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Environmental Group Sues San Francisco Over Golf Course in Wetlands

PHOTO: The California red-legged frog is at the center of a controversy at Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica, which now is the subject of a lawsuit. Photo courtesy of Wild Equity Institute.
PHOTO: The California red-legged frog is at the center of a controversy at Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica, which now is the subject of a lawsuit. Photo courtesy of Wild Equity Institute.
June 24, 2015

PACIFICA, Calif. – An environmental group is suing the California Coastal Commission and the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department to protect frogs and snakes on the city-owned Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica.

The course was built on the Laguna Salada wetlands 83 years ago, and it floods every winter - so the city wants to pour a concrete pad for the pump that drains rainwater to the sea.

Brent Plater, who heads the nonprofit Wild Equity Institute that filed the suit, said the drainage process harms the California red-legged frog.

"The waters recede, the egg masses for a frog called the California red-legged frog," he said. "It's the California state frog, a threatened species under federal law. Exposed to the air, and you can lose an entire generation of frog."

The city already has begun renovations and has proposed the creation of a new lagoon area to help protect the frogs.

Plater said lawnmowers on the property also kill the San Francisco garter snake, which is believed to be on the brink of extinction. His group wants the city to scrap the golf course altogether.

"What we propose instead," he said, "is that the city partner with the National Park Service and create a new kind of public park out there that everybody can enjoy, including the endangered species on the property."

The lawsuit, which is online at wildequity.org, was filed last week in San Mateo Superior Court.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA