Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Golf Course Caught Killing Endangered Frogs and Tampering With Evidence—Again

Center for Biological Diversity

Conservation groups asked for a court order on March 2 that will 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. The recent killings were extensively documented by San Francisco State University biology students over several weeks of observation during this year’s short, exceptionally dry winter frog-breeding season.

“Interfering with an endangered species’ breeding activities is not only illegal, it is unethical,” said Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute. “We intend to see that this conduct is fully prosecuted, and have asked wildlife agencies to ensure the entities responsible never play god with endangered wildlife again.”

To make matters worse, the golf course’s employees or contractors appear to have tampered with evidence of Endangered Species Act violations by moving stranded frog eggs to another pond, even though federal wildlife officials had expressly warned them not to do so. Photos documenting the illegal water pumping, stranding and moving of frog egg masses can be seen here.

This is the sixth winter over the past decade the department has killed protected frogs by draining Sharp Park’s wetlands in a failed attempt to prevent frogs from breeding in their historic ponds. When this strategy fails, the Department relocates stranded eggs, putting them in jeopardy, so the frog’s breeding cycle will not inconvenience course management. The March 2 court filing asks for an immediate order holding all responsible parties liable for this illegal activity.

“The golf course’s so-called “compliance plan” for endangered species has failed yet again—and more imperiled frogs are dead because of it,” said Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s clear the department has no intention of complying with the law or permits unless it’s punished. Friday’s motion should ensure this happens.”

“These actions of the San Francisco Parks Department at Sharp Park are really outrageous,” said Arthur Feinstein, chair of the Sierra Club. “The Park Department is already being sued for violations of the Endangered Species Act and were told by the Fish and Wildlife Service that they may not move frog eggs, yet that’s just what they’ve done. We expect more respect for environmental laws from our city agencies.”

Background

After conservation groups provided evidence of the department’s unlawful activity, the Fish and Wildlife Service last year notified the golf course that it was specifically prohibited from handling or moving frog egg masses at Sharp Park. The service also denied the department’s request to drain wetlands and dredge lagoons at Sharp Park, which the department euphemistically referred to as “habitat management and scientific studies.” Water pumping, dredging and other activities harmful to frogs can only occur if the department obtains an Endangered Species Act “incidental take” permit, which it has failed to obtain to date.

While the service did authorize the department to conduct surveys for frogs and egg masses, the biological consultant the city hired to conduct these surveys was working with an expired permit. Even when valid, the permit expressly prohibited “harassing” or moving frog eggs.

The city-owned golf course at 400-acre Sharp Park in Pacifica is plagued by crumbling infrastructure, annual flooding problems and ongoing environmental violations. More than three dozen San Francisco community, recreation, environmental and social-justice groups have called for closing the golf course and creating a more sustainable public park at Sharp Park. A 2011 peer-reviewed scientific study by independent scientists and coastal experts concluded that the most cost-effective option for Sharp Park is to remove the golf course and restore the functions of the original natural ecosystem, which will also provide the most benefit to endangered species.

The Park Department has refused to consider this option, and is instead pursuing a plan that would evict endangered species from the site, bail out the golf course’s financial problems with tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, and continue San Francisco’s liability for fines for Endangered Species Act violations. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed legislation in December 2011 to prevent this from happening, but Mayor Ed Lee, an avid golfer, vetoed the legislation. Further action by the board of supervisors is expected this year.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A pangolin at a rescue center in Cambodia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Malavika Vyawahare

China has banned the trade and consumption of wild animals in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that has claimed more than 2,700 lives and infected more than 81,000 people, most of them in China, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Read More
A man carries plastic shopping bags in Times Square on May 5, 2018 in New York City. Kena Betancur / VIEWpress / Corbis / Getty Images

Nearly one year after New York became the second state in the nation to pass a ban on grocery store plastic bags — the law is going into effect on Sunday.

Read More
Sponsored
White gold man-made diamond solitaire engagement ring. Clean Origin

While keeping track of the new trends in the diamond industry can be hard, it is still an essential task of any savvy consumer or industry observer. Whether you are looking to catch a deal on your next diamond purchase or researching the pros and cons of an investment within the diamond industry, keeping up with the trends is imperative.

Read More
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) (C) chants with housing and environmental advocates before a news conference to introduce legislation to transform public housing as part of her Green New Deal outside the U.S. Capitol Nov. 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) took to the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday to chide Republicans for not reading the Green New Deal, which she introduced over one year ago, as The Hill reported. She then read the entire 14-page document into the congressional record.

Read More
Anti Ivan Duque's demonstrator is seen holding a placard with the photos of social leader Alirio Sánchez Sánchez and the indigenous Hector Janer Latín, both killed in Cauca, Colombia during a protest against Ivan Duque visit in London which included a meeting about fracking, environmental issues, the peace process implementation, and questioning the risk that social leaders in Colombia face. Andres Pantoja / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

Colombia was the most dangerous nation in 2019 to be an environmental activist and experts suspect that conditions will only get worse.

Read More