Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which for more than a decade has worked to develop a management plan for dogs in the park, has extended into mid-February the time period during which you can comment on the latest draft plan.
Problems with unleashed dogs have plagued the NRA for some time. This past April, for one example, there was a report of unleashed dogs attacking goslings on the shoreline at Crissy Field. The attack reportedly resulted in the death of two of the goslings.
There have been at least nine incidents in the past year in which park visitors or employees were bitten by dogs, most of them off-leash dogs. One incident at Fort Funston involving a fight between two off-leash dogs resulted in a dog being stabbed by the owner of one of the dogs. Last year on Crissy Field, a U.S. Park Police horse was attacked and badly injured by an off-leash dog that was not under control.
Since the 1990s, the San Francisco Bay Area population and overall use of GGNRA park sites have increased, as have the number of private and commercial dog walkers. At the same time, the number of conflicts between park users with and without dogs began to rise, as did the fear of dogs and dog bites or attacks. The hours devoted by park staff to manage these conflicts, rescue dogs and owners, dispose of dog waste, educate the public on dog walking policies and regulations at each park site, and enforce regulations also increased. In addition, since the establishment of the park, several species with habitat in GGNRA areas used by dog walkers have been listed as threatened, endangered, or special-status species requiring special protection.
The overall goal of the plan open for comment is to develop a clear, enforceable policy that:
• provides a variety of visitor experiences, including areas where dog walking is allowed;
• improves visitor and employee safety;
• reduces user conflicts;
• provides a variety of visitor experiences and
• promotes the preservation and protection of natural and cultural resources and natural processes.
Some dog owners see any new restrictions as a "perversion" of the "vision" for recreational use of the park's open space. Based on the 1979 Pet Policy for the park, they also view any new limits as an example of "broken promises" made by past managers at Golden Gate.
Trying to come up with a workable plan is no small endeavor. The preferred alternative selected by Golden Gate officials actually contains a preferred alternative for each of 21 sites in the NRA deemed in need of a dog management plan. And the park also has developed a preferred alternative to guide the handling of dog walking permits in the NRA.
You can get a rundown on those individual preferred alternatives here.
The cost for implementing the plan is expected to run about $1.5 million, and that is largely to pay for hiring more staff to implement the plan.
Comments on the plan are being received through February 18. You can read the plan, and its alternatives, and leave your comments, at this site.