Some of you may have read an article in the Dec. 7 San Francisco Chronicle announcing dismissal of the lawsuit by the Sierra Club and five other conservation organizations against the City and County of San Francisco over the city’s management of the Sharp Park Golf Course (see June-July Yodeler, page 6). This article seems to have been based on a misleading press release by a golf-industry front group. It leaves out the key fact: the suit was dismissed because the city finally has taken steps to obtain a permit for harming imperiled species at Sharp Park, a permit which includes significant mitigation for the California red-legged frog and the San Francisco garter snake.
After our lawsuit was filed, claiming that the golf course was killing endangered and threatened species without a permit, the city finally applied for the very permit we claimed it needed.
In October the city was told to follow a set of management procedures for the golf course and, while it is not ideal, it contains significant improvements for both species, with over 50 pages of terms and conditions including requiring the course to have biological monitors to search for animals prior to mowing, and building a new breeding and feeding pond for endangered species. The city will soon be in a federal regulatory framework to further protect these species. Prior to our lawsuit, the city was acting rogue and killing the species without authorization, including draining wetlands which destroyed frog breeding habitat.
In the meantime, we will seek recovery from San Francisco of our legal fees and costs. As a result of this lawsuit, other concerns regarding the protection of the species, the Sharp Park beach, and wetlands have been identified, and we will consider actions to defend the conservation values at Sharp Park.
Also, we will continue to pursue the most sustainable coastal planning outcome for Sharp Park: its inclusion in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area as a new unit of this national park.