GGNRA WatchDog  
Second Section

"Those park visitors who choose to violate the leash regulation are subject to warnings and citations."

Well, so much for the stock response about how it's up to the discretion of the individual officer. What started out as a conciliatory approach (albeit due to a thousand angry citizens and their supervisors refusing to accept rescission of the 1979 Pet Policy) and wandered through bureaucratic jargon now has this clear challenge, stated at the end of a May 22nd "ANPR Update" on the GGNRA's website:


This update is the 2nd in a series of public information reports on the ANPR process.

On March 21, 2001, the National Park Service (NPS) announced it would pursue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to determine whether the park should engage in formal rulemaking regarding pet management in the Golden Gate National Recreational Area (GGNRA). If undertaken, the formal rulemaking process would specifically address how pet use of the park would be managed at the GGNRA.

ANPR Status
Since the announcement, park staff has researched how the ANPR will be executed, what the constraints are, and the public's role in the process. A draft ANPR, which must be reviewed by both the Director of the NPS and the regulatory offices of the Department of the Interior, is being written. If approved, the ANPR will be published in the Federal Register. The Federal Register notice will announce how and when public comment will be taken.

ANPR Project Manager
A project manager is being hired to oversee the ANPR process and to integrate it into the park's planning and management efforts. The position should be filled by July 2001.

Public Involvement
Public input is a key element in the decision-making process for both the ANPR process and, if undertaken, the formal rulemaking process. All park user and interest groups, including dog-walking groups, environmental organizations, board sailors, family advocates, senior groups, and the general public will have an opportunity to provide input throughout the public comment period.

Independent Consensus Building Group
To insure the broadest spectrum of community involvement and to build public confidence in the process, Superintendent O'Neill is exploring the use of an independent third-party consensus building group. The group would focus on the decision-making process and would work to develop good lines of communication with those who use or have an interest in the park and its resources.

Community Relations
Several positive developments are taking place. The Crissy Field Dog Group (CFDG) has forwarded a detailed strategy describing how they would like to work with park staff to promote responsible dog walking in the park. CFDG started a monthly clean-up program and developed an informational flyer to hand out to the public. The Fort Funston Dog Walkers also have a monthly clean-up program. Within the last month, park staff has shared information with local elected officials, environmental groups and the area's community leaders on the progress of the ANPR.

Education on Leash Regulation
Superintendent O'Neill has met with dog walking groups, environmental organizations and the media to discuss enforcement of the nationwide regulation requiring that all pets, where allowed, be on leash in national parks. To help educate the public, the regulation will continue to be posted throughout the park. Those park visitors who choose to violate the leash regulation are subject to warnings and citations.

The following postcard was received in early May by those on the Advisory Commission mailing list:


The GGNRA has received approval and started a process known as Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR). One of the primary uses of ANPR is to involve the interested public in a regulatory action at an early stage.

The first steps of the process are to draft the ANPR and to have it reviewed in Washington, D.C. and approved for publication in the Federal Register. Then, public input is collected and evaluated. GGNRA is working on the draft and hopes to have it ready shortly.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, National Park Service


Our May meeting, held at Point Reyes Station, dealt with Marin issues. The June meeting at Half Moon Bay will deal with San Mateo issues. The July meeting will be in San Francisco and will include a progress report on the rulemaking process for pets.

As was stated at our January 23 public hearing at the Presidio, the 1979 Pet Policy recommendations made by this Commission are not applicable to the park. They are unenforceable, violate Federal regulations, and never became park regulations.

GGNRA has started a process to see whether or not the existing nationwide regulation, which requires that all pets be on leash where pets are allowed in national parks, can be adapted somewhat to the conditions of this park. The ANPR process will allow for public input on all sides of the issue. We anticipate multiple opportunities for your input during upcoming months. This notice, addressed to you, means that you are on our mailing list and will be notified of the dates and locations of future meetings.

Richard Bartke, Chairman
Amy Meyer, Vice Chair
GGNRA/Point Reyes Advisory Commission


on other side, dated May 7, 2001 - NOTICE OF CANCELLATION

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore Advisory Commission meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 22, 2001 at GGNRA Park Headquarters, Bldg. 201, Fort Mason, San Francisco has been CANCELLED. You will be notified of the agenda and location for the next public meeting of the Advisory Commission scheduled to be held in San Mateo County on June 26.

State Senator Jackie Speier's Letter to Brian O'Neill
Demands Signs Be Taken Down

April 5, 2001

Superintendent Brian O'Neill
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Fort Mason

San Francisco, CA 94123

Dear Superintendent O'Neill,

I am writing to express my extreme disappointment at your decision to post signs requiring dogs to be on leash at GGNRA properties.

The public was certainly led to believe that the GGNRA Advisory Commission's Jan. 23rd decision would preclude any such action for 120 days. In fact, according to the transcript of the meeting, Chairman Richard Bartke stated as part of the resolution that "the staff make no change in its enforcement during the next 120 days." Prior to the vote, when asked by a member of the audience what instructions would be given to park staff, Chairman Bartke responded, "Hold off signs, citations, and so forth, until they come back with a plan."

However, the March 30 update clearly states "that the regulation would be enforced, until, or if," there is a change in regulation. In yet another paragraph, the GGNRA states that enforcement of the leash law will continue to be "up to the discretion of the officer."

These apparently contradictory statements are confusing to the general public. Your actions will likely result in some members of the public leashing their dogs, some avoiding GGNRA properties all together and for those who continue to use the GGNRA for off-leash recreation, a tense park experience as they worry if a citation is waiting for them around the next corner. I must ask you, why is it necessary to take such actions at this particular time? 

While your decision to post signs may be consistent with National Park Service regulations requiring dogs to be on leash in federal parks, it appears ill-timed in light of your announcement to begin meeting with stakeholders to determine a dog policy for the GGNRA. I urge you to reconsider your decision to post these signs so you may enter into meetings with the public in a spirit of good faith. Dogwalkers, who have been at the forefront of educating others about responsible dog ownership, were hopeful when you announced on March 21 that the path had been cleared for stakeholder meetings to begin. Had they known the obscurely worded announcement on the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking meant that signs would be posted requiring dogs to be on leash during this process, I am sure their reaction, as well as mine, would have been quite different.

I welcome the opportunity to talk with you further about this issue.

All the best,


State Senator
8th District

Superintendent Asked to Remove Signs

Via E-Mail: Brian_O'

Mr. Brian O'Neill, Superintendent
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123
                                                                                     April 29, 2001
Dear Mr. O'Neill:

I attended the January 23, 2001 GGNRA Advisory Commission meeting in a desire to participate in a public hearing by speaking to the Commission. I am among the large group who signed the roster that circulated to individuals standing outside in the rain. I left the meeting without speaking or being admitted to the building based on the Commission's specific statement through Chairman Bartke that GGNRA would not change signs or citation practice while the matter was being studied with input from the community.

GGNRA's statements thereafter that off-leash walking was illegal were misleading to the public, betrayed a spirit of cooperation or due process, and were an attempt to exploit a dog attack tragedy. For example, in the KPIX television broadcast entitled "Dogfight", aired February 8, 2001, GGNRA Ranger Weideman flatly stated that the codified 1979 Pet Policy was illegal. Because there is a significant difference between stating that a long-standing policy is "null and void", i.e. unenforceable, and that it is "illegal", that GGNRA permitted or encouraged Mr. Weideman's statements fostered my perception that it was not acting in good faith.

Without commencing on the promised community involvement, GGNRA has recently posted signs that off-leash walking is prohibited. That sign change is a breach of Chairman Bartke's January 23, 2001 promise to me and the public, a dramatic alteration of the GGNRA use which requires public input and hearing, and is inconsistent with the long-standing policy and practice developed through prior public comment and policy development process. This is offensive to me as a citizen, to the elected representatives of San Francisco, and to state and other leaders who have asked for cooperation.

You have recently stated that GGNRA will be taking a leadership role in involving the public in dog issues at GGNRA. In order to fulfill that goal, please listen carefully to the local community, including representatives such as California Senator Jackie Speier. I hope you will be influenced by Senator Speier's April 4, 2001 letter to you that posting of signs is both ill-timed in light of your announcement to begin meeting with stakeholders to determine dog policy, and is contradictory and confusing. GGNRA Advisory Commissioners also expressed deep concern over the signs, especially Doug Nadeau in his April 24, 2001 Commission meeting comment that erection of signs is "a terrible, terrible public relations error" and Redmond Kernan's recommendation that GGNRA take the signs down. Without the signs, GGNRA of course still has the authority to cite egregious behavior of any kind.

Please listen to the local community and representatives such as Senator Speier and those Advisory Commissioners who are in touch with the needs of San Franciscans. I urge you to remove the signs so you may enter into meetings with the local community in the spirit that the January 23, 2001 and other promises have not been broken. I appreciate your attention to this.


Carol Copsey

Happy Dogs at
Crissy Field Celebration

click here for photos!

click here
for transcript of

City and County of San Francisco
Neighborhood Services and Parks Committee

Tuesday, May 1, 2001
Hearing on Fort Funston
& progress report from Deputy City Attorney


But, You Promised!

"We want to state clearly that we have no intent to eliminate . . . off-leash dog walking,'' O'Neill said. "All plans either maintain or expand off-leash dog walking. Under any future scenario, more generous areas of the Presidio's northern waterfront will be available to dogs.''

          -  click here to read this interesting and brief article from 1995
             Canine Lovers Win Fight Over Off-Leash Walking

             by Steve Rubenstein, Chronicle Staff Writer
             Saturday, March 18, 1995


Transcript of the off-leash issue discussion under Non-Agenda Items
at the GGNRA Advisory Commission Tuesday night, April 24, 2001.

click here -
then view or print.

At the January 23, 2001 Advisory Commission meeting, there were around 1,000 more individuals who wished to speak, but Chairman Bartke persuaded the people to postpone their opportunity to speak based on the suggestion that there would be no changes in the interim while the matter was being studied.

Mr. Bartke's proposal was that the public should let him curtail the right to public comment that night based on assurances of good faith that the GGNRA would not take action in the interim while studying the proposed change to the policy.

Here's the quote of a key point in the 1/23 meeting transcript where Mr. Bartke specifically suggests there will be no changes to signs in the interim:

CHAIRMAN BARTKE: I know. But whereas the Commission doesn't have to obey the rules, the park staff does. We will ask that the -- maybe this is implicit in the suggestion I made, not to be explicit, is that we ask that the staff not take any precipitous action to do anything until it's done these things within the next 120 days.

MS. VITTORI: So you're going to ask the staff to hold off to do anything --

CHAIRMAN BARTKE: Hold off signs, citations, and so forth, until they come back with a plan.

MS. VITTORI: Thank you very much.

The Spin Goes On!

NEW!  Letter from GGNRA Advisory Commissioners Bartke & Meyer

"Spin: 7. To provide an interpretation (of a statement or event, for example), especially in a way meant to sway public opinion."
- The American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition

The 1979 Pet Policy was the guiding principle for off-leash dog walking for decades in the GGNRA. Suddenly and improperly, Amy Meyer presented a motion to drop it at the Advisory Commission's November meeting without the item even being on the agenda. After objections from members of both the audience and the commission, Richard Bartke ruled the motion out of order:

Amy Meyer:  Okay, you have two other resolutions here.  Some of you I’ve had a chance to explain this to, a few of you I haven’t. ..... [brief remarks and ten clauses omitted, see transcript] ..... Now therefore be it resolved (back to page 3) that the GGNRA Advisory Commission rescinds its 1978 resolution. 

Richard Bartke: We’re open for commission discussion on that combined resolution.  Redmond.

Redmond Kernan: I don’t find it on our agenda.  This is to rescind a policy that applies to the total GGNRA.  I think it should be discussed, but I don’t think we should move on something that hasn’t been calendared, noticed, that people have not been alerted to.

======== after some discussion and audience objections ========

Richard Bartke:  I’m going to rule that motion as out of order, because I am convinced that the tradition of this commission, as well as our organic documents, require that there be a noticed hearing and that the public have an opportunity to speak.

So, the leash policy rescission went on the agenda for the next meeting, January 23rd. And an unprecedented groundswell of opposition was galvanized. Over a thousand citizens showed up at a meeting room that was way too small for the audience. Hundreds were barred by police from even entering the building, left out in the rainy night without even the courtesy of a loudspeaker to hear the proceedings. Almost all of the San Francisco Supervisors spoke, and threatened to take back the lands given to the Park Service in the seventies on the condition that existing uses such as off-leash dog walking must continue -- if the policy was rescinded.

So, the commission did not vote to rescind its policy because of this opposition. And they passed a resolution with a section calling for no changes for 120 days. Now with a lot of fanfare and press releases, the Park Service has announced a complex path called "Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking", which isn't even rulemaking itself. With rulemaking it would be years before a result... and in the meantime, signs stating that leashes are required are going up. And the new letter claims that the policy was no longer in force, anyway... so why was it on the agenda in the first place?

NEW!  Letter from GGNRA Advisory Commissioners Bartke & Meyer
(or just read it below, instead)

Undated but posted on GGNRA's website around April 20... Not addressed to any particular "Editor", this letter is a link from Advisory Commission and Press Release/Public Affairs sections of website... One link says, "Attention Dog Owners from the GGNRA Advisory Commission" but doesn't indicate if, when or where the commission discussed or approved this letter.

The letter reads as follows:


Editor --

We are writing to clear up a misunderstanding about off-leash dogs in Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The GGNRA Advisory Commission made several recommendations to Superintendent Brian O'Neill at our January 23 meeting. We asked him to meet with dog owners and with other interested parties. He has. We asked him to meet with other public land managers. A summit is getting underway. Our major request was that he try to find a way for our park to get an exception to the national regulation that all dogs be on-leash in national parks. He has done this by starting the process, awkwardly named "Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking," so that managers of this national park can attempt to craft a different legal dog management policy.

We did tell the audience a number of times at the January meeting that the Commission's 1978 policy recommendation permitting off-leash dogs in some places had been declared invalid and was no longer in force. The room was too noisy for this point to be heard. Instead, there is community perception that we will revisit dog issues at our May meeting; we will not because the rulemaking process has begun. New park signs state the standard national park dog leash requirement, which will be in place until -- and if -- the new rulemaking is successfully completed.

We would like to have a win/win situation for all park users. We hope that many people with various opinions will participate in the rulemaking process.

Richard Bartke, Chair
Amy Meyer, Vice-Chair
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Advisory Commission

Attend the GGNRA Advisory Commission meeting
Tue. Apr. 24, 7:30 p.m. Bldg. 201, Fort Mason

More than a thousand citizens and almost the entire San Francisco Board of Supervisors came to a cold, rainy, hard-to-find January 23rd meeting of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area Advisory Commission, which was to vote on whether to rescind its 1979 Pet Policy. After hearing from fewer than fifty of those who tried to speak, the commission cut off further speakers.

The only reason the audience accepted being denied the right to speak was the commission's decision to table the motion for a 120 day period, during which there were explicitly to be no changes in policy or enforcement so that a good faith effort to engage in dialog with park users could begin.

Instead, while announcing a complex and time consuming process known as Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the media, the National Park Service made immediate changes on the ground, posting new signs which state "Pets on Leash".

This can do nothing but create confusion, resentment and conflict. What's more, rather than acknowledge the fact that the commission tabled a vote on the Pet Policy, the spin was put out in subsequent days that the policy was just "null and void" and that the issue would actually not be returning to the commission at all -- NOT!

The Commission meeting:

Tuesday, April 24th
7:30 p.m.

Building 201
(GGNRA Park Headquarters)
Fort Mason
Franklin & Bay Streets
San Francisco

see map

Although there are several other, possibly lengthy items on the agenda, citizens are free to speak at the end of the meeting under "Non-Agenda Items" after signing up at the start of the meeting.

Whether or not you attend the meeting, you can write to the commission, care of its chair, Rich Bartke, asking that they stand by their proposal of no changes in the leash policy at this time:

Mr. Richard Bartke, Chair
Advisory Commission

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA  94123

If you do write, mail your letter TODAY so that it will get into the commissioners' hands before the meeting!

click here for Earth Day 2000 Editorial -- same old story.

But here's good news: visit Green Friends !

What happened at Marin Open Space meeting in April? See Marin Human Society report.
Also, see photos, here!

Sign the Marin Open Space online petition!

The Marin Humane Society

Open Space Hotline
(415) 883-4621, x364

Point Reyes Light

Feb. 8 Editorial


 State Parks Off-Leash Study Bill by Sen. Jackie Speier

SB712 went before committee on Tuesday, April 24th, in Sacramento.

Please sign an online petition to support Senate Bill 712, Jackie Speier's proposed legislation for the State Department of Parks and Recreation to conduct a feasibility study regarding state park locations and conditions that would support off-leash dog activity.

Send email, fax or letters of support to the Natural Resources and Wildlife committee chair (Sheila Kuehl c/o committee consultant Patricia Hanson), with a copy to Jackie Speier. Put "support SB712" in the subject line.

We need to counter the concern that opening up off-leash areas will cause harm to the parks. Some ideas for your letters:

  Your concern and sensitivity for environmental issues Loss of many other off-leash areas Historical off-leash areas are lost when land is given to State Parks (i.e. San Mateo beaches)
  The importance of off-leash recreation for both you and your dogs
  What you do to insure a pleasant visit for all visitors to existing off-leash areas

Mailing address: State Capitol,Room# (see below), Sacramento,CA 95814
Sheila Kuehl (write her c/o: Room 4032 Fax 916-324-4823
Jackie Speier ( Room 2032 Fax 916-327-2186

Did you miss The Independent article, "Protesters gather at Fort Funston fences" on April 10?
Click here for the article, reprinted with permission of The Independent and author Edith Alderette.

Appeal to Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior

Here's the text of the postcard people have been sending to Gale Norton recently.
If you haven't already sent one, click here, print it as a letter, and mail it today!

The Honorable Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington DC 20240

Dear Ms Norton,

I am writing to request your immediate help to preserve off-leash dog walking in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), a unit of the National Park Service (NPS) in the Bay Area.

Off-leash dog walking was recognized as a legitimate form of recreation on GGNRA lands when the parks were transferred from local to federal jurisdiction in the mid-1970s. Today, tens of thousands of people enjoy this form in recreation in these parks.

After extensive public review, several areas were designated as official off-leash recreational parks in a 1979 Pet Policy. Your office has already received over 17,000 petitions protesting closures for several of these areas in 1996 and 1999. We ask your support for a Section 7 rule as provided by 36 CFR 1.2(c) which will formalize the 1979 Pet Policy and restore access to the areas closed in San Francisco and Marin counties.

I deeply appreciate your immediate attention to this matter.


print name _________________________
address ______________________________

Point Isabel Dog Owners & Friends website



Protest Attended by Hundreds!

Click here to view an album of thirty photos from the April 7th demonstration.

History Lesson

Push has come to shove, folks! Do you remember the bumper sticker: "If you're not mad, you're not paying attention!"?

Early last year, the National Park Service (NPS) illegally closed ten acres at Fort Funston without input. We took them to court and they suffered a huge embarrassment and were dealt a federal injunction forcing them to re-open the area, after very damaging documents from the case's discovery phase showed the extent of the Park Service's efforts to sneak around the dog walking community:

So they went through a complete sham of notice-and-comment, receiving 1100 comments and detailed factual responses opposing their plans. In spite of no valid science and no open public policy debate about the merits of converting a recreation area into a preserve, they blew it off, plain and simple. It was just the latest of a series of actions, Closure Creep:

Meanwhile, in May last year they removed the "voice control" signs at Fort Funston:

Then in July, they removed those signs at Crissy Field:

In November, without even having it on their agenda, the Advisory Commission was presented with a stealth motion to rescind their quarter-century old leash policy. After objections they had to admit this was out of order, and then were unable to rescind the policy in January due to a thousand angry citizens and almost all the supervisors objecting:

So, the NPS a few days later tried to sidestep this by falsely claiming the policy was null and void.

Then, they changed the signs at Ocean Beach to deceive people there about a longstanding compromise as to where off-leash walking was OK:

Off-leash recreation was promised to be continued when they took our beaches in the seventies, and it was promised to continue when they raised money for the Crissy Field project which they are planning to crown with a big shindig in one month:

Now, they have planted the first new leash-required sign, on the chipped trail at Fort Funston, while crowing to the media that they are taking the lead on dogwalking in the Bay Area:
(see below)

They need to know that they need to keep their promises. We cannot afford to be marginalized with these new signs, and no explanation that has been put forth is acceptable.

- Michael B. Goldstein, Editor

on Saturday, April 7, 2001

For immediate release
April 5, 2001

Contact: Lydia Boesch (415) 841-1060

Park users of Fort Funston in San Francisco are planning a costumes-optional (Uncle Sam will definitely attend!) protest at the new twelve-acre fence in Fort Funston on Saturday, April 7th at 11:00 a.m. The purposes of the protest are to:

1. Protest the signs the National Park Service recently has placed at Fort Funston, Ocean Beach, and other parks included in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), requiring that all pets be on leash. These signs are being placed despite and in violation of the Park Service's commitment to the San Francisco community in late January to negotiate a leash policy with the public over a 120- day period.

2. Support the request by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors that the City be given greater local control of the San Francisco parks included in the GGNRA, including Fort Funston and Ocean Beach.

3. Launch a letter-writing campaign to the Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, to (a) remind her that the National Park Service has closed permanently twelve very popular and beautiful recreational acres at Fort Funston, in spite of overwhelming local opposition to this closure and without scientific justification for the closure, and (b) notify her of the Park Service's violation of its January commitment to the San Francisco community.

For more information, please contact Lydia Boesch at (415) 841-1060.

Cell phone contacts day of protest:


"GGNRA is trying to do by fiat what it has learned it probably could not get away with if it fairly engaged in the public comment and rulemaking oversight process"

April 4, 2001

Mr. Brian O'Neill
Park Superintendent
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bay and Franklin Streets
Building 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Re: Recent Sign Changes Concerning Off Leash Dog Walking Recreation

Dear Superintendent O'Neill:

I understand that the Park Service is again changing signs such as to significantly restrict traditional off leash dog walking recreation. The new changes result in an activity restriction which is of a nature, magnitude and duration that will result in a significant alteration in the public use pattern of the park area, and is highly controversial. Yet there appears to have been no compliance with the notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures contemplated by 36 C.F.R. 1.5(b). See Ft. Funston Dog Walkers v. Babbitt, 96 F. Supp 2d 1021 (2000).

Specifically, the Park Service recently removed the prior signs at Ocean Beach. The prior signs had clearly set forth and distinguished the portions of Ocean Beach where off leash dog walking recreational activity is tolerated from the restricted portions of the beach. The Park replaced those clear signs with unclear signs that eliminate the distinction between the restricted as opposed to unrestricted portions of the beach, and newly suggest that off lead dog walking is not allowed at all. That would be a substantial change to the historical recreation use pattern at Ocean Beach. The prior signs had reflected the result of substantial public debate, including ten thousand petition signatures objecting when the GGNRA staff previously suggested the closure. The prior signs also were consistent with the long term GGNRA policy concerning Ocean Beach while the current are not. There can be no dispute that it would be highly controversial and would be a significant alteration of the public use pattern to embark on such changes to the previously allowed and very popular off leash recreation use of Ocean Beach.

Additionally, your recent press release suggests that similar new signs will be installed at other areas of the GGNRA where off leash dog walking previously has been widely enjoyed . As you are well aware, such changes are highly controversial, and would significantly alter the predominate recreational use activity of certain areas of the National Recreation Area.

When the GGNRA tried to make such changes in January, thousands showed up at the public hearing. The Advisory Commission cut the hearing short before hearing from most of the people signed up to speak. The public allowed that to happen based on the representation made that "no action" would be taken on the proposal to eliminate the prior policy. The clear intent expressed by the Advisory Commission was that there would be no changes to off leash recreation in the 120 day interim while the GGNRA staff was to begin to investigate and have discussions on how to resolve the controversial issue.

You are well aware that the public comment presented on the earlier related restriction proposals clearly reflects that the park user community is overwhelmingly opposed and profoundly upset by the GGNRA campaign to further restrict recreational dog walking. Even the City of San Francisco has intervened to demand that you engage in careful public policy analysis and discussions before embarking on such changes that would so affect the quality of life of so many.

Yet it now appears that the GGNRA is trying to do by fiat what it has learned it probably could not get away with if it fairly engaged in the public comment and rulemaking oversight process.

Please exercise great care to comply with the requirements of public input. High respect for that democratic process might assist you in avoiding the peril of again igniting a firestorm of controversy over perceived inappropriate and arbitrary action.


John B. Keating

New Sign Up Already at Fort Funston!

This sign was posted on Wednesday, April 4, 2001, at the beginning of the "chipped trail" by the northeast corner of the parking lot at Fort Funston.

The GGNRA's 1979 Pet Policy was up for recission at the Jan. 23rd Advisory Commission meeting. Due to an enormous, mostly locked-out crowd and the presence of almost all of the San Francisco Supervisors, the commission did not rescind the policy. They stopped listening to speakers protesting the recission and got assurances from the Superintendent that there would be no changes in leash enforcement during a 120 day period to look for solutions in a spirit of cooperation. Instead, the Park Service has now decided to post these signs (see below). This is a change in policy and a failure to act in good faith.

Call GGNRA about signs!

415 561-4720 Superintendent Brian O'Neill
If new signs go up, park goes back to City.

During a period in which its Advisory Commission has called for no changes in enforcement of leash policies, and while claiming to be building a constructive effort to resolve off-leash issues, the National Park Service has instead announced plans to aggressively post signs throughout the park and may begin ticketing park visitors with off-leash dogs. The Park Service has also posted misleading signs on Ocean Beach, seemingly extending the Snowy Plover leash-required area far beyond its actual zone (see below).

Superintendent Brian O'Neill must be made fully aware that if he goes forward with the planned sign-posting, he will without question ignite a firestorm of criticism and jeopardize the upcoming process on crafting a new leash policy. Perhaps more significantly, he must also be told in no uncertain terms that posting these signs, an action which is entirely his choice whether or not to do at this time, will lead to the immediate launch of a full-blown campaign by thousands of people to have the City of San Francisco take back its parklands which were given to the federal government with the explicit stipulation that all recreational uses be continued, which included off-leash dog walking.

Call Superintendent Brian O'Neil's office at 415 561-4720 and tell him that he does not need to post any new signs now, and that if he does post new leash signs you will do everything you can to have the City take back its park! These signs are not simply a clarification, they are a big change from the 1979 Pet Policy in effect at the GGNRA, and such a change should not be made in this way at this time.

Leash Signs Announced!

Here is a notice posted on the GGNRA website . The bold has been added by this GGNRA WatchDog website for emphasis.

Update on Dogwalking in Golden Gate National Recreation Area
March 30, 2001

This update is posted as part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s efforts to keep the public informed on dogwalking in GGNRA.

Superintendent Brian O’Neill announced on March 21 that the NPS will be undertaking a public process to address dogwalking in GGNRA called Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR). Throughout this process the park continues to have the responsibility to carry out the current NPS regulation which requires dogs on leash in all national parks.

ANPR Process:

At a March 21, 2001 press conference, Superintendent O’Neill laid out the park’s intentions to gather public comments on dogwalking in the GGNRA and determine whether to take the process to its next step. That next step would be a form of rulemaking that could, if deemed appropriate, alter the existing regulation or provide some language that would specifically address how dog-use of the park would be managed at GGNRA.

“I want to assure all dogwalkers that we are committed to working through the ANPR process to explore all options for dog management in Golden Gate NRA,” said Superintendent O’Neill.

The park is currently exploring how the ANPR process will work at GGNRA, including how best to solicit all views on this issue. The superintendent is investigating the possibility of hiring a project manager to oversee the ANPR process. That individual could help coordinate public involvement and assist in crafting the ANPR language.

Enforcement of Present Regulation:

Superintendent O’Neill explained at recent meetings with dogwalkers and environmental groups that the regulation would be enforced until, or if, there was a change in the regulation precipitated by the process of Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) that the park is beginning. He then informed the groups that enforcement of the regulation will ensure protection of the resources and other visitors and asked for dogwalkers’ assistance in helping carry this out.

“Visitor contact will focus strongly on education and outreach,” he added, ”but the cooperation of all parties would be critical in maintaining a cordial working relationship between the park and dog walking groups.”

Beginning the week of April 12, signs noting the on-leash regulation will be placed throughout the park to clarify the current regulation for all visitors. Again, however, the focus will continue to be on education about resource protection and visitor safety throughout the park and the decision on what action to take will be, as it has always been, up to the discretion of the officer.

The park will keep the public, including special interest groups, appraised on the progress and public involvement elements of the ANPR process and related actions carried out by the park.

GGNRA Advisory Commission Meeting:    

Superintendent Explains Off-Leash Rulemaking Option

Brian O'Neill, in his Superintendent's Report at the GGNRA Advisory Commission's March 27th meeting, announced that he has received approval from Washington to go forward with what is known as "Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" (ANPR) on the issue of off-leash recreation. While saying that it is not clear whether formal rulemaking would be desirable and that the process is new to the GGNRA, he pointed out that this method is not prescriptive in that it doesn't tell the GGNRA what to do ultimately.

The ANPR process would seek to determine first, "whether the community in its collective voice feels we should be enforcing the leash regulation or that there's a way to... designate areas that would be available" by days of week, area, hours of the day, etc., said O'Neill.

"We will increase our communication with all stakeholder groups and the general public," O'Neill claimed, saying that the process "will assure that all voices are heard in a non-threatening environment." The process had been announced at a press conference on March 21st (see news release, below).

One option under consideration is to hire a professional outside firm to facilitate the process.

The ANPR process is designed to determine, according to the Superintendent, "if it's the will of the community and the National Park Service to go through a more structured rulemaking process."

Amy Meyer, Vice Chair of the commission and chairing the meeting during Chair Rich Bartke's absence, said that the leash issue would not be returning to the commission and that the 120 day period announced at the last meeting therefore was not in effect.

It's not clear what all this means for the future. As the process unfolds, look to this website for ongoing news and analysis.

- Michael B. Goldstein, Editor

Ocean Beach Signs Deliberately Misleading?

This sign at Stairwell 21 on Ocean Beach gives the false impression that dogs must be on-leash when in fact they are allowed off-leash in the entire (North of Stairwell 21) beach in view here.

Click here for more Ocean Beach photos and story!

April 6, 2001

The Honorable Gale Norton
Secretary of the Interior
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Re: Park Access Closure At the Fort Funston Portion of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area 66 Fed. Reg. 3 (1/4/01)

Dear Secretary Norton:

I write to request response to the attached January 23, 2001 and February 15, 2001 correspondence. Those letters seek reconsideration and higher agency review of the local Park Service decision to fence off a favorite recreational area of the Fort Funston portion of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Many park users believe that the closure is bad public policy, does not comport with sound planning principles, is contrary to the urban open space recreational purpose for which the recreation area was set up, and is a
product of lack of candor and deliberate efforts to avoid reasonable scientific analysis. We have asked that the decision not be implemented until more carefully analyzed, but have received no local response to our requests for reconsideration. The decision to convert this recreation area into an off limits zone has such impact on the quality of life of so many that the City of San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a unanimous resolution demanding that the Park Service delay implementation of the closure until full analysis of the impact of the closure could be made. The local Park Service seems to repeatedly ignore these governmental entity requests that the Park Service act more carefully and cooperatively.

The area was a former municipal park which the City had donated to the National Park System based upon the understanding that the traditional recreational uses would continue. The City has repeatedly protested Park
Service conduct in curtailing public use without first consulting with the City, but the complaints went unheeded. The Board of Supervisors passed an additional resolution that if the Park Service revoked the dog walking
recreational use historically enjoyed in the area the City would take action to try to force the Park Service to yield back the former City park property. I understand that the Department of Interior has committed to further
rulemaking before the temporary park changes involved in this closure are made permanent. However, the local Park Service appears to be moving forward with a permanent closure, and still without adequate analysis. I am worried that such conduct may irreparably harm the park and wildlife. Please confirm that the Park Service will indeed comply with the rulemaking procedure before it permanently closes the area.

There has been a repeated concern that the Park Service has not had the benefit of impartial analysis. It appears that at each stage the Park Service has principally relied upon summary conclusions made by the very Park
Service employees who are the proponents of the proposal. Please note that the Park Service employee who was the "chief architect" of the proposal was formerly in the leadership of the local Native Plant Society and that the primary issue of the closure controversy is whether the traditional park uses should be sacrificed in order to convert the area into exclusively a native plant zone.

The only truly impartial review of the local park Service employee activity came from the Federal Court Judge, who commented: "That record shows the lengths to which the closure architects went in suppressing input." Ft.
Funston Dog Walkers v. Babbitt, 96 F. Supp 2d 1021, 1035 (2000). As the natural bias of a proponent of a proposal might tend to interfere with the quality of the objective analysis of the public interest, please insure that
review of the closure decision is not exclusively dependent on the analysis of those who previously sought to push the closure through without proper analysis.

In the last few days, the local Park Service employees have installed new signs which preclude all off leash dog walking at Fort Funston. Dog walking is by far the predominant recreation use of Fort Funston. I enclose
a copy of a self explanatory letter I sent to Superintendent O'Neill regarding the conduct of the Park Service in unilaterally changing that long standing policy of allowing off leash dog walking recreation at certain locations. It is my hope that the local Park Service employees can enter a new period of in fact engaging in true cooperative communication with the public to work out conflicts over resource use. That would be a great improvement over the current circumstances – conduct that appears to many to be a pattern of self serving pronouncements of cooperativeness and attentiveness, but such statements being belied by repeated acts of aggressively subverting the public input process.

Meanwhile, regarding Fort Funston the Park Service continues:

* to fail to respond to the numerous requests for reconsideration and explanation of the basis for the perceived mistaken decision;

* to fail to respond to the specific public comments on the proposal;

* to shut off the traditional disabled access,

* to engage in actions that may continue to harm the local bird colony which the Park Service claims it is protecting;

* to refuse to engage in ordinary environmental protection analysis or even to recognize much less consider the objections to the believed shoddy scientific method used by the Park Service;

* to withhold the Park Service data and documents that would be useful to any such fair analysis;

* to close off large recreation areas under the pretext of protecting the bird colony while in fact doing so for the purpose of an agenda to convert such recreation areas into an off limits native plant re-vegetation zone;

* to go to great ends to avoid public comment on the larger issue of the overall campaign of conversion of the recreation areas into off limits zones;

* to fail to consider the statutory requirements of acting consistent with the enabling statute for the recreation area while instead promoting a statutory interpretation that all areas must be uniformly managed; and

* to pursue an aggressive one sided (and many believe repeatedly inaccurate) press campaign supporting the local Park Service agenda to eliminate disfavored recreation uses.

Please have your staff advise whether you will order some sort of further agency review of these concerns. Thank you.


John B. Keating

February 15, 2001

The Honorable Gale Norton
Secretary of the Interior
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20240

Re: Park Access Closure At the Fort Funston Portion of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area 66 Fed. Reg. 3 (1/4/01)

Dear Ms. Norton:

Yesterday, the people were fenced out of a favorite recreational area of the Fort Funston portion of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

I understand that the Department of Interior has committed to further rulemaking in the future as to the permanent park changes involved in this closure, regardless of the fact that the temporary closure is proceeding at this time. We ask for written verification that the permanent changes to the park will indeed be a subject of further rulemaking.

Many members of the public believe that the closure is bad public policy, and is a product of lack of candor and deliberate efforts to avoid reasonable scientific analysis. The decision to convert this recreation area into an off limits zone has such impact on the quality of life of so many that the City of San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a unanimous resolution demanding that the Park Service delay implementation of the closure until full analysis of the impact of the closure could be made.

The land at issue had previously belonged to the City of San Francisco but was given by the City for inclusion in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. That gift was pursuant to promises that the traditional open space recreation use of the land would continue. The Park Service now closes the area for purposes of converting it into an off limits zone for creation of a new "native plant" garden. The Park Service has been repeatedly closing off more and more of the beach and bluff access areas in San Francisco for such purposes. The City of San Francisco Board of Supervisors had previously found that the conduct was so unreasonable as to warrant inquiry as to whether the City could seek reversion of the land based on the Park Service's breach of the promises as to how the former city park land would be used after transfer.

In addition to the highly controversial long term plan to create an additional off limits native plant zone, the Park Service also states it needs to close the area to protect a local bird colony. However, any such resource protection interest could be temporarily protected by less restrictive interim measures while more carefully considering the overall plan to permanently convert this prized recreational area into a native plant garden. For example, the Park Service could simply temporarily close the area during the bank swallow nesting season this year, but defer plowing forward with the permanent changes until completing the environmental analysis and full consideration of the impact of the overall policy of changing the nature of the park.

Some argue that the closure may in fact harm threatened wildlife, and that the Park Service is using the pretext of assisting a bird colony to excuse an otherwise improper effort to restrict recreational use in violation of the unique recreation mandate of the enabling statute, all the time refusing to look at the evidence and analysis as to the environmental impact of the park conversion plans.


John B. Keating

March 21, 2001:


Chris Powell (415) 561-4732
Roger Scott (415)  561-4731

Acting on a January recommendation from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) Citizens Advisory Commission, the National Park Service (NPS) announced today it will take a leadership role in involving the public in a review of dog leash policies in the GGNRA. The process, called Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), has been successfully used to resolve controversies in other agencies. Once our research identified the ANPR option, we sought and received endorsement by NPS headquarters in Washington for its use in the GGNRA.

The ANPR, though detailed, basically outlines different avenues that can be used by the NPS and the public to identify and address controversial park issues. The process involves several steps: publicizing an ANPR, collecting public input through a Federal Register Notice, evaluating that input and determining if there is a need to revise the present regulation requiring dogs on leash. If the need for a revised regulation is established, the park will then engage in a rulemaking process beginning with a notice in the Federal Register of proposed rulemaking seeking further public comment.

"There is a real need for this process," said GGNRA Superintendent Brian O’Neill. "The dogwalking issue has caused heated debate in the Bay Area as well as growing visitor use conflicts in national, state and local parks. The ANPR is a creative opportunity for us to take the lead, bring all the ideas to the table and find a solution that is acceptable to the public at large and consistent with the Park Service mission."

O’Neill said he and local NPS staff will immediately begin taking the next step of providing ANPR briefings to interested groups including the Bay Area Congressional delegation, state and local government officials, the GGNRA Citizens Advisory Commission, and dogwalking, environmental and other interest groups. "We want the word out that there is a solution-oriented process and someone willing to lead it," O’Neill explained.

O’Neill stressed that the local NPS office is not taking a position on what, if any, revision should be made in the existing dogwalking regulation. "That’s for the process to decide," he said. "The ANPR process is a clean slate. It allows us to put conflict behind us, invite everyone to the table and open-mindedly pursue a long-term solution. Let us prove we are the region that knows how."


The National Park Service announced today that it would prepare an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning dog management in the Golden Gate National Parks. The Advanced Notice, which could lead to adoption of new regulations, will solicit public comment on a range of potential management options for accommodating appropriate dog walking in the Golden Gate National Parks, consistent with protecting national park resources and assuring visitor safety. Recognizing the regional nature of the issues, the National Park Service looks forward to working with local partners to develop a park approach that would fit into a regional solution. Several recent events in the region have underscored the need for undertaking this public process, including litigation concerning the Fort Funston area of the park, public concern about visitor and pet safety, park resource management issues involving wildlife and vegetation protection, and the review of dog-walking issues by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area Advisory Commission. These events has also prompted the National Park Service to review the currently
applicable laws and regulations governing dog-walking in the Golden Gate National Parks. Current National Park Service regulations (36 C. F. R. #2.15) require dogs to be on leash in any area of the National Park System where dogs are permitted. The National Park Service will increase education efforts about the existing regulation and focus enforcement on visitor safety and resource protection while concurrently seeking the public’s input during the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking process.


Environmental Groups:

National Parks and Conservation Association
Sierra Club – Bay Chapter (SF Group)
Marin Audubon
Golden Gate Audubon
California Native Plant Society
Marine Mammal Center
Habitat Restoration Support Group
Center for Biological Diversity

Dog Walking Groups:

San Francisco SPCA
Fort Funston Dogwalkers
Crissy Field Dog Group
Marin Humane Society
Pets are Wonderful Suppor (PAWS)

Congressional Offices:

Office of Congresswoman Pelosi
Office of Senator Boxer
Office of Congressman Lantos
Office of Congresswoman Woolsey
Office of Senator Feinstein

S.F. Supervisor Leland Yee Calls for GGNRA to Consult with City or Face Reversion Fight:


By a member of the Board of Supervisors or the Mayor
Time Stamp or
Meeting Date
I hereby submit the following item for introduction:
_____ 1. For reference to Committee: An ordinance, resolution, motion, or charter amendment.
_____ 2. Request for next printed agenda without reference to Committee
_____ 3. Request for Committee hearing on a subject matter.
_____ 4. Request for letter beginning “Supervisor _____ inquires…”.
___X_ 5. City Attorney request.
_____ 6. Call file from Committee.
_____ 7. Budget Analyst request (by motion).
_____ 8. Legislative Analyst request.

Sponsor(s): Supervisor Leland Yee
SUBJECT: GGNRA 1975 Operating Agreement
The text is listed below or attached:
This request is for the City Attorney to amend the April 29, 1975 Agreement between the City and County of San Francisco and the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. The request is also for the City Attorney to negotiate the amendment with the National Park Service.

The 1975 Agreement established the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and contains the responsibilities of the GGNRA in administering oversight of the land. Although the operating responsibilities are clear to the City, there seems to be disagreement as to some of the responsibilities on the part of the GGNRA. The amendment should specify that the GGNRA must consult the City in the areas of planning, land use planning and regulation of recreational use. The City should be consulted about any changes on the land or changes in use on the land. The language should also reflect that changes include fence construction, closing off any portions of the land to any kind of recreational use, any changes on the allowance or disallowance of any sort of recreational use, and any changes in policy which affect San Franciscans who use the land for recreation.

The amending language should expand notification to include the Board of Supervisors and reflect that consultation should occur at the earliest possible stage in the planning process and should allow for the City to hold an appropriately noticed public hearing if necessary.

Failure of the GGNRA to reach agreement on this issue will result in the City initiating an action seeking reversion of the property to City.


Thanks for all the good times -- and treats!

We'll All Miss You, Joe!

Joe Seitz passed away on Monday, March 5. Joe didn't have a dog... he had scores of them! He used to sit on the bench halfway along what is now the sandy, inaccessible Sunset Trail. More recently and in failing health, Joe sat on the first of the two facing benches at the very start of the main trail from the parking lot at Fort Funston.

With a gorgeous view out to sea, Joe would visit with dogs and people alike. He'd pass the time with humans, and pass the treats (the good stuff!) to his many canine admirers. Rudy always managed to get a second helping before I had to drag him away for his walk!

I think of Joe when I hear the claim that people are afraid to come to Fort Funston because of the dogs. Joe and many others without dogs come to Fort Funston specifically because they enjoy all the friendly, happy dogs at what's known as Dog Heaven. As our own dogs age and pass on, we can imagine them entering the pearly gates with Joe there to welcome them with a treat.

We're all going to miss Joe very dearly, and send our love and good thoughts to his wife, Doris, who is recuperating from a bad fall.

- Michael B. Goldstein, Editor
March 7, 2001

National Park Service employees in late February 2001 installed new fences around the two-payback-acres; payback because the Park Service decided they "needed" to also close these two acres, only after they'd lost in federal court over their illegal closure of ten acres (in background). Now will the iceplant be ripped out as "non-native", causing huge sandstorms to blow in the faces of people walking along the road? These two acres are nowhere near the bank swallow cliff burrows, this is merely the latest Closure Creep Land Grab, in which parcels of land are taken out of recreational use one-by-one so that the overall mandate of the GGNRA to "provide for needed urban recreation" is violated piecemeal without any public input on such a huge policy change. Sadly, the Park Service uses unproven claims of protecting the environment as a cover for these actions.

Remember, though: the Park Service employees erecting fences aren't the ones who made these decisions, so be respectful. Write their boss's boss's new boss, Interior Secretary Gale Norton and urge her to take a close look at how the GGNRA management has ignored the will of the entire San Francisco Board of Supervisors and thousands of park users, fencing us out of our own park for no valid reason..

With this field closed, beachgoers will all be forced down one narrow, fenced-in "Beach Access" chute.

Judge Dismisses Fort Funston Case ... City Actions & New Park Users' Lawsuit Ahead

U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup on Thursday, February 22, 2001 dismissed the year-old lawsuit against the National Park Service over closure of a section of Fort Funston. The suit succeeded in forcing the Park Service to comply with its own regulations for public notice and comment before making highly controversial changes. Yet, in spite of over a thousand written comments opposing the closure plan and no proof that it is needed, the Park Service recently sealed off a ten-acre parcel, with another two-acres slated for closure soon.

The suit's original complaint, which was never amended, dealt only with the specific procedural question of how the closure was handled. Internal Park Service e-mail uncovered in the case's discovery phase showed, as Judge Alsup put it in his ruling last April, "an intent on the part of the National Park Service to railroad through the closure, to maintain secrecy, to unleash the fencing with lightning speed, and to establish a fait accompli." The judge ordered a preliminary injunction last May 16th forcing the Park Service to open the illegally closed area and then go through the established notice-and-comment procedure if it still wanted to close the area.

In fact, the Park Service appears to have, as a direct result of being sued, decided to crack down on off-leash dogs throughout the entire GGNRA, of which Fort Funston is but one unit. Such retaliation against citizens for holding a federal agency accountable to follow the law is chilling. Threatening to rescind a sensible and balanced 1979 Pet Policy at its Jan. 23rd meeting this year, the GGNRA's Advisory Commission locked out hundreds of an overflow crowd of a thousand people and heard almost all of San Francisco's Supervisors object to banning off-leash dogs. The matter was then put on hold for 120 days for "stakeholder meetings" but a month later with little done, many people have begun questioning the sincerity of this tactic. The Advisory Commission canceled its regular meeting this month and will meet next at 7:30 p.m. in Building 201 at Fort Mason, Bay & Franklin Streets, San Francisco.

Now, the City of San Francisco itself may pursue various means to address the Park Service's violation of an agreement to continue recreational use at Fort Funston after the park was given to the federal government in the 1970's, and for failure to consult with the City regarding planned changes at the Fort.

Further, a new lawsuit by a variety of recreational users of Fort Funston is being launched. Although it was dog walking park users who were left out of the loop, in the end everyone has been locked out of more and more sections of the park. Disabled visitors in particular were barred last year from their beloved Sunset Trail when the Park Service abruptly tore up California's first wheelchair-accessible coastal trail. The GGNRA was established to provide recreational opportunities, yet the GGNRA's management has been steadily eroding that use in favor of untested and undiscussed "native plant" theories lacking an overall environmental plan. A new, broader lawsuit could address some of these important issues.

Yet more challenges lie ahead for the National Park Service (NPS) if it continues to ignore the hue and cry of thousands of citizens and unanimous condemnation from San Francisco's Board of Supervisors. As a unit of the Interior Department, NPS actions are subject to review by Gale Norton, the new Secretary of the Interior. Ms. Norton has repeatedly said that she favors working cooperatively with local government and citizens. That new approach would be a breath of fresh air as sweet as the ocean breezes we may yet again enjoy near the bluffs of Fort Funston.

- Michael B. Goldstein, Editor

Letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton

by Carol Copsey

Via E-mail:
The Honorable Gale Norton
Secretary of the Interior
U. S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C., 20240

                   Feb. 22, 2001

Dear Secretary Norton:

I write to express concern over recent park closures in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before that topic, please allow my congratulations on your recent appointment as Secretary of the Interior. I am very heartened by the number of women President Bush has selected for his cabinet, and was particularly pleased about your appointment. I am happy that you sit at the policy table, and are both pro-choice and a role model for women and girls.

Please meet with local organizations that are united against GGNRA park closures, investigate GGNRA's failure to coordinate with local leadership, and halt the National Park Service's unilateral park closures and prohibitions of recreational use. Much of GGNRA property historically belonged to San Francisco and was given to the National Park Service (NPS) in exchange for the promise that recreation would not be limited. Both San Franciscans and visitors have enjoyed a wide range of recreational uses in GGNRA for many years.

Purportedly to preserve wildlife and native plants, NPS has now built ugly fences and closed areas to keep people out. NPS is now denying access to all recreational users in Fort Funston, one of the former San Francisco city parks that was given to NPS and is now part of GGNRA. Hikers, joggers, hang gliders, picnickers, children, people with dogs, tourists and photographers are now excluded entirely.

GGNRA is in a dense urban environment that has become further congested in the fifteen years that I have lived in San Francisco. Given its setting, the longstanding public use and historical cooperation between NPS and San Francisco, GGNRA should serve urban recreational needs. In unanimous resolutions, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has now asked NPS to cooperate with local agencies to preserve recreational use in GGNRA.

A GGNRA Advisory Committee held a meeting in January, 2001 to consider some of the recreational use of the property. I was one of the many hundreds who attended, but, as has been the case in numerous other ways on prior occasions, GGNRA did not permit our participation in purportedly public hearing proceedings. I rather stood outside the building in the rain during the meeting. I understand that the Advisory Committee recommended that all interested parties meet to come to agreement on the recreational uses of GGNRA.

Recent GGNRA public statements engender the unmistakable sense that GGNRA will not in good faith fulfill its promises to both coordinate with local agencies and maintain recreational use. GGNRA is publicizing false and misleading facts that are betraying any spirit of cooperation or perception of due process. That GGNRA has permitted or encouraged such publicity fosters the perception among many residents that it is acting in bad faith.

GGNRA's attitude is offensive to me as a citizen, to the elected representatives of San Francisco, and to state and local leaders who have asked for cooperation. It is consistent with your philosophy that NPS involve local government, which is closer to the people here in the Bay Area than any federal agency. I am very passionate about this, so I very much look forward to your involvement. Thank You.

Carol Copsey


Lydia Boesch's Letter to SF City Attorney Louise Renne
Correspondence between GGNRA & City of San Francisco (City Attorney & Supervisors)
Excerpts From Interior Secretary Gale Norton's Confirmation Hearings:
"We plan to return scientists to our parks...", and, "... I am firmly committed to a process of consultation and collaboration. We should listen to all voices and involve all citizens. That is fair. It is also wise. People are a magnificent resource for ideas, for knowledge, for insights. I've lived and worked here in Washington. I have also lived and worked in the great American West. Those of us here in Washington need to be good partners with Americans living in other parts of this country and in our territories. America is a stronger nation because of the diversity of its people. These people hold many different views and perspectives. We need to work with them, to involve them, to benefit from their creativity and their capacity to innovate."    (emphasis added)

Gates Locked to Fort Funston Closure Area in February

Breaking the news to Macarthur, whose owner has been walking in the now-closed area for fifteen years.


01 FEB 13 AM 11:49



No. C 00-00877 WHA

membership organization; SFDOG, a California limited partnership; LINDA MCKAY, an individual; FLORENCE SARRETT, an
individual; LINDSAY KEFAUVER; an individual; and MARION CARDINAL, an individual,




BRUCE BABBITT, Secretary of the Interior;
ROBERT STANTON, Director of the National
Park Service; JOHN REYNOLDS, Regional
Director, Pacific West Region, National Park
Service; and BRIAN O'NEILL, General
Superintendent of the Golden Gate National
Recreation Area,






       It appears from the present record that the defendants have now remedied the violation of 36 C.F.R. 1.5(b) that led to the preliminary injunction last April 25, 2000. Defendants have held public hearings after notice and comment and allowed for public input and debate, all before issuing a new and final closure plan for Fort Funston in January 2001. The original complaint and original flaw in the administrative process have been cured, fully.
       In opposition to the application and motion to vacate, plaintiffs allude to new theories and fresh violations of law. None is properly before the Court. Despite conferences in which the subject of possible amendments was discussed, plaintiffs have utterly failed to amend their pleadings or to advance, even if an amendment were before the Court. any cognizable basis for setting aside the new agency action taken in response to the procedural criticism originally leveled by plaintiffs themselves. In short, plaintiffs wanted public hearings and comment. They got it. The agency resolved the public policy debate. Plaintiffs may dislike the substantive result, but the procedural infirmity was cured.
       Plaintiffs argue that the new agency action is based on bad science concerning the best
way to protect the bank swallows when they are seasonally at home in the Funston cliffs. Perhaps. Perhaps not, That is exactly the kind of judgment call Congress delegated to the park professionals. No showing has been made that the agency's judgment and balance of competing use demands was arbitrary and capricious within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 701-06, and/or unsupported by an administrative record, a record not even before the Court. So too with issues of safety and re-vegetation assigned by plaintiffs as substantive error. As for the new allegations of procedural error (e.g., late release of environmental data and failure to complete an environmental impact statement), they are brand new charges. They are not what led to the preliminary injunction in the first place. They were not pled in the complaint. If plaintiffs wish to file a new lawsuit and to prove up new impoprieties, they are free to do so. The new accusations cannot, however, be used to prolong an injunction premised on a wrong since cured.
       Finally, plaintiffs argue that
the new action is subject to a sixty-day stay pending administration review issued by our new president for all pending regulations. There is an outside chance that the new proposed closure will be vetoed in this internal review process. That possibility poses some uncertainty. In those circumstances, the Court cannot rule out the possibility of some future agency detour that would warrant relief under the original complaint herein, remote though that seems.
       Meanwhile, the park professionals seek relief from the injunction based on the expected return of the bank swallows in March, possibly within two weeks, if history is any guide. They wish to begin preparing the closure intended for the swallows' protection, erecting fences, placing signs, and so forth. They do not want to offend the preliminary injunction. The imminent return of the swallows is a certainty. A veto by President Bush of the new closure is not. The Court concludes that the defendants have now fully complied with 36 C.F.R. 1.5, that the need for prompt protective action is genuine, and that the need overshadows the small risk of rule veto.

       The preliminary injunction is VACATED without prejudice to any new motion for relief plaintiffs might bring in changed circumstances. At the hearing on February 22, 2001, plaintiffs SHALL SHOW CAUSE why this action should not be dismissed as moot. The application and motion to vacate the injunction, having been resolved by this order, are taken off calendar.

Dated: February 13, 2001.

WILLIAM ALSUP                              

Write Gale Norton,
Secretary of the Interior,
1849 “C” St.
Washington DC 20240

Write to Gale Norton! ...... Here are some points to make:

* The decision-making process has shut out citizen participation.

* The federal government has shut down traditional use, despite unanimous opposition from local government (San Francisco Board of Supervisors).

* The Park Service is denying recreational access -- to all, not just people with dogs.

* "Native plant" projects have destroyed ecology and impacted the threatenend Bank Swallow colony.

* Kids can't play on the splendid sand dune that is known as "Joey's Hill".

* Ugly fences have been erected all over, ignoring the Park Service's aesthetic mandate.

Ask the Secretary to immediately halt and review the impending Fort Funston closure actions of the previous Administration.

Here's a sample letter to Gale Norton, to give you ideas for your own letter.
The Honorable Gale Norton
Secretary of the Interior
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Ms. Norton,

I am writing to request your immediate intervention in two serious and time-sensitive issues regarding land use within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), a unit of the National Park Service (NPS) in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The first regards the closure of twelve acres of some of the most popular recreation areas at Fort Funston, a GGNRA park within the city of San Francisco. This closure was initially carried out by the NPS without the required public review period. This action resulted in a federal lawsuit. The U.S. District Court temporarily enjoined the closure, and the NPS subsequently solicited public input. Despite overwhelming citizen opposition, however, the entirety of public input was summarily dismissed and the size of the closure area was increased. The Court soon may lift the injunction.

The second issue involves the recent NPS plan to ban all off-leash dog walking in all the parks making up the GGNRA, an activity enjoyed by tens of thousands of individuals on these lands for many decades. Because off-leash dog walking had been an important historical use of these lands, it was officially recognized as a legitimate form of recreation in these parks and was part of the agreement made to local communities when the lands were transferred to federal jurisdiction in the mid-1970’s.

Without your intervention, the Superintendent of the GGNRA will permanently close the twelve acres to the public in late February when the injunction is lifted. He will likewise ignore the overwhelming amount of public input supporting off-leash dog walking and likely will take steps to ban off-leash dog walking in the entire GGNRA when the matter comes up for review in late May. The situation has become so serious, that the Board of Supervisors of the City of San Francisco unanimously voted to begin legal actions to take the parks back from the federal government should the NPS ignore public input, ignore its commitments to the City, and act to ban off-leash dog walking.

There are ways that you can help: (1) Instruct the Superintendent of the GGNRA to put an immediate stop to the closures at Fort Funston so you can review the situation, and (2) support the local attempt to create a Special Section 7 rule permitting off-leash recreation in GGNRA parks.

(Add your own sentiments here)

I deeply appreciate your immediate attention to this matter.


(Your Name)

cc: The Honorable Louise Renne, Esq., San Francisco City Attorney
     San Francisco Board of Supervisors

Another letter to Gale Norton, who was confirmed as Secretary of the Interior by the Senate on January 29th.
by Nathan Winograd.
January 24, 2000

The Honorable Gale Norton
Secretary of the Interior-Designee
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20240

Dear Ms. Norton:

Since 1992, the Interior Department has reversed longstanding cooperation between the federal government and the City and County of San Francisco over management of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area ("GGNRA"). In the process, the National Park Service ("NPS") has closed or limited recreation opportunities in over 50 acres of the GGNRA's most popular areas without public review and despite significant public outcry in order to create fenced native plant preserves. As these practices violate longstanding public use, historical cooperation, public participation rights, as well as impact quality of life issues for the citizens of the San Francisco Bay Area, we are appealing for your support.

For over four decades, local citizens have enjoyed the breathtaking views, vistas, and trails of what is now the GGNRA. Prior to the creation of this great urban park, much of the lands belonged to the citizens of San Francisco. In the early 1970s, San Francisco voters were asked to give the NPS jurisdiction over these local parks. In return, the voters were promised that recreation opportunities would not be limited. In fact, the public was assured no one would even notice the change.

To address concerns from city officials and citizens over the release of this land to the federal government, certain unique restrictions were inserted into the enabling statute. In particular, the GGNRA was established for "maintenance of needed recreational open space necessary to urban environment and planning." (16 U.S.C. Section 460bb.) Relying on this language and representations by officials that this was "a technical resolution" that would not affect "recreational use by all citizens," the people of San Francisco approved in 1973 a Charter Amendment, which permitted the transfer of these city parks to the federal government.

One of the key activities that San Franciscans have enjoyed in these parks is off-leash dog walking. To address concerns that off-leash dog walking violated NPS regulations codified at 36 C.F.R. 2.15(a), yet was an important--indeed the primary--historical use of the area prior to the grant of land to the stewardship of the federal government, the NPS codified off-leash use in what has become known as the "1979 Pet Policy," finding that,

"the ordinary guidelines outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations do not really apply in an urban area. People and their animals have been visiting the park for too long to apply an all-inclusive arbitrary policy." (Meyer, A., Chairperson, GGNRA Citizens Advisory Commission.)

This policy of permitting dogs to run unimpeded with a leash is consistent with historical use, commitments made to the citizens of San Francisco who donated the land, the policy of the NPS that each park must be managed according to its unique cultural and geographical attributes, and with legislative history that created the park, as evident in the words of a seven-year-old San Francisco resident Elizabeth Linke:

"Dear Congressman Ron Taylor: I want a park, so I can play in the park and my sister wants a park to and so my dog can play with another dog and my Mom wants a park so she could take my dog out to play. I hope you will make a park." (H.R. Rep. No. 1391, 92nd Cong., 2nd Session, at pp. 413-414.)

And for almost two decades, the recreation needs for this area have by and large been honored, with wildlife and recreation coexisting peacefully. In 1992, however, that all changed.

With the arrival of a new Administration in Washington D.C. and to oversee the transfer of the Presidio, under the control of the U.S.Army, to the NPS and incorporation into the GGNRA, the San Francisco Bay Area received an influx of literally hundreds of new NPS rangers with no ties to the local community. To remedy concerns by local citizens that the new Administration was intent on converting recreation space to so-called native plant preserves, we met with NPS staff. We were promised that the recreation activity we enjoyed prior to donating the land to the federal government (off-leash dog walking, sliding on the sand dunes, hiking, jogging) would not be limited, and that any changes would be subject to public review and comment.

That promise would not be honored. Not only were efforts to formalize the 1979 Pet Policy through a Section 7 rule thwarted by the Interior Department under Secretary Bruce Babbitt, but the new Administration began creating these "native plant preserves" through a process of either closing access to people and their dogs and/or by erecting fences designed to keep all of the public out. Since their arrival, recreation opportunities in over 50 acres of the GGNRA's most popular areas have either been limited or completely closed, turning what was intended to be a recreation center into a fenced compound--off limits to all but the NPS staff assigned to keep the rest of us out. And, in the process, striking at the core of what the public values most about the park.

In fact, the NPS conducted a study in 1999 of Fort Funston, a former San Francisco city park now part of the GGNRA. The study revealed that 74% of the public identified the ability to enjoy the park with their dogs off-leash as the most important aspect of the area. The second largest response, 21%, identified the area's breathtaking views and 17% said its beauty. The closures, marked by either fences throughout the GGNRA or park rangers criminalizing these activities through citations, not only keep our constituents from enjoying the area with their families and their dogs, but everyone--the children at play, the joggers, the hang gliders, the photographers, the tourists.

Nor was the failure to uphold public promises and public review principles an isolated practice. As noted by one commentator in a November 6, 1997 San Francisco Chronicle article: 'Hikers and picnickers have found their favorite vistas, woods, and sand dunes roped off without notice, and many trees have been cut down to create pseudo-native habitats without public review.'

Indeed, in response to a lawsuit by dog walkers for failure to hold public hearings prior to closing off public land, a U.S. District Judge ordered public notice and comment after finding an "intent on the part of the National Park Service to railroad through the closure, to maintain secrecy, to unleash the fencing with lightning speed, and to establish a fait accompli." (Fort Funston Dog Walkers v. Babbitt, No. C00-00877 WHA, Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, dated April 26, 2000, enclosed for your review.)

This was consistent with previous actions: closures of recreation space without public review in 1992, 1993, and 1995. Although the closures have been driven by the desire to turn the GGNRA into a native plant preserve, after the most recent controversy arose over the closures in 2000, the justification shifted to protection of the bank swallow. The NPS asserts, after-the-fact, that recreational activity and the current, albeit classified as "exotic" ecosystem, is impacting the bank swallow population within the GGNRA. This claim has no basis in fact. Historical observations indicate that the bank swallow colony has existed--and thrived--within the GGNRA since 1905 despite recreation activity. In addition, the relative stability of the area's topography, as well as
the bank swallow colony prior to the destruction of the current ecology by the NPS, further contradicts NPS post-hoc rationalizations. In fact, it was not until--and as a result of--the NPS destruction of the ecology in the area adjacent to the bank swallow colony that the cliff bluffs and the bank swallow were seriously harmed.

Beginning in late 1991 and increasing precipitously in 1994, the NPS began destroying the local ecology without an environmental impact analysis and despite significant public outcry. Following the destruction, the stable and thriving bank swallow began to decline and continued to decline lockstep with increasing NPS destruction of the existing ecology until the bank swallow simply fled the so-called "Bank Swallow Protection Area" to the "exotic" ecology and adjacent to recreational activity of another area. This area is now subject to the same NPS activities (closure to public use, elimination of recreational activity, and destruction of the existing ecology) that decimated the original colony location. A thorough analysis is enclosed for your review.

By order of the U.S. District Court which reversed the 2000 closure until the NPS held public hearings, the NPS did hold public notice and comment rulemaking--and, despite heavy citizen opposition, not only tripled the size of the original permanent closure, it removed all signs indicating areas were open to off-leash dog walking (voice control), threatened to revoke the "1979 Pet Policy" despite a total of over forty years of local practice, and signaled its intent to close further areas from public use in order to create native plant preserves. The NPS was also not shy about its actions: officials have publicly admitted that this was "in response to the lawsuit," a case of clear retaliation
against citizens protecting their democratic rights to due process and public participation. In the process, they have also torn up half of the only disability trail in the GGNRA, eliminating access to unparalleled views of the ocean for the elderly, infirm and disabled; they have closed off "Joey Hill," the only sand dune in San Francisco where children can slide; they have eliminated access to "Lawrence of Arabia" hill aptly named for the popular game the children played in the area; and they have eliminated public view of the military ruins, removing from our purview an important part of San Francisco's legacy, and closing access to personal history for families of the service men and women who were stationed here when part of the land belonged to the U.S. Army.

This is an issue that goes beyond issues of dog walking and recreation. San Francisco is the most concentrated urban area in the United States outside of Manhattan. We live in apartments, condominiums, and row houses with "postage stamp"-sized backyards. The open space and recreation opportunities afforded by the GGNRA are critical to quality of life issues for citizens here. At the same time that NPS bureaucrats have limited or eliminated these opportunities, they have converted the Presidio into their own private estate, replete with large homes and apartments nestled among groves of stately trees, expansive lawns, and breath-taking views, all subsidized at below market rates at taxpayer expense.

But neither the people of San Francisco when they donated their parks nor the Congress that created the GGNRA intended a private estate for NPS staff replete with native plant preserves. As evidenced by its name, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a recreation center, surrounded by a heavily populated urban environment. And it is the GGNRA's recreational value that was of the utmost importance to the Congress that established this great urban park. In their words, the GGNRA was to be a "new national urban recreation area which will concentrate on serving the outdoor needs of the people of this metropolitan region," and its objective was "to expand to the maximum extent possible the outdoor recreation opportunities available in this region." (H.R. Rep. 1391, 92nd Cong., 2nd Session (1972).)

Ms. Norton, on March 18, 1998, before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Resources, you testified that "states have often found themselves at odds with the federal government when the issue involves public lands--an issue that is critically important to western states." (Norton, G., Attorney General of Colorado, Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Resources, National Environmental Policy Act, 1998.) It is precisely this dilemma we face over use and enjoyment of the GGNRA.

We think the question of whether the GGNRA is going to be a recreation area--nestled as it is on the edge of a major metropolitan area--or whether it is going to be a pristine national park inaccessible to the bulk of the individuals who use it now--needs to be answered. But we don't believe this question should be answered by NPS staff alone. Rather we ask that it be put to the public--to the hundreds of thousands of citizens who care deeply about the future of these spectacular lands. We believe this is in keeping with your belief that "[i]nnovative environmental policies, just like other innovative policies, come about when the states act as 'laboratories of democracy'..." (Id.)

Finally, you indicated that, "[i]n addition to innovative policies, the states are important in the federal-state environmental partnership because there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all government. The states, where government is closer to the people, are the proper entities to implement environmental laws and policies." (Id.)

We agree. And it is precisely our contention that there is no such thing as a "one-size-fits-all" National Park. While we have been repeatedly told by NPS staff that the GGNRA will be run like any other national park regardless of historical use, urban or rural location, local culture, or the desires of local citizens, federal law offers a different framework: it is the legislative history and park-specific statute that ascertains the scope of permitted activities. While the NPS asserts that creating native plant habitats is within the NPS mission and requires the destruction of the existing GGNRA ecosystem and closures of recreational activities, the mission of the NPS within the GGNRA is, however, embodied in statute: the GGNRA was created to serve the recreational needs of an urban area. If native plants are not adapted to recreation areas, they should not be planted in an urban park.

And while close to 17,000 individuals have asked that the NPS uphold past promises and commitments to abide by the historical recreation opportunities enjoyed by the citizens of the San Francisco Bay Area; despite five unanimous resolutions by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors asking the NPS to comply with agreements for local cooperation, requesting delay so that the impact on local city parks could be properly analyzed, and threatening to file suit to reacquire the donated parks for failure to comply with the terms of the transfer; and despite numerous letters from state and local leaders--"where
government is closer to the people"--to the same effect, one member of the GGNRA staff told us: 'We don't listen to San Francisco. We take our cues from Washington.'

Several organizations collectively representing over 100,000 individuals, including the Fort Funston Dog Walkers, San Francisco Dog Owners Group, Pt. Isabel Dog Owners, Crissy Field Dog Group, Palo Alto Humane Society, Palo Alto PUPS, and Peninsula Access for Dogs, among others, have united to oppose the closures. On their behalf, and on behalf of the 17,000 individuals who signed the enclosed petitions, we ask for the opportunity--consistent with legislative history, historical use, and the principles of citizen-government--to have a role in how the park is managed. We request an audience with you to discuss the future of the GGNRA. And we appeal for the opportunity to reimplement the 'laboratory of democracy' we enjoyed in our federal-state-local partnership that allowed recreation and wildlife to peacefully coexist for decades, prior to the policy shift implemented in 1992.

Very truly yours,

Nathan J. Winograd



Did you write a speech, only to be locked out of the Jan. 23rd GGNRA Advisory Commission meeting, or were you never called upon to speak? Send it in for publication, especially because you never got to make your voice heard. Or, did you get to give your speech? If so, send it in, too!

SPEECHES! Some speeches from the GGNRA Advisory Commission meeting 1/23/01
Greg Herlein Warns the Commission that if they continue on the path they have been on, they will be "hounded" by off-leash advocates who are not going to go away.
Laura Cavaluzzo Challenges the Commissioners with seven piercing questions, asking them to look at their own behavior and statements. Reminds the Commissioners of the Park's problems with resource management and the Commissioners own incorrect statements about the law and their options. Suggests that Commissioners step down if they aren't going to perform their citizens' oversight role.
Karin Hu Questions need for native plant gardening in the small portion of GGNRA that has been available for off-leash recreation, and investigates the claim that there are lots of people who would be at popular dog spots such as Fort Funston but for the dogs.
Lydia Boesch Presents signatures of an esimated six hundred people wishing to speak who were locked out of the building. Tells the Commission that off-leash dog walking is actually not illegal at Fort Funston as claimed. Discloses that the Commission's Vice-Chair, Amy Meyer, a year ago "told us that if we went to court, if we went to the media, that you guys would rescind our off-leash dog walking privileges." Asks the Commission to work with the dog walking community to establish a Section Seven Special Rule allowing off-leash dog recreation in the GGNRA.
Lt. William Herndon, SFPD Letter from "Dog Court" hearing officer says there should be more, not less off-leash recreation; and that dog bites are down 30% in the past year. "Without [off-leash opportunities], we will see a rise in bites and numerous other problems that result from dogs not being properly socialized."
Margory Cohen "Walking off lead with a dog is as American as apple pie..."    &   "...really what the 'no dog' signs are saying is "no people." Points out that having a dog allows many people to feel safe taking a walk. Offers as a dog professional to help the Commission understand more about dogs and the land they enjoy.
Linda McKay Expresses surprise at the just-announced claim that a Section Seven Rule (overriding the national park leash law) had been explored, since even the most active dog groups were not contacted. Informs the commission of the educational and cleanup roles that Fort Funston Dog Walkers plays, and encourages the commission to work with rather than against the group and to not see each other as "the enemy".
Francine Podenski Describes a number of recreational activities which the Park Service seems to be trying to get rid of; challenges the Commissioners to realize that they are not victims, but representatives; and reminds them of the possibility of San Francisco regaining its park via a reverter clause in the agreements transferring city lands to the GGNRA, if the recreational mandate is ignored.
Wendy McClure SFDOG Co-Chair cites the huge impact that would be felt throughout The City by a GGNRA off-leash ban, and urges the Commission to "do the right thing and uphold your agreement with the citizens of San Francisco" to maintain recreational use of the park.

[speech prepared but not delivered due to not being called]

Lindsay Kefauver Asks the Commissioners if they really want to be responsible for breaking up her community of friends, people she has gotten to know during her 23 years of walking dogs off-leash at Fort Funston and Crissy Field. Reminds the Commission that they can recommend allowing off-leash recreation using a "Special Rule", as has been done for hang-gliding and off-trail bicycle riding.

[speech prepared but not delivered due to not being called]

George Paphitis Blasts the Commission for its cozy relationship with the GGNRA management rather than fulfilling its mandate to be an independent oversight body. "You have consistently turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the pleas and exhortations of the citizens for whom you are supposed to be an ombudsman." Looks to next year when the Commission expires unless renewed, hoping for a more responsive one or none at all.

GGNRA Superintendent Brian O'Neill "We have to make it clear that in 120 days we will see where we're at..." Suggests the need to bring together various park users in forging a solution. Makes claim that some people were heard from privately who would be at the meeting but for the "decorum" they anticipated. Stresses the resource protection claims of the park, and reminds audience that Fort Funston closure issue is independently being resolved in the courts.
transcribed by Vicki TIernan and Michael B. Goldstein

Sup. Gavin Newsom's Resolution Commending Advisory Commission and Creating a Working Group


The San Francisco Board of Supervisors in January unanimously passed the following resolution, asking the National Park Service to delay the twelve acre Fort Funston closure until the City has had an opportunity to review the closure.

Resolution by Supervisor Leland Yee.
before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Mon. Jan. 29, 2001:

[Urging the National Park Service to delay the closure of twelve acres at Fort Funston in order to allow the City to review the imminent closure.]

Resolution requesting the City Attorney contact the National Park Service requesting a delay in the closure of twelve acres along the coastal bluffs at Fort Funston; requesting the Department of City Planning, the General Manager of the Recreation and Park Department, and the Director of Public Works review the pending twelve-acre closure at Fort Funston.

             WHEREAS, In 1975, the City and County of San Francisco transferred Fort Funston and other City-owned park lands to the federal government to be included in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), to be administered by the National Park Service; and

WHEREAS, In 1973, San Francisco voters had been assured that the GGNRA lands were being preserved “for recreational use by all citizens;” and

WHEREAS, On April 29, 1975, the City and County and San Francisco entered into an Agreement (the Agreement) with the United States of America related to the operation of the City-owned park lands transferred to the federal government; and

WHEREAS, On September 11, 1974, the then-Superintendent of the GGNRA referred to the Agreement as “a fundamental guide for our future relations once City lands . . . are transferred to the National Park Service;” and

WHEREAS, The Agreement provides that the GGNRA was created, among other things, “to provide open space necessary to urban environment and planning;” and

WHEREAS, Under the Agreement, the NPS agreed to “utilize the resources of the GGNRA in a manner which will provide for recreational and educational opportunities consistent with sound principles of land use, planning and management, to preserve the GGNRA in its natural setting and to protect it from development and uses which would destroy the scenic beauty and natural character of the land;” and

WHEREAS, Under the Agreement, the General Superintendent of the GGNRA agreed to “consult with the Department of City Planning on all planning matters related to construction on the lands transferred by the CITY . . . in order to ensure that the Department of City Planning will be involved and informed during all stages of the planning process and in particular during the conceptual planning stage where potential conflicts can be resolved prior to the development of specific plans;” and

WHEREAS, Under the Agreement, the General Superintendent agreed to formally notify and consult with the Department of City Planning on any “substantial alteration of the natural environment” of the lands transferred by the City; and

WHEREAS, Under the Agreement, the Department of City Planning is to review proposed construction plans for conformance to the Master Plan; and

WHEREAS, Under the Agreement, the Department of City Planning is to seek the advice of the General Manager of the Recreation and Park Department and the Director of Public Works before reporting its findings to the Planning Commission; and

WHEREAS, From 1991 through 1995, the National Park Service erected numerous fences at Fort Funston, permanently closing off approximately 35 acres to all park users and significantly altering the character of the land, without providing any prior notice to the City and County of San Francisco; and

WHEREAS, Subsequent to the 1995 closure, the Superintendent of the GGNRA assured park users that there would be no further closures; and

WHEREAS, The prior closures at Fort Funston, as well as the pending twelve-acre closure, have resulted in significant conflict among park users and between park users and the NPS; and

WHEREAS, The NPS now proposes to imminently and permanently close twelve additional acres along the coastal bluffs and make dramatic changes to this land on February 1, 2001; and

WHEREAS, The land proposed for closure is one of the areas most enjoyed by the 750,000 annual visitors to Fort Funston, particularly families with children; and

WHEREAS, The NPS has not consulted with the City and County of San Francisco regarding this closure; and

WHEREAS, The City and County of San Francisco wishes to have, but has not had, a reasonable opportunity to review, evaluate, and comment on the impact the proposed closure may have on the people and parks in the City of San Francisco and to ascertain whether the Agreement has been breached by the NPS; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco requests that the City Attorney write to the NPS requesting the NPS to delay the closure of the twelve acres along the coastal bluffs at Fort Funston until the City and County of San Francisco has an opportunity to review, evaluate, and comment on the proposed closure; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors asks the Clerk of the Board to draft a letter to the Department of City Planning, asking them to agendize this item on their next meeting; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors requests the General Manager of the Recreation and Park Department, and Director of Public Works review the proposed closure to ascertain whether there is adequate justification for the closure, whether the closure will negatively impact the people and parks in the City and County of San Francisco, and whether the Agreement has been breached by the NPS.


WOW: 9 of 11 San Francisco Supervisors At the GGNRA Advisory Commission Meeting 1/23/01:
(and the other two also voted for the resolutions!)
Tom Ammiano
Matt Gonzalez
Tony Hall
Mark Leno
Jake McGoldrick
Gavin Newsom
Aaron Peskin
Gerardo Sandoval
Leland Yee
Click on e-mail addresses above to send them a quick Thanks!

Commission Defers Action on Threat to Ban Off-Leash Dog Recreation

After a spirited crowd of a thousand people, including eight of the eleven San Francisco Supervisors, showed up to speak at the GGNRA Advisory Commission meeting on January 23rd, 2001, the commission deferred action on its controversial threat to rescind its 1979 Pet Policy which had sanctioned off-leash dog recreation. San Francisco Supervisors had only the previous day unanimously passed three resolutions demanding that the commission not rescind its leash policy. The agenda item, which began at 7:30 pm., was completed at 11:00 p.m,. after the following resolutions were passed:

Recommendations of the GGNRA Advisory Commission, Jan. 23, 2001 

1.  That we ask the Park Service staff to continue to meet with the other landowning agencies regarding other places where this activity can take place.

2.        That the Superintendent meet with all the interested stakeholders, including the elected officials and the Congressional offices -- specifically, the agency of the City and County of San Francisco, within 120 days.

3.        That, among these discussions be the possibility of an application, through the Park Service, for a change in the CFR affecting this park.  

4.        That the staff make no changes in its enforcement during the next 120 days.

[ CFR: Code of Federal Regulations section 2.15(a)(2) leash requirement ]

Where There's A Will There's A Way:

There are three ways to formalize the 1979 Pet Policy which allows off-leash recreation:

1. The National Park Service (NPS) can amend 36 CFR section 2.15(a)(2) to grant Park Superintendents throughout the national parks the authority to create off-leash recreation plans.
2. If NPS doesn't want to open the door to other parks, they can create a Special Section Seven Rule, permitting GGNRA to develop its own off-leash recreation plan.
3. A third option would be to amend the enabling statute to identify off-leash recreation as one of the activities permitted, as is done for snow-mobiling, hunting, trapping, etc. in other statutes.

CLICK HERE for Full Text of Three Resolutions Unanimously Passed by San Francisco Board of Supervisors:

Sign online petition: "Off-leash Dog Rights in the GGNRA":
S.F. Supervisors Get Ready to Challenge Leash Law They threaten to take back coastal land from national park Rachel Gordon, Chronicle Staff Writer
Move To Rein In Pooches Free run of beaches could be cut off by Ken Garcia, Chronicle columnist
Calling All Dog Owners, Chronicle Editorial Mon. 1/22/01

19 Letters to GGNRA click for: Word with template    Word no template    Acrobat (PDF)
see "sampleletter.doc" below for explanation of how to use the template to insert your name and address.
Or just print one of the other two links above without name and address printed.

Crank Up Your E-Mail & Printer!
If you have 50 letter-size sheets of paper and a printer, you can download a letter -- see below -- to urge creating a special rule rather than rescinding the GGNRA's 1979 Pet Policy. You have your choice of three options to download:

1. sampleletter.doc
A Word (.doc) file which any word processor can open. You can then use your word processor's "Find & Replace" function to make these changes:
Find: "Address".......... Replace with: YOUR STREET ADDRESS or P.O. BOX
Find: "City/Zip"........... Replace with: YOUR CITY/ZIP
Find: "Name".............. Replace with: YOUR NAME
Then simply print the document and you will have your own custom letters to send. You may choose to send only some of them (to your own representatives). Just sign, fold, address and stamp envelopes, and send!
2. sampleletternoreplace.doc
A Word (.doc) file as above except that there's nothing to REPLACE. You can write in your address and name, if you wish.
3. sampleletter.pdf
An Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) file which is the same as #2 above... add your name and address if you wish. You will need the free Acrobat Reader browser plug-in, easy to download and install.
OR If you are handy with mail merge functions, you can use a letter AND ENVELOPE setup at Crissy Field Dog Group's website:

On January 23rd the Citizens' Advisory Commission for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area [GGNRA] will vote on whether to ban off-leash recreation in ALL areas of the GGNRA, including Fort Funston, Crissy Field, Baker Beach and Rodeo Beach. This ban would have a serious impact on all local parks, and would change a way of life for tens of thousands of our citizens.

The Citizens Advisory Commission and the GGNRA are ignoring provisions in the United States Code which would allow off-leash recreation. Specifically, the US Code states that each park's enabling statute and accompanying legislative history are to be the guiding principles for each specific park unit and these cannot be overridden by the requirement to govern each park unit uniformly.

The enabling statute for the GGNRA has four distinguishing provisions related to recreational use. In the legislative history, off-leash recreation is identified as an example of a valid recreational use.

The solution is NOT to ban the 1979 Pet Policy, but to incorporate it into the regulations as a special rule for the GGNRA - just as hang gliding and off-trail bicycle riding are permitted by special rules. This should have been done when the Pet Policy was created. Let's correct this oversight now.

Please urge the GGNRA Citizens Advisory Commission not to rescind its 1979 Pet Policy. And ask Interior Secretary Norton to formalize the 1979 Pet Policy under regulation 36 CFR 1.2(c).

Thank you.

TEXT OF LETTER: Copy and paste into e-mail messages (modify as you wish):   e-mail addresses

A Jan. Independent cover.



Fort Funston
Crissy Field
All of Ocean Beach
Baker Beach


1. Attend/speak at upcoming GGNRA meetings.

2. Send a letter, card or e-mail (See Addresses)


Secret Location, Secret Meeting?

The GGNRA's Advisory Commission web page begins by announcing that its meetings are, "Open and accessible public meetings, where the public has an opportunity to comment on park-related issues... "  Just how accessible is a meeting held at this obscure Presidio address: "135 Fisher Loop", and without providing any directions or map? Type in the address in Yahoo!Maps and it can't find the location! It took about a half hour of intensive Web research to figure out where this building is!

Closed Minds, Closed Process?

The Meeting Agenda is quite unusual, too, in that the 1979 Pet Policy agenda item is listed as a fait accompli rather than something that is up for public discussion and a vote. But then, that is how one of the commissioners referred to this issue at the last meeting. During discussion of whether to vote on the Stealth Resolution introduced by Amy Meyer to rescind the 1979 Pet Policy, even though this wasn't an agenda item, the following took place (see Nov. 28, 2000 meeting transcript):

Commissioner Amy Meyer: "I feel strongly that we ought to vote on this because it is, remains, a matter of public confusion, and it’s patently illegal; I mean, that’s..."

Commissioner Edgar Wayburn: "On the other hand, we have not had any advance notice of this, and being confronted by several resolutions, which we have not seen, I think is not wise of this commission."    [applause  ]  

Commissioner Doug Nadeau: "I can see the point about wanting to have a hearing, but I guess on the other hand, I don’t see that the policy serves any purpose whatsoever. The Park Service never adopted it, they’re not following it, and the only purpose it serves is to confuse people. So, it seems to me that going through a hearing on it would be a kind of a silly charade because we all know we want to get rid of it."    laughter  ]                      (emphasis added)


Send a letter, postcard or e-mail

A few points for letters & remarks:

Contrary to the statement of several Advisory Committee members, it is NOT "illegal" to walk dogs off-leash in National Parks. In fact, in 45 National Parks, your dog can run off-leash if you are hunting.

When the Pet Policy was created (after extensive public hearings), it should have been incorporated as a special rule for the GGNRA. This was an oversight that should be corrected now.

The 1979 Pet Policy was the guiding principle in the GGNRA for many years. In 1992, the NPS Western District Regional Director assured both US senators from California that "At this time, there is no change in the 1979 Pet Policy which provides the visitor the privilege of walking one's dog off leash." Why the change now?? How did this become "illegal"?

NPS promised San Francisco that this recreation would be continued when the land was given to GGNRA

The impact on local parks will be overwhelming if off-leash recreation is prohibited in the GGNRA. The Board of Supervisors in San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties each appoint 2 representatives to the Advisory Commission. Ask your county supervisors to tell their representatives not to rescind the 1979 Pet Policy, but to incorporate it into the special regulations for the GGNRA - as should have been done in 1979.

Addresses for Letters, Postcards & E-Mails

The Hon. Nancy Pelosi,
Member of Congress
450 Golden Gate Ave, #145378
San Francisco, CA 94102

The Hon. Tom Lantos
Member of Congress

400 So. El Camino Real, #410
San Mateo, CA 94402

The Hon. Barbara Boxer
U.S. Senator

1700 Montgomery Street, Suite 240
San Francisco, CA 94111

The Hon. Dianne Feinstein,
U.S. Senator

525 Market St., Suite 3670
San Francisco, CA 94105

Kevin Shelley, Majority Leader
California State Assembly

State Capitol, Rm. #3160
Sacramento, CA 95814

Jackie Speier, State Senator
California State Senate
State Capitol, Room 2032
Sacramento, CA  95814


Supervisor Tom Ammiano,
City Hall, Rm. 244
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Supervisor Chris Daly,
City Hall, Rm. 244
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Supervisor Matt Gonzalez,
City Hall, Rm. 244
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Supervisor Tony Hall,
City Hall, Rm. 244
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Supervisor Mark Leno,
City Hall, Rm. 244
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Supervisor Sophie Maxwell,
City Hall, Rm. 244
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick,
City Hall, Rm. 244
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Supervisor Gavin Newsom,
City Hall, Rm. 244
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Supervisor Aaron Peskin,
City Hall, Rm. 244
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval,
City Hall, Rm. 244
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Supervisor Leland Yee,
City Hall, Rm. 244
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Willie L. Brown, Jr., Mayor
City Hall, Rm. 200
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102


Gale Norton,
Secretary of the Interior

Department of the Interior
1849 “C” St.
Washington DC 20240

Brian O’Neill, Superintendent
Golden Gate Natnl. Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
an Francisco, CA 94123

Mr. Michael Alexander
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Ms. Susan Giacomini Allan
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Mr. Richard Bartke, Chair
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Mr. Gordon Bennett
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Ms. Anna-Marie Booth
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Ms. Betsey Cutler
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Mr. Redmond Kernan
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Mr. Mel Lane
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Ms. Yvonne Lee
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Ms. Amy Meyer, Vice Chair
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Mr. Doug Nadeau
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Mr. Trent Orr
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Ms. Lennie Roberts
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Mr. Dennis J. Rodoni
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Mr. Fred Rodriguez
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Mr. Douglas Sidon
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Mr. John Spring
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

Dr. Edgar Wayburn
Citizens’ Advisory Commission
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Bldg. 201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123


Fort Funston Closure Update ...... Write O'Neill Again!

Many people have asked what might be done about the Park Service's failure to fairly respond to the issues raised in the public comment submissions. If you believe that the Park Service decision did not address a particular issue raised in your comment letter, you can:

Send GGNRA Superintendent Brian O'Neill another copy of your letter, circle the specific portion that concerns what you feel was not fully considered, and ask for three things:

(1) that he provide you with a response to the specific issue,
(2) that he reconsider the entire closure decision based on that particular issue, and
(3) that he defer implementing the decision until he has evaluated the specific issue you raise and reconsidered the wisdom of the closure.

. Please send a cc to SFDOG or Fort Funston Dog Walkers at the following addresses.

P.O. Box 31071
San Francisco, CA 94131

Fort Funston Dog Walkers
P.O. Box 959
Daly City, CA 95017-0959


Signs Go Up: Park Service Ignores Federal Court Order Once Again

In January, the National Park Service posted signs along the fences at Fort Funston announcing that the area would be closed on January 12th. However, that would defy last year's U.S. District Court preliminary injunction, which specifically requires that the Park Service apply to the Court asking for the injunction to be lifted, even if it has completed the required rulemaking process..

What is it with the Park Service? They had to be forced last August via a contempt of court motion to obey the court order and open the area after the bank swallows left (see: National Park Service Blows Off Federal Court Order to Open Gates -- Contempt of Court Motion Filed ). The agency seems to hold the federal court system in as much contempt as it does the public.

After receipt of a letter challenging this action, the Park Service once again decided to belatedly obey the federal court order. The area will not be closed on the 12th; the Park Service will now follow proper procedures and will likely ask the Court to lift the injunction later this month.  The signs have been changed; now they announce a future closure but decline to state a date.           

Gale Norton Stresses Involving Those Affected in Decision-Making

Interior Secretary Nominee Gale Norton testified in confirmation hearings before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources . The committee, and the full Senate, have confirmed Ms. Norton as Secretary of the Interior. An excerpt:

Senator Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota):  In what areas would you seek to be very different than the current Secretary on issues at Interior... I think my colleague from New Mexico said, 'you know, I'd like to, I hope you're different in a range of areas'; I hope you'll be very aggressive in a range of areas, in a significantly different way. Can you describe to us how you view your role as a new Secretary of Interior, if you are confirmed, and how -- as it compares to what you've seen happening in Interior in the last eight years?

Gale Norton, Interior Secretary Nominee:  I plan to move into the Department of the Interior, if I am confirmed, and really learn about all the different issues and the things that have been done. I know that what's reported in the press is often quite different from the real scientific basis for a decision, or the statutory basis for a decision, so I would be looking across the board at those things that have been done in the past, to evaluate those things.

I would see one primary difference in my desire to involve the people who are most impacted by decisions, in making those decisions. Certainly in the western United States there has been a large concern that their voices have not been heard -- that the current Secretary of the Interior has not listened, has not sought to provide the input that those in the West would like to have. I would like to be sure that when we make decisions, we are making those with the input from all of those who are affected -- with the voices of ranchers, with the voices of environmentalists, with the voices of everyone who is concerned about those decisions heard as a part of the process.

In Colorado, we have some ranchers that I know, who went through a process of trying to decide how their mountain valley was to be managed for the long term future, and it involved public lands and private lands; it's a beautiful mountain valley, and it's near the Crested Butte ski area. That process is one that started with the environmentalists and the ranchers very much at odds. They were able to sit down together and find common ground, to realize that no one wanted the entire valley to be ski condos, that people wanted to see those scenic vistas preserved. By working together, they were able to come up with solutions.

Now, if Washington DC had been the decision-making place, without the people who directly knew that land making those decisions, I don't think we would see the kind of cooperative working relationship that eventually came forward. That's the type of decision-making that I would like to foster.

Chairman (until next week) Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico):  Senator Thomas.

Sen. Craig Thomas (R-Wyoming):  Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome back again, Gale. I want to pursue this just a little further. I think one of the difficulties that we've had, certainly, is having input that -- that mattered. I was recently at a meeting with Secretary Babbitt. He mentioned in his talk ten times "partnerships" -- well, the experience we've had with partnerships is kind of one horse and one dog, kind of that relationship.

I'd like to hear you talk a little bit about the cooperating agencies; we started that last year, which was a specific way of states and adjoining counties being involved. We've had experiences of going through the NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] process, and then having the Secretary or an Assistant Secretary come out at the end of it, and put out a different proposal altogether. So, how could we strengthen this idea? I understand, in federal lands, that the federal government has responsibility for the final decision. But, if we're going to talk about partnerships, if we're going to talk about cooperating agencies, maybe you could -- I guess you've expressed yourself -- but how could we sort of insure that there is a legitimate input into those kinds of proposed partnerships?

Gale Norton, Interior Secretary Nominee:  If I am confirmed as Secretary of the Interior, I plan to work with the Western governors, with the attorneys general whom I know as personal friends, with the officials on a state basis and a local basis, to begin a process of involving them. From them, we need to move out to the private sector groups that are also to be impacted by our decisions, and to begin, on a case-by-case basis, as we see important decisions arising, finding appropriate ways of inviting everyone who would be affected to have an input into that process.

It's going to be a continuing dialogue. You know best in your state, who are the people that are really going to be impacted by something, and, looking to your guidance in finding those who should be involved in a particular decision, would be the kinds of feedback that I would hope to get.

And that applies on a bipartisan basis. I think each of you know and understand your own state, and each of you has an appropriate role in expressing to federal agencies what your concerns are. And I would hope to have that sort of input from both sides of this table.

Swallows, Lies & Vindictiveness

  • "This year-round closure of just 12 acres is necessary"
  • "protects bank swallows"
  • "controls erosion"
  • "promotes biodiversity through native plants"
  • "increases public safety in cliff areas"


Repeat above ad nauseam without regard to scientific basis, founding vision, or common sense.

Gloss over 1100 objections, while expanding closure in retaliation for protest and lawsuit.

On Monday, Dec. 18th, 2000 the National Park Service announced that it will go ahead with its proposed closure of 12 acres at Fort Funston.

Click here to visit their website and review the documents related to the proposal and decision. Gee! They actually published the entire closure proposal itself on their own website yesterday, a mere five months after it was published here on Fort Funston Forum -- and safely long past the end of public comment on the proposal.

So, the plan is to grab another two acres, all the way to the beach access trail, in addition to the ten acres that were closed earlier this year. The same acres that were then opened with a federal court order forcing the Park Service to follow the letter -- if not the spirit -- of the law. They published their plans and pretended to listen to the groundswell of public comment that many people diligently prepared. They had their sham "Citizens' Advisory Commission" (aka "The Rubberstampers") provide cover and the appearance of oversight where there is none. Now they expect to seal the area in January, once they've published their plans in the Federal Register.

You can be sure that it ain't over yet! Numerous options remain and will be explored. With a new Board of Supervisors, a new Secretary of the Interior, and a whole lot of outraged citizens, "closure" may not be as easy or as consequence-free as may have been assumed by the Superintendent.

A New Day for San Francisco!

Voters tossed aside the status quo in December, opting for a new board of supervisors, two-thirds of whom are new members, and most of whom are independent of the powers-that-be.

Off-leash dog recreation was an issue. People involved in this fight were active in various campaigns, particularly in Leland Yee's successful bid for re-election in District 4. Let's let our incoming supes know about our need for help in the fight to protect our right to off-leash recreation in city parks as well as the GGNRA.

Official S.F. Supervisor Runoff Results

CLICK HERE for GGNRA's Draft Minutes
of Nov. 28th Citizens' Advisory Commission Meeting


There has been much confusion about the Advisory Commission's "recommendation", which it seems may just be a rubber stamp for a planned management action. It appears that the plan would be this:

The fences come down, and dogs are banned from the 12 acres, except for one trail (not sure where this would run), and they must be leashed on that trail. But all this pales in comparison to the remarkably devious attempt by Vice Chair Amy Meyer and others to push through a change in a twenty one year old pet policy without any notice or the bother of going through the cumbersome democratic process of placing it on the agenda. This brazen attempt to establish a fait accompli failed and the motion was tabled for now. But watch for more developments soon.


Advisory Commission Says Close Area to Off-Leash Dogs;
Stealth Motion to Rescind Off-Leash Pet Policy Ruled Out of Order

The GGNRA's Citizens Advisory Commission Tuesday night, Nov. 28, 2000, approved a resolution supporting the closure proposal, after a remarkably brief and cursory discussion of an issue that raised 1500 comments. The next step is for the Superintendent to issue a decision, which is expected in December.

The resolution ended... "Now therefore be it resolved that the decision of the GGNRA Superintendent to close twelve acres of Fort Funston to dogs is appropriate and necessary, and be it further resolved that in preference to permanent closure, the Commission requests the Superintendent consider removing the fences and having a trail through the area accessible to dogs on a leash."

There was no discussion whatsoever of the crux of the issue: the lack of scientific evidence that the closure is needed to accomplish environmental or other concerns. Instead, the whole discussion revolved around dogs. The proposal supposedly wasn't about dogs, we were told repeatedly -- this was a closure to everybody. Yet that aspect wasn't even mentioned in the comments.

Further, and quite shockingly, Vice Chair Amy Meyer then went on to introduce a motion which was not on the agenda at all: to rescind the commission's 1979 Pet Policy. (That policy permitted off-leash recreation in certain areas of the GGNRA in accordance with long-standing practice and the park's enabling legislation).

There was a concerted effort to ramrod this motion through, but thankfully commission member Redmond Kernan pointed out right away that the motion wasn't even on the agenda. Even so, several members went on to opine in favor of voting on it, anyway! One member, Trent Orr, even commented sarcastically that he supposed someone could go to federal court over the motion not having been properly "noticed" -- but that he was in favor of proceeding! A member worried about the legal ramifications of passing such a stealth motion without proper notice. Two audience members spoke as a "point of order" about the lack of notice and opportunity for public comment or opposing legal opinions.

The motion was indeed introduced, but the commission was on notice of the stealth tactic; Bartke ruled it out of order for not being on the agenda.

Amy Meyer was particularly emphatic in pushing for the motion. Ironically, she used as her reasoning the fact that this has been "a 20 year policy" and yet she insisted on pursuing a stealth motion to revoke it without so much as following the legal mandate of the commission to announce in advance agenda items so that the public can participate in the process.

Once again, the science and the process, the law and the very mission of the GGNRA are being violated by the those who are supposed to be a citizens' oversight body.

The motion will be "calendared" for a future meeting, at the earliest the end of January as there is no meeting in December.

Fasten your seatbelts, we are in for a rough ride! The issue at stake is off-leash rights throughout the GGNRA, and we need to be sure to let the agency know exactly what they would be facing were they to start ticketing people for walking their dogs off-leash.

- Michael B. Goldstein, Editor

GGNRA WatchDog

Table of Contents

Welcome to My Website
by Michael B. Goldstein, March 14, 2000          e-mail editor

March 4, 2000 Demonstration Photo

Fence Protest Photos -- March 4th, 2000
Over 150 photos of those to be fenced-out


Court Report
Treasure trove of public documents from
Federal case against National Park Service

"Open These Gates", Says Brief

Court orders gates stay open short of "emergency"
First day in court for dog walkers' lawsuit -- March 14, 2000

Reply Brief Highlights
April 10, 2000

"The Park Service has made a complete end-run
around this lawsuit by declaring this emergency"

Judge's remarks at injunction hearing on April 14, 2000

Motion for Contempt      due to Park Service's Initial Refusal to
Open Areas After Bank Swallows Left, Pending Rulemaking

Closed Areas Re-Opened!

Into the Promised Land!
Ribbon-cutting at opened areas.


Proposed Closure at Fort Funston
Complete Text and Map

Poor Notice  Park Service's limited, late & inconspicuous
Notice of proposal and comment period.

GGNRA Advisory Commission Meeting
Non-Agenda Item Comments Heard -- March 21, 2000

GGNRA Advisory Commission
Closure Proposal Comments Heard -- August 29, 2000


Controversy at Fort Funston
Press Release by Fort Funston Dog Walkers on March 2, 2000

Help Make History!

Action Alert
Background & resources

What's Happening at Fort Funston
and What You Can Do About It

How Do You  Feel About the Proposed Closure?

Dog Walkers Fight Fort Funston Closures!

Urban Recreation at Stake

Fort Funston in Jeopardy
Background & actions to take

Misc. addresses for letters

Sample Letters & Petition
in Web, Word & PDF formats

Sample Letter to GGNRA


Clean-Up Days at Fort Funston
First Saturday of each month

Fort Funston Shirts & Bandannas Available

Bench Bulletin


Statement on Off-Leash Dog Walking at Fort Funston

Letter to City Officials from Lydia Boesch
Details on City's interests in Fort Funston

Board of Supervisors' Hearings on Fort Funston
Leland Yee, Tom Ammiano, Sue Bierman

Critical Mutt Dolores Park

Letters on Fort Funston and GGNRA off-leash policy in general

"Off-Leash" Off Signs!

Crissy Field ... Crissy Heeled?
Voice control signs removed


Two More Acres - photo of extra two acres
Proposed to be closed

"Closure Creep" Animated Map
Watch a park being closed, piece-by-piece

Spurious Trail Closure
Sand on trail, everybody out!

Rotating Closure Signs & Reasons
Battery Davis closure sign swapping

Initial Bank Swallow Closure Sign
Explanation was for the birds...

They're Back!
Bank Swallows Return

Gate Accompli
"Seasonal" Closure Begins April 12, 2000

Bank Swallow Burrows Photo

Firecrackers at Bank Swallow Habitat

Quail Questions


Fort Fenced-In
Ugly fences mar viewscape

Rudy's Walk
Stroll through the area proposed to be closed

Where's the Science?
Earth Day 2000 Editorial

The Non-Empirical's New Close
Questions, assumptions, empirical evidence & solutions

The Bureau that Cried Wolf
Emergency Closure's End Run Around Lawsuit

Park Service Mourns Crash Victims
Don't Blame the Ranger!

Bluff Failures on the Sunset Trail
Park Service Serves Up Unequal Access

Sunset Trail on A.D.A.'s Birthday


My Heart is Broken
Sunset Trail Access Denied, by J. Davis

An Enchanting Walk with Scout
and Four or Five Swallows at Fort Funston

by Christy Cameron

Dancing with Bank Swallows: A Bird Dog's Tale
by Linda Shore

Some Thoughts on Fort Funston
by Linda Shore

Closed. Permanently. Thoughts on a stolen treasure.
by Lee Walker, Michael B. Goldstein

When Does the Past Begin?
by R. Gene Geisler

Golden Gate Park's Transformation
From sand dunes to world famous city park.

"Don't Fence Us Out!" Song
Lyrics and MIDI Music

On November 6th the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed Supervisor Leland Yee's resolution, requesting that the City Attorney contact the Park Service and request accountability for "past and proposed closures" at Fort Funston in relation to the agreement made between the City and the federal government when the land was transferred. See full text of the resolution below.


Full Transcripts of Hearings on Fort Funston
before Labor & Finance Committee, Sup. Leland Yee, Chair

Sep. 20, 2000
Many speakers comment on the issue.

Oct. 25, 2000
City Attorney's review & more comments.

Letter to Congress

In addition, I also suggest that you obtain from City Watch the video tape of a hearing Supervisor Yee conducted on the Fort Funston closures at the September 20 meeting of the Labor & Finance Committee. The City Watch telephone number is (415) 557-4293. The Fort Funston portion of the hearing begins at the end of the first tape and continues on the second tape.

We believe that Congress and the City and County of San Francisco never intended that Fort Funston be closed off for habitat development and the creation of Anative@ plant areas. Fort Funston is to remain an urban recreational area.

We also believe that park users should not be burdened with the enormous task of suing the federal government when the National Park Service is violating both the enabling legislation and its contractual agreements with the City and County of San Francisco. Therefore, your careful and prompt attention to this matter is desperately needed and very much appreciated.

Please call me if you have any questions.

Very truly yours,

Lydia Boesch

cc: Supervisor Mabel Teng

Supervisor Leland Yee

Mayor Willie Brown



November 1, 2000

Senator Dianne Feinstein Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

525 Market Street, Suite 3670 450 Golden Gate Avenue, 14th floor

San Francisco, CA 94105 San Francisco, CA 94102

Senator Barbara Boxer Congressman Tom Lantos

1700 Montgomery Street, Suite 240 400 South El Camino Real, Suite 410

San Francisco, CA 94111 San Mateo, CA 94402

Re: San Francisco Board of Supervisors Resolution re: Fort Funston

Dear Senators Feinstein and Boxer, Congresswoman Pelosi, and Congressman Lantos:

Last Monday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution, introduced by Supervisor Mabel Teng, requesting that you investigate the National Park Service=s closures at Fort Funston. Specifically, the resolution provides as follows:

RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco hereby urges San Francisco's Congressional delegation, including Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Tom Lantos and Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, to investigate the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's handling of the Fort Funston closures and to take action to preserve recreational areas for San Franciscans . . .

The full text of Supervisor Teng=s resolution may be found at, in addition to a subsequent resolution regarding Fort Funston introduced by Supervisor Leland Yee.

I am writing to request that you conduct a hearing on the Fort Funston closures. I believe Senator Feinstein has contacted the Park Service regarding the recent proposed closure. I=m not sure whether the others of you have. In order to have a clear understanding, however, of all of the closures since 1990 and the impact these closures are having on park users, you must hear from the many park users who are being deprived of their valuable recreational space. This can be accomplished only through a hearing.


San Francisco Board of Supervisors Pass
Fort Funston Resolution!

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Monday, October 30, 2000 to pass Supervisor Mabel Teng's resolution urging investigation by the Congressional delegates into the Park Service's handling of the Fort Funston closures. (See below for full text of the Teng Resolution.)

In addition, Supervisor Leland Yee introduced a new resolution (to be voted on at next Monday's Nov. 6 Supes meeting) requesting that the City Attorney contact the National Park Service and request accountability for "past and present closures."

That resolution begins as follows:

"Resolution requesting the City Attorney contact the National Park Service reminding the National Park Service of its obligation to submit its construction plans to the City for review, seeking an explanation of how the past and proposed closures serve a recreation or park purpose and inquiring how the National Park Service will provide disability access in light of its removal of a paved path. "

.... see below for full text.

Once again, if you support this new resolution, please contact the supes this week requesting a yes vote on Supervisor Yee's Fort Funston resolution.

It certainly appears that the e-mail, phone calls, and letters this past week did make a difference!


Yee Resolution

[Urging the National Park Service to provide an explanation of Fort Funston Closures]

Resolution requesting the City Attorney contact the National Park Service reminding the National Park Service of its obligation to submit its construction plans to the City for review, seeking an explanation of how the past and proposed closures serve a recreation or park purpose and inquiring how the National Park Service will provide disability access in light of its removal of a paved path.

WHEREAS, In 1975, the City and County of San Francisco transferred Fort Funston and other City-owned park lands to the federal government to be included in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), to be administered by the National Park Service (NPS); and

WHEREAS, The statute creating the GGNRA (16 U.S.C. Section 460bb) specifically states that the GGNRA was established to provide for the maintenance of needed recreational open space necessary to the urban environment and planning and requires that the Secretary of the Interior "utilize the resources in a manner which will provide for recreation and educational opportunities consistent with sound principles of land use planning and management;" and

WHEREAS, Former Charter section 7.403-1(a), as approved by the voters, required that the deed transferring any City-owned park lands to the NPS include the restriction that said lands were to be reserved by the Park Service "in perpetuity for recreation or park purposes with a right of reversion upon breach of said restriction;" and

WHEREAS, The deed transferring these City-owned park lands to the NPS contains the following restriction: "to hold only for so long as said real property is reserved and used for recreation and park purposes; and

WHEREAS, A contemporaneous agreement ("Agreement") concerning the rights and duties of the parties requires the NPS, among other things, to submit its plans for construction on the park lands or changes in the natural environment of these properties to the City's Planning Department for review and comment in order to ensure that the Department of City Planning will be informed and involved during all stages of the planning process and in particular during the conceptual planning stage where potential conflicts can be resolved prior to the development of specific plans; and

WHEREAS, The City Attorney has concluded that the City and County of San Francisco has a right to bring legal action against the NPS in the event the NPS breaches the deed restriction and agreement; and

WHEREAS, Since 1991, the NPS has closed heavily-used portions of Fort Funston for the avowed purpose of habitat protection and native plant restoration, thereby precluding any recreational use, without notifying the City and County of San Francisco; and

WHEREAS, The NPS now proposes permanent closure of an additional twelve acres of prime recreation space at Fort Funston, without notifying the City and County of San Francisco; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco requests that the City Attorney write to the NPS reminding the NPS of its duty to submit to the San Francisco Planning Department for review, comment, and approval plans for construction at Fort Funston, including plans to install or maintain fencing at Fort Funston which precludes recreational use by park visitors; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors requests the City Attorney to write to the NPS to ask them to provide access to people with disabilities and to explain their plans for resurfacing the previously paved Sunset Trail; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco hereby requests the City Attorney write a letter to the NPS requesting the NPS to explain how the closures that have been effected at Fort Funston since 1991, including the proposed twelve-acre closure, comply with the deed restriction requiring that Fort Funston be used only for recreation or park purposes.

Leland Y. Yee, Ph.D.



Teng Resolution -- approved by S.F. Board of Supervisors, Mon. Oct. 30, 2000:

[Urging Congressional Action on Fort Funston]:

Resolution urging San Francisco's Congressional delegation, including Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Tom Lantos, and Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, to investigate the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's handling of the Fort Funston closures and to take action to preserve recreational areas for San Franciscans.

WHEREAS, Fort Funston is a unique and beloved recreational park enjoyed by neighbors, dog owners and residents throughout the San Francisco Bay Area; and,

WHEREAS, In addition to acres of hiking trails, beaches, ocean view bluffs, and plant and bird habitats, Fort Funston is also [one of] the largest off-leash areas for dogs and their owners; and,

WHEREAS, Earlier this year, 10 acres of Fort Funston were closed to park users by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), which has authority over Fort Funston; and,

WHEREAS, The GGNRA initiated the closures, purportedly to protect the endangered bank swallows, without justifying the need for such extensive closures, without notifying the City and County of San Francisco, and without the requisite public notice and hearings; and,

WHEREAS, In April 2000, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the National Park Service violated its own rules in unlawfully fencing off 10 acres without public hearings in a manner showing "an intent... to railroad through the closure, to maintain secrecy, to unleash the fencing with lightning speed."; and,

WHEREAS, Subsequent to the court ruling, the GGNRA opened up a comment process, then returned with a more restrictive plan of closing 12 acres rather than 10 acres and permanently rather than seasonally; and,

WHEREAS, The GGNRA is a part of the National Park Service which is a branch of the federal Department of Interior; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco hereby urges San Francisco's Congressional delegation, including Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Tom Lantos and Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, to investigate the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's handling of the Fort Funston closures and to take action to preserve recreational areas for San Franciscans; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That a copy of this resolution be forwarded to his Honor, the Mayor, with a request that he transmit copies to the members of Congress from San Francisco and the United States Senators from California.

- Supervisor Mabel Teng, Board of Supervisors 10/23/00


City Attorney Announces Review of Fort Funston Issue

The San Francisco City Attorney has given an opinion on the issue of the City's rights with respect to the closures at Fort Funston to Supervisor Leland Yee's Labor and Finance Committee.

(The enabling legislation turning the park over to the Park Service from The City specified that all then-existing recreation - - which included off-leash dog walking - - was to continue, and that the City had a reversionary right to take the park back if the federal government did not maintain this use.)

While the report says the National Park Service may close areas in the name of the environment, it also points out that The City could sue to reclaim the land if the Park Service's decision was "arbitrary and capricious".