Cry for help: U.S. National Parks Service hates dogs, breaks law

Jason's dogs, Nemo and Pretzel, relaxing with the GGNRA in the background.

Since its inception in 1979, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area has been a massive, amazing, wonderful resource for San Francisco Bay Area residents. The GGNRA's charter states that it is to be treated as an urban recreational area for use by humans and their canine companions. It is the only US National park that allows dogs to be walked off-leash, and includes miles of on-leash trails for person and beast to roam. For as long as I can remember, the National Parks Service has been trying to limit or ban dogs from having this access.

I've lived in a small community, inside the parks boundaries, since 2008. There has been constant pressure from the NPS to ban dogs. Almost every year a large group of folks from all over the Bay Area oppose these restrictions and work inside the government-mandated process to prevent these changes. The story is always the same, the NPS does a half-assed job of unscientifically deciding that dogs are bad, presents no real studies or information on the impacts and decrees that dogs must go. This time, they've gone a step further. The Park service has illegally posted signs restricting access. Rangers have also begun harassing dog walkers under the pretense that these restrictions are already law. The NPS is doing this of their own accord, outside the process our Nation is relying on to represent us.

Sadly, I am out of the country and may not be able to reach my representatives. If you are so inclined, please give them a call (their numbers are in the quote below.) Nemo and Pretzel, my best friends, walk on those trails daily. Xeni and Miles have been watching them for me, while I'm out of town on business for the site, and can attest that life would be impossible if we're locked in the house and not allowed to walk in the park.

Honestly, the NPS runs national parks, not urban recreation areas. They don't understand the difference and want to turn a community resource into a tourist attraction. They are potentially wrecking businesses that have been in place for decades, creating massive traffic problems and treating the local residents like second class citizens. I think many of us lucky enough to live close to or inside the park are willing to work with the system, but the NPS just disregards the rules and presents false studies as science.

My neighbor Laura Pandapas shares this via NextDoor:

ALL HANDS ON DECK!!! AGAIN.......I know........


GGNRA initiates actions to restrict dogs NOW! Call your elected officials this Thursday March 20th.


The GGNRA dropped a bombshell late last week. While we've all been participating in good faith in the planning process by providing public input about the Dog Management Plan, the GGNRA has been getting ready to circumvent its own process and started implementing rules against dogs NOW.

• The GGNRA and the Presidio Trust plan to implement an "interim" rule to go in to effect in May that will restrict professional dog walking on GGNRA lands. No matter that professional dog walking rules are included in the GGNRA's dog management proposal that is undergoing an official federal review process; apparently the GGNRA has decided that it can just select a part of it's proposed plan and push it through outside of the process.

• Meanwhile, this past weekend in Marin, the GGNRA installed new signs restricting dog access, and rangers have been hassling the public to try and enforce new dog rules that don't exist yet.

The GGNRA hasn't even had time to read the thousands of public comments we submitted in opposition to their plan just one month ago! And they are over a year and a half away from the scheduled release of the final Environmental Impact Statement and ruling.



...and respectfully request Congressional oversight. That is the ONLY was to stop this disaster.

Jared Huffman sits on the Subcommittee for Public Lands and Environmental Regulation. He has the power to ask the Chairman to call for hearings on this issue. Tell him that's what you want! Call both offices for each Representative.

Jared Huffman (415)258-9657 AND in DC at (202) 225-5161

Nancy Pelosi (415) 556-4862 AND in DC at (202) 225-4965


• Over the last week, the GGNRA has taken some extremely troubling and bad-faith steps. They've erected NEW incorrect signage restricting dogs, and rangers are telling people to leash their dogs in areas that don't require leashes, when we are over a year and a half away from completion of a federally mandated public process! And with the "interim permit requirements" for professional dog walking, they are attempting to change the rules outside of the process altogether.
• Congress MUST get involved because the GGNRA is clearly not playing by the rules and don't intend to. The GGNRA's disregard for the public process cannot be allowed to continue. Congress should care when a Federal agency shows such utter contempt for the public and the the public process.
• I am respectfully asking Rep. Huffman/Leader Pelosi to push for Congressional oversight of this process. Thank you!


Endorsed by Crissy Field DOG, Ft. Funston Dog Walkers, Keep Muir Beach Dog Friendly, Marin County DOG, Save Off Leash Dog Walking, SF Professional Dog Walkers, and SFDOG.

Please call Representatives Huffman and Pelosi and let them know how you feel.

Notable Replies

  1. Quite a few people seem to be dragging their personal problems into this, while ignoring the fact that this is not about dogs; it's about process and the government following existing law, not making it up on the fly. If they were deciding something you cared about in this manner you'd be howling, but since they're enforcing your particular prejudice, you're applauding their abuse of the law. Shame on you, all of you who are taking that side.

    Looking at YOU, Bistroqs, for a start.

  2. The only possible solution is to have a "dog day",

    saturdays dogs are banned, and everyone else can jog, take pictures, have a picnic or whatever they want without being pestered/peed/bitten by unleashed dogs.

    sundays dogs are allowed to roam free, sniff their butts bite their tails off, eat poop and all that disgusting stuff they enjoy.

  3. Advise people to carry around the decision in United States v. Barley, et al. You can find the published decision at It is also available on the Ocean Beach DOG website. If you confront the Rangers and Park Police with knowledge of the law, they will back down.

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  4. Lolipop Jones, This is a dream that most people would envy, For myself and Our Dog Goldie and I are happy with the 50 acres of Fort Funston because urban living is where were at with 100,000 other Dogs and their Guardians. Goldie is an Older Stafordshire Terrier we rescued three years ago because we know from personal experience how dogs and feral cats ( Oh a cat without a license in San Mateo is considered a feral cat) end up in these over filled shelters with folks looking mainly for a young dog or kitten they can bring into there family and this makes it hard to place dogs at risk from being euthanized. If we had your acreage we would have cats and dogs living the life of Riley.

    But We are in the San Francisco Bay Area a highly populated dense living space.

    When the City of San Francisco deeded over the lands in 1975 now controlled by the GGNRA there was a MOU that recognized the need for expansion for further recreation and one of these was The Resource of Recreational Dog Walking in and Urban Environment was and still is a mainstay. So Much was this considered important, all Stake Holders in 1979 put together a Pet Policy plan that was agreed by all stake holders and is the 1979 Pet Policy, which is still in effect.

    Now we move forward and in 2006-2007 The GGNRA did not do any monitoring reports or Site Specific Peer Review Studies before the GGNRA introduced Negotiated Rule-Making , but here is where the first illegal step was made. the GGNRA did not do any type of monitoring or the site specific peer reviews that are required before the GGNRA can jump ahead to Negotiated Rule Making the Ocean Beach Dog Walkers Group has done extensive research on this topic and if you are really interested in the Recreational Resource of Off Leash Dog Walking

    I invite you to got to to read about Negotiated Rule Making

    Keep this in mind right now, Off Leash Dog Parks in the GGNRA represent 1% of the more than 80,000 acres that the GGNRA controls and when the GGNRA was reminded by Congress in 1972 that they should prepare for higher usage in this urban environment. What they have done is drawn a plan to take the Recreational Resource Areas for dog walking and cut 90% of the 1% of the available Off Leash Dog Space...

    Take a look at the Fort Funston map if the GGNRA preferred plan is passed.

    Thank you all and this is about the Dogs, maybe some of you have not made the connection yet to how special a dog being able to run in an open space like Fort Funston is, I hope that this opportunity remains open for future dogs and their guardians.....I had not had a dog in 40 years now Goldie is a big part of our lives just as this whole Off Leash Dog recreation is for our health and our dog Goldie's health which is a Recognized Recreational Resource in the GGNRA/NPS/DOI 1972 Congressional Enableing Act that created the GGNRA.

    Tom & Goldie (14)

    Members of Ocean Beach Dog at Fort Funston smile

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