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IMPORTANT Community Input Needed for GGNRA Plan to limit/ban offleash dog trails!

Our friends from DogTec (Veronica Boutelle) informed us of this developing community-wide issue:

For those of you who haven’t yet heard, we’re facing losing our off leash areas in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is critical to dog professionals and dog lovers and has ramifications for how these decisions get made throughout the country. Please take a moment to see how you can use your professional expertise to help produce a positive outcome to this process.


First, recognize that the GGNRA plan is a DRAFT. It can be changed. One of the messages the lawyers and planners spear-heading this mission have emphasized again and again is that there is precedent for changing these drafts. Don’t heed those that say it’s a done deal. It is not.

Second, you don’t have to live in the area to make a difference. Comments are counted and considered regardless of where they come from—even out of state. This is a national agency we’re dealing with. Please, even if you don’t use these parks or have never seen them, participate in any way you can—it sets precedents for other areas, too.

Spread the word. Share this with all your clients, friends, family—any dog lovers you know. This impacts us all.


1. Write a letter to share your comments
Where to post your comment:

This is the only place your comment will count. There’s been some confusion about this. If you’ve posted somewhere else, go to this site and do it again.

Comments must be in by April 14th. Earlier is better. Do it today while you’re thinking about it.

If you live in the area, copy your elected officials. has a list of all of their email addresses.

And be sure to cc Nancy Pelosi, Diane Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer—they have not been supportive of off-leash causes. has their contact information as well.

What to write about:

The comments that count most will be those that have substance. It’s not enough to just say that you want off leash areas—that helps from a numbers perspective but we’ve been told that comments coming from a place of expertise will help the most.

Write what you know. Talk about what you see happening in the areas you walk in, and be specific. Are dogs hassling wildlife? Who uses the areas, and how? What impact does off leash play have on the lives of your clients? On the urban experience? On the behavior of dogs having to share close space with humans? What other solutions are there besides putting dogs on leash or banning them altogether?

If you’re inclined, take a look at the GGNRA draft and speak specifically to it—that’s very powerful. It’s an enormous document, but you can read the 30 page executive summary and take a look at the parts specific to where you walk. It can be found here: The more you can directly challenge the data, assertions, arguments, assumptions in the plan, the better. This approach won’t be for everyone, but if you’ve got a little extra time on your hands and really want to take the GGNRA to task, go for it!

Some arguments you might to speak to:

These recreation areas sit in an urban setting with the highest per capita dog ownership of any other setting in the country. These areas were originally chartered as recreation areas, not pristine wilderness. The movement to make them wild land makes no sense, as they are in the midst of an urban environment.

The draft states that there are 23 other places to walk dogs besides these areas. Almost all of these are dog parks—use your expertise to explain why this is NOT the same thing as an off-leash open area of trails or beaches used by everyone. Use your expertise to explain the limitations and problems associated with dog parks. They are attempting to downplay the original recreational intent of the parks. Don’t let them; speak to human quality of life that parks provide urban residents. (For a great overview of this issue and the politics behind it, visit this blog post written by a Dog Walking Academy graduate: )

In addition to the off leash issues, there is also a provision about permitting professional dog walkers. Be sure to weigh in on this. What are your thoughts? How could a permit process be designed that might help promote the profession? What should a dog walker have to do to get a permit? What does it mean to be a professional dog walker? And one argument that has not been made: If you’re going to require dog walkers to have permits and run a professional business, why not then leave the areas free to off leash use? In other words, rather than closing the areas, require people to use them responsibly—to have dogs under control, etc.

A central argument the GGNRA is using is the impact on wildlife. But a) it is not a one-or-the-other situation. There is no reason dogs and wildlife can’t co-exist, particularly with responsible dog ownership and professional dog walkers. Also, there is little evidence that dogs are actually impacting wildlife. For example, the Audubon Society itself reports that only one (!) snowy plover nest was disturbed by a dog in one of its studies. Most are disturbed by people walking in the dunes.

Finally, you can comment more than once. You can make arguments for each area you walk in, for example. Or if you think of another angle, go ahead and write again.

2. Attend an Open-House meeting
This is another opportunity to submit your comments. You can drop in any time during the open hours and submit comments in one of three ways. Either bring a pre-written piece to deliver in hand, or fill out the comment sheets provided there, or speak with a GGNRA representative who will add your comments to a flip chart.

Wednesday, March 2 **
Tamalpais High School
Ruby Scott Gym (changed from Student Center)
700 Miller Avenue
Mill Valley, CA 94941
4:00 – 8:00 p.m.
** There is a silent protest scheduled to take place across the street from this meeting. Bring your dog if you like. The protest will take place from 4-6pm. Numbers matter. Please attend if you can, and bring friends and their dogs, too.

Saturday, March 5
San Francisco State University
Seven Hills Conference Center
State Drive
San Francisco, 94132
11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Monday, March 7
Fort Mason Center
Building A
Marina Boulevard at Buchanan
San Francisco, CA 94123
4:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday, March 9
Cabrillo School
601 Crespi Drive
Pacifica, CA 94044
4:00 – 8:00 p.m.

3. Fill out this survey
The East Bay Regional Park District has put up a 2011 Master Plan Survey. Part of the survey is about whether or not to continue to allow off-leash hiking in the parks. Please take a moment to weigh in to preserve off leash trails in the East Bay.

4. Donate
The Crissy Field Dog Park Association is spending a tremendous amount of money on behalf of us all. They are the ones funding the lawyer and the NEPA experts (a company called Tetra Tech that is helping to go through the GGNRA plan line by line to refute its incorrect claims and challenge its arguments). They are a non-profit. Please support them as best you can, and encourage others to as well.
Visit to donate.

5. Spread the word
Share these directions with others. If you are running a dog business, be sure to let all your clients know what’s going on and what they can do. Numbers matter.