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GGNRA’s dog management plan getting much-needed reanalysis

In January 2011, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) released their Draft Dog Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for public review, and accepted comments on the documents until the end of May. In August 2011, a summary report of the public comments received was posted online.

In late January 2012, the GGNRA mailed out a newsletter with an update on their progress in reviewing the many public comments received on the DEIS. Due to the substance of the responses, the GGNRA is now developing a Supplemental DEIS to take into consideration “additional data and studies, and potential changes to the alternatives and impacts analysis resulting from that information.”

The Supplemental DEIS is scheduled to be issued in late summer 2012, and will offer the public an additional opportunity to comment on both the plan and the proposed revisions. This supplemental stage will add approximately a year to the management plan timeline, with the release of the proposed rulemaking now scheduled for fall 2013.

Changes Being Considered

After evaluating the public comments received, the GGNRA is considering some of the following changes:

  • Developing site-specific alternatives for Rancho Corral de Tierra
  • Evaluating additional access for dog walking, both on leash and under voice control
  • Re-evaluating the impact on adjacent federal, city and county parklands that could result from reducing areas open to dog walking in the GGNRA
  • Revising the compliance-based management strategy by including natural and cultural resource monitoring, removing automatic triggers and restrictions, and incorporating additional education and enforcement
  • Providing additional visitor use information and law enforcement statistics for the impacts analysis
  • Incorporating additional studies into the impacts analysis
  • Further evaluating compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Re-evaluating fencing as a method to minimize the impact of dog walking

Somewhat prophetically, this list arrived in my mailbox the day after a dog walker was shot with a stun gun by a GGNRA ranger at Rancho Corral de Tierra, the subject of item No. 1 above. This open space was just recently incorporated into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and was already the point of considerable concern for off-leash advocates. Rancho Corral de Tierra, which has been used for off-leash walking for decades, was not included in the Draft Dog Management Plan, but it would have been covered under the “New Lands” acquisition rules proposed, hence the early concern. In the GGNRA’s preferred version, new lands would be handled according to federal regulations regarding dogs in national parks –that generally means no off-leash use and leashed access only in designated paved areas.

The newsletter notes that further information about the GGNRA Dog Management Project, including a summary of the public comments received, is available on line at www.nps.gov/goga/parkmgmt/dog-management.htm.

If you want to review the public comments, grab a big beverage and get comfortable as there are 4,118 pages containing 4,713 documented comments. An additional 72 attachments that were submitted with the comments are also available, including the attachment to Comment No. 4699: a 54-page list of comments from 5,523 people who signed an online petition in opposition to the draft plan. Petitions were not allowed as valid commentary by the GGNRA. But when there are 4,713 total documented comments, yet 5,523 petitioners alone are opposed, it seems the comment process wasn’t all-encompassing.

Visitor Survey Proposed

One of city leaders’ major concerns was the fact that the Draft Dog Management Plan did not address the effect that limiting dogs in many popular GGNRA locations would have on community parks and open spaces. Item No. 3 in the list is obviously intended to address those concerns. To that end, the newsletter states that a postcard will be sent to those on the GGNRA’s Dog Management Plan mailing list providing a link to an online survey in February 2012. The survey will be asking for input on what other areas dog walkers and non-dog walkers might visit if existing GGNRA sites limit off-leash walking. As of the date of this writing, no postcard has been received and there is no survey available online.

For questions about the project including being added to the mailing list and accessing the public survey, you can call the GGNRA’s information line at 415-561-4728.

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