They are at it again.

Just when we thought we might be able to walk with our dogs in the Golden Gate National Recreation area without having to worry that the Park Service would take this activity away, they are moving to revive the dog rule for the GGNRA, hoping the new Secretary of the Interior won’t notice what they’re up to. We can't let this happen.

Please click here to sign the petition asking the new Interior Secretary to help us stop the National Park Service’s assault on dog walking in the GGNRA.

DOG RULE UPDATE
Here’s what’s going on – we thought the Park Service wouldn’t possibly try to push through the GGNRA dog rule after we discovered through our Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit that numerous Park Service officials—including two GGNRA superintendents—had been using their private email accounts to collaborate behind the scenes with special interest groups that oppose dog walking. By colluding with these groups to lobby elected officials on behalf of the Park Service position, and by destroying administrative record files, demonstrating bias against dog walking supporters, and omitting data from the dog management plan, they irreparably corrupted the administrative process used to develop the dog rule. (See WoofieLeaks.com for more details.)

But that doesn’t seem to matter to the Park Service. We believe they are now maneuvering to try to push the dog rule forward and it could happen as early as this summer. On May 15, the Park Service announced they’d commissioned an “independent review panel” to evaluate whether NPS officials violated the National Environmental Policy Act by using private email to collaborate with outside groups that oppose dog walking in the GGNRA. However, in their press statement, the Park Service only acknowledged that one employee used his private email for this purpose. In fact, at least four Park Service officials, including two GGNRA superintendents, used their private email to conspire with outside groups—not to mention the many other serious issues with the dog plan process.

In late May our lawyers responded with a forceful letter to the Park Service calling for transparency and for a truly independent investigation to be conducted by the Department of the Interior's Office of the Inspector General. Click here to read MoFo's letter. 

YOUR HELP NEEDED NOW TO STOP THE DOG RULE
Right now we need to bring the GGNRA dog rule to the attention of the new Secretary of the Interior, who has been very public about wanting the Department of the Interior (of which the Park Service is a part) to be dog friendly. He can help us stop the Park Service staff’s misconduct and get the dog rule withdrawn once and for all.

We’ve held off the Park Service for more than a decade because all of us wrote letters, rallied, lobbied, marched and did whatever else we could think of. Let’s not let them defeat us now.  Do it for our four-legged family members and for our way of life!

GGNRA DOG PLAN SUSPENDED & INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED

The National Park Service is suspending its final decision on the GGNRA dog plan while the agency investigates staff emails brought to light via our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

There have been more developments today. 

Today, the National Park Service released their public statement announcing the dog plan hold, as well as the release of 137 pages of emails from a former senior GGNRA official’s personal email account that was used for agency business in the GGNRA dog management planning process.  The emails were released in response to our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit and show questionable behind-the-scenes collaboration with a handful of external groups working to severely restrict dog walking access in the GGNRA.

These newly-released emails come on the heels of other NPS internal documents and emails received through our FOIA lawsuit showing extreme agency bias against people who walk their dogs, improper and possibly unlawful record keeping practices, and ongoing behind-the-scenes collaboration with external groups.  The NPS staff emails released today and other NPS internal dog plan documents can be viewed on WoofieLeaks.com.  

Broad External Investigation Needed into the Dog Plan
Given this new new information, today Congresswoman Jackie Speier announced that she has called upon the Department of the Interior Inspector General to conduct a thorough and public inquiry into improper and potentially illegal actions by National Park Services employees at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), where a National Park Service employee used a personal email account to hide deliberate collaborations with special interest groups opposed to off-leash dog walking within the GGNRA.  (Click here to read the full press release.)

Thank You
Marin County DOG wishes to thank Congresswoman Speier and all of you who have continued to fight the Park Service's highly restrictive dog plan over the years.  Our fight is not over, but right now we are thankful that internal NPS dog plan emails and documents are coming to light and actions are being taken.

GGNRA Releases Proposed Final Dog Plan

Thursday, the National Park Service released its Final Environmental Impact Statement outlining its proposed final plan for dog management in the GGNRA.  On January 10, 2017, the Park Service is planning to sign the Record of Decision, the agency's final position on dog management in the GGNRA.  

Although the National Park Service is trying to represent the plan as a compromise, it is nothing of the sort. The recently released version would still ban off-leash dog walking by 90% and on-leash dog walking by 50% in the GGNRA.

Huge Losses for Marin:

  • Only 8 miles of leashed trail access remain- down from 24 miles.
  • The only off-leash area is a half-mile stretch of Rodeo Beach, a cold, remote location with treacherous surf that requires a lengthy drive in heavy weekend traffic.
  • Historically dog-friendly Muir Beach is now on-leash only.
  • Dogs will be banned on every single trail leading out of Muir Beach, including fire roads, virtually stranding that community.
  • There will be zero off-leash trails, including fire roads! 

Huge Cuts in San Francisco and San Mateo:

  • Fort Funston and Crissy Field are losing 60% of dog walking areas.  
  • Dogs will be completely banned on 80% of Ocean Beach.
  • San Mateo finally got some off-leash but it’s miniscule.
  • Dogs can be leash free on three acres at Flat Top Rancho Corral de Teirra in El Granada but that’s out of more than 4,000 acres.
  • The other areas in that county will see a 50 to 60 percent reduction in access.
  • And no one can access San Mateo GGNRA lands with more than three dogs virtually decimating the commercial dog walking industry there.

*Stay tuned. We will be getting information from our lawyers soon. We are commited to fighting this plan every step of the way. We will not give up.


GET READY FOR A CALL-IN THIS MONDAY:
We will be having a Bay Area-wide call-in to key Congress members.
Monday, Dec 12. Details coming soon!



Mighty Mutt March a Mighty Success!

We are happy to report that Saturday's Mighty Mutt March at Crissy Field was an amazing success. Upwards of 1,000 people and their dogs came out in force to show their opposition to GGNRA's extreme dog plan.  Between the beautiful weather, creative protest signs, dog costumes, passionate speakers, and great music, a good time was had by all.  Thanks to everyone for making it a great day.
In the past day, more than 100 news outlets throughout the country and internationally have run stories on the march, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Miami Heard, San Diego Tribune, Kansas City Star, and the New Zealand Herald just to name a few.  Here's a sampling of the news stories:

Washington Post: Hundreds Walk Pooches to Protest Dog Walking Limits

KPIX (CBS): Dog Owners Hit the Streets to Protest Plan to Reduce Off-Leash Park Areas

SF Chronicle: Dog Owners Unleash Protest of Proposed Restrictions in GGNRA


SFExaminer Article: Stop calling it ‘Golden Gate National Parks’

SFExaminer Article By Sally Stephens on March 27, 2016 1:00 am

Congress created the Golden Gate National Recreation Area “to concentrate on serving the outdoor recreation needs of the people of this metropolitan area.” That’s from the official report of the creation by the U.S. House of Representatives. And that’s also why Congress made it a National Recreation Area — not a National Park.

Yet some people, in a radical reinterpretation of history, are now trying to claim the GGNRA, which includes Ocean Beach, Fort Funston, Muir Beach and Crissy Field, was always intended to be a traditional national park. Instead of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, its official name, they call it “Golden Gate National Parks.”

This renaming is not harmless. By constantly referring to the Golden Gate National Parks, the radical revisionists may hope people will, over time, forget it was created with a recreational mandate. And that, over time, people may come to think of this urban recreation area as a traditional national park — something it was never intended to be.

For the first 20 years after its founding in 1972, the National Park Service managed the GGNRA for recreation. Then new staff came and began to change the way it was run, first with closures ostensibly for habitat restoration, then with restrictions on recreational uses like bicycling, bonfires and dog walking.

At about the same time, wealthy donors formed what became the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy to raise money for the GGNRA. Money talks, and the idea of changing the name took root.

Eight years ago, Rep. Nancy Pelosi introduced legislation in Congress to make it official. It was just a cosmetic change, she said. Calling it a “national park” would give the recreation area more prestige and help the conservancy raise more money.

But the conservancy has never had any problem raising money. In 2014, they raised more than $43 million. That’s more than the nonprofits that support Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon combined.

But Pelosi’s legislation was much more than “just” cosmetic. It would go into the enabling legislation and replace the word “recreation” with “national park” wherever it occurred. With the stroke of a pen, the recreational mandate behind the area’s creation would disappear.

Fortunately, a coalition of recreational users found out about the legislation the day before it was to be voted on and stopped it.

The National Park Service, however, apparently didn’t notice. All the tchotchkes they sell say “Golden Gate National Parks.” Official emails are signed as coming from the National Parks.

The name change gambit reflects a fundamental shift in how the Park Service sees the GGNRA. Indeed, they no longer use “recreation” as one of its guiding principles. Instead, they want to treat nearly all of the urban recreation area as if it is remote, pristine wilderness. It’s not.

For example, they want to manage nearly all of Ocean Beach and most of Fort Funston, for low visitor use, with controls on access and use, so people there can have a “solitary visitor experience” and test their outdoor skills … in the middle of dense, urban San Francisco. It’s absurd.

Despite widespread opposition, the Park Service is intent on imposing its “national park” mindset on our recreation area. If they decide to plant or place a new species near where you have walked, biked, surfed, rode horses, or kayaked for decades — or if they decide they don’t want people on a beach or trail for any reason or whim — you’re out of luck. In direct violation of its enabling legislation, recreation now plays second fiddle.

The GGNRA has been preserved from development and maintained as open space since its creation. Generations have shared and enjoyed these areas with other people, plants and wildlife. The changes the Park Service wants to make will hurt those who have relied on the GGNRA for decades for their outdoor recreational needs. They will hurt the very people the Golden Gate National Recreation Area was created to serve.

Stop calling the GGNRA the Golden Gate National Parks. There’s no such thing!

Sally Stephens is an animal, park, and neighborhood activist who lives in the West of Twin Peaks area.

Open Letter to San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar

It must be clarified: There is no such legal entity as the “Golden Gate National Parks.” (And, unfortunately, the name has created confusion about the status of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.) Yet Ms. Meyer, the Conservancy, and even the desperate-for-funds GGNRA have applied the false “National Parks” name as a basis for altering public use—including dog walking—in the GGNRA.
— Huey Johnson

Huey Johnson is a pioneering conservationist who was key in the formation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore. 

This is an open letter that Huey Johnson drafted to present to San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar, after learning that Supervisor Mar had decided to not support San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors otherwise-unanimous resolution opposing the GGNRA’s Draft Rule for Dog Management. Supervisor Mar was the lone opposing vote, but that resolution passed regardless. The letter was then sent to the full three County Boards of Supervisors in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties.