FAQ

Is the main purpose of GGNRA (Golden Gate National Recreation Area) for preservation or recreation?

  • In 1975 the city of San Francisco gave beach land to the GGNRA with the provision that the lands were to be reserved “in perpetuity for recreation or park purposes”. The GGNRA promised to “notify and consult” with the SF Planning Department before making substantial changes.
    • Soon after, however, garbage cans were removed, trash was not picked up, and dead marine mammals were left to rot. Paths to the beaches were not maintained, making it difficult or impossible for seniors and handicapped persons to go to the beach. These are appropriate actions for a wilderness area but not for a recreation area.
    • At Fort Funston large areas were closed off, not just to dogs, but to everyone. These closures were supposedly temporary for native plant restoration, but after 10 years, the fences have never been taken down. Joey Hill, the only large remaining sand dune in San Francisco was closed off — now children cannot play on it and no one can walk on it.
    • Recently fires were prohibited on cold, windy Ocean Beach. This rule was later revised to allow fires in GGNRA-built fire pits only, which are few and far between.
    • Although the Bay Area population has increased and the GGNRA has increased its holdings, the use of new lands is never focused on recreational uses.
    • The latest action is the Dog Management Plan, a complete ban on dogs at Ocean Beach and severe limitations in other areas of the GGNRA.

How much of GGNRA is allocated to off-leash dog walking?

  • During Negotiated Rulemaking we used the “less than 1%” number often.  Each time GGNRA said it was not correct.  Each time we said, “Well then, what is the correct number?”  Each time they refused to say what fraction of GGNRA land allowed off-leash dogs or what acreage is open to off-leash dogs.  So far as I know, they still haven’t said what acreage of GGNRA land is open to off-leash dogs, or what fraction that is of the GGNRA total.  How can anyone know “less than 1%” is wrong if they don’t know what the correct number is? –Keith McAllister

Is GGNRA the only park to allow off-leash dogs?

No.

There are some NPS areas that allow off leash dogs (only while hunting) because Congress including hunting in that NPS area’s enabling legislation.  Your example, Pictured Rocks Nat’l Lakeshore, makes it clear to hunters that they can only have dogs off leash when the dogs are actively hunting.
At all other times, the dogs must be on leash in accordance with the NPS national regulation.  Golden Gate does not have hunting in its legislation, and is the only NPS unit where dogs are allowed off leash under voice control for general recreation. — Howard Levitt, Director of Communications and Partnerships, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, March 14, 2011.

Is there a problem with leash law compliance?

No.  The Park Service unilaterally declared in 2001 that the 1979 Pet
Policy, which legally allowed off-leash recreation in several areas, was
never valid.  A district court judge disagreed and ruled that the Pet Policy
was and IS the operative policy, and that the Park Service’s ticketing of
off-leash dogs in the areas covered was in violation of it.

The Park Service has been found *more than once* to be in violation of their
own laws.

Do dogs threaten birds?

For starters, there is no evidence that the heron and plover were killed by *any* predator.  Birds die all the time, and a dead bird on the beach is attractive to a dog. Ocean Beach and Fort Funston beaches are littered with dead birds, some of whom never come to the beach when alive.  It takes an ideologue to conclude that the birds were killed by dogs.

Here is another study, also from Boulder, which contradicts the one offered by Audubon.  There are *lots* of studies, with results all over the map.  Audubon, and GGNRA, simply ignore the ones which exonerate dogs.  For example, the GGNRA study (Chow 1996) that noted that dogs at Fort Funston didn’t disturb the bank swallows doesn’t appear in the twenty-seven page bibliography at the end of the DEIS. — Keith McAllister, bird expert

More info: Wildlife Protection in the GGNRA (OceanBeachDog.com)

What is the cost of creating this DEIS/Dog Plan?

The costs of the negotiated rulemaking, excluding NPS staff and committee member time, was approximately $500,000.  DEIS preparation costs since 2008, when the drafting of the DEIS began in earnest, are approximately $200,000 per year over the past three years.  It is estimated that the environmental impact statement process will cost approximately $1.2 million when complete, plus an estimated $50,000 to complete a final rule.  To put this cost in context, in a 2003 Task Force Report, the Council on Environmental Quality, which is responsible for the broad regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act, noted that EISs genearally range in length from 200 to 2000 pages, take an interdisciplinary team 1-6 years to complete, and cost approximately $250,000 to $2 million to complete.  These costs are high, but unavoidable as NPS is required by law to analyze the environmental effects of its actions. — Howard Levitt, Director of Communications and Partnerships, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, March 14, 2011.

Are the number of GGNRA visitors increasing?

From GGNRA’s own data, the number of park visitors has NOT increased dramatically over the past 20 years. In fact, in 1988 the GGNRA experienced close to its greatest number of visitors, (second only to 1987 which had about 8,000 more) coming in at 21,759,271 recreational visitors.  According to NPS statistics, in 2010, the total number of recreational visitors was 14,271,503, down about 34% from 1988. (more details…)

How open and collaborative has NPS been with San Francisco residents in creation of this Dog Plan?

…Bay Area citizens deserve to have an open, honest discussion about how we would like to see our beaches and coastal areas managed now and in the future. This is not just a discussion for people with dogs but for horse-riders, surfers, hang gliders, fisherman, runners, bird watchers, families, and anyone else who uses our beaches. For example, surfers might like more showers and better bathrooms at Ocean Beach; runners might like permission to run foot races on the beach (prohibited now because of the snowy plover); others might prefer a wilderness experience. All these ideas are not mutually exclusive.

Unfortunately, the GGNRA has not been particularly forthcoming about their plans. When they closed considerable land at Fort Funston, they did so without consulting the SF Planning Department as they were legally obligated to do and without holding any public hearings. Three federal judges have ordered the GGNRA to consult with the public before making significant changes to park usage, but these orders have generally been ignored. The current Dog Management Plan is a step toward communication, but the GGNRA will not allow public testimony or discussion during the meetings that have been scheduled.

The GGNRA should share with Bay Area citizens, who pay their salaries, their long-range plans and vision for the future. If they are not willing to do that, then the City of San Francisco should exercise its legal right to take back the beaches, perhaps transferring them to another federal agency that is more amenable to open communication and honest discussion. — Sally Stephens, SFDog.org

What are the benefits to people of off-leash areas?

Are there implications for non-dog-owners?

  • Today dogs are being targeted even though off leash dogs are allowed on less than 1% of the land and the GGNRA’s own statistics show that less than 1/10 of 1% of dog visits result in a citation. The citation rate is much higher for people. So will the next action be to close more areas to people? — Jan Scott
  • In 1989 the GGNRA, under the supervision of Brian O’Neill, signed on to a biosphere habitat program entitled “Man and Biosphere Habitat Programme” (“MAB” or “MAP”). One would be hard pressed to find a philosophy in greater conflict with the recreational priority of the GGNRA than that of Peter Bridgewater, Secretary of the MAB/MAP Programme, who has said, “Earth would be a better place if we had no people.” The GGNRA’s Chief of Natural Resources Management and Science, Daphne Hatch, has embraced this philosophy. She was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle on September 7, 2005 as saying “Ocean Beach without the people is an incredible habitat. But people think of it as a sandbox or their backyard.” — http://meetthekarazans.blogspot.com/
  • Favorite Nature Spot: Fort Funston
    Someday I hope to have a dog like everybody else at Fort Funston.  I’ve seen breathtaking sunsets, massive waves, Joe Cooke’s dance troupe performing and naked dudes walking on the beach.  I guess you could say there’s something for everyone. — Terese Taylor (non-dog-owner), SFExaminer.com, March 13, 2011
  • There is much misunderstanding about optimizing co-existence between dogs and humans, such as:
    • A well-exercised dog, is a well-behaved dog.
    • Available off-leash areas are already scarce.  Further reductions will likely force dog owners and walkers into other parks and areas whether so designated or not.
    • Those few neurotic dogs are often due to lack of stimulation and/or exercise.
    • Increased restrictions often have reverse results.  For example, notice how dogs usually bark more and squabble with each other more when they are on-leash.  They feel restricted and vulnerable when tied up (as you or I would).
    • In a society becoming increasing more disconnected with our planet and its co-habitants, we need better animal understanding, not less which will result from additional restrictions. — SaveOffLeash.com

How much has this Dog Plan cost GGNRA, NPS and tax payers so far (March 2011)?

The costs of the negotiated rulemaking, excluding NPS staff and committee member time, was approximately $500,000.  DEIS preparation costs since 2008, when the drafting of the DEIS began in earnest, are approximately $200,000 per year over the past three years.  It is estimated that the environmental impact statement process will cost approximately $1.2 million when complete, plus an estimated $50,000 to complete a final rule.  To put this cost in context, in a 2003 Task Force Report, the Council on Environmental Quality, which is responsible for the broad regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act, noted that EISs genearally range in length from 200 to 2000 pages, take an interdisciplinary team 1-6 years to complete, and cost approximately $250,000 to $2 million to complete.  These costs are high, but unavoidable as NPS is required by law to analyze the environmental effects of its actions.  — Howard Levitt, Director of Communications and Partnerships, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, March 14, 2011.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s