“The dogs scampering across East Beach, some on leashes but most running free and having quite a time of it, were getting along a lot better than some of the humans trying to figure out what to do about them.” – New York Times, September 24, 2013
This post will touch on some aspects of the ongoing efforts to develop dog policy in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), especially in the Area’s acreage in San Francisco.
The GGNRA is a U.S. National Recreation Area encompassing 125 square miles of terrain on the western side of San Francisco Bay, a significant portion of San Francisco and Marin Counties. GGNRA is managed by the National Park Service (NPS) and is one of the most visited units of the National Park system in the United States, with over 14.5 million visitors a year. It is also one of the largest urban parks in the world, with an area two-and-a-half times that of San Francisco.
San Francisco’s 825,000 residents are the companions for more than 120,000 dogs, which outnumber the City’s children. Dogs and their companions like fresh air and off leash play, and therein lies the potential for conflict with others including some visitors to GGNRA.
For over 10 years the NPS has been working to codify dog rules within GGNRA such that NPS rules are followed and the needs of users and wildlife are balanced reasonably. This hasn’t been easy for the NPS – the subject has been the topic of large studies, many public hearings, over 10,000 written public comments, and litigation. Even though many millions of dollars and untold man-hours have been spent on the subject, it is still unsettled. However, the NPS is grinding forward with a plan described in 12.2 pounds of paper which it plans to implement in 2015.
Some of the background on the matter may be gleaned from the following web pages and newspaper articles:
NPS’s Dog Management home page.
NPS’s Draft Dog Management Plan/SEIS (Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement).
NPS file containg 4118 pages of comments for the 2011 EIS.
GGNRA managers unleash dog-walking rules – SFGate
City Crackdown Looming as the Dog Population Rises – NYTimes
San Francisco Debates a Proposal to Limit Where Dogs Can Roam – NYTimes
Supervisor Wiener Calls for a More Balanced Dog Walking Plan
One of the GGNRA’s more contentious areas in that of Crissy Field, especially East Beach, probably the most popular dog play area in GGNRA. This is a section of beach nearest the parking lot which is used everyday for off-lease play by many dogs. The NPS plan would revise the policy on East Beach to on-leash only. A future blog entry will discuss this.
Happy memories of watching a special dog outrun all of us as we tried rather chaotically to get him out of that wonderful surf. Dogs do try to tell us something, don’t they?