San Francisco taxpayers money. The proposed partnership will end the city’s legal and financial liabilities and put the National Park Service in charge of protecting endangered species and providing public recreation, allowing San Francisco to reinvest its scarce resources back into city-based parks, recreation centers and golf courses.
For more information and background, visit wildequity.org.
Quotes From Scientific Experts:
- Dr. Vance Vredenburg is an assistant professor in biology at San Francisco State University, research associate at the California Academy of Sciences and U.C. Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, and an expert on California amphibians and the red-legged frog.
“Sharp Park must have successful recovery actions implemented, or it will one day lose its red-legged frog population, and potentially jeopardize populations at nearby properties as well.”
“The city is not, and cannot, actually implement the Compliance Plan…making it virtually certain that California red-legged frogs will be taken unless the relief requested by the plaintiffs here is granted…San Francisco must be ordered to cease all pumping at Sharp Park.”
- Dr. Marc Hayes is a biologist with four decades of experience studying reptiles and amphibians in California. He wrote the Department of Fish and Game’s “Amphibians and Reptiles of Special Concern in California” and submitted the petition that led to listing the red-legged frog as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
“Unless golf-course operations that cause ongoing take of these species are halted, both populations at Sharp Park may be lost, and the San Francisco garter snake’s entire species will be in jeopardy.”
“The Recreation and Parks Department should be prohibited from operating the pumps at Sharp Park until a decision is rendered in this matter…the court should grant plaintiffs’ request to prohibit all mowing and golf-cart use within roughly 200 meters of the delineated wetland.”
- Wendy Dexter is the principal biologist at Condor Country Consulting, with 20 years of experience in herpetology, particularly regarding the San Francisco garter snake and red-legged frog, and specializes in endangered species compliance and permits.
“The San Francisco garter snake’s habitat at Sharp Park has not been secured, and the subspecies has been taken, and will continue to be taken in the foreseeable future, by the continued operations and management of Sharp Park Golf Course…I am certain that undocumented deaths of snakes occur annually if not more frequently.”
“Unless the golf-course operations that cause take of the San Francisco garter snake are halted in areas where the snake is likely to be found, the Sharp Park/Mori Point population will continue to decline, increasing the potential for the population to become extirpated.”