NPS releases final dog rules for GGNRA; Here’s how it will affect dog-walking for Richmond District pooches

Back in March, we wrote a long piece on the National Park onhealthy buy fosamax Services proposed changes to their dog management rules within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).

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.

Baker Beach

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.

The new dog management rules for Baker Beach.

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).

The new dog management rules for the Lands End / Fort Miley area.

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.

The new dog management rules for Sutro Heights Park.

Ocean Beach

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.

The new dog management rules for Ocean Beach.

Fort Funston

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).

The new dog management rules for Fort Funston.

Crissy Field

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.

The new dog management rules for Crissy Field.

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.

New dog management rules for Rodeo Beach.

New dog management rules for the Marin Headlands, above Rodeo Beach.

New dog management rules for the Marin Headlands, Rodeo Valley.


  1. This is BULLSHIT!

    I have walked our dogs on OB since I was a small kid (50 years+) and I’m not going to stop now. The sky rat plovers aren’t nesting on OB, they are estuarine nesters. Meanwhile massive trucks, dozers assorted vehicles and kites/kiteboards/kite sleds run all over the “habitat.”

    As a dog owner and believer in Civil Disobedience, I fully intend to flout the rules. I understand why some people may welcome the new rules, but I’m not one of them. I disagree with them.

    They have effectively shifted the burden of dog population onto the rest of the city. Just like they did with their “zero waste” program, eliminating trash cans such that the city and taxpayers have to fill the gap. and the net result is more trash everywhere.

    Catch me if you can NPS. I fully intend to be a thorn in your side and I can afford the tickets and welcome anything that will help drive media pressure on the NPS.

    By definition, GGNRA is for recreation, not lockstep with other National Parks.

  2. What’s with the very South section of baker outside of the FEIS area that is not defined? Off leash ok there?

  3. @Tim – Do you mean the area lined in green behind the water treatment plant (where the trees are)? That is GGNRA area and according to the map, is not welcome to dogs, even on-leash. But maybe I’m not understanding which area you’re talking about…

  4. Completely Stupid. It’s like saying we don’t like traffic in our neighborhoods so cars can only go on these 5 roads. It will get so congested with dogs in the off- leash area, that it will be so congested, people will take their dogs off leash in the same spots anyway- they will just have to risk tickets or go when fewer people are around.

    If there was good timing, my dog just died this weekend of cancer- So I really don’t care about the rules now. After 2 years this will all blow over by the time I’m ready to get another dog. She was so good off leash- she was even fine off leash on city sidewalks. So idiotic.

  5. @Max – We hear you. But at least the part where dogs can be on Ocean Beach (north end from Cliff House down to Stairwell 21) will continue to allow off-leash dogs.

  6. count me in as someone who has ZERO intention of following any of these rules. they can fine me all they want, but these are ridiculous rules that have no basis.

  7. Dogs poop all over the beaches; often after drinking salt water which means there is liquid poop all over the sand. Kids are playing in dog poop on these beaches. Something had to be done. Unfortunately a few dog owners who don’t follow rules have hurt everyone. $125 fine if you break the rules.

  8. “poop ALL over”. I do not think this is true and “liquid poop” does not apply to Land’s End- which is far from the salt water. And PEOPLE do not leave trash at OB. Why do we not put people and kids on leashes then?

  9. The #1 problem with trash at these beaches is tennis balls thrown into the water by dog owners. Ask the park rangers at the beaches. The tennis balls drift into spots that are hard to reach and collect. I can confirm this from being a volunteer to clean up the beaches. The biggest problems are caused by the dog owners!

  10. The #1 problem? Prove that. That is hearsay. All is this is hearsay. “All”, “#1”, are reactionary issues. If there is an EIR, then there is objective analysis. The EIR did not support the extent of the ban. Read it.

  11. Funny! Every dog owner comment above is one of: 1. We are not going to follow any rules. 2. Everyone else is at fault (and 3. No logical thought!). Unfortunately this is exactly why laws are needed.

  12. Hi Jonathan. “Read the EIR” here’s just one comment from the EIR…
    Correspondence: Recently I was walking with my 4yr old son on the beach at Chrissy Field when suddenly a wet, slimy tennis ball struck me in the head. A woman with one of those ball throwers (the thing dog owners use so they don’t have to touch the slimy wet dog ball) approached, but didn’t apologize. Instead she told me i shouldn’t be walking with my son in that area because it was for dogs.
    Last I checked the dogs aren’t paying the taxes that keep our national parks open. Why then should they get to run free to kick sand on picnics or knock over small childern while everyone except dogs and their owners suffer. There are plenty of spaces for dog walking that don’t disturb the public. Please restrict dogs from our national parks.

  13. I don’t have kids. But I have to pay taxes which go to schools. Why do I have to pay? (Of course, the argument is stupid. just like the results of the decision of off-leash access. That’s my point.) And a dog can do the same amount damage on leash (which would be acceptable access now) with an uncaring owner holding it.

  14. “Last I checked the dogs aren’t paying the taxes that keep our national parks open. ” Well, neither are children. But both parents of dogs and children pay the taxes. Dog owners dont think there should be more restrictions because there are currently more dogs than children in SF. If you take away 90% of the space, what do you think will happen. Dogs will be cramped together in very few spots and ultimately they will fill the few spaces. there will no longer be enough space for 150,000+dogs that live here. we are not asking for more space, just that it not be taken away. I am fine paying $125 every time i am caught. no problem. THis is an unjust law, the same way it was unjust to make people used different water fountains in the 50s and 60s. But civil protest and disobedience is called for. This is an unethical rule and amounts to animal cruelty and discrimination. What if your human kids were banned from 90% of the space they now have?

  15. I only scrolled to the comment section to be entertained by grumpy dog owners……happy they didn’t disappoint!

  16. More from the EIR. More facts…
    “NPS Dispatch took a phone report of a dog attack in Rodeo Lagoon. The dog, described as a large black Labrador, chased a male deer into Rodeo Lagoon, where the deer subsequently drowned while trying to defend itself from the unleashed dog.” (Rodeo Beach, June 13, 2010, Incident Report # 10-006226)

  17. What about the Coyotes? I guess we should put them on leashes. And seagulls should all be required to wear diapers. Now, they do poop all over the beach, plus it does look like diarrhea. And kids always retrieve their balls at the beach. None has never gotten away. But hey, I’m just a grumpy dog owner cherry picking issues to suit my agenda. That’s why my dog wants to run away from me at the beach and ruin it. (That’s not completely true- my dog died on 12/10/16 after 13 years of successful off-leash walking).

    Coyotes in GGNRA

    Seagulls at ocean beach

  18. Has anyone read the EIR materials? I was surprised at how bad things really are with dogs and their owners in the GGNRA. Just a couple of the things I did not know:
    1. GGNRA has more threatened and endangered species than Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon combined. The park has been recognized by the international community by its inclusion in the UNESCO Golden Gate Biosphere Reserve, the same status granted to Brazil’s Central Amazon rainforests. The EIR lists hundreds of documented attacks by dogs on wildlife in the GGNRA, particularly birds.
    2. A survey of guide dog users by The Seeing Eye, a leading national guide dog organization, (shows) 44% of guide dog users who responded said their working dog had been attacked by other dogs, with 76% of those attacks coming from off-leash dogs (in GGNRA). The sad thing is many of these guide dog owners then had to pay their own vet bills. Many said they are now afraid to go to any of the parks and beaches.

  19. You convinced me. I’m going to get about 400′ of rope and make it a leash. I’ll be obeying the letter of the law.

  20. Well a law is only as good as the enforcement. I have never seen a single GGNRA officer hand out a ticket for dogs being in the wrong spot/offleash. There’s no way they have the personell to enforce these rules. It’s just like stop signs in the neighborhood, they exist, but a majority of cars and bikes just barrel through with no consequence.

  21. Has anyone else noticed that 80% of the people visiting these areas are there with dogs! Its more like 90%+ in the mornings and evenings so why limit it further? The city has made it near impossible for people to bring up kids in the city so families are leaving by the day. Looks like dog owners will be abandoning the city next and all these beautiful spaces will be vacant – Maybe that is the end goal.
    I especially like how the off leash area of OB is where they have removed the trash cans. Who wants to put a bag of dog poop in the car…looks like the park service is going to be picking up a lot of little baggie surprises!
    In my experience most dog owners are much more considerate in regards to the trash than the rest of the general public.

  22. This thread has further proved the stereotype that dog owners are entitled and inconsiderate, but have no idea that they are entitled and inconsiderate.

  23. Keith, I came here for the entertainment as well. Yup, not disappointed!
    Just control your dogs and make sure they don’t bother anyone else. And please listen when other people tell you that your dogs are bothering them. That’s your responsibility as a “parent” of an animal.
    Not everyone likes dogs. My mom is terrified of them and yet they always seem to saunter over to her. It’s not up to you as a dog owner to decide whether she’s being irrational.
    And some people are allergic to them. Just be thoughtful, please.

  24. Smart controlled dogs = good doggie = good owner = not all dogs or owners
    Dumb out of control dog = bad doggie = clueless owner = most of the stupid dog owners that let their out of control dogs run wild over small children and other pets.

    No I do not think its cute when you slimy dog nose that probably just sniffed butt presses into my face.

  25. About the status of the ruling.

    National Park Service News Release

    January 10, 2017

    Contact: Craig Dalby, pwr_public_affairs@nps.gov

    National Park Service Places Hold on Rule for Dog Management at Golden Gate National Recreation Area

    SAN FRANCISCO – The National Park Service is putting on hold the signing of the Record of Decision and the publication of the Final Rule for Dog Management at Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

    The decision comes in response to requests from members of Congress to extend the waiting period for the Final Environmental Impact Statement. This pause will also allow the National Park Service to conduct a review of certain records being released in response to an ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request related to the park’s Dog Management plan and rule.

    To date, the National Park Service has released more than 260,000 pages of documents dating as far back as 1999 in response to the FOIA request. As part of its ongoing release of records under FOIA, in late-December 2016, the Park Service learned that a former park employee had used personal email for official communications related to the Dog Management Plan planning process. Upon learning this, the Park Service contacted the former employee and obtained his cooperation to conduct a search of his personal email accounts for agency records related to the Dog Management Plan planning process. As a result of that search, the Park Service recovered approximately 137 pages of emails that were responsive to the FOIA request. Those FOIA records will be released and posted today at https://www.nps.gov/goga/learn/management/dog-management-records.htm, “Records Released January, 2017”.

    The Park Service will conduct an independent inquiry into whether personal email was used in a manner that is not consistent with applicable laws and policies, and if so, whether its use affected the planning and rulemaking processes. The Park Service will report the results of the internal review to the public. To help ensure an independent and impartial review, the inquiry will be conducted by National Park Service personnel who were not involved in the dog management planning process.

    Further action under the National Environmental Policy Act and the rulemaking process for the Dog Management Plan will await the findings and conclusions of the independent review.

Comments are closed.