Oh boy. Here we go.
The dogs of war are about to be unleashed over their proposed releashing.
Tomorrow, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area releases its long-awaited Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which will include new "dog management" rules. These will dictate exactly where peripatetic pooches will be allowed to frolic off-leash, and where they will not.
I'm only exaggerating a little when I say that in certain interested Bay Area communities, this is an issue that incites the same partisan reactions evidenced in the most intractable geopolitical conflicts. (Within our own borders, think Red State vs. Blue State or Team Jake vs. Team Edward.) Generally, the battle pits dog owners vs. environmentalists, although sometimes non-dog loving city residents join the fray.
When the GGNRA tried to issue stricter leash guidelines in 2001, it caused a huge ker-ruff-le put on hold by a court's ruling that the National Recreational Area had to institute a public-comment policy before it changed the policy.
The Examiner has posted maps of each area potentially affected by the proposal, and many people are not going to be happy. Check them out.
The plan will also hit professional dog-walkers. The Marin Independent Journal reports that the proposal "calls for a limit of three dogs per person. Additionally, professional dog walkers would be limited to six pooches and must get a permit from the park."
The public comment period starts tomorrow. A final ruling is not due until 2012.
The Chronicle lists a number of scheduled public hearings on the plan:
March 2: 4 to 8 p.m., Tamalpais High Student Center, 700 Miller Ave., Mill Valley.
March 5: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., San Francisco State University, Seven Hills Conference Center, State Drive, S.F.
March 7: 4 to 8 p.m., Fort Mason Center, Building A, Marina Boulevard at Buchanan Street, S.F.
March 9: 4 to 8 p.m. at Cabrillo School, 601 Crespi Drive, Pacifica.
If you can't wait till then, KQED's Public Insight Network is now seeking people with personal insights into the issue.
Rover would still be allowed unleashed on the largest part of Rodeo Beach in the Marin headlands, but not on the narrow southern portion, or South Rodeo Beach. Oakwood Valley, which is often crowded with dog walkers, would still allow unrestrained pooches, but only on a fire trail. The lower section of Oakwood Valley Trail, which is used by dog walkers to complete a hiking loop, would prohibit all dogs. The trail up to the ridge that connects to Alta Trail would require leashes.
Most areas in the Peninsula would continue to require leashes, but the proposal would prohibit all dogs on Sweeney Ridge.
In The City... people who want to let their dogs roam freely at Fort Funston would be limited to a stretch of shoreline and a section by the parking lot. And off-leash enjoyment would be prohibited entirely at Lands End and Baker Beach, which currently allow animals to be managed by voice control...Also, the recreation area is proposing that dog owners at Ocean Beach, Fort Mason and four other open spaces in The City abide by more-constricting rules.
Marin Independent Journal:
Dogs would be off limits on Muir and South Rodeo beaches — where they are now allowed to run under voice control — and they would have to be leashed on Marin Headlands trails and in the Homestead Valley under the proposed plan.