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SF appeal likely following commission approval of Natural Areas Management Plan

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Sharp Park Golf Course (S.F. Examiner file photo)

A plan to manage a number of natural areas in San Francisco and San Mateo counties was approved by planning and recreation and parks officials Thursday, but is likely to face an appeal from opponents.

The environmental impact report for a 20-year plan to manage San Francisco’s natural areas was approved unanimously by the Recreation and Park Commission and 6-1 by the Planning Commission after a lengthy joint hearing Thursday.

The plan covers 32 areas in San Francisco and San Mateo counties managed by the city including Twin Peaks, Mt. Davidson, McLaren Park, Bernal Heights and Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica, comprising around 1,100 acres with 30 miles of trails and more than 140 species of plants and animals, according to recreation and park officials.

The plan drew support from many residents and environmental groups eager to see the city act to preserve biodiversity and areas of natural habitat.

However it also drew heated opposition from residents concerned about plans to reduce off-leash dog areas at Bernal and McLaren Parks and remove and replace around 18,000 trees over 20 years in areas including Sharp Park and Mt. Davidson. At least one group, Wild Equity, which is opposed to plans included in the report for changes at Sharp Park Golf Course, today said it is likely to pursue an appeal.

The golf course has been the subject of repeated litigation with environmental groups over the years due to the presence of wetlands habitat on the course and endangered red-legged frogs and San Francisco garter snakes.

City officials have described the plans for the golf course included in the environmental impact report as a habitat restoration project that would include relocating the 12th hole, improving a wetlands area and creating more uplands habitat for snakes.

However Brent Plater, executive director of Wild Equity, said the project is a redevelopment of the golf course and should be considered separately from the larger environmental impact report. He said the city should hold to a previous commitment to treat any redevelopment at the course separately for the purposes of environmental review.

“We’re not even suggesting that they have to reject that project forever, all we’re saying is give us the full environmental review so we can have a clear and open debate about whether this project makes any sense,” he said.

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