For Immediate Release, November 18, 2011
||Brent Plater, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 572-6989
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 669-7357
Judge Considers Injunction to Halt Endangered Species Violations at Sharp Park Golf Course
SAN FRANCISCO— U.S. Federal District Court Judge Susan Illston heard oral argument today on a request for an injunction against golf course operations that hurt endangered species at Sharp Park in Pacifica. The Wild Equity Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, National Parks Conservation Association, Surfrider Foundation, Sequoia Audubon Society and the Sierra Club — organizations that sued the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department in March for ongoing violations of the Endangered Species Act at Sharp Park — are encouraged by the court’s thorough review of the matter.
The judge’s questions and comments during today’s hearing gave the impression that the court will likely find that Parks Department activities at Sharp Park Golf Course are harming endangered species without required permits to do so. The judge is expected to issue an order memorializing her findings in writing soon.
“The city must halt the illegal activity that harms endangered wildlife at Sharp Park Golf Course,” said Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute and legal counsel on the lawsuit. “We believe Judge Illston will uphold the law and establish sensible, science-based interim protections to protect endangered wildlife being harmed by pumping and mowing of wetlands.”
Conservation groups filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on golf course activities harming endangered species, to last until trial is complete or the Parks Department adopts an approved “habitat conservation plan” and obtains legal permits under the Endangered Species Act. Leading scientific experts on endangered species submitted declarations supporting a moratorium on harmful golf course activities.
Sharp Park Golf Course faces crumbling infrastructure, annual flooding problems and ongoing environmental violations. Dozens of San Francisco community, recreation, environmental and social-justice groups are calling for a more sustainable public park at Sharp Park. Supervisor John Avalos introduced legislation last month that would create a long-term solution for Sharp Park by transitioning management to the National Park Service’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which would not only protect endangered wildlife but also improve recreation and public access and save San Francisco taxpayers’ money.
“Coastal wetlands experts recommend letting nature guide the restoration of the natural lagoon system; by removing golf course holes placed on wetlands and allowing the beach and wetlands to migrate inland, the lagoon habitat will be able to adapt as sea level rises,” said Arthur Feinstein of the Sierra Club. “This approach also allows inexpensive levee protection to be placed closer to nearby homes rather than an expensive and futile battle to keep the ocean from eroding the berm on the beach.”
The environmental law firm of Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal represents the conservation groups.
For more information visit Wild Equity Institute.