The Sharp Park Wetlands are home to the endangered California Red-Legged Frog and San Francisco garter snake, as well as numerous bird species. Unfortunately, in 1931 the City of San Francisco built a golf course on top of the wetlands. The 146 acre golf course has been killing endangered frogs and costing the City's taxpayers money ever since. SAVE THE FROGS! along with Wild Equity Institute and the Center for Biological Diversity are calling on the City of San Francisco to turn over Sharp Park to its neighbor, the National Park Service.
With your support we will bring worldwide attention to the plight of Sharp Park's endangered frogs and ensure the City of San Francisco closes the money-losing, frog-killing Sharp Park Golf Course and turns the land over to its next-door neightbor the National Park Service. As the newest addition to America's national park system, the Sharp Park Wetlands would become a haven for wildlife; a hiking destination open to the many, rather than the few; would save the City of San Francisco hundreds of thousands of dollars annually; and would boost the local economy through increased ecotourism.
Left-click the images to download the 17 x 23" PDF for each.
On August 19, 2015, the City of San Francisco was caught in the act og dredging the Sharp Park Wetlands. Here is a letter we received from an observer:
"Hi Kerry, At the Sharp Park golf course they have started dredging the connecting channel between Laguna Salada and Horse Stable Pond. We are concerned about the biological monitoring methods as described in my email below. It's hard to imagine that frogs in the mud could be seen or removed from the dredge bucket."
August 19th, 2015:
They are moving very quickly. Today they were dredging the connecting channel and raking the remains of the tule and cattail that had been cut down last week. One of the kids was using a machete on anything still standing.
DSC_0549 taken from the Mori board walk looking north
DSC_0554 HSP from berm looking north, note upper left vegetation has been smashed down and was being raked up and removed
DSC_0559 connecting channel dredging spoils dropping into dump truck
DSC_0566 " "
DSC_0629 dump truck draining water before driving spoils away
DSC_0630 water visible in dredged channel behind plastic exclusion barrier
In March 2014, SAVE THE FROGS! biologists Dr. Kerry Kriger, Michael Starkey and Emily Moskal spoke at San Francisco's City Hall to urge the City to conduct an environmental impact report related to its draining of the Sharp Park Wetlands. The Board of Supervisors voted against conducting the report, so on April 22, 2014 (Earth Day) the Wild Equity Institute, Sequoia Audubon Society, and SAVE THE FROGS! sued Mayor Edwin Lee and the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department in San Francisco Superior Court. The City's planned activities will destroy and drain Sharp Park’s Laguna Salada wetland complex, home to endangered California Red-Legged Frogs and San Francisco Garter Snakes. SAVE THE FROGS! will not allow that to happen and we hope you will support our efforts to protect the wetlands and creatures that call it home. Read the press release here and download the lawsuit petition here.
The City of San Francisco's "Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan" condones and allows the draining of the Sharp Park Wetlands for non-essential purposes, specifically to create dry land for a money-losing, publicly funded golf course, at the expense of federally protected amphibians. Thus SAVE THE FROGS! Founder. Dr. Kerry Kriger sent this letter to the SF Board of Supervisors on June 15th, 2014.
It is our pleasure to announce some fantastic news: U.S. District Judge Susan Illston found on July 1st, 2013 that six conservation organizations “prevailed” in a lawsuit against the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department’s (SFRPD) Sharp Park Golf Course, and ordered the golf course to pay $386,000 for illegally killing endangered species. “Sharp Park Golf Course illegally kills endangered species, and San Francisco taxpayers continue to foot the bill for this environmental crime,” said Brent Plater, executive director of the Wild Equity Institute. The funds will offset legal costs and assist in future environmental efforts. The killing however has not stopped, so the campaign continues!
On December 13th, 2011 the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco voted 6-5 in favor of legislation to save the Sharp Park Wetlands and the endangered California Red-Legged Frogs that live there. However, on December 19th, the Mayor of San Francisco Ed Lee vetoed the legislation after receiving over 4,000 letters from SAVE THE FROGS! supporters and refusing to meet with any member of SAVE THE FROGS!, the Wild Equity Institute, the Sierra Club or the National Parks Conservancy Association. You can read our press release announcing Mayor Lee's frog-killing veto.
On both December 6th and 13th, 2011, and for a third time on January 10th, 2012, the City of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted 6-5 in favor of proposed legislation to shut down the golf course and save the wetlands.
However, on December 19th, the Mayor of San Francisco Ed Lee vetoed the legislation after receiving over 4,000 letters from SAVE THE FROGS! supporters and refusing to meet with any member of SAVE THE FROGS!, the Wild Equity Institute, the Sierra Club or the National Parks Conservancy Association.
This proposed legislation was prompted by the request of 1,359 SAVE THE FROGS! supporters who sent letters to the City of San Francisco asking them to save the wetlands, and 100 people who attended our Save The Frogs Day Rally at the steps of City Hall. Thanks to evrybody who voiced their support in person, or by emailing or calling San Francisco's politicians. The battle continues!
Please CALL Mayor Ed Lee's office at (415) 554-6141 right now and say:
"I am calling to ask Mayor Lee please RESCIND THE SHARP PARK VETO. By vetoing the legislation without ever meeting with environmental groups the Mayor has labeled himself as ANTI-ENVIRONMENT, he has damaged San Francisco's reputation as a progressive leader and he has extended the death sentence that endangered frogs face every time the City uses taxpayer money to pump the Sharp Park Wetlands out to sea. The Mayor blew a brilliant opportunity and should redeem himself by rescinding the veto immediately. Thanks."
Calling is best, but if you cannot call, please email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to assist in any way on the Sharp Park campaign, please fill out the volunteer form. Thanks!
The following San Francisco Board members voted to save the wetlands: John Avalos, David Campos, David Chiu, Jane Kim, Eric Mar, Christina Olague. Please thank them...this will make them more likely to help as this campaign continues.
The following San Francisco Board members voted AGAINST saving the wetlands: Sean Elsbernd, Carmen Chu, Mark Farrell, Malia Cohen, and Scott Wiener. Please let them know that the environment is important and you disagree with their failure to protect the Sharp Park Wetlands and hope they will act on behalf of endangered frogs in the future. Please suggest they look at the www.savethefrogs.com/sharp-park webpage.
We seek a Facebook user to post the following message on the walls of various environmental nonprofits:
On December 19th, 2012, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee gave endangered California Red-Legged Frogs the death sentence when he vetoed legislation intended to protect the Sharp Park Wetlands. Please sign this petition asking the Mayor to rescind his veto! http://www.change.org/petitions/save-the-california-red-legged-frogs
Contact us and we'll give you precise instructions that will maximize your success.
As you can imagine, it is very difficult to play golf when you are knee deep in water. As such, the City pumps the wetlands into the ocean to allow for dry land on which to golf. This kills the frogs by two methods:
(1) Exposing the egg masses.
The Red-Legged frogs lay their egg masses in the water, attached to emergent vegetation. As the water levels in the wetlands lower, the egg masses are left stranded on dry land, where they are exposed to air and predators. The egg masses dessicate and the embryos die.
Below: Pumping the Sharp Park Wetlands into the sea after a heavy rain in February 2011. Photo courtesy Wild Equity Institute.
Below: California Red-legged Frog Egg Mass, Southern Edge of Horse Stable Pond, Sharp Park, February 23, 2011, 10:54am. Photo courtesy Wild Equity Institute.
In 2011, the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department was forced to re-locate at least 107 California red-legged frog egg masses from areas where the egg masses were laid, due to the wetlands being pumped to sea. This almost certainly decreased the frogs' survival rate as they were taken to suboptimal sites and placed in artificially crowded conditions. It is unknown how many egg masses died directly of dessication before being rescued.
(2) Flushing tadpoles out to sea.
After a rain, the pump runs 24 hours per day. The pump is located in a Red-Legged Frog breeding pond and creates a strong sucking force that almost certainly flushes tadpoles out to sea. We found smashed up crayfish inside the outgoing section of the pump; the crayfish are much stronger swimmers than the tadpoles, so if the crayfish can't survive the current, neither can the tadpoles.
Below: We found several dead crayfish in the outgoing end of the pump (as well as a couple in the sand below).
Below: This is the golf course covered in water after heavy rains in December 2010. The course shut down until the pumps could lower the water -- drying out precious wetland habitat that is home to birds, snakes and frogs.
It takes a lot of lawn mowing to get that perfect low-cut golf course style grass. Unfortunately, lawn mowers and small vertebrates that live in grass don't mix too well. Throw in motorized golf carts and casualties are inevitable. Dr. Wade Fox found a dead San Francisco Garter Snake at the course in 1946, and in his field journal noted that the snake was “probably killed by golfers—they probably die frequently in this manner”. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that a mangled San Francisco Garter Snake found dead on the course in 2005 was killed by a lawn mower. Red-Legged Frogs are likely to suffer similar fates, but there have been few surveys for dead frogs on the course.
Fertilizers may not kill amphibians directly, but they can change the water quality and create conditions that promote limb deformities (the increased nutrient load increases the population size of trematode parasites that burrows into tadpoles' developing hind limbs and cause sub-lethal effects such as extra legs). It is hard to envision a safe management strategy for endangered frogs in such a polluted environment.
Pacific Chorus Frog, Aptos, CA. Photo courtesy Brandon Ballengee
Thanks to the Wild Equity Institute for preparing these videos!
--Please read this press release here announcing Mayor Lee's frog-killing veto. December 20th, 2011.
--An Open Letter to the San Francisco Chronicle, by SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger
--Conceptual Ecosystem Restoration Plan And Feasibility Assessment: Laguna Salada, Pacifica, California (2011, Dawn Reis Ecological Studies)
-- Sharp Park Slideshow (2011, Dawn Reis Ecological Studies)
--The Wild Equity Institute's Sharp Park webpage
--Both frogs and golfers lay claim to the 14th Hole. San Francisco Chronicle, March 24th, 2011
-- Golf Courses around the Bay Area are losing money and being used less says this San Mateo County Golf Report dated Jan 4, 2012
Great news: Golfers For Frogs and GASP (Golfers Against Sharp Park) have joined forces to oppose San Francisco's illegal killing of frogs at its Sharp Park Golf Course.
On May 19th, 2012 our supporters drummed for the frogs at Sharp Park in a celebration of amphibious life and a peaceful protest intended to raise awareness of the City of San Francisco's illegal killing of federally endangered California Red-Legged Frogs. Learn more here!
Over 100 enthusiastic supporters joined the SAVE THE FROGS!, Wild Equity Institute, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, H.O.M.E.Y., and Action for Animals at in front of San Francisco’s City Hall for the "Endangered Communities, Endangered Species" Save The Frogs Day Rally on April 29th, 2011! San Francisco District 11 Board of Supervisor Member John Avalos spoke on behalf of the frogs, and has since introduced legislation (to be voted on in October 2011) to shut down the golf course. Watch this video from the event!
SF Board of Supervisor Member John Avalos:
The following photos are by Lee Haynes:
The following photos by Patrick Schlemmer:
The following photos by Paul Rattay:
The following photos by Tony Iwane:
"Hi Kerry, I am a huge frog fan and am hoping to be in attendance at the upcoming Save The Frogs Day Rally in SF on 4/29. I am a close neighbor to the controversial Sharp Park Golf Course and am fortunate enough to be able to hear the frogs during my evening walks by the beach. It is my hope that their habitat will not be destroyed by the golf course. Thank you so very much for your invaluable support to a well loved and underappreciated species!"
-- Kelly Haynes, Pacifica, CA
One of North America's most beautiful and imperiled snakes, the San Francisco Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia) is listed as Threatened under both the Federal and California Endangered Species Acts. Dependent on wetlands as habitat and healthy frog populations as a food source, San Francisco's namesake snake is on the verge of extinction. Sharp Park has been identified by the California Department of Fish & Game as one of the seven most important habitats for the snake.
Dawn Reis is the Senior Wildlife & Aquatic Ecologist with Ecological Studies and is the author of Conceptual Ecosystem Restoration Plan And Feasibility Assessment: Laguna Salada, Pacifica, California (2011, Dawn Reis Ecological Studies)
(1) Healthy frog populations (CRLF and treefrogs) are the main FOOD source for San Francisco Garter Snakes (SFGS). The SFGS cannot recover without CRLF and treefrogs.
(2) There is an incredible future opportunity to really do something meaningful for the San Francisco Garter Snake, which is to PRIORITIZE the need to connect the population on the west side of Sharp Park with other populations east of HWY 1. Look for Cal Trans of Federal HWY funding to make a land bridge over the HWY or under the HWY that is suitable for Frogs and Snakes.
(3) Expand the lagoon and make additional ponds on the fringe of it on the east side of the lagoon so that not all CRLF eggs and tadpoles are in "one basket"!
(4) Expanding the lagoon by removing the seawall along the beach front and instead putting the levees behind the lagoon is compatible and likely more sustaining with flood control to residential areas as well as with endangered species. The current sea wall placement is located in the area with the highest energy to withstand from wave action - move it back behind the lagoon and out of the way. This is a win win for frogs, snakes and people.
(5) Arguments or discussions regarding whether frogs or snakes used to be present at Sharp Park historically or not is irrelevant to the ESA law: they are there now and it is illegal to disturb the habitat or the animals and all actions to do so require permits. The decisions to allow a certain amount of "take" of either CRLF or SFGS (even with habitat improvements) is not up to the City nor the Parks; this decision comes from the USFW under federal ESA law for both frogs and snakes and from CDFG under state ESA for the snake. Sharp Park needs to work closely with these two agencies regarding species recovery needs, approval and permit needs. With a good plan approved by these two agencies, some "take" could be allowed, but only if the plan shows that there is a net gain to the recovery and long term viability of these species.