Friday, 28 December 2012

Judge says golf can stay at Sharp Park (Territory of California red-legged frogs and San Francisco garter snakes) – via Herp Digest

SFGATE, Jill Tucker December 7, 2012
Snakes, frogs and fairways can coexist at Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica, a federal judge ruled this week.

The decision settles a 4-year-old feud between environmentalists looking out for endangered California red-legged frogs and San Francisco garter snakes and golfers hoping to preserve the historic 18 holes with ocean views.

Known as the poor man's Pebble Beach, the 80-year-old Sharp Park is owned by San Francisco, and the course is operated by the city's Recreation and Park Department.
It is also home to those frogs and snakes.

Environmental organizations including the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Wild Equity Institute sued the city in March 2011, alleging course maintenance and golf carts were putting the animals in harm's way.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston dismissed the case Thursday following a ruling by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that determined that golf wouldn't jeopardize the endangered animals.

Plaintiffs' attorneys were not immediately available for comment.

The city will be subject to mandatory restrictions on pesticides, golf cart use, water pumping and other practices to limit the impact on the frogs and snakes.

The city plans to reconfigure the park, including moving some holes, improving drainage and linking two ponds that serve as red-legged frog habitat.

"This is a commonsense result," said Chris Carr of the Morrison & Foerster law office, which represented the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, in a statement. "And it should lead to a period of cooperation in which San Francisco and San Mateo County can work together to restore habitat for the species, while preserving historic and popular public recreation."

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