Groups Applaud Legislation to Restore Sharp Park and Partner with National Park Service

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   September 8, 2011
Contact:   Neal Desai, National Parks Conservation Association, (510) 368-0845
Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Meredith Thomas, Neighborhood Parks Council, (415) 621-3260
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 669-7357


Groups Applaud Legislation to Restore Sharp Park and Partner with National Park Service

Proposal Would Improve Recreation, Save Money, Protect Endangered Species

SAN FRANCISCO— San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos today introduced legislation to transition management of city-owned 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.

Plagued by crumbling infrastructure and annual flooding problems, 400-acre Sharp Park in Pacifica is home to two federally protected species, the California red-legged frog and San Francisco garter snake. Declining conditions and ongoing Endangered Species Act violations at the golf course require changing how the site is managed, but such changes are not financially feasible for San Francisco’s strained budget. The proposed partnership will end the City’s legal and financial liabilities and put the Park Service in charge of protecting endangered species and providing public recreation, allowing the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department to reinvest its scarce resources back into San Francisco-based parks, recreation centers and golf courses.

“City recreation and park resources are already hugely strained and the impacts are being felt in our neighborhood parks,” said Meredith Thomas, executive director of the Neighborhood Parks Council. “Partnership with the National Park Service at Sharp Park will address critical infrastructure and environmental issues without drawing against funds that support parks in San Francisco County.”

“Restoring Sharp Park will save San Francisco money, provide more diverse recreation opportunities everyone can enjoy and showcase a cost-effective and sustainable model for coastal communities adapting to sea-level rise and climate change,” said Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute.

“Partnership with the National Park Service is our best opportunity to commit to our kids and grandkids that the endangered wildlife at Sharp Park will recover,” said Neal Desai, Pacific Region associate director of the National Parks Conservation Association.

The legislation calls for the Recreation and Park Department to work with the National Park Service to initiate reasonable steps to address the budgetary, recreational and environmental challenges at the controversial golf course and transition long-term management to the Park Service for restoring the site to coastal habitat with a trail network and other public-serving amenities. A 2004 survey by the Park Department found that trails are the primary recreation priority for San Francisco residents.

A transition plan would allow for continuation of golf during the planning phase under certain conditions that safeguard the endangered species at Sharp Park. The legislation improves access to affordable golf by allowing Pacifica residents to pay San Francisco resident rates at San Francisco’s five other golf courses. Currently, Pacifica residents are only granted San Francisco resident rates at Sharp Park golf course. The legislation also retains jobs held at Sharp Park golf course by redeploying them from Pacifica to San Francisco, to help improve neighborhood recreation and park facilities within San Francisco. Lincoln golf course, a potential beneficiary of these new staff resources, was identified in a 2007 National Golf Foundation study as needing increased maintenance staff to improve course conditions to attract more players and revenue.

Sharp Park is within the legislative boundary of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and adjacent to the Park Service’s Mori Point, where a successful, multimillion dollar wildlife habitat and trail-restoration project accommodates neighbors, school groups and families in a community-based model of park creation. In February 2011 coastal restoration experts released a peer-reviewed scientific study and restoration proposal for Sharp Park, showing that restoring the natural lagoon, wetlands and beach processes at Sharp Park is the least costly and only sustainable solution for the land. Such restoration will provide the most public benefit and best protect endangered species, at much less expense than the Park Department’s plan to dredge the wetlands and physically alter the configuration of golf holes.

Unfortunately the Park Department has continued to operate the golf course in ways that put endangered species at risk, such as pumping water from wetlands without permits to do so. Six conservation groups filed a lawsuit against the Park Department in March 2011 to stop golf course activities that kill and harm San Francisco garter snakes and California red-legged frogs.

For more information visit the Wild Equity Institute Web page. Please contact Neal Desai at ndesai@npca.org for photos of the endangered species, golf course flooding, and a video link of golf course water pumping.

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