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Dr. Karin Hu

Comments at 1/23/01 GGNRA Advisory Commission Meeting

I'm Dr. Hu. Some of you saw my last study on recreational use at Fort Funston. Tonight I want to talk about recreational use of non-dog places like Lobos Creek Valley.

I'm a native San Franciscan, and grew up with the Lobos Creek Valley literally in my backyard. After school, friends and I , or just me and the dog, would play in the woods or the meadow.

How many of you have visited the Lobos Creek Valley lately?

Well, it's beautiful! There are gentle rolling mounds of native plants. At the entrance there's a sign w/pictures of two rare plants. Good photographs. Clear. Colorful. And it's fortunate to have the photos because you might not be able to actually see the rare plants, unless you have sharp eyes. You see, visitors are required to stay on the wooden walkway to gaze out at the plants. Somewhat like a Disneyland exhibit. Actually, it's more like "Martha Steward does Native Plants." I say that because the habitat is not a restoration. It's not at all like the original, i.e. sand dunes with sparse vegetation. Instead, the habitat is a plot of land, fenced off, densely planted, a romanticized "native plant" habitat that requires lots of busy hands to build and maintain. Let's be honest....this is not habitat restoration. This is recreational gardening.

Do I begrudge the Green Team this garden? No, even though I'm not allowed to bring my dog there anymore, there should be a space for recreational gardening. There should be space for threatened and endangered species. There is room for all of us.

Also, the habitat was different from Disneyland, because it wasn't so crowded. In fact, I was the only person there. No one else in sight. This is amazing in a city that has a density of over 15,000 people per square mile.

I was puzzled. Where are those folks who "don't go to Fort Funston because of all the dogs? "

I would expect at least one of them to be at Lobos Creek Valley. Sunday afternoon. The sun was out. The birds were singing. The birding is excellent there.

So here are the native plants. Here are the birds. Where are the visitors?

Subsequent visits have the same findings: no one, with the exception of two boys skateboarding on the walkway.

I continued my search for these hypothetical " dog-fearing park visitors" at Lands End. A warm, sunny weekday afternoon. Finding: I saw fewer than 30 people. Only one child. The majority were "solitary men"....uh, enjoying nature. Now, if you went to Fort Funston and only saw only 30 people, you would wonder, "where is everybody"? Are they all at a GGNRA meeting?

Conclusion: Please, stop talking about those hypothetical "thousands of other visitors,", i.e. the ones who aren't counted because the dogs have chased them away. . They exist, but they already have 95% of the park park; you've squeezed thousands of dog owners into smaller and smaller spaces, and now you want us to leave. Don't kick people out of the park. Thank you.

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