Some Thoughts on Fort Funston by Linda Shore
Fort Funston has been my sanctuary for as long as I can remember. I played hide-and-seek in "The Batteries" when I was a little girl. I was kissed for the first time behind a bush near one of the cliff edges. I once sat on one of the dunes and made a final decision about what college I'd attend.
Today, Fort Funston is still an important part of my life. These days, my husband and I take our dog out for her daily exercise (and ours!). And when my elderly parents feel up to it, we all walk on the pavement together -- stopping to let my father pet every single dog we meet along the road.
If you've ever been to "The Fort," you know how extraordinary it is. You've seen the dogs running together in the sand, the children careening down the dunes, and the older people watching the ocean from their favorite benches. There are hang gliders, horseback riders, bird watchers, whale watchers, and kite flyers. Everyone knows everyone and, with virtually no exception, we treat the natural environment of Fort Funston with the utmost respect.
Fort Funston is a spectacular piece of land. But what is truly astonishing isn't the scenery, but the fact that this incredible urban sanctuary exists at all. If you've lived in any other major city in the United States, you know how rare undeveloped open space is. Few cities offer its citizens this kind of natural environment to enjoy.
These are some of the reasons why those of us who love Fort Funston were devastated when the permanent fences suddenly and inexplicably appeared -- closing us out of some of the loveliest and most popular areas of "The Fort." I've heard "the regulars" at Fort Funston offer up various reasons for the closures -- everything from protecting endangered bank swallows, to creating a habitat for native plants, to protecting people from injuring themselves by falling off eroding cliffs. But since the GGNRA never offered any reasons for their actions, these explanations amount to nothing more than rumor and conjecture. Unfortunately, when decisions that impact the public are made in secret, the public can do little more than engage in speculation.
Many questions need answering:
Why was is necessary to close areas that are well over 300 yards from the habitats of the bank swallows and the eroding cliff side?
Where is the scientific data and environmental studies that justify why these actions were taken?
Why were ice plants (which prevent erosion) removed throughout the eroding dune area?
Why was such a controversial decision made so swiftly and without public discussion, as required by law?
Unfortunately, some people think that what's going on at Fort Funston has little to do with them because they don't own dogs or use "The Fort." This matter doesn't just concern dogs and their devoted humans. These areas are being indefinitely closed to everyone.
Secondly, this issue is not just about Fort Funston. If such a sudden and unexpected change in the public use of an area can happen at "The Fort," it can also happen at Crissy Field, Baker Beach, The Presdio, or any other area maintained by the GGNRA. In fact, similar decisions to limit public use have recently been made in Marin.
Places like Fort Funston are to be treasured and preserved. Open public spaces revitalize us and provide us with relief from the stresses of urban life. Please do what you can to help save parks like Fort Funston for future generations to enjoy as much as we all have. Please urge your friends to join you.