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March 05, 2012

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Wow, Carl!!! Pacifica, overpopulated? What is your answer? Oh, it's right here: "de-development and the properties involved needed to make the coastside liveable--or use the 'sustainable' word if you know what it means." Does this mean you want some homes destroyed in Pacifica? Fairway Park, for instance? Now the real message is coming out, people, and like I said, be careful of Carl and his friends.

Compromises have already been made on the San Mateo County coastside--and then the place has been recompromised time and again. Each time the compromises are made with what remains of natural features and life-supporting (all of our lives) ecosystem services. Although places like Pacifica and Daly City down through the midcoast are clearly overpopulated (resources do not exist to support the current population over the long term), one never sees compromises discussed over the rate of de-development and the properties involved needed to make the coastside liveable--or use the "sustainable" word if you know what it means. In places already overgrown, many people are still glassy-eyed over "growth" or "smart growth." One still hears economy-of-scale gibberish trotted out as justification time and again, when clearly the momentum of the growth ethic has carried our communities way into diseconomies and impossibilities of scale and the higher taxes and living costs and lower quality of life that go with such.

Against a background of unceasing environmental decline (only the rate is ever at issue), squalls over scraps of land not yet hardscaped crop up. In a country, state, and locale with no significant new environmental laws for 35 years (maybe a couple of modest, debatable exceptions), old laws such as the Endangered Species Act must suffice. An intelligent ape would have long since created laws and regulations that use good science to protect vital facets of nature and life support systems, but we are stuck with stretching environmental impact reports and the critical habitat provisions of the ESA to do so. This is, admittedly, a broad overview of the context in which the Sharp Park Golf Course controversy is being argued, but it is too often forgotten.

The legal resources of environmental organizations, even the largest and most active like the Center for Biological Diversity, are piddling compared to the private interests and government agencies against which they are pitted. Anyone who states differently has not done his or her homework on legal budgets and salaries of the parties involved. Most environmental groups wimp out and never go to court or go to court only as one of a number of environmental organizations working on the same problem. Others go to court only when they can line up pro bono help and sufficient donations to do so. Only those relatively few outfits dedicated to legal action as an integral part of what they do build the kind of institutional intelligence and legal experience needed to be effective most of the time. The Center for Biological Diversity being one of these, that is the reason it is not to be taken lightly. They will be forced to argue specifics in court, and off-the-wall accusations that they will do anything to get their way don't begin to touch on what will be relevant.

Nobody should take the WEI/CBD lightly. I do not. We should all be wary of these folks. They will stop at nothing to get their way, and all outdoor enthusiasts should be cautious. If they succeed in closing Sharp Park, it will set a precedent for them to do the same to other park lands, farms, ranches & golf courses. These folks will say anything and do anything to get their way, it seems.

I certainly don't take the Center for Biological Diversity lightly, or the Wild Equity Institute. These days, environmental litagation is one of our most dependable growth industries. These groups also solicit donations on an impressive scale, so they can't be seen to compromise, to the slightest degree, with the species-killing, earth-befouling, climate-change-denying Forces of Evil. At the first sign of a reasonable discussion, a momentary cease-fire, all those starry-eyed young disciples will start looking for a new avatar. So Brent must keep pursuing Moby Dick (thanks, Mike) because if he stops, he's out of a job. Ahab doesn't run a cruise ship.

Photos of other photos are obvious on close examination. But, yes, with effort there are ways of altering metadata in an image file, some (IPTC, for example) being easier than others to change. Most people knocking off snaps with automatic cameras don't even know what metadata are, let alone the many ways of dealing with different kinds of image metadata. So metadata aren't the definitive end-all, but EXIF and sometimes proprietary file info can help validate when an image was created and are being used in legal actions--to help establish copyright, for one area. Not that the pictures couldn't be better, but the criticisms of the images in this thread come off as superficial and naive and seem contrived to fit opinions.

I have no idea how the golf course controversy is going to shake out. I would, however, caution against taking the Center for Biological Diversity too lightly. They may not win 'em all or even take the best position every time when all possible facts become known, but they didn't just fall off the turnip truck when it comes to legal actions on behalf of endangered species.

Carl,

WE is an abbreviation of Wild Equity.

Quoted from Wild Equity's article: "This is the sixth winter over the past decade the Department has killed protected frogs by draining Sharp Park’s wetlands in a failed attempt to prevent frogs from breeding in their historic ponds."
Why on earth would the Park and Recs Dept. try to prevent the frogs from breeding? To support Plater's claims that the golf course is hurting the frog population? That just doesn't make sense.
Regarding the photo "documentation":
The photos can be taken close-up and then progressively farther away to show the area in which they were taken. Time stamps of photos are meaningless in and of themselves. A person can take a photo of another photo and say it was at the golf course on such and such date. That is no proof whatsoever. A photo of a dry egg mass does not prove that the egg mass was relocated or dried out because of pumping. This is one of the biggest drought years in history, for God's sake! Should we sue Mother Nature?
I'm sorry, but the agenda of the Wild Equity Institute is so obviously one of getting rid of the golf course, using any and all means, and the welfare of the frogs and snakes a distant or nonexistent issue.

Todd: Don't know what you mean by "WE". I was just commenting on the kinds of metadata that can be used to help validate image files if there is a question. Other than that, I am amused by the assumption that some exhibit that the USFWS is an entirely competent, objective agency beyond political influence and implementing both the spirit and letter of the Endangered Species Act.

Tim and Carl, if WE actually had a complaint the USFWS could prosecute, then WE should make the complaint. Otherwise, what is the point of such yapping as above other than greed?

Like Brand said, there will be EXIF metadata in the image files if the pictures were taken with a digital camera. Recently, a few digital cameras have become available with GPS geotagging for individual image files.

HA! Aye.

Sharp Park Golf Course is Brent Plater's MOBY DICK.

What is obvious to any unbiased observer (like federal judge Susan Illston) is that the frog population is INCREASING at Sharp Park and no amount of legal doubletalk or feigned outrage can obscure that fact. As for the veracity of the photographs, I'm sure Brent Plater is extremely careful ever since the unfortunate experience with the Chilton Ranch lawsuit. That's the one where the Arizona Supreme Court, in 2007, did not agree with the Center for Biological Diversity's right to "lie, defame, misrepresent and practice a reckless disregard for the truth as long as their intentions were to advance their environmental agenda." Can't win 'em all.

Lisa Wayne, the director of the Recreation and Park Department's natural areas program, said workers diligently protect eggs and tadpoles and suspend golf play when threatened species are spotted. She denied charges that the pumping system harms frogs.

"We monitor throughout the entire frog-breeding and egg-laying season from December through March and we adjust the pump level so that we keep those eggs in contact with water," said Wayne, adding that the restoration plan for Sharp Park includes 19 acres of rehabilitated frog and snake habitat. "I have not tampered with any eggs out there, my staff has not tampered with any egg masses out there, and our consultants have not been authorized to do it and they have not done it."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/03/06/BA8K1NGABP.DTL

Dan, if there was real evidence of a "take," Brent should have no problem involving the USFWS, which is the agency that lists the frog.

"The recent killings were extensively documented by San Francisco State University biology students over several weeks of observation during this year’s short, exceptionally dry winter frog-breeding season."

There are witnesses, guys. Also, the photos' EXIF data are recorded in the image data and probably still on the SD card in the hands of those who took them. Just because it's not in the pic doesn't mean it's not there.

I have no expertise in these matters, but how could one possibly include any landmark in a photo of these particular items? Maybe it would help if he brought a witness to satisfy skeptics.

Well said, Todd. There is also not a time stamp or date stamp as to when these pictures were taken. These pictures could have been taken five years ago.

Unfortunately, the photos are not taken with a recognizable landmark in the foreground, middle ground, or background. If Brent wants to submit a complaint to the United State Fish and Wildlife Service, he should do so. But he should endeavor to take more site-specific photos rather than the generic ones above.

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