Associated Press

Dogs gone? Feds propose new beach rules

By From page A2 | September 08, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Bay Area dog owners are growling over a proposal unveiled Friday to keep canines out of some popular beaches and parks located within the Golden Gate National Recreational Area.

A draft “dog management plan” published by the National Park Service would make dogs off-limits at a Crissy Field beach where they now are allowed and at most of San Francisco’s sprawling Ocean Beach. The proposal would also require the use of leashes at five of the six places in Marin County where dogs currently can run free.

“It’s far more restrictive than we ever would have imagined,” Martha Walters, chairwoman of the Crissy Field Dog Group, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We feel very betrayed by the Park Service, especially after all these years working with them in a cooperative manner. There is no scientific basis for this radical change.”

The new plan is an update to a draft the Park Service released two years ago that generated more than 4,400 comments over six months, including opposition from both dog owners and naturalists who complained about dogs scaring wildlife and trampling vegetation.

Howard Leavitt, a spokesman for the 125-square mile recreation area that stretches from San Mateo to Marin counties and includes some of the Bay Area’s most-prized natural landmarks, said park officials tried to balance the needs of both groups. He noted that the revised plan has more options for dogs than the previous version, including off-leash access to Fort Mason and Fort Funston in San Francisco and on-leash access to Muir Beach.

“Our challenge and task was to somehow create a proposal that, somehow or other, provides that variety of visitor experiences and still protects park resources,” Levitt told San Francisco radio station KQED.

Although dogs have been permitted without leashes throughout the Golden Gate National Recreation Area since 1979, the Park Service has been trying to come up with regulations restricting how and where they roam for more than a decade.

The public has 90 days to comment on the rules. The Park Service will hold three public meetings— scheduled in November— to solicit feedback.

— Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com

The Associated Press

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