Off-leash Dog Rights in the GGNRA sign now

We, the undersigned, strongly urge the Citizens' Advisory Commission (CAC) to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), Superintendent Brian O'Neill, the National Park Service, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, Representative Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr., the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and other elected and appointed officials to take the necessary action to maintain the right of dog owners to walk with their dogs under voice control and off-leash in the GGNRA.

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The CAC and Superintendent O'Neill have the discretion to allow the continued practice of responsible off-leash dog walking. The Pet Policy adopted in 1979 as an appendix to the GGNRA's Natural Resources Management Plan provides for the right to walk dogs under leash or voice control in designated areas of the GGNRA. In 1992, the National Park Service (NPS) affirmed its endorsement of the Pet Policy:

The National Park Service recognizes the important value that every dog-walker holds towards the Fort Funston area. The relatively clean, open and safe environment of Fort Funston is certainly an attractive place to walk one's dog during all hours of the day. . . . At this time, there is no change in the 1979 Pet Policy which provides the visitor the privilege of walking one's dog off leash.


(Letters dated July 8, 1992 from Stanley T. Albright, Regional Director, Western Region, National Park Service to Senators Alan Cranston and John Seymour.)

As recently as October of last year, the NPS confirmed its commitment to off leash dog walking at Crissy Field. The NPS distributed a flyer dated October 5, 2000 to inform dog walkers at Crissy Field of the exclusion of dogs from the western end of the beach. The following question and answer appears in the flyer:

Where can I walk my dog in this part of Crissy Field?

Dogs are not allowed in the Wildlife Protection Area. However, they are allowed on leash along the Promenade west of the Coast Guard Station. Dogs will also be allowed in the 28-acre airfield when it opens for use in the spring of 2001.


On the map on the reverse side of the flyer, three types of areas are designated: (i) no dogs allowed (the Wildlife Protection Areas), (ii) dogs on leash, and (iii) current off leash areas. The restored airfield is designated in the same color as the current off leash areas indicating that it, too, would be open for off leash dog walking this spring.


The CAC now seeks to rescind the 1979 Pet Policy in its entirety under the guise that it is forced to do so by the statutes and regulations governing the NPS and the GGNRA. The very enabling statue which created the GGNRA states that:

In order to preserve for public use and enjoyment certain areas of Marin and San Francisco Counties, California, possessing outstanding natural, historic, scenic and recreational values, and in order to provide for the maintenance of needed recreational open space necessary to urban environment and planning, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area . . . is hereby established. 16 U.S.C. 460bb.


The CAC should not rely on NPS regulation 36 C.F.R. 2.15(a) which requires dogs to be on a leash in national parks. Superintendent O'Neill could seek an exception for off-leash dog walking in the GGNRA. Many national parks already allow dogs to be off leash where hunting is allowed pursuant to 36 C.F.R.2.15(b). The regulations applicable to a particular park are intended to promote the use of each park in accordance with its enabling statute. On the GGNRA's website, it offers the following explanation of the origin and purpose of the CAC:

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore Advisory Commission was established by Public Law 92-589 to provide for the free exchange of ideas between the National Park Service and the public and to facilitate the solicitation of advice or other counsel from members of the public on problems pertinent to the National Park Service parks or sites in Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo Counties.


(http://www.nps.gov/goga/admin/pub_affairs/advisory)

The CAC's own charter is to solicit ideas and advice from members of the public on issues which affect the GGNRA. Therefore, the CAC cannot ignore this petition and the overwhelming support of continued off-leash dog walking in GGNRA that these signatures represent.


We support the right of dog owners to walk with their dogs under voice control and off-leash in the GGNRA.

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Madelyn BentleyBy:
Politics and GovernmentIn:
Petition target:
National Park Service

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