In non-bureaucracy speak, that means defining rules for where dogs can be in the GGNRA, and if allowed, where they can be on-leash or off-leash. The GGNRA includes several recreation areas within San Francisco including Baker Beach, Crissy Field, Lands End, Ocean Beach and Sutro Heights Park.
This week, they released their final Preferred Alternative which included some changes to their earlier proposals. Below is a summary and maps of how the changes will affect the GGNRA areas near the Richmond District. To review all of the changes for the GGNRA, visit their GGNRA website or download the PDF of all Maps & FAQ’s.
The new rules will result in a re-mapping of each recreation area to define where dogs can go, and if they are allowed, whether dogs have to be on a leash or if they can be off-leash (a.k.a “voice and sign control areas”).
Under the new rules, only five areas in the GGNRA will include off-leash zones: Ocean Beach, Fort Funston, Crissy Field, Fort Mason, and Rodeo Beach in Marin.
The GGRNA defines voice and sight control as the following: “Voice and sight control means a dog that is within direct eyesight of the dog walker and that the dog walker is able to both immediately recall directly to his or her side, without regard to circumstances or distractions, and attach a leash to the dog’s collar. The dog walker must demonstrate this ability when requested to do so by an authorized person.”
Changes Take Effect in March 2017
In January, the National Park Service will issue a Record of Decision, signaling Federal approval of the new rules. From there, a Final Rule will be published in the Federal Register. The Final Rule will specify an effective date that will be no sooner than March 1, 2017.
In addition to changing the rules, the implementation of the new Dog Management Plan will require public outreach, education, and the installation of signage, fencing, “vegetation and other physical barriers that are critical to the successful implementation of this new dog management special regulation in the affected areas”. Signage is crucial as it will help both dog owners, and dog-dislikers, to understand where they will most enjoy their recreation time in the GGNRA.
What Happens If You Violate the Rules
At a public meeting in March, we inquired about what the consequences would be if a dog is found to be in violation of the rules.
An example of a violation would be walking a dog off-leash in an on-leash area, walking a dog in an area that is off-limits to dogs, leaving a dog unattended, not having proper identification or proof of rabies vaccination on the dog, or more seriously, having an uncontrolled dog in a GGNRA area (uncontrolled = a dog that engages in behavior “that results in uninvited or unwanted physical contact with a person or another animal”).
Enforcement of the rule would be left to law enforcement on site in the GGNRA parks, including park rangers. If a dog is found to be violating the rules, the owner of the dog is subject to a $125 fine according to Mike Savage, the National Park Service lead on the new dog management plan.
Maps of GGNRA Areas
Without further ado, here’s where Fido is welcome in our nearby GGNRA both on and off leash (if at all), starting in Spring 2017.
Off-leash walking will no longer be allowed at Baker Beach. A dog must be on-leash at all times and can only be walked in the northern portion of the beach and on some trails adjoining the beach along the Battery. The southern end of the beach will be off-limits to dogs.
Lands End & Fort Miley
Dogs are allowed on the main Coastal Trail but must be on a leash at all times. Dogs will not be allowed in Fort Miley at all, except for on the trail that connects from behind the Legion of Honor up to Clement Street (the East Fort Miley Trail).
Sutro Heights Park
Off-leash walking will be prohibited in Sutro Heights Park. The entire park, including the trail down to Balboa, will still be open to dogs but they must be on-leash at all times.
Dogs would still be allowed off leash at the northern end of the beach stretching from Stairwell 21 (roughly across from the Beach Chalet soccer fields) to the base of the cliff below the Cliff House. Note that when you’re ON the stairwells themselves, your dog has to be on-leash. Dogs would also be allowed on-leash on the promenade walkway starting from Lincoln Way & Great Highway north to the Cliff House. Dogs are not allowed on any other parts of Ocean Beach beyond Stairwell 21.
Parts of Fort Funston will still be available for off-leash walking including the upper area near the Chip Trail, and the lower beach spanning from the Funston Beach Trail south to the area below where the hang gliders take off (but your dog has to be on-leash when you bring them back up the stairs).
Dogs will still be allowed off-leash but only on the “Central Beach” area and the central portion of the airfield grassy area (which will have new boundaries around it). No dogs are allowed at all on the East Beach. Dogs are allowed on the Crissy Field promenade which runs all the way down the Warming Hut, but dogs must be on-leash.
Marin Headlands & Rodeo Beach
The Headlands are already pretty unfriendly to dog walking and the new restrictions will only allow dogs, on-leash, on the trail above Rodeo Beach. Off-leash walking will be allowed on all of Rodeo Beach with the exception of the northern end of the lagoon which is only open when the lagoon/ocean surface water is not connected.