The time is right to restore a unique coastal lagoon habitat at Sharp Park in Pacifica, California. This public land is home to arguably the most beautiful and endangered serpent in North America, the San Francisco garter snake, as well as its preferred prey, the California red-legged frog.
Sharp Park, just south of San Francisco, is one of great restoration opportunities on California's central coast. At adjacent Mori Point, within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the National Park Service and hundreds of volunteers have helped to restore the ecosystem and native species.
But Sharp Park is currently an underused and budget-breaking golf course with chronic flooding problems. In violation of the federal Endangered Species Act, the city and county of San Francisco have been illegally killing and harming red-legged frogs and San Francisco garter snakes at the site, and now, San Francisco's Recreation and Parks Department is considering a flawed plan that calls for privatizing the unprofitable golf course and reconstructing flooded portions of the course at the expense of endangered species habitat.
The Center is working to transform Sharp Park into a model for endangered species recovery, natural flood control, outdoor recreation and sustainable land use. Along with more than a dozen Bay Area conservation and recreation groups, we're calling on San Francisco to cease harming endangered species, restore Sharp Park to its natural state as a coastal wetland and provide more diverse recreational opportunities for the public at the site. A peer-reviewed scientific study by coastal restoration experts, released in January 2011, concluded that removing the golf course and restoring the natural lagoon and beach processes at the Laguna Salada wetlands will provide the most public benefit and best protect endangered species, at much less expense than the Parks Department's plan or maintaining the status quo.
Because the San Francisco Parks Department continues to harm and outright kill federally protected species at Sharp Park, the Center and allies filed suit in 2011. That spring, San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos called for legislation to close the golf course, manage the site as open space and partner with the National Park Service to restore endangered species habitat there. With species-killing activities still occurring at the park in the fall, the Center and allies filed a court motion to restrict the illegal pumping of water from wetlands and prohibit harmful mowing and motorized golf-cart use on nine golf course holes near wetlands. In 2012 we also asked for a court order to hold the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department accountable for illegal activities at Sharp Park Golf Course, just weeks after the Department was caught killing threatened California red-legged frogs there for a second year in a row. After the Fish and Wildlife Service itself showed that pumping water from wetlands, habitat alteration, mowing, gopher control, and other activities at the Sharp Park golf course had been hurting and killing California red-legged frogs and San Francisco garter snakes, the Center and allies filed a legal appeal to secure essential protections for the species.