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Save Off-Leash Dog Walking In The GGNRA!

December 29, 2013

I was sent this note by two of our neighbors. Though I don’t personally have a dog, I believe that dogs and their walkers make areas safer for *everyone* to use.

Joel Engardio, Candidate for Supervisor in San Francisco's District 7, takes a stand on dogs

Why? It’s because dog-walkers are around. In all weathers, every day of the year, dogs need their walks. Who else uses the parks? Joggers do, but they usually go by running, often with their music on. So do hikers and trekkers and parents with their kids – but they usually select nice weather and convenient times. Dog walkers are the eyes and ears of our parks.

Paws in our parks means eyes in our parks.

So I’m pleased that our neighborhood is dog-friendly, and I’m happy to post this – for the dog-walkers, and for people like me who benefit from their presence. I’ve made some minor edits and corrected the deadline date.

SAVE OFF-LEASH DOG WALKING IN THE GGNRA!

What’s the Deal?

This past September, the GGNRA released a revised version of its Dog Management Plan in the form of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, or SEIS. This document proposes eliminating 90% of off-leash dog access, and severely restricting all dog walking in 21 existing GGNRA sites in Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo counties, as well as in all future sites managed by the GGNRA.

Why Should I care?

If the GGNRA implements their preferred alternatives, Marin will lose off-leash access to the Oakwood Valley Trail, Muir Beach and almost all other GGNRA trails. The only off-leash opportunity in Marin would be Rodeo Beach, the one beach that is only reachable by car by any and all users. And most trails within the GGNRA in Marin would no longer allow any use by people with their dogs, leashed or unleashed. People and their dogs would go from having access to an already tiny 1 % of the GGNRA down to a mere .1 %, effectively removing an entire user group from the GGNRA.

Several years ago, when the plan was first unveiled, public comment ran 3-1 against the GGNRA’s preferred alternatives. But the GGNRA apparently isn’t listening. They’ve re-heated the same plan, with even more restrictions in many locations. And they are requiring new comments for the “new” plan. Even if you commented a couple of years ago, you need to do it again.

What can I do about it?

Comments close on 18 Feb 2014 at 11 p.m. [Webmaster; It’s been extended from January 11th, 2014]. You must submit substantive comments that directly address aspects of the SEIS. No form letters or petitions will be accepted or counted. The GGNRA is making it difficult for a reason. Comments mailed in the old fashioned way always carry more weight. We’ve tried to make it easy for you: key points/phrases to include in your comments are listed below. You may also comment on the NPS website, by clicking on the “Comment on Document” button. Here’s the link: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=303&projectID=11759&documentID=55416

HERE ARE SOME IMPORTANT POINTS TO MAKE IN YOUR COMMENTS

  • Mention where you walk, how long you ‘ve walked there, and what impact this will have on you as a dog guardian and as a citizen.
  • The SEIS lacks scientific data. Instead, it makes assumptions and assertions with absolutely no peer reviewed site-specific studies as required by law. Without these studies and corresponding data, there is no legitimate or legal foundation for these policy changes.
  • The plan doesn’t differentiate between impacts caused by humans or other animals. It just assumes all the negative impacts are caused by dogs.
  •  If the GGNRA further limits dog walking as recreation, what few surrounding parks and trails that do allow off-leash will become overcrowded and overburdened. We need more access, not less.
  • A well-exercised dog is a well-behaved dog. The SFSPCA and Marin Humane Society, as well countless other dog behaviorists are opposed to GGNRA’s preferred alternatives.
  • There is no federally designated critical habitat in the GGNRA. Yet they cite possible impacts on critical habitat as a reason to ban dogs or restrict access to dog owners.
  •  The GGNRA is an urban park, not a wilderness area. It’s critical recreational open space for a densely populated urban area. By severely reducing off leash dog walking, the GGNRA is in violation of its enabling legislation that allows different user groups -it specifically mentions off-leash dog walkers -to recreate.
  •  Oppose the GGNRA’s preferred alternative and tell them you support the NO ACTION alternative.
  • Tell the GGNRA to enforce the existing (and adequate) rules to manage dogs.

For more info, visit saveoffleash.com

Send comments to: Frank Dean, General Superintendent Golden Gate National Recreation Area Fort Mason Building 201 San Francisco, CA 94123-002

 SPREAD THE WORD! TOGETHER WE CAN KEEP THE GGNRA DOG FRIENDLY!

offleash dogs

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Tony permalink
    December 30, 2013 9:40 am

    Thanks for the link. This is a delicate subject. I have a dog and enjoy going to our parks with and without my dog. As a dog owner, I fully support the proposed alternative F.

    This alternative provides ample areas for dogs to excercise off leash while enabling the rest of the park to be enjoyed by all citizens.

    I often see off leash dogs eliminating themselves on the path or on the grass where children (and adults) are playing – yet the dog owner is not there to pick up after his/her dog. We all should be enjoying the sights and views in these parks instead of keeping our eyes glued to the ground in order to avoid stepping in dog waste. Our children should be able to play in our parks without fear of landing a pile of dog poop. These parks are for all citizens, not just dog owners. There is plenty of space for everyone in Alternative F.

    When my dog was younger and still had some aggression towards other dogs, I would walk my dog in areas designated as “leash required” expecting that we would be able to avoid conflicts. However, every day I would encounter dogs off leash. When I mention the leash requirement to the owner and ask him/her to leash their dog for its own protection, 9 times out of 10 they would not and indicate that I was inconveniencing them!

    Our park employees have much better things to do than enforce leash laws. Having designated, fenced off leash areas frees them upfor other tasks and protect the environment, our pets and our children while allowing everyone to enjoy our parks.

    [Webmaster: Tony, thanks for your comment and the different point of view.]

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