How many human years have gone into figuring out just where and how dogs can play in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area?
We don’t know, but clearly the debate isn’t over yet, and won’t likely ever be.
The latest revision of the federal dog management plan for GGNRA adds some new areas that dogs on leashes can roam, subtracts a few areas where dogs could previously run free, and once again stirs the decades-long debate over where dogs fit in at the scenic, 80,00-plus-acre federal playground.
The new document is an attempt by National Park Service officials to address some of the 4,713 comments that poured in after the first 2,400-page dog management plan was released in 2011. “The tome,” the San Francisco Chronicle notes, ”outweighs many of the pooches that frequent the park.”
I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere in the Bay Area, dog talking amongst themselves are just shaking their heads and laughing about all the man-hours that have gone into figuring it all out: “C’mon guys, is it really that complex?”
Unfortunately, since it involves humans, yes, dogs, it is.
Especially when many of those humans see what they want to do on the land as paramount — be it dog-walking, bird-watching, jogging, hiking, biking, picnicking, ocean-gazing, serenity-seeking or soul-searching.
Between all those conflicting agendas, and its mission to protect the integrity of the land, the National Park Service faces a balancing act that has no end.
Its latest effort is a proposal that loosens some restrictions and tightens others when it comes to dogs in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The proposal adds more leashed areas to the GGNRA and let dogs run free in new areas of Fort Funston and Fort Mason.
“It’s a substantial increase in the amount available for off-leash voice control use and connectability to the beach,” said Howard Levitt, the park’s director of communications and partnerships. “The trails themselves are on leash, but the off-leash areas are substantial, including flat open areas that are commonly used right now.”
Still, dog lovers, see its restrictions as overly severe.
“It’s far more restrictive than we ever would have imagined,” said Martha Walters, chairwoman of the Crissy Field Dog Group. “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.”
Recreation area officials said the changes are needed because of the increasing number of visitors — they now number about 14.5 million a year — and their conflicting recreational pursuits. Naturalists and bird-watchers, for instance, often complain about dogs trampling vegetation, frightening birds and harassing wildlife.
Adding to complexity of it all is the fact that GGNRA includes 21 locations spread over San Mateo, San Francisco and Marin counties; with 1,273 plant and animal species, some endangered; 1,200 historic structures, including 5 National Historic Landmarks; and 192 recorded archeological sites.
That leads to different doggy rules for different locations. Under the park service’s latest proposal, canines would still be prohibited on East Beach, but they would be allowed on the middle portion of the beach and on the east side of the grassy former air field. Ocean Beach would still be off limits to unleashed dogs everywhere except north of Stairwell 21, which is closest to the Cliff House. Off leash areas would be added to the grassy areas near Bay and Laguna streets, at Fort Mason and at Fort Funston.
Instead of a complete ban on dogs at Muir Beach in Marin County — as originally proposed — leashed dogs would be permitted. The six beaches in Marin County where unleashed dogs are now permitted would be reduced to one — Rodeo Beach.
The GGNRA’s new park, Rancho Corral de Tierra in San Mateo County, near Moss Beach, would allow leashed dogs only on trails next to the communities of El Granada and Montara.
Dog lovers say were expecting more when the park decide to review and reissue a dog management plan.
“People have been walking their dogs off leash on Crissy Field, Baker Beach, Muir Beach and many of these other coastal areas with no problems for generations,” Walters said. “Can you imagine taking your dog to the beach and keeping him on a leash? It doesn’t make any practical sense.”
A 90-day public comment period on the new proposals began Friday and will end Dec. 4, and a series of public meeting will be held in November. ( Nov. 2, at Fort Mason Center, Bldg. D, Fleet Room, in San Francisco; Nov. 4, Farallone View Elementary School in Montara; Nov. 6, Tamalpais High School, Ruby Gym, in Mill Valley.)
The final (yeah, right) plan is expected in late 2015.
(Photo: Crissy Field Beach in San Francisco; by Raphael Kluzniok / The San Francisco Chronicle)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 13th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, comments, dog, dogs, draft, federal, ggnra, golden gate, golden gate national recreation area, leash, leashed, national park service, off-leash, on leash, park service, pets, proposals, public hearings, restrictions, unleashed
When dog bites man, the old saying goes, that’s not news.
When dog bites mayor, that’s news.
And when the mayor is a cat, that’s even bigger news, right?
Stubbs, honorary mayor of lovely Talkeetna, Alaska, for the past 15 years, was badly injured over the weekend by one of the small town’s many wandering dogs.
Stubbs is in bad shape, with a punctured lung, a fractured sternum and a 5-inch gash on his side, CNN reports.
Doctors took out a chest tube Tuesday, and Stubbs was breathing on his own for the first time since the attack.
Stubbs was found years ago in a box full of kittens left in front of Nagley’s General Store. The manager of the store, Lauri Stec, decided to keep him, and named him Stubbs because he had no tail.
Soon afterward, he ran as a write-in candidate for the position of mayor. Talkeetna being a historical district, the position is mostly an honorary one .
Even though dogs outnumber the 800 people in Talkeetna, and often can be seen running loose, the town’s canines always seemed to respect Stubbs, locals say.
But on Saturday night Stubbs was walking around town when an unleashed dog ran across the street and bit him.
“Right now is a crucial time cause he’s heavily sedated on pain meds. He’s in a lot of pain,” Stec said.
The dog, described only as a big one, is still at large.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 4th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alaska, animals, bites, bitten, candidate, cat, cat mayor, dog, dog bites mayor, honorary, mauled, mayor, news, pets, stubbs, talkeetna, unleashed, write-in
In fact, he’d prefer it if you’d keep your dog to yourself — out of the park he wants to read in, away from the cafe where he enjoys his Frappuccino, and definitely not in the gym in which he works out.
It was a case of the latter that triggered a well-written, semi-playful, anti-dog diatribe he wrote for Slate last week.
Manjoo argued that dogs are getting too many privileges. He pointed out that not everybody enjoys their presence, cited health hazards they could conceivably pose, and suggested all those people who take their dogs everywhere start leaving them at home.
Not sharing one’s dog? To me, that’s the equivalent of hiding a Van Gogh behind an ironing board in the basement. Or putting a newfound cure for cancer in a time capsule. Or shielding your eyes — just to be safe — from a blazing sunset.
Still, we’d defend Manjoo’s preference to live life without somebody else’s dog in his face. That’s his right. It’s his loss, but it’s also his right.
Manjoo is Slate‘s technology columnist and the author of True Enough: Learning To Live in a Post-Fact Society. So it doesn’t surprise me — he being caught up in all things digital — that he has failed to catch on to or be captivated by the wonder of dogs.
Microchipping aside, dogs and technology are best kept separate. They don’t always get along, maybe because they are the antithesis of each other. Technology may be the cure for everything, but dogs are the cure for technology. We’ll get back to this point, but first let’s look at what Manjoo said — after an unwanted encounter with a Doberman inside his gym.
“The dog came up to me, because in my experience that’s what dogs do when you don’t want them to come up to you. They get up real close, touching you, licking you, theatrically begging you to respond… I guess I was fairly sure he wouldn’t snap and bite me, but stranger things have happened — for instance, dogs snapping and biting people all the time.
“Why was this dog here? And why was no one perturbed that this dog was here?
“…No one was asking because no one could ask. Sometime in the last decade, dogs achieved dominion over urban America. They are everywhere now, allowed in places that used to belong exclusively to humans, and sometimes only to human adults: the office, restaurants, museums, buses, trains, malls, supermarkets, barber shops, banks, post offices… Dogs are frequently allowed to wander off leash, to run toward you and around you, to run across the baseball field or basketball court, to get up in your grill. Even worse than the dogs are the owners, who seem never to consider whether there may be people in the gym/office/restaurant/museum who do not care to be in close proximity to their dogs. …”
Manjoo admits to not being a dog person, but at least — unlike most anti-dog types — he has a sense of humor about it.
“It’s not that I actively despise mutts; I just don’t have much time for them, in the same way I don’t have time for crossword puzzles or Maroon 5,” he writes.
“But here’s my problem: There’s now a cultural assumption that everyone must love dogs. Dog owners are rarely forced to reckon with the idea that there are people who aren’t enthralled by their furry friends, and that taking their dogs everywhere might not be completely pleasant for these folks.”
And seldom, he points out, does anyone whose dog accosts him say they’re sorry.
“… I can promise you she won’t apologize for the imposition. Nor will she ask you if you mind her dog doing what he’s doing. Nor will she pull on its leash, because there won’t be a leash, this being an office, where dogs are as welcome as Wi-Fi and free coffee.”
The same holds true, he notes, at coffee houses.
Here we should point out that the dog pictured atop this post is mine, and that, in the photo, Ace is enjoying an iced coffee product at Starbucks, offered to him by a customer whose behavior indicated she wanted him to visit her table.
When I take Ace to a Starbucks, or most anywhere else, it’s usually pretty apparent who wants to meet him and who doesn’t, and I restrain him accordingly. I don’t have to compile any data or crunch any numbers, I can just tell. It’s not brain surgery, or computer science.
Even though most people go to Starbucks for the free Wi-Fi, or the expensive coffee, I’d estimate about one of two customers wants to meet my dog. Ace — and this isn’t true of every dog — has a way of figuring that out himself, and generally will avoid those who show no interest in him, unless they are in the process of eating a muffin or pastry, in which case he’s willing to overlook the fact they may not be dog lovers.
What makes the numbers even more impressive is that 8 of every 10 customers at your typical Starbucks are under the spell of their computer device and not at all cognizant of what’s going on around them.
Ace is sometimes able to break that spell, at least he does for me.
As for me, I’d rather have access to Fido then Wi-Fi anyday. Fido will soothe me. Wi-Fi will likely, at some point, make me angry and frustrated. Fido will focus me. Wi-Fi will distract me. Wi-Fi will accost me with uninvited and intrusive messages, and send me alerts, and remind me of all the things I need to do today. Fido will remind me all those things aren’t really that important and can wait until tomorrow. Wi-Fi will take me out of the moment; Fido will keep me in it. Wi-fi has no soul. Fido does, and his presence allows our souls – those of us who have them — to be refreshed. Dogs keep us from becoming an entirely manic society.
No one, if I have my laptop on, will want to come up and pet it, except maybe Farhad Manjoo, who — while not having the least bit of interest in my dog — is probably curious about my gigabytes and apps.
On this much I will agree with Manjoo: There are dog owners who seem unaware that not everybody will delight in their dog, oblivious to the fact that some might find their dog annoying and intrusive. Similarly, though, there are parents of children who don’t realize not everybody will delight in their antics. Similarly, too, there are grown-up people who fail to realize that they themselves are annoying and who we’d prefer not to have inflicted upon us.
Unfortunately, we can’t just ban them. Our choices are limited. We could work on being tolerant – of all ages, sizes, shapes and species, despite their noise, intrusiveness and abrasiveness levels. Or we could go somewhere else. Or we could complain.
Sometimes, when visiting a Starbucks or other coffee place, I wonder if I should lodge an official complaint with management about Wi-Fi — objecting to its omnipresence, and how it seems to be turning people into keyboard-pushing zombies.
“No,” I’d say, “I’m not technically allergic to it, but I’m uncomfortable with it near. I’ve had some bad experiences with it. Sometimes it bites people when they least expect it, and I’m pretty sure it harbors germs.”
“But it’s wireless,” the manager might say.
“Exactly,” I’d say with a huff. “Put a leash on it.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 14th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, apps, behavior, cell phones, coffee, common sense, computers, culture, devices, digital, dislike, dog, dog friendly, dogs, dominion, farhad manjoo, fear, gyms, hate, laptops, leash, leashed, love, manners, parks, pets, place, privileges, public, rights, slate, society, starbucks, technology, unleashed
Let’s hear it for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
By a 10 to 1 vote, supervisors went on record opposing a federal proposal to restrict dogs in parts of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
The National Park Service earlier this year proposed to “completely or significantly reduce” the off-leash areas in the recreation area to “strike a balance between park landscape, native wildlife and the 16 million visitors.”
The park service is considering mandating leashes in open spaces where dogs currently roam free and banning them entirely in some popular dog-walking areas.
Dog lovers responded to the proposal swiftly, labeling it “extreme environmentalism,” and even considered suing the federal government if the proposal passed, according to the website Curbed.
In early April, Supervisor Scott Weiner introduced a resolution in opposition to the proposed dog policies. This week, all but one of the supervisors voted for it — in part out of concern that restricting dogs on the federal park land could overburden city parks.
The National Park Service has proposed restricting dogs from San Francisco’s Crissy Field, Ocean Beach and Fort Funston, which are among the most popular places to take dogs in the city.
Federal officials are still taking public comment on the plan and expect to put new rules in place next year.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 28th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, board of supervisors, changes, crissy field, dog friendly, dogs, environmental, fort funston, golden gate, golden gate national recreation area, impact, leash, national park service, ocean beach, off-leash, park service, pets, policy, proposed, restrictions, san francisco, supervisors, unleashed
It’s probably safe to assume she meant well, but a 70-year-old disabled woman has been cited by police for letting her dog walk run down the street while she followed it in her car.
The woman’s car was stopped by police in Madison, Wisconsin, and she was ticketed for permitting her dog to run at large, according to Madison.com.
Police had been tipped off about the woman’s habit by neighbors, who had complained about the dog running free.
“At the time of the complaints, the officer tried, without success, to contact the pet owner,” said a police spokesman. “Now, after seeing the little white dog strolling down East Mifflin with a car following close behind, it rang a bell and he had the chance to talk to her.”
The woman explained to the officer that she walked her dog that way because she is disabled.
“The officer was sympathetic but explained she had to find another way to exercise her canine,” the police spokesman said. “He suggested putting up a fence and then issued a citation for permitting a dog to run at large.” The ticket is for $114.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 1st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, car, citation, disability, disabled, dog, dog walking, dogs, leash, madison, pets, street, ticket, unleashed, walking, wisconsin