When something smells like a rat - it's usually a rat! The misrepresentations, exaggerations, glossy brochure, website and media blitz by Brent Plater and RestoreSharpPark.org just seems too extreme to simply be Environmental Altruism. Whenever someone goes to this much concentrated effort - there is usually a great deal of money to be made. I have a sneaking suspicion that that is the case with RestoreSharpPark.org . and whomever they are shilling for.
The scam - and it is a scam - revolves around a concept called Mitigation Banking. Mitigation Banking is a mechanism where a land developer, polluter, etc. can offset the environmentally adverse impact that they cause to similar nearby ecosystems by tapping into a Mitigation Bank; which has restored, created enhanced or preserved wetland, stream or habitat conservation areas. It would appear that Sharp Park and its watershed fit that bill very nicely - there is only one problem - that pesky golf course. Kill the golf course and you can put this gloriously altruistic environmental rehabilitation plan into effect. The 400 Acre site could be sold as Swap Credits at $3 million per acre; yielding $1.2 Billion.(That’s a lot of green! Where does it go?)
But, the people that control the land and the parties that currently enjoy the land must be cajoled or bludgeoned into submission. Hence, the media blitz and hard sell on the bugaboos stirred up by RestoreSharpPark.org .
So what are the attack points?
1. Sharp Park is costing the cash strapped city of San Francisco millions to maintain with millions to come.--[SF Parks and Recreation Financial Statements indicate Sharp Park is REVENUE NEUTRAL - it breaks even which is what a municipal course is supposed to do!]
2. It's a hideous course that is an environmental disaster that only Pacifican's play and San Francisco foots the bill --[Sharp Park is an "Organic" course; for several years Sharp Park has not used Chemical Fertilizers, Herbicides or Pesticides on the course - and, 78% of the people that play the course live in San Francisco]
3. RestoreSharpPark.org is vehement in minimizing the Historical Significance of a Municipal Golf Course designed by one of the most prominent golf course architects at the turn of the last century - Alister MacKenzie and that John McLaren (architect of the beloved and beautiful Golden Gate Park)laid out the magnificent landscape design and planted the now century old Cypress trees that define Sharp Park Golf Course and the role Jack Flemming played in managing and architecting this Historical Course. They continually cite Joe Faulkner as being a local “published” golf historian that claims that there is no MacKenzie legacy at Sharp Park and the “Course would never be the same because 7 holes were “washed out to sea”; – Mr. Faulkner, is a greens keeper at a San Francisco golf course that wrote a Class Paper about San Francisco Golf Courses while a student at San Francisco State in 1979. In it he claims that, and I quote directly from his paper,“As it exists and as golfers play it today, Sharp Park has 12 holes – all lying west of Highway One – that are original holes designed by MacKenzie. Two other holes near the ocean (the current 12th and 16th holes) are played in original MacKenzie fairways, but do not have the original greens. The course today lacks five of its original holes (being original holes numbers 3,4,6,7, and 8) that were taken out of play when a seawall was built some time after MacKenzie’s death, and were replaced by four new holes east of Highway One, which were designed by MacKenzie’s design assistant – Jack Flemming”.–It would appear that the statements by RestoreSharpPark.org are flagrant misrepresentations and patently untrue. Mr. Faulkner has very publicly stated,“They have been misusing my name and misrepresenting my work and my opinion about the history and design of the golf course. And I want it to stop.” Mr. Plater continues to malign Mr. Faulkner’s reputation and work. Yet, Bo Links, bona fide, local golf historian’s assertions of the true historical significance and authenticity of the MacKenzie design that is played every day, are totally ignored!
4. The course maintenance crew are killing countless California Red-Legged Frogs and San Francisco Garter Snakes every day --[this is the Big Lie of this campaign - California Red-Legged Frogs though once prevalent throughout the state have been in decline since the Gold Rush - their demise has been accelerated by the use of pesticides as detailed in a research paper published by UC Davis in 2001.(Co-authored by Dr. Carlos Davidson –now a Plater ally) Also, in a 2007 UC Berkley published research paper by Jess Morgan discusses the nature of an amphibian fungus that is 100% lethal to infected frogs of which the California Red –legged Frog is an affected species. As for the San Francisco Garter Snake it preys on California Red Legged Frogs - so its decline to a large part is tied to that of the frogs. Additionally, when the Frogs were being hunted to the tune of 80,000 to 100,000 a day in the late nineteenth century - the well meaning ecologist of their day sought to temper the impact of their demise by introducing the American Bullfrog into California - which turn out to be a predator to the California Red-legged Frog which added to their depletion.– In May 2002, the US Fish and Wildlife Service published a detailed, 173 page course of action:“Recovery Plan for the California Red-legged Frog” where the state that they expect the California Red-legged Frog would be Federally Delisted as Threatened in 2025. In the report they also cite several hundred California Red-legged Frog natural habitats and populations on the Central Coast between Monterey and Santa Barbara. In 2005, the US Fish and Wildlife Service reduced the frog’s critical habitat throughout the state of California by 80% including a 75% decrease of these lands in San Mateo County that are no longer considered critical for the amphibian’s survival.]
5. The 1900 habitat that existed prior to the golf course construction must be restored and there will be a resurgence of the California Red-legged Frog and the California Garter Snake - the implication is that this is the last great hope for these two spieces.--[Nothing could be further from the truth. The frogs and their prey, the snakes; have been in accelerated decline all along the California coast over the last 25 years. Fact-in-point; in the mid-eighties Ano Nuevo State Park , which has a similar geography to Sharp Park; (it looks very similar 'today' to the proposed restoration that RestoreSharpPark.org is proposing replace the golf course)was teaming with California Red-Legged Frogs and San Francisco Garter Snakes. You could not avoid running across their presence at every step throughout the park. Today, you are hard pressed to come across a single sighting after diligent searching. If the pristine environment of Ano Nuevo cannot sustain a robust population of these snakes and frogs - then clearly there are other factors at work. How can the restoration of Sharp Park save the species, especially when scientific surveys peg the San Francisco Garter Snake at Mori Point (another preserved area next to the golf course) at 12 snakes? If you examine the lifecycle, habitat and breeding environments that these creatures prefer - fresh water, creeks and ponds, covering vegetation and bulrushes - it would seem that Sharp Park Golf Course, and more importantly the lands south of the course, at Mori Point, already offers them all the elements they need and yet no-one has seem a snake on the course in over 20 years. RestoreSharpPark.org has no scientific basis of claim that once restored – the lands will yield any more snakes and/or frogs than are present today!]
It would seem to me that someone is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of many unsuspecting and unwitting people for financial gain. By employing what can only be construed as despicable chicanery RestoreSharpPark.org is attempting to manipulate the facts and circumstances so that they and those backing this scheme can profit from Mitigation Banking Sharp Park at the expense of other environmentally sensitive land decimation; elsewhere in the Bay Area.
RestorSharpPark.org must be exposed for the Wolf-in-Sheep's clothing that they are and the filth that is backing them needs to be exposed for the fraud that they are attempting to perpetrate on San Franciscans and Pacificans alike.