October 25, 2014

Judge awards fees to Sharp Park plaintiffs

Desiccated California red-legged-frog egg mass, Horse Stable Pond, Sharp Park Golf Course.

Desiccated California red-legged-frog egg mass, Horse Stable Pond, Sharp Park Golf Course.

A lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club and five other conservation organizations has had an important success.

We brought suit against the city of San Francisco for illegally “taking” endangered species at the Sharp Park Golf Course without authorization from the Fish and Wildlife Service (see April-May 2012, page 4). Under the federal Endangered Species Act, “take” means to kill, harass, harm, pursue, capture, collect, or attempt any such action.

On Dec. 6 U.S. District Judge Susan Illston dismissed our suit–because at long last the city had complied with its obligation to apply for a permit for the harm it was doing to the California red-legged frog and the San Francisco garter snake (see February-March Yodeler, page 7).

Then, on July 1 Illston awarded $385,809 in attorneys’ fees and costs to the six plaintiff organizations because of our successful action in behalf of the public interest in forcing the city to initiate the formal Section 7 consultation process with the Fish and Wildlife Service to obtain the required permit.

We are still not satisfied with the effectiveness of the permit, and we will continue with further steps to protect the park’s endangered species.

Lindsey Zehel, legal intern, Sierra Club Bay Chapter

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