Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Are dogs currently roaming unregulated in the GGNRA, as many have asserted?
Answer: NO. The 1979 pet policy elegantly laid out a small sliver of places all throughout the GGNRA for use by people--so every community would have nearby hiking and running and beach opportunities with their canine companions. That policy was carefully crafted by the now-disbanded Citizens Advisory Commission, and done with the input of the NPS and elected officials and an accountable process. Rather than enforce this policy that is already in place, the GGNRA has decided to spend millions of dollars to figure out how to get rid of people with dogs from most of the GGNRA. And instead of a transparent, open and truly public process, we now have an out of control agency disregarding public input, and powerful private interests like the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy are reshaping priorities and morphing the congressionally established mission of the GGNRA.
Question: Is this really about dog poop and dogs harming the environment ?
Answer: NO. If this were about those alleged problems, there would be attempts--based in sound conservation practices-- to solve the problems for the benefit of everyone. There is nothing in the proposed rule that comes from any attempts to ever successfully solve those problems by anything other than marginalizing those who just want to responsibly enjoy their public lands with their canine companions. Rather than budgeting $2.6 million of taxpayer funds to enforce a draconian plan and kick people out of the GGNRA, the NPS would be using those precious resources for education, outreach and tools to help everyone be responsible, better stewards of our shared public lands. Additionally, there isn’t a single site-specific or peer reviewed study in two massive EIS’s totaling thousands of pages that shows that dogs specifically are causing any harm to the environment. Not one. The EIS’s are full of statements about what “might, may, can or could” happen. There is not one definitive study in any of the EIS’s showing that any of it IS happening. The one study that was done for the snowy plover actually showed rising plover numbers, so the NPS didn’t include that study.
Question: Who are the people actively and directly driving this policy?
Answer: This policy is coming from Jon Jarvis, the Director of the National Park Service. It is his stated goal to bring more high profile attention to the GGNRA, to attract private and corporate donations. Given its proximity to a wealthy urban area, the GGNRA is a perfect test case for privatization. Jarvis’ stated goal for the next 100 years of the NPS is to secure and institutionalize a private funding stream for our entire National Park System. And sanitizing the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and rebranding it as a “National Park” is all part of the plan to “elevate the status” of the GGNRA. And cleansing it of dogs has been his goal as they are inconsistent with his fiction that the GGNRA is a National Park and a world class tourist destination. There has been a concerted effort to disappear the Recreation Area designation, to the point that even high level GGNRA staff are signing emails saying that their affiliation is “Golden Gate National Parks”, a place that has no congressional designation. And that’s where the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy comes in…..
Question: How does donating to the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy contribute to the problems we are seeing in the GGNRA?
Answer: This is an important but complicated answer. Anyone who gives money to the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy should seriously rethink those donations. This debacle is the downside of relying on that money. This terrible plan is brought to you by them, even if indirectly. Their money gives Congress an avenue to dodge their responsibility to adequately fund our public lands. They have given the GGNRA approx. $362 million since 1981. Yet in 2015 the GGNRA reported a $278 million deferred maintenance backlog. Those backlogs translate into reduced maintenance staff, reduced trash collection, and reduced bathroom maintenance. The GGNRA has become increasingly unable to maintain access for a growing population. What better way to remove people from the GGNRA than effectively banning one of the most popular recreational activities.
The Conservancy designs and produces all the signs, including the “keep out” signs. While they fund their chosen priorities, those priorities aren’t the same as what was set forth in the GGNRA’s enabling legislation. While the enabling legislation cites preservation and maintenance of recreational open space, the Conservancy’s mission is about “enhancing” and “restoring”, and actually monetizing the GGNRA to bring in more revenue for Conservancy projects. They build visitor centers, gift shops, cafes and interpretive exhibits. They lead organized events, tours and educational programs. They introduce endangered species where there weren't any before--often in highly visited areas that have always been beloved by people, and people with dogs. Then they use the newly installed endangered species as the justification to keep you out of your public land. In Muir Beach, they introduced the red legged frog. In Oakwood Valley, they planted habitat for the mission blue butterfly, close to popular trails. Both are cited as reasons to restrict or ban dog walking in those areas.
The things they build and plant still require your tax dollars to maintain, making already stagnant budgets have to do more and more with less and less. Those limited resources get re-prioritized to maintain the fancy new Conservancy enhancements first, and your garbage cans and restrooms and safety last. They put a fine polish on the GGNRA....but we the taxpayers have to keep it shiny with our tax dollars. THEY ARE THE REASON THE GGNRA CLAIMS IT CAN'T AFFORD TO ENFORCE THE 1979 Pet Policy. They are the reason that the GGNRA is being converted to wilderness--certainly it’s much easier to manage, and much easier to then justify the new restrictions in access. They are the elite influence over our public lands, yet they are unaccountable to the public. And THEY are the reason your GGNRA doesn't give a hoot about you anymore. They are the ones pretending it's a National Park to enhance their own prestige and fundraising efforts. They are the ones who don’t even refer to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in their 2015 annual report, and instead have renamed the GGNRA without Congressional authority “Golden Gate National Parks”. They are the ones rebranding the GGNRA and sanitizing it for the pleasure of their board--a board that sits behind closed doors, deciding what gets funded with their millions of dollars, and what they can turn into a revenue generating vending machine to further feed their ambitions. They claim they are taking care of the GGNRA. They are NOT. They are rendering it too precious to touch, and increasing pressure on GGNRA budgets. They are the reason that our Congressional reps don't help more. Jared Huffman's biggest donors are on the Conservancy board, and Nancy Pelosi's too. So when push comes to shove, these reps that are supposed to represent the needs and wishes of their constituents instead bend to serve the wishes of their donors.
Privatizing parklands is a TERRIBLE IDEA. In Marin, keep your eyes peeled for OneTam and the Tamalpais Lands Collaborative....because the Conservancy and the NPS have gotten Marin County to swallow the same poisoned pill of their largess so that they can add the rest of Marin’s precious open spaces to their fictitious “Golden Gate National Parks”. If nothing else, hopefully this dog plan creates enough backlash to really expose the Conservancy for what it is.
Question: Who are the big donors to the GGNPC?
Answer: Amgen, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, CSAA Insurance Group, FedEx, Gap Inc., Genentech, Goldman Sachs, Google, Hotel Vitale, Kaiser Permanente, Levi Strauss & Co., Lowe's, Oracle, Peet's Coffee and Tea, REI, Salesforce.com, Wells Fargo
FAQ's - Commercial Dog Walkers
Question: I am a professional dog walker in Marin County. I currently have a National Park Service (NPS) permit to walk my clients’ dogs on GGNRA lands in several sites where dogs are permitted. Will I be able to renew my annual GGNRA permit if/when this dog policy becomes effective? What will be the cost?
Answer: Yes. Under the new Dog Management regulation GGNRA will continue to issue permits for commercial dog walking. Commercial dog walkers are defined by GGNRA as individuals who walk more than three dogs with a maximum of six dogs at one time. The cost of the permit has not been published yet. During the interim permit process, the cost of the permit was $300 per individual plus a $75 application fee per business.
Question: Will the locations where a commercial dog walker can take her dogs change from the current permitted lands in Marin?
Answer: The restrictions to GGNRA access for commercial dog walkers in Marin, documented in the proposed Dog Management regulation, are even more sweeping than the impact on individual dog owners who recreate with their dogs in the GGNRA. A commercial dog walker with a permit issued by NPS will be allowed to:
- Have up to six dogs under “Voice and Sight Control” on Rodeo Beach west and south of the signed or fenced buffer areas from the northern terminus of the beach south to the sea stacks which divide Rodeo Beach from South Rodeo Beach.
Walk up to six dogs On-Leash on:
- The Alta trail (end of Donohue in Marin City)
- The beach access steps at the north end of Rodeo Beach and the Lagoon Trail along Mitchell Road to and over the pedestrian bridge to the beach.
- Various trails in Fort Baker. For more detail, refer to maps on the GGNRA website.
Question: I take my dogs to Muir Beach on hot days. I walk them on-leash to the ocean before taking them off leash. They fetch balls, run and swim. They have too much fun to bother anyone. What happened to my commercial access to Muir Beach?
Answer: Commercial dog walkers are allowed to take up to 3 dogs to Muir Beach as any dog owner. However, the dogs must remain on leash, no matter how much they pull towards the water and dig in the sand to amuse themselves. Assuming that you adhere to these regulations, you do not need a permit to take up to three dogs to Muir Beach.
Question: I take my dogs for hikes in Oakwood Valley, Marin Headlands and Homestead Valley. Why aren’t these areas accessible to commercial dog walkers anymore?
Answer: As per the Dog Management regulation, in addition to Muir Beach and the Alta Trail, off-leash access will be lost to everyone at Oakwood Valley, Marin Headlands and Homestead Valley. Commercial dog walkers will still be able to take their dogs to those areas but they will only be able to bring a maximum of three dogs at one time and those dogs will need to be leashed. No permit will be necessary or available for these locations. Per the Dog Management regulation, “Limitations and restrictions on dog walking in these locations are designed to avoid or minimize adverse impacts on park resources, promote health and safety, reduce conflicts between diverse user groups, and address management responsibilities.
Question: At what times will commercial dog walking of 4-6 dogs be allowed?
Answer: Monday through Friday, between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM. No more weekends!