What's New
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Please join Congresswoman Jackie Speier in welcoming Christine Lehnertz, Superintendent of the GGNRA, at Nick's Restaurant in Pacifica, Saturday, July 18, 2015, 10-11 a.m.

To read the entire Presidio Trust Proposal in the Federal Register, visit: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-11-21/pdf/2012-28018.pdf (209 KB PDF)

Below is a brief chronological history of the GGNRA off-leash dog issue:

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) released a Dog Management Plan (vs. Draft Environmental Impact Statement) for public review January 14 that is a culmination of a planning process focused on how best to manage dog walking throughout the GGNRA. The plan will identify one or more alternatives that provide clear, enforceable guidelines to determine the manner and extent of dog walking in the GGNRA.

Watch a short video about how you can respond to the Dog Management Plan.

Currently, the GGNRA is operating under a 1979 Pet Policy (available in Eco-dog’s Resource Library) that allows for dogs to be off leash and under voice control in certain parts of the GGNRA. Click here to see videos about the areas in the GGNRA where you can currently walk your dog off leash and under voice control.

GGNRA Off-Leash Issue History

Early 1970s – The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), including land in San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo Counties, was created as an urban recreational park. GGNRA was formed "to expand to the maximum extent possible the outdoor recreational opportunities available in this region" and it was supposed to be part of "new national urban recreational areas that will concentrate on serving the outdoor recreational needs of the people of the metropolitan region." Land continues to be added to the GGNRA.

Late 1970s – Local citizens expressed concern when federal regulations prevented traditional activities in areas now managed by the GGNRA, and dog owners lobbied to relax federal off-leash rules. In response, the GGNRA Citizens’ Advisory Committee held extensive hearings, which resulted in the 1979 Pet Policy. The Pet Policy outlined off-leash rules and defined specific off-leash areas in San Francisco and Marin Counties.

1983 – Congress mandated that all national parks must abide by the same regulations, but created the option of special rules for exceptions within individual parks. Special rules were created in the GGNRA to allow bicycles on trails and hang gliding at Fort Funston. Although the GGNRA superintendent requested a special rule for off-leash activity, there is no record of a reply. The GGNRA continued to abide by the Pet Policy until 2001.

1990s – The GGNRA began selectively closing coastal areas. In some cases the closures applied only to off-leash activity, and in other cases areas were fenced off and no activity was permitted. These closures included the coastal bluffs at Fort Funston, Ocean Beach from Stairwell 21 to Sloat, West Beach at Crissy Field, and Land’s End, among others.

2000 – The GGNRA closed another 12 acres of coastal bluffs at Fort Funston. The dog-owner community reacted and filed a lawsuit to prevent the closure. A federal judge ruled that the U.S. Park Service is required to issue a public notice and allow comment before making a highly controversial change. The Park Service issued a notice, collected comments, and ultimately closed a larger area than initially proposed – and closed it permanently rather than seasonally.

2001 – The GGNRA began enforcing the leash law from the 1979 Pet Policy in all areas of the park. In response to a significant public outcry, the GGNRA began the long process of creating a special rule (see “1983” section above).

2004/2005 – Three individuals from the Crissy Field Dog Group challenged the leash citations they received at Crissy Field and appeared before the same judge who had ruled that the 12-acre closure in 2000 was illegal. The Court again ruled that the GGNRA cannot make a highly controversial change without public notice and comment, and dismissed the citations. The GGNRA ceased enforcing the leash law in areas covered by the 1979 Pet Policy (see “Late 1970s” section above).

2006/2011 – In 2006, the GGNRA established a Negotiated Rulemaking for Dog Management committee. After a two-year period of intense negotiations, stakeholders failed to reach a consensus. However, the GGNRA Dog Caucus did submit a Proposed Dog Management Plan at the last rulemaking committee meeting. In addition, the GGNRA is conducting an environmental impact study regarding various off-leash/ on-leash and no-dog options, with the goal of outlining the areas and rules by which these activities will continue to be legal in the GGNRA. This draft document (GGNRA Dog Management Plan) will be released in January, 2011, at which time the public will have an opportunity to review and comment before the special rule is finalized. More information is available on the GGNRA pages of the National Park Service website.

There have been several proposed changes to dog walking rules applying to land controlled by Presidio Trust. The Trust wants to adopt the City of San Francisco's new Commercial Dog Walking Ordinance (permit) that will go into effect around July 2013. The City's permit would allow commercial dog walkers to walk up to 8 dogs per trip.