Today is the last day to comment on the latest version of the dog management plan for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I've just squeaked in under the wire. My main concern is that the National Park Service is sneaking in provisions that will allow them to further restrict access over time. The specific pros and cons of the rules for each site are less important than preserving the GGNRA as a recreation resource for everyone over time. I'm not a militant dog person - I think that there should be dog free beaches for people who prefer to not have dogs around for instance. Much of what is in the plan is reasonable. I just don't trust the NPS to stop here.
If you agree check saveoffleash.com to see what you can do to help push back on this.
Here's my full response to the NPS:
Dear National Park Service
I am writing to provide my feedback on the latest version of the proposed rule changes for dog walking in the Golden Gate National Recreation area (RIN: 1024-AE16). I also commented extensively on the first and second round and so will limit myself here to a few key points.
My primary concern with the new rules is the provision for the superintendent to further limit or remove access based on the following language:
"If primary management actions do not sufficiently address the problem, the superintendent would implement secondary management actions. Examples of secondary management actions may include, but are not limited to increased buffer zones, and additional use restrictions (e.g. limiting the number of dogs off-leash at any one time with one dog walker, requiring tags or permits for accessing Voice and Sight Control Areas, or short or long-term, dog walking area closures)."
I feel that the tone of the proposed rule changes suggests that the National Park Service would just prefer to have the same set of regulations system wide and shut down off leash access to the GGNRA. Regardless of how reasonable or unreasonable the new rules are initially it feels like excuses will be found to whittle down access over time. Enforcement should be limited to individuals who violate the rules and not to shutting down access for everyone. I cannot support the rule changes while it contains this provision.
My family lives in San Francisco and we regularly visit Fort Funston, Crissy Field, Rodeo Beach and Hill 88 (Marin Headlands) with our well behaved dog. We occasionally visit Ocean Beach, Sweeney Ridge and other GGNRA locations.
Given our use of the GGNRA I feel that the plan has improved considerably compared with the previous two versions. My chief remaining concern is the Sand Ladder trail at Fort Funston. Unless you are contemplating improvements to the trail I do not feel that this is safe for on leash walking and it should be maintained as an off leash trail for the safety of dogs and walkers alike.
In the Marin Headlands we often walk the loop up the Coastal Trail to Hill 88 returning to Rodeo Beach via Wolf Ridge and the Miwok Trail. The proposed leashed access to a portion of the Coastal Trail and Old Bunker Road is much shorter. I would love to still be able to hike the Hill 88 route with our dog (preferably off leash, but on leash would be better than nothing).
(Tracking number 1k0-8pu0-jdnh)