Ocean Beach DOG

The following article was originally published on 12/30/2007 in the S.F.  Independent Media (IndyBay). It was removed the following day by IndyBay after persistent threats from Mr. Plater. For further information on the antics of Plater and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) please visit http://oceanbeachdog.home.mindspring.com/oceanbeachblog and http://brentplaterunleashed.blogspot.com.

Brent Plater: A Case Study in the Art of Shameless Self Promotion


One merely has to look at any one of his many self-authored, self-supported, self-congratulatory web sites, e.g.:

and one quickly discovers what Brent Plater is really all about. Is it the environment? No. Is it endangered species? Hardly. The recurring theme of these web sites, and pretty much everything Brent Plater does, for that matter, is just one thing: Brent Plater. Nothing else. Everything else is simply an illusion; a diversionary tactic; magician’s slight of hand and misdirection. Just look at the commemorative painting Plater commissioned for his “Big Year” project. It is basically a picture of himself. Not wildlife. Not the San Francisco Garter Snake. Not the Red Legged Frog. Not the Western Snowy Plover. This is all about Brent Plater. Nothing else.

So what is this ubiquitous, narcissistic, self-styled environmentalist really up to? Clearly he is grooming himself for a run at Washington D.C.  Power has always been his goal. Political office or perhaps a position as a highly paid lobbyist would be the delivery system to get him there. Consider his educational background. A stint at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall Law School tells us all we need to know about Plater’s intentions. The Kennedy School of Government: because where else can one study with the best the art forms of spin, deceit, political corruption, power grabbing and elitism – prerequisites for a gig in the legislative branch. Boalt Hall: because pretty much everyone in D.C. is either a lawyer and/or has a rich, influential daddy.  A stint as a highly visible attorney with Center for Biological Diversity where “the end justifies the means” and being in San Francisco allows him to cherry-pick liberal judges who are quite willing to accept his boiler-plate pleadings. Yes, Brent has always known what he has wanted. I will cede him that.  (I should note when CBD encounters a citizen or entity with some backbone and substantial financial resources, and a judge willing to scrutinize the facts thoroughly, the results are not so favorable.  See appellate decision Chilton vs. CBD at: http://www.apltwo.ct.state.az.us/Decisions/cv20050115opn.pdf).


The next step for Brent is to line his path to Washington with the bread crumbs of supporting constituency groups. Enter the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the various Native Plant Societies, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and an array of single purpose Environmental Advocacy Groups. All with undeserved and overstated political clout. All marching to a common theme: “Man and his companions are bad. They are destroying nature.  Mother Earth would be much better off if people were eradicated.”  The savvy Plater has long seen these groups to be the very deep-pocketed, highly ideologic, pervasive media darlings that he would need to seed his assent to our nation’s capitol. Picking his battles carefully (e.g., keeping dogs out of all San Francisco parks and beaches) and doing most of the heavy lifting, Plater has become the ideal general for these groups’ eco-war on the Bay Area populace.  A war not founded on science and fact but rather on emotion and political correctness. Plater even created and anonymously authored an extensive web site (i.e., http://sfdogblog.blogspot.com) where he slanders and defames true dog advocacy groups and individuals while cowardly masquerading as a dog advocate. As is the usual case with Plater controlled web content, opposing comments and opinion are not allowed.


Consider the case of the Western Snowy Plover (WSP). Plater and his legion have joined forces with the GGNRA in their efforts to close down San Francisco’s Ocean Beach in order to protect the plover. The problem for them is that Ocean Beach is not critical habitat for the WSP, and therefore, according to U. S. Fish and Wildlife, inconsequential to the recovery of the species. What’s even more absurd is the continued insistence by the likes of Plater, the CBD and the DOI that the Plover even be included on the Endangered Species List, albeit in a threatened status. Not only is the plover prolific all over the U.S., Mexico and Canada, but it has an established colony of tens of thousands at the Salt Lakes of Utah. Extreme environmentalists, including the aforementioned organizations Plater is placating, contend that although the plovers at the Salt Lakes are genetically identical to the WSPs found on the West Coast, they must be a different subspecies since they have chosen to roost elsewhere. They contend that behavior, not genetics, is the determining factor in subspecies designation. This logic would be analogous to Plater contending that his sister must be of a different species than him since she has chosen to live in New York rather than San Francisco. This is not a foundation based upon fact or science but rather one built upon political correctness and radical ideologies.     


Those who choose to jump into bed with Plater must be made cognizant of his treachery. Consider the GGNRA. One minute, under the umbrella of the Center for Biological Diversity, Plater is suing the GGNRA for its lack of protections for threatened and/or endangered species. What a vile organization this GGNRA must be as it contributes to the extinction of these wonderful national treasures. But what have we now? Why Plater and the GGNRA have become the best of friends. Recently one would find GGNRA hater Plater filing Amicus Briefs in Federal Court in support of the GGNRA’s unlawful attempts to disavow their 1979 Pet Policy - as they collectively spit in the face of the enabling legislation that established the GGNRA (note: the GGNRA was established by Congress in 1972 with a recreation first mandate). But he hasn’t stopped there. Now Plater has donned his pom-poms and bullhorn to extol the virtues of this wonderful organization which is having an environmentally very “Big Year”. Whether it be in the venues of the GGNRA Negotiated Rulemaking Committee meetings, the press (of which Plater gets way too much of) or on his multitude of web sites, Plater is now the GGNRA’s biggest fan. They can’t get enough of each other.   


Why is this man so dangerous? Why is he worthy of my spending my valuable time writing this perspective?  Because this is a case study where ideologies, personal ambition and avarice trump science and fact.  Unchecked, we as a society risk payment of the ultimate price: the forfeiture of our civil liberties. Oh, but forgive me. I almost forgot... We live in a nation whose government is of the Plater’s, by the Plater’s and for the Plater’s. I rest my case.  

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The following is a comment by environmentalist Bill M. on an article in SF Weekly published Feb. 4, 2008 titled "Watching Endangered Species for Fun and Profit". The comment calls into question the true motives behind Plater's "Big Year" contest:

I think Mr. Plater's comments hint at how he is a lawyer & wanna-be-leader, rather than an ecologist or biologist. Going in the parks & looking at nature does NOT need registration and a contest. I think the BIG YEAR is a big year for Mr. Plater, not for plants and animals.

A few things in the interview made me wonder about how honest Mr. Plater is.

He acts like HE made a BIG DISCOVERY about the # of endangered/threatened species in any of the national parks. That information is readily available from the national parks website. I'm surprised a smart lawyer like Mr. Plater had to do a formal request for info to discover this.

Or in "lawyer-speak" Mr. Plater cleverly uses the term "continental" when saying the GGNRA has MORE endangered species than other parks. Why? Because island national parks in the southern calif islands or hawaii have MORE species than the GGNRA. (Again, that information is available from the national parks website.) Our efforts to save species should be concentrated there. Hey, think priorities.

This whole promotion reminds me of the man who spent his time looking for keys under the lamppost, even though he lost his keys a block away. Why? Because that's there the light is. In the same vein, Mr. Plater is having a BIG YEAR in the GGNRA because the bay area is where he is, rather than concentrating on rainforest, coral reefs, world-wide deforestation, global warming, overpopulation, etc.

Last, I went to his website and it seems to me that the contest is largely a gimmick to get the public to go out to the parks and pick weeds for the GGNRA. So many of the animals are things you're never going to see (e.g. fish that swim underneath the golden gate, rare otters & sea lions, raven's manzanita, etc.). His action requirements lure you to the park the "see" (not!) a species, and once there, you're invited to do free labor. Action items that would really make a difference would be don't drive all over the bay area looking for plants and animals, don't make babies, don't buy stuff, etc.