Golden Gate National Recreation Area Extends Comment Period On Dog Management Plan

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which for more than a decade has worked to develop a management plan for dogs in the park, has extended into mid-February the time period during which you can comment on the latest draft plan.

Problems with unleashed dogs have plagued the NRA for some time. This past April, for one example, there was a report of unleashed dogs attacking goslings on the shoreline at Crissy Field. The attack reportedly resulted in the death of two of the goslings.

There have been at least nine incidents in the past year in which park visitors or employees were bitten by dogs, most of them off-leash dogs. One incident at Fort Funston involving a fight between two off-leash dogs resulted in a dog being stabbed by the owner of one of the dogs. Last year on Crissy Field, a U.S. Park Police horse was attacked and badly injured by an off-leash dog that was not under control.

Since the 1990s, the San Francisco Bay Area population and overall use of GGNRA park sites have increased, as have the number of private and commercial dog walkers. At the same time, the number of conflicts between park users with and without dogs began to rise, as did the fear of dogs and dog bites or attacks. The hours devoted by park staff to manage these conflicts, rescue dogs and owners, dispose of dog waste, educate the public on dog walking policies and regulations at each park site, and enforce regulations also increased. In addition, since the establishment of the park, several species with habitat in GGNRA areas used by dog walkers have been listed as threatened, endangered, or special-status species requiring special protection.

The overall goal of the plan open for comment is to develop a clear, enforceable policy that:

• provides a variety of visitor experiences, including areas where dog walking is allowed;

• improves visitor and employee safety;

• reduces user conflicts;

• provides a variety of visitor experiences and

• promotes the preservation and protection of natural and cultural resources and natural processes.

Some dog owners see any new restrictions as a "perversion" of the "vision" for recreational use of the park's open space. Based on the 1979 Pet Policy for the park, they also view any new limits as an example of "broken promises" made by past managers at Golden Gate.

Trying to come up with a workable plan is no small endeavor. The preferred alternative selected by Golden Gate officials actually contains a preferred alternative for each of 21 sites in the NRA deemed in need of a dog management plan. And the park also has developed a preferred alternative to guide the handling of dog walking permits in the NRA.

You can get a rundown on those individual preferred alternatives here.

The cost for implementing the plan is expected to run about $1.5 million, and that is largely to pay for hiring more staff to implement the plan.

Comments on the plan are being received through February 18. You can read the plan, and its alternatives, and leave your comments, at this site.


This NPT piece reads like a press release. If the GGNRA believes its “preferred alternative” is acceptable, they’re not listening. In case you missed the news, the public comment period was extended at the request of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who expressed concerns about the plan and asked that community input “not only be reviewed, but carefully considered” by GGNRA Superintendent Frank Dean. Congresswoman Jackie Speier and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee have similar concerns. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution opposing the plan and called on the GGNRA to take a different approach. The original draft management plan, released in January 2011, received thousands of public comments, the overwhelming majority of which were against it and identified serious scientific and technical flaws and errors with the environmental impact study. Now almost three years later the newly released supplemental EIS, ostensibly undertaken to address the criticism, is essentially identical to the original draft with no substantive changes. There is no credible reason to deny access to people with dogs in the recreation areas where they’ve been welcomed together for decades. If you want to trumpet a GGNRA news release tallying dog bites, please put it into perspective. While there is no excuse for a single dog bite, the significant safety issues in the GGNRA are caused by people (98%) compared with dogs (2%), according to a review of NPS law enforcement data. Where is the GGNRA press release about the number of people arrested for violent behavior (assault, theft, rape, DUI) or who get injured like the teenage boy who fell 35-feet down a shaft after breaking into a bunker in the Marin Headlands (firefighters rescued him by cutting through metal plates)? The actual cost to implement the dog plan is tagged at $2.5 million annually, not the $1.5 million you cite. And it seems ironic that the National Park Service laments that bathrooms, trails and roads in the GGNRA suffer from lack of upkeep due to staff reductions and, at the same time, boasts that the GGNRA is the second-most visited area among all park units. GGNRA is a designated recreation area where people, dogs, wildlife and plants peacefully coexist. There is a federal requirement for site specific, peer reviewed scientific studies to justify and guide such changes in management of National Park System resources. None exists in the 2,000-page GGNRA plan that has cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars to develop over the past decade. Now, that’s a story worth reporting.

Thanks to Leemeyer for expounding on some of the controversy that has grown up around dogs and Golden Gate NRA. It is one of the more contentious issues that exists in the National Park System.

As for the article "reading like a press release," we'll make no apologies for that. There are dozens and dozens of similar planning efforts ongoing through out the park system. For the Traveler, with just one full-time staffer, to try to analyze all these documents and pick them apart is impossible and shouldn't be expected. When possible, we post notice of these comment periods to alert those individuals with interests in a specific park of their opportunity to voice their opinions on how the issues should be managed.

Ideally, we'd have the staff and resources to cover more of these issues indepth. The fact of the matter is we don't, and that's why we're encouraging readers to support our endeavor in that direction by signing on as NPT members. Not only will your dollars help move us in that direction, but you also receive benefits in the form of discounts on lodging, outfitted trips, books, and more.

Only with your help can we fulfill our mission of both alerting the public to how parks are being managed and nurturing more advocates for the parks.

The Iresponsable Goden Gate National Recreation Area

What folks out hear on the West Coast have been dealing with is over 35 years of GGNRA mis-management and in the last 15 years the feeling of disenfranchisement and that the Park Service only listens to bird and conservation folks.

The GGNRA took possession of Fort Funston, Crissy Fields, Ocean Beach, Baker Beach from the City & County of San Francisco in 1975 .By 1979 a Pet Policy was agreed upon with all the stakeholders involved, but it was never ratified with a Section 7 Ruling and things were ok until some new GGNRA/NPS management came in and just overnight areas were closed off and citations were given for off leash dogs. The new management wanted to go back to the NPS rules that all dogs on a 6' leash. A part of the land transfer from The City and County of San Francisco was an MOU for these areas given to the NPS/ GGNRA; which allowed for off leash dog walking with voice control and and carry a leash for your dog. One of the key points is that MOU was that Dog Walking is a Recreation for individuals and their four pawed pals and it will be allowed at these lands taken over by the GGNRA.

What happened was because there was no Section 7 Rule to make the 1979 Pet Policy the law of the land which allowed for off leash dog walking under voice command and that Dog Guardians carry a leash for every dog.

It was years ago Judge Alsup made a ruling that the GGNRA in San Francisco would operate under the 1979 Pet Policy while the GGNRA did get public input. The GGNRA got the input of over 4800 response's rejecting their 2011 DEIS and and when the 2013 SEIS was released on Sept. 6th 2013 everyone realized that this was still the same as the 2011 DEIS with no changes to the Off Leash Areas. Yes they offered the same A through F plans that were rejected two years ago. Since the release SEIS I have been passing out informational cards to dog walkers I make contact with between 20 and 50 dog walkers on any given day and at times there are as high as 75% of my contacts that new nothing about the GGNRA Dog Management Plan or thought it was settled in 2011 with their overwhelming comments against the 2011 DEIS

The Park service has been on a campaign recently to uproot ice plant vegetation and put plants that have not been there for a hundred that they claim are native. what is going on they tear out plants and put back what they think is right, when in fact the Army Corp. of Engineer's installed Ice Plants at Fort Funston to stop sand storms and erosion . In their zeal to make changes for the habitat , they have made it worse to where the Cliff Dwelling Swallow moved further south to a more stable environment...

The Park Service has not revealed any Scientific Site Specific Peer Reviewed Studies to prove thier agenda to remove Dogs and their Guardians from the the parks is still yet justifiable. There is no Critical Habitat in these GGNRA Parks . Please examine these links to past and present information about the GGNRA and the Off Leash Dog Issue at the NPS/GGNRA.

What everyone who walks their dog in these park lands want is what has been proven to be a fair deal and that would be the 1979 Pet Policy to be made the law of the land. We/ I do not want the GGNRA SEIS or DEIS 2011-2013 preferred plan at all; they threw good will and money away when they took thousands of comments in the 2011 DEIS and chose not to listen to the people.

Thank you & Happy New Year,

Thomas Roop

Daly City CA

It's been my experience that the comment periods and the resulting public input is just a formality that is either ignored or in at least one case the results, falsely reported so to better arrive at the "preferred Alternative." Would not want to anger a tyranical Superintendent and ruin a career. I believe you have the info on that case, Kurt.

Mr Roop...

With all due respect, I hesitate to dig too deep into a long post that not only starts with its own prejudicial headline, but which spells incorrectly two of the seven words in the headline.

My own less than informed opinion on the Golden Gate "dog" issue is mixed. I am acquainted with the gentleman who is the current Superintendent, we worked together in Yosemite National Park. He is a very low key, good humored, competent person, has a great deal of experience and is generally open to the concerns of both his employees and the citizens he serves. His spouse is a nurse, a delightful person. In any case, I suspect it is a can't win situation. Open space is at a premium in the city, people love their dogs, myself included, and most are responsible pet owners. Dogs need to run to. A tough one, glad I do not have to make the decision.

Mr. B. I think you got the message though, it is clear.

I was at Fort Funston this afternoon and there were a lot of non dog walkers whom I spoke with and to a person they had no bad experiances with off leash dogs and one lady said she enjoys watching the dogs run and play off leash.

You may have won a spelling bee in your day, but you haven't a clue to what's at stake hear to many people who work hard to be a good GGNRA citizen with their Four Pawed Pals.

Thomas Roop

Daly City

Rick, perhaps you would like to address Californian's issues rather than attack the source and criticize his spelling. But probably not.

It's been nice and quiet for a few days. Welcome back, I suppose.

Dogs in parks is not an issue I'm invested in. If you'll look back at my "attack" it was phrased courteously, and intended to be helpful. The gentleman obvously cares about the topic - my suggestion was to ow he could better get his point communicated.

Happy New Year, everyone:)! Great, good, bad and otherwise we got through another one.

Thanks Kurt for your site (and patience:)!

Hello All, It is a new year and I prey that everyone is well and ready for more information on why the NPS/GGNRA's Dog Management Plan is a terrible hoax.

When the GGNRA used the Hatch Report to claim that the Snowy Plovers were endangered by off leash dogs at Ocean Beach, it was then Ocean Beach Dog made several requests for the raw data that was used to make their claims. What they got for their efforts was a stonewalling like no other. This was with a freedom of information act request and all the way up to the Department of Interior the parent organization over the National Park Service and the GGNRA the only reply was (Sue Us)

Think about this, the organization that makes the rules and does the study is afraid to reveal what they used to come to their rule. It is just like the wolf guarding the hen house. This is not an open and transparent issue, they chose to post the comments they like and do not like. The real test would be to put this to a vote since it affects the public of three bay area counties with over one million residents and well over 100,000 dogs this no issue to be taken lightly.

I invite you to check the research done by Dr Valente and Ocean Beach Dog that has proven that the NPS/GGNRA has relied on flawed science in making their rules. Enclosed are several links to Ocean Beach Dog web pages and a petition calling for Congressional Oversight of the NPS and the GGNRA for past and present practices that are unlawful. They have been breaking their own rules and getting away with it.

2013 SEIS/DEIS for GGNRA Dog Management Plan

How we Got Here

Access Denied

Hatch Report Analysis

lover Science

Unleash the Truth

Pet Policy History

Ocean Beach off Leash Closure

Reversion of GGNRA Parklands Back to San Francisco

Petition Calling for Congressional-Oversight of NPS/GGNRA

It is not by accident that Juge Alsup ruled against the NPS/GGNRA , they had been practicing in the changing of the Off Leash Dog Walking rules without any public input! This is why we are under the the 1979 Pet Policy. The GGNRA seen through the heavy response in 2011 against thier DEIS that their plans are flawed and up against a city; that is the City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Mayor Lee, have recently passed another resolution that the City and County is against the 2013 DEIS/SEIS NPS/GGNRA Dog Management Plan.

Fianaly, the Superintendent may be the nicest guy in the world but he is the one in the drivers seat now and it is time he examine the facts that have been brought to light by Dr. Valente and Ocean Beach Dog and other individuals and groups and there is a vast majority of us that want the 1979 Pet Policy to be the law of the land in the 2013 DEIS/SEIS when all is said and done.

A quote below by Jon Jarvis the head of the NPS puts in place the whole attitude of this organization all the way down to the GGNRA management.

( I would rather give up those {the GGNRA} properties than have dogs running loose on them Jon Jarvis - Current Director National Park Service)

My thought on that statement is that it would be an excellent idea for him to start the process to release these GGNRA properties back to the City and County of San Francisco so recreation at these lands would be reinstated as it was before the GGNRA ever took charge.

Thomas Roop

Daly City, CA