Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Dog Management at Golden Gate National Recreation Area Now Open for Comment

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Date: January 14, 2011
Contact: Alexandra Picavet, (415) 561-4732

The National Park Service announced today that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Dog Management (DEIS) in Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) is now available for public comment. This is the culmination of a nine-year planning process. The entire document including summaries, maps and charts are available on the internet at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/dogplan. The 30-page Executive Summary and six-page summary of the Preferred Alternative is a good overview.

The 90-day public comment period runs from January 14 until April 14, 2011. The DEIS evaluates the impacts of a range of alternatives, including a preferred alternative, for managing dog walking at 21 areas in Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties. This is a key step in establishing a new regulation for dog walking in this unit of the National Park Service (NPS).

“This is truly a defining moment for Golden Gate National Recreation Area,” said Superintendent Frank Dean. “After more than 30 years of conflicting uses and general confusion, today we are releasing the draft of a unified plan for dog management in the park. We believe the proposed plan offers clear, consistent, and enforceable management, and most important of all, it balances conservation and recreation."

The preferred alternative was selected as best for achieving the purposes of the plan, which are to:

  • provide a clear, enforceable policy to determine the manner and extent of dog use in appropriate areas of the park;
  • promote the preservation and protection of natural and cultural resources and natural processes;
  • provide a variety of visitor experiences, improve visitor and employee safety, and reduce conflicts;
  • maintain park resources and values for future generations.
During the review period, the NPS is seeking substantive public input such as issues or impacts the NPS may have failed to consider, inconsistencies in the plan. Following consideration of those comments, a proposed rule for dog management will be published for public comment. There will be no change in dog walking management in the park until a Final Environmental Impact Statement is completed and a formal rule on dog management is issued. This is anticipated to occur in late 2012.

“We know the passion surrounding dog use at the park,” said Superintendent Dean. “We look forward to the thoughtful review and comment by the entire spectrum of park users to assure that our approach to dog management is ultimately wise and appropriate for this national park area,” Dean said.

How to comment:
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Dog Management will be available for review and comment for 90 days - January 14 through April 14, 2011.

Comments may be submitted:

Online at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/dogplan

By mailing comments to Frank Dean, General Superintendent, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Building 201, Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA 94123-0022.

At one of the public open-house meetings in early March- sign language interpreters will be made available if requested at least one week prior to the meeting. To make a request please call the TDD phone at 415-556-2766.

  • Wednesday, March 2, 4:00–8:00 p.m.—Tamalpais High School, 700 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley  
  • Saturday, March 5, 11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.—San Francisco State University, Seven Hills Conference Center, State Drive, San Francisco 
  • Monday, March 7, 4:00–8:00 p.m.—Ft. Mason Center, Bldg. A, San Francisco
  • Wednesday, March 9, 4:00–8:00 p.m.—Cabrillo School, 601 Crespi Drive, Pacifica

Reference copies of the document are available at the following Bay Area libraries:

San Francisco Public Libraries: Main Library; Sunset Branch; Noe Valley/Sally Brunn Branch; Richmond/Senator Milton Marks Branch; Mission Branch; Potrero Branch; Chinatown Branch

Marin County Free Libraries: Civic Center Branch; Fairfax Branch; Corte Madera Branch; and Sausalito Public Library

San Mateo County Libraries: Pacifica Sharp Park Library; Daly City Public Library-Westlake Branch

East Bay Libraries: Oakland Main Library; Berkeley Central Library

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____________________________________________________________________________________
BACKGROUND
Abbreviated History of the Dog Management Issue at Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, established in 1972, is one of the most visited national park units in the country, with an annual visitation of 16-million. It is a unit of the 394-unit National Park Service, and includes management of Muir Woods National Monument and Fort Point National Historic Site. Despite a federal regulation on dog use in parks (36 CFR 2.15) requiring dogs to be kept on a leash wherever they are permitted in a national park unit, Golden Gate National Recreation Area allowed off leash dog walking in some park areas for many years. Currently, Golden Gate National Recreation Area is the only NPS unit where off leash dog walking is permitted.

By the late 1990’s, increases in visitation at the park, public concern about visitor and pet safety, park resource management issues involving wildlife and vegetation protection, litigation, and general confusion regarding the rules on dog walking in the park, underscored the need for a comprehensive plan for dog management.

In 1999, the park closed a 12-acre section of Fort Funston to all use to restore habitat, reduce visitor safety problems, and protect geologic resources. The park was successfully sued to prevent this change in management; the court ruling required the park to undertake full public review and comment prior to initiating changes.

In 2002, the park issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, requesting public input on the park’s intent to develop a rule for dog management.

Between 2006 and 2008, the park enacted emergency restrictions and a special regulation for two specific areas to protect the Western Snowy Plover, a federally listed threatened species.

In 2006–2007, the park participated in a Negotiated Rulemaking process for dog management, which brought the NPS and stakeholders representing a broad array of interest groups together to try and develop consensus on a rule for dog management in the park. After 18-months, the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee determined that consensus could not be achieved for a majority of areas opened for consideration by the Committee. Soon thereafter, the park began to develop this Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Dog Management at Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  

Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Dog Management is the culmination of over nine years of effort involving the significant contribution of hundreds of the public, and the Negotiated Rulemaking process, as well as the work of a large team of park professionals.

About the Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes under its management two additional areas--Fort Point National Historic Site and Muir Woods National Monument. It is administered by the National Park Service under the Department of the Interior. As one of the most visited units of the National Park system, Golden Gate National Recreation Area welcomes approximately 16 million visitors a year, and is one of the largest urban parks in the world.

The park is as diverse as it is expansive; it contains an extraordinary array of historic resources spanning a period of thousands of years before Europeans arrived in California through the present day, including hundreds of historic structures and international icons like Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge. Located at the convergence of the North American and Pacific tectonic plates, it includes an exceptional variety of geological features and biological habitats.  

The natural resources of the park are equally impressive. Within the park’s boundaries are nearly half of all North American avian species and one third of California plant species. Significantly, there are 36 federally-listed threatened and endangered species found in Golden Gate National Recreation Area—more than all but a handful of National Park Service sites in the country. In recognition of the significance of park resources so close to a highly urbanized area, the park is included within the Golden Gate International Biosphere Reserve, designated by the United Nations’ Man and the Biosphere Program.

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Last updated: February 28, 2015

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