Under a set of new rules proposed yesterday, large swaths of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area are set to become entirely dog-free — this includes not insubstantial sections of popular dog-walking spots Fort Funston and Ocean Beach. The rules, which would also convert several off-leash areas to leash-required areas for man/woman's best friend, are intended to provide additional protections for endangered species such as the snowy plover.
Having not even gone into effect, the Chronicle reports, the proposed changes are upsetting members of the Bay Area's dog-owning community.
“This is a huge disappointment,” chairwoman of the San Francisco Dog Owners Group, Sally Stephens, told the paper. “Instead of bringing people to nature, the Park Service seems to be trying to find ways to keep people away.”
The Park Service, for its part, disagrees and notes that a lot of visitors don't own dogs and don't want to run into dogs when visiting GGNRA parks.
"We need to consider the needs and desires of a full range of visitors, some of whom enjoy experiencing the park with dogs and some of whom don’t,” GGNRA director of communications Howard Levitt told the Chronicle. “Many visitors want to have an experience that doesn’t have a dog encounter in it."
According to the National Park Conservation Association, "GGNRA’s new zoning plan will replace an outdated, 1979 'pet policy' that was developed without considering scientific research and the diverse park uses."
Maps of the full set of proposed changes, which are too many to list here, really drive home how much space is to be completely off limits to dogs. For example, NPCA notes that 31 percent of beaches in GGNRA will be open to dogs in some leashed form or other. Another way of reading that, of course, is that 69 percent of beaches will be completely off limits to dogs.
There will be sixty days of public comment on the rules, which, if approved, will likely go into effect by the year's end. (Update: You can find details on how to provide comment on the rules, whether in support or in opposition, on the National Park Service website.)
Muir Beach map via National Park Service.