The National Park Service has released a revised draft Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) Dog Management Plan, which aims to dramatically limit dog access in San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties. As drafted, the plan would require dogs to be on leash in many areas of the GGNRA, leaving only relatively confined off-leash areas that will soon become overcrowded. In San Francisco, for example, off-leash access would be prohibited in parts of Crissy Field, Ocean Beach and Fort Funston, all areas where dogs are currently allowed to run free.
The San Francisco SPCA is very concerned about the negative impacts of these sweeping dog park closures. For many urban dog guardians, especially seniors who find it difficult exercise their pets while on-leash, the GGNRA represents the only place where they can allow their dogs to play, romp around and release a lot of energy. Take away this haven for exercise, and guardians may be unable to meet the physical needs of their pets. Daily exercise, like food and water, is essential to a dog’s proper health and well-being.
In addition, the GGNRA closures will nearly certainly result in serious overcrowding of dog parks within the City of San Francisco. As dog guardians and dog walkers can attest, the City’s dog parks are already quite limited, with off-leash areas being particularly scarce.
The Dog Management Plan should benefit people, dogs and the environment. Striking the balance between dog recreation and natural resource degradation is, of course, important. We all need to help make sure that sensitive habitats and species are not harmed. At the same time, we need to preserve access to these federal lands for diverse constituents, including responsible dog guardians and their pets, so that everyone can enjoy them.
What can I do? Listed below are 5 easy ways that Bay Area dog lovers can get involved:
- Get Informed – Visit www.eco-dog.org for more information. Review your favorite places where you take your dog and see how the proposed changes will impact you and your pets.
- Share Your Story – Visit the National Park Service website and share your personal stories about why off-leash dog walking is important to you. The 90-day comment period has been extended to January 11th.
- Stop by a Public Meeting – Join park staff in one of the open-house meetings to learn more about, and provide comments on, the plan. A large coalition of activists is planning a march to and rally at the November 2 meeting. See eco-dog.org/get-involved/events for details.
- Spread the Word – Let your friends, families and dog walking buddies know about this issue. Share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter!