A Vision for Sharp Park Comes into Focus

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Restoration of Laguna Salada Wetlands Would Help Protect SF Garter Snake and California Red-Legged Frog

SAN FRANCISCO – A vision for Sharp Park could balance ecological and recreation objectives, according to findings released this week by a working group of land managers from local and federal agencies including the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Mateo County, the City of Pacifica and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

The short-term restoration of the Laguna Salada wetlands at Sharp Park will be the first step in the recovery of the endangered San Francisco garter snake and the threatened California red-legged frog. Restoration efforts would triple the current amount of habitat available to those species by moving built up sedimentation in the wetland area and by forming a connecting channel to nearby Mori Point by moving the 12th hole of Sharp Park’s golf course.

Over the long term, Sharp Park will face serious challenges from climate change, expected to cause a rise in sea level between .6 and 2 meters by 2100. A long-term plan to naturally manage the coastal areas of Sharp Park was found to be the most sustainable and cost-effective approach to creating additional habitat and breeding opportunities for the protected species. A technical study, followed by development of a range of alternatives to be set forth in an environmental document, will explore viable ways oftransitioning from the current seawall to a more natural beach and lagoon barrier system.

Further armoring or heightening of the existing seawall was not recommended to be part of any future plan because it would result in the continued and accelerated erosion of the beachfront. These land management changes are similar to those called for in the recently released Sharp Park report of Wild Equity Institute and the Center for Biological Diversity.

The working group noted that with consideration of the needs for sustainable species habitat and the more natural function of a barrier beach and lagoon system, the 18-hole golf course could be redesigned to coexist with viable populations of sensitive species in the long term. Any long-term solution would need to address periodic flooding of the residential area.

"Our priorities have been to meet the ecological requirements of the species and to maintain golfing as a valued recreational pastime at Sharp Park," said Phil Ginsburg, General Manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, which owns and manages the park. "We also accept the consensus which is forming to naturally manage the coastal areas at Sharp Park over the long term. The working group’s findings suggest there is a win for all parties and interests at Sharp which we intend to pursue."

Sharp Park is a multiple use facility owned and maintained by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, located in the City of Pacifica, San Mateo County and within the boundary of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Members of the working group include Dave Holland (San Mateo County Department of Parks); Steve Rhodes (city manager of City of Pacifica); Dawn Kamalanathan (San Francisco Recreation and Park Department Director of Planning and Capital); and senior staff from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Amy Meyer, co-chair for People for a Golden Gate National Recreation Area and a former Recreation and Park Commissioner, facilitated the six-month study.

The report can be found here: sfrecpark.org…