Q: Why is GGNRA implementing a new Dog Management Plan?
Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) is currently operating under an outdated pet policy developed in 1979.
The Bay Area population has increased over 40% since the 1979 Pet Policy was put in place, and is expected to grow another 24% by the year 2040, reaching a population of 9.3 million people. The Dog Management Plan would protect natural and cultural resources, provide safe, healthy, clean, and fun recreational experiences for all visitors, and preserve our national heritage for future generations.
Since 1979, park visitation has grown significantly along with our understanding of park resources. GGNRA now welcomes 17 million visitors each year. Park inventories have documented more than 3,800 species, including 37 federally endangered and threatened species, several of which may be affected by dog walking. The park’s growing popularity sometimes results in conflicts between people, dogs, and park resources. Law enforcement has documented a growing number of conflicts, averaging more than 300 dog-related incidents each year (during an initial study from 2008-2011).
A Dog Management Plan is now needed to ensure a safe, healthy, meaningful, and enriching experience for all of our park visitors while protecting park resources for future generations to come.
Q: Where is GGNRA in the planning process?
The National Park Service is entering the final planning stages in the development of a Dog Management Plan and Final Rule for Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).
As a next step, a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) analyzes alternative approaches to dog management and recommends a Preferred Alternative. A Record of Decision (ROD) will follow signaling federal approval of the FEIS Preferred Alternative. The planning process will conclude with the publication of the Final Rule in the Federal Register early next year.
The Final Rule will specify an effective date. Implementation of the Final Rule will include public outreach and education and the installation of signage, fencing, vegetation and other physical barriers that are critical to the successful implementation of this new dog management special regulation.
The FEIS, ROD, and Final Rule represent the final steps in a 14-year process, informed by public comment, to develop a commonsense rule that supports the wide variety of recreational activities found at GGNRA in a safe environment, while protecting natural and cultural resources for future generations.
Q: What is a "Rule" for dog management?
Federal Agencies, such as the National Park Service, have rules and regulations that guide policies, programs, and management. In order to update or change these rules, a rulemaking process is necessary.
The Rule for Dog Management in the GGNRA will identify places in the park where dogs are welcome – both on-leash and under voice and sight control – as well as areas that are dog-free. It will also describe the responsibilities of dog owners to manage their dogs effectively and requirements for people walking 4-6 dogs at one time.
Q. How does the Dog Management Plan/FEIS Preferred Alternative reflect public comment?
GGNRA received more than 16,000 public correspondences during the overall dog management planning process. Comments have been categorized and responded to in public planning documents. The FEIS Preferred Alternative incorporates a number of changes as a result of more than 4,100 public comments on the proposed rule. A partial list of recent changes since the proposed rule includes:
o Addition of voice and sight control area at Rancho Corral de Tierra (Flat Top)
o Addition of on-leash loop trail at Muir Beach (Kaashi Way)
o Expansion of both voice and sight control and dog free areas at Crissy Field
o Realignment and expansion of on-leash area at Baker Beach
o Addition of an accessible on- and off-leash trail at Fort Funston
o Addition of on-leash trail at Mori Point (Mori Headlands Trail)
o Addition of on-leash trail to overlook at Milagra Ridge (Milagra Ridge Road)
Q: How were alternatives and comments assessed? How do I find out why something was or was not included in the plan?
An interdisciplinary team carefully considered all public comments and dog management plan alternatives to determine which would best accomplish the purpose and need of the proposed action while fulfilling NPS’s statutory mission and responsibilities, giving consideration to economic, environmental, technical, and other factors.
Comments and alternatives were incorporated when they helped the park meet the purpose and need of the plan while fulfilling its statutory mission and responsibilities.
Q: Will there be public review/comment on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), Record of Decision (ROD), or Final Rule?
The FEIS reflects public comment submitted during several successive, earlier stages in the planning process: the Draft Environmental Impact Statement of 2011, the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement of 2013, and the Proposed Rule for Dog Management in 2016.
There will not be a formal public comment period for the FEIS, ROD, or Final Rule. The FEIS, ROD, and Final Rule will be available for public review.
Q: How much of the park will be available to dog walking? Does the FEIS Preferred Alternative reduce dog walking to a small fraction of the park?
The FEIS Preferred Alternative identifies 22 locations for dog walking in the GGNRA, including areas in 6 locations that would welcome dogs under voice and sight control (off-leash).
While GGNRA is 80,000 acres, NPS only directly manages 18,500 acres, including steep slopes, cliffs, and land that is inaccessible to all.
Of the 8.8 miles of beaches, about 2.8 miles (31%) will be available for dog walkers, including 2.3 miles for voice and sight control. Of the 140 miles of trails addressed in our planning process, approximately 47 miles (34%) will be available for dog walking. GGNRA would remain the most dog-friendly of the 413 units of National Park Service and the only national park to provide areas for voice and sight control (off-leash) dog walking.
Q: What about dog access at two of the most popular locations, Fort Funston and Crissy Field?
The area available for dog use is substantial at these two locations. At Fort Funston, the Preferred Alternative includes more than 18 acres upland for voice and sight control, in addition to the beach. In addition, most of the trails and parking lots would also be available for dogs on-leash.
At Crissy Field, dogs would be permitted in most places. Approximately 40% of the airfield, and 40% of the beachfront mileage would be available for voice and sight control (off-leash) dog use. In addition, much of the airfield (83%), the East Beach picnic area, and nearly all of the trails would be open to dogs on leash.
Q: Where would I be able to walk my dog in the GGNRA under voice and sight control (off-leash) as described in the FEIS Preferred Alternative?
Dogs under voice and sight control would be allowed in designated areas within 6 park locations: Rodeo Beach; Fort Mason; Crissy Field; Ocean Beach; Fort Funston; and Rancho Corral de Tierra.
Q: Why are you allowing permitted dog walking for 4-6 dogs?
As part of the dog management planning process, NPS evaluated the impacts of a permit program and concluded that the program would meet the dog management planning objectives.
In 2014, GGNRA successfully introduced an interim permit requirement for walking 4-6 dogs, a separate effort from the dog management planning, due to commercial dog walking regulations being adopted by the City and County of San Francisco and the city of Tiburon.
The Preferred Alternative would require a permit for anyone walking 4-6 dogs in the park. Permittees would have access to walk dogs in 7 park locations in GGNRA, Monday through Friday from 8 AM - 5 PM.
Q: Will the Rule go into effect immediately?
NPS anticipates the Final Rule on Dog Management in GGNRA will be published in the Federal Register in early winter 2017. The Final Rule will specify an effective date. Implementation of the Final Rule will include public outreach and education and the installation of signage, fencing, vegetation and other physical barriers that are critical to the successful implementation of this new dog management special regulation.
Q: How will GGNRA monitor compliance with the Rule? Could there be further changes?
All areas open to dog walking will be subject to a Monitoring Management Program. This program will include regular monitoring and documenting compliance with the Final Rule. If compliance approaches an unacceptable level, for example by the number or types of violations, resource or visitor impacts, management actions will be taken to increase compliance.
Examples include additional outreach and education, increased area-specific enforcement, fine increases, special use permit restrictions, training requirements, or additional separation of areas. If these primary management actions do not successfully address the problem, secondary action would be taken, such as additional use restrictions (including training certification to use off-leash areas, limits to the number of dogs off-leash at one time with one guardian), short- or long-term closures of some areas to dog walking, or increased buffer zones.