Video: Biologist on endangered species at Sharp Park golf course

By on Fri, January 22, 2010

Biologist Karen Swaim on endangered species at Sharp Park

Biologist Karen Swaim, speaking at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on December 16, makes the case that until Sharp Park Golf Course was built, the land could not have been San Francisco garter snake habitat.

The presentation is illustrated with historical aerial photographs that give a good indication of how the land changed over the decades, beginning in 1928.

"This is a photograph from 1928. There is no golf here. The land surrounding Laguna Salada to the East, to the South, to the North, everywhere except the ocean, was agricultural fields. It is not pristine upland coastal prairie that would’ve been high quality upland for the San Francisco garter snake. You can see that there is a major channel up here [points to Laguna Salada] that illustrates there was connection to the ocean."

"1946 is the very first year the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog were documented… there are 46 [garter snakes] he gets over two years, and golf has already been here for 16 years."

"In 1978 Sean Berry did his studies and he observed 37 San Francisco garter snakes along this area… and again golf has been in place for 46 years"

"1989 - This [photo] is not long after the the El Nino storms and the big storms of the eighties that resulted in a lot of sea water intrusion into the lagoon. By now, the sea wall is mostly constructed… From 1986 to 1988 some studies were done and no San Francisco garter snakes were found in this area after all the salt water intrusion. That was to a large part because the red legged frog was wiped out by the salt water."

"We’re back to present day conditions… the frogs are prolific west of highway one, they are not in any trouble at all west of highway one. San Francisco garter snakes are concentrating again at Mori Point pond and horse stable pond."

"You need to protect the sea wall. You need to have a fresh water managed habitat currently for this species to recover it, and that is all there is to it."

This video is edited from the full supervisor’s session and transcribed by MW blog. The original (anonymous) blogger is clearly pro-golf, but the biologist seems to be merely pro-snake.