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Legislation to Save “Mark Twain’s Jumping Frog” in Sharp Park

September 12, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO - Help is on the way for the California red-legged frog, made famous in Mark Twain's short story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." A San Francisco supervisor is introducing legislation to restore Sharp Park, which is home to the federally protected red-legged frog as well as the San Francisco garter snake. The ordinance would transfer management of the park and a golf course, located in Pacifica, southwest of San Francisco, from the city to the National Park Service.

Brent Plater, president of the Wild Equity Institute, says the park is plagued by crumbling infrastructure and ongoing flooding problems, and the golf course is not profitable and is in violation of the Endangered Species Act. He sees the ordinance as a great opportunity.

"We can rethink how we use our scarce open space to provide recreational benefits that are actually being demanded by modern residents, save a little money for San Francisco through this partnership with the National Park Service, and recover endangered species - all at the same time."

Plater says during the rainy season, the golf course uses pumps to move water out to sea, but that's bad for red-legged frog breeding.

"The frog lays its egg masses at the high mark of the water level. When they drain that water down, it exposes those egg masses to the air, and you can lose an entire generation of frogs."

Plater says the San Francisco garter snake is also at risk.

"The San Francisco garter snake is the most beautiful and most imperiled serpent in North America, and probably the vertebrate species we will lose next on the San Francisco peninsula unless something is done to save it."

Golfers want the course to stay open because the green fees are affordable. Supervisor John Avalos' ordinance proposal addresses that concern by allowing Pacifica residents to pay San Francisco resident rates at San Francisco's five other golf courses.

More information about the project is available at http://WildEquity.org.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA