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Current Status of Dogwalking in the GGNRA

January 2011

The GGNRA released their draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on January 14, 2011. This Final EIS will lead to new dog-walking management rules at places in Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties, including Crissy Field. These rules will determine for years to come where you and your dog can go within the GGNRA, what you can do and how you can do it.

After an initial review of the GGNRA's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), the GGNRA's preferred alternative for Crissy Field includes off leash only at Central Beach and a portion of the Grassy Airfield. On leash would be allowed on the promenade. No dogs would be allowed on East or West Beaches.

Clearly, this is an extremely restrictive proposal and your public comment and support will be greatly needed. Since this is a draft document, we do have the ability to propose our own alternative. You can access the DEIS on-line by going to www.nps.gov/goga and click onto the DEIS icon.

The San Francisco SPCA will host a public meeting so you can learn about how to respond to the GGNRA's preferred alternative from the DEIS on Tuesday, February 8, 2011 from 6:30 to 8:30pm. The San Francisco SPCA is located at 16th and Alabama Streets.

The Crissy Field Dog Group has created a video which outlines and explains about how to respond to the draft EIS. Check here for the video. Also, please go the eco-dog website, sign up and get email alerts about the latest information regarding this process. Your participation is essential to keep our dogs in the GGNRA!

The GGNRA will host four Open House Style meetings during the 90-day public comment period which runs from January 14 to April 14, 2011. These public meetings are not hearings but an opportunity for you to discuss your interests and concerns about the 21 areas that the GGNRA is consideration for dog walking access within the GGNRA. The GGNRA will have 21 “stations” at these Open Houses so you can talk with a GGNRA representative and look at the PROPOSED preferred and other alternatives.

Your public comments are critical! Send your comments to:

The Superintendent, GGNRA
Building 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123



These public meetings will be held at:

March 2nd from 4 to 8pm
Tam High School, Mill Valley, CA

March 5th from 11am to 4pm
SF State San Francisco, CA

March 7th from 4 to 8pm
GGNRA Headquarters
Building 201 Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA

March 9th from 4 to 8pm
Cabrillo High School
Pacifica, CA


Off-leash dog walking in the GGNRA is still in jeopardy.
Off-leash dog walking with dogs under voice control is currently allowed at Crissy Field and other specified areas of the GGNRA under the 1979 Pet Policy pursuant to a Federal Court ruling in June of 2005. Areas where you can have your dog under voice control at Crissy Field include the East and Central Beaches, the promenade and Crissy Air Field (the large grassy area). For the West Beach, dogs may be off-leash and under voice control from May 16 to June 30 of each year. From July 1 to May 15 there is a seasonal restriction for the Western Snowy Plover in the Wildlife Protection Area at the West Beach during which timeframe dogs must be on leash.

By way of background, the history of off-leash dog walking rights in the GGNRA dates back to the early 1970’s when the GGNRA was created as an urban recreational park. In the late 1970’s regulations applicable to federal lands, which prohibited certain traditional recreational park activities, were enforced. As a result, dog walking enthusiasts lobbied the park to relax off-leash rules in a few areas. In response, the GGNRA Citizen’s Advisory Committee held extensive hearings that led to the creation of the 1979 Pet Policy. The 1979 Pet Policy outlines off-leash rules and defines specific off-leash areas in San Francisco and Marin Counties, including portions of Crissy Field as indicated above.

In 1983, Congress mandated that all types of National Parks must abide by the same standard regulations but created the option of “special rules” for exceptions. The standard regulations regarding dogs in national parks basically restrict dogs to on-leash and in parking lots only.

The GGNRA continued to abide by the 1979 Pet Policy until 2001. In 2001, the Park Service began enforcing the leash law in all areas of the GGNRA based on the standard regulations applicable to national parks. This led to a lawsuit and eventually a ruling in June of 2005 by a Federal Magistrate, which upheld the 1979 Pet Policy.

The Park Service then began the process of creating a special rule relating to dog walking within the GGNRA. A Negotiated Rulemaking Committee was formed and met many times with the charter to work to develop consensus recommendations to the park about where it may be appropriate to allow dog walking within the GGNRA. Unfortunately, that process was not successful in reaching any consensus. The next phase of the dog management planning process is the preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the dog management plan, which is now underway. When the DEIS is released it will be important to provide public comment on the alternatives provided by the document. At least until then it is expected that the 1979 Pet Policy will continue to guide dog walking practices within the GGNRA.

However, there are various threats (described more fully on the next page) to the current status, including House bill HR6305 introduced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in June of 2008 to change the name of the GGNRA, the provisions of the General Management Plan for the GGNRA currently being formulated, and the potential outcome of the GGNRA’s Dog Management Plan.

What can you do to help preserve and protect the ability to continue to walk dogs off-leash in the GGNRA?
  • Join Crissy Field Dog Group – support our mission and help us to keep you informed.
  • Support Crissy Field Dog Group with donations – financial support is especially needed for our legal fees that result from efforts to attain our mission.
  • Be a responsible dog walker and clean up after your dog; don’t allow your dog to harass any persons or wildlife; carry a waste pick-up bag and a leash for your dog and leash your dog if it is not under your voice control; respect and protect natural resources; don’t allow your dog into restricted areas; follow all posted signage; don’t allow dogs to make an unreasonable amount of noise; and fill in any holes dug at the beach for the safety of persons and other dogs.
  • Visit the CFDG website often to get updated information.
  • Become involved – contact us at crissyfielddog1@aol.com

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