Today marks the beginning of the 90-day public comment period related to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's Draft Dog Management Plan. The full draft plan is now available on the web. The introduction, by Frank Dean, General Superintendent of the GGNRA, lays out the purpose of and reasons behind the proposal:
The purpose of this action is to provide a clear, enforceable policy to determine the manner and extent of dog use in appropriate areas of the park. Action is needed because under current conditions, park resources and values could be compromised to the extent that, without action, these resources and values in some areas of the park might not be available for enjoyment by future generations. Additionally, a dog management policy inconsistent with NPS regulations and increased public expectations for use of the park for dog recreation have resulted in controversy, litigation, and compromised visitor and employee safety, affecting visitor experience and resulting in resource degradation. These conflicts will likely escalate if not addressed in a comprehensive plan/EIS.
The document goes on to propose five alternative plans for 21 different dog-walking sites, including Stinson Beach, Muir Beach, Fort Baker, Fort Mason, Crissy Field, and Marin Headlands trails. The five alternatives for each site fall into the following categories:
- (A) Does not change the current policy
- (B) Aligns dog policy at GGNRA with the other existing National Park Service sites
- (C) Emphasizes multiple-use and apportions dog-walking geographically
- (D) Allows for the highest protection of "natural and cultural resources" and visitor safety
- (E) Plans that allow for the greatest level of dog-walking access
However, for each of the 21 sites, the proposal designates a "preferred alternative." The preferred alternative for a majority of the sites is C, which calls for more on-leash areas. Option D, the most restrictive of the no-leash options, is recommended for Muir Beach, Baker Beach, and the bluffs to the Golden Gate Bridge. For one site, Sutro Heights Park, the preference is for a less-restrictive leash policy.
Each set of alternatives also prescribes rules for commercial dog walking.