Thursday, March 10, 2011

speak now or forever hold your leash

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area plans to greatly restrict the areas in which we and our pups can walk freely — unleashed in paradise. If we do not take collection action, this restriction of our freedom and the freedom of our four-legged friends will be diminished by the fall, 2011. Many of you know how much Fort Funston means to me — perhaps you feel the same. Perhaps you've never considered the matter. Perhaps it's time for you to come out to the cliffs and experience the unique freedom that Fort Funston still offers.

Here's a copy of my comments to the GGNRA, focusing on what I think might be concerns they might think worthy of consideration. My thoughts about beauty and freedom I kept out of my remarks.

March 10, 2011 01:39 PM Mountain Time
Park: Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Project: Dog Management Draft Plan/DEIS
Document: GGNRA Draft Dog Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement Park:


Please consider the importance of the following points before considering the drastic measures in your drafted proposal.

1. The Health of our Elders: Fort Funston and other off-leash areas in the Bay Area has become a haven for older people to walk their dogs, socialize with other seniors, and form a community that makes their lives more fulfilling. The vitality of this community will be greatly diminished if your proposal goes into effect. People look out for each other and their pups. There is virtually no discord among the regular dog walkers. Their health and vitality is greatly increased as a result. If anything, off-leash dog walking ought to be encouraged, especially for seniors, as a way to lead more healthy and fulfilling lives.

2. The Health of our Canine Friends: Dogs, especially in the City, absolutely need a place to playfully engage with each other and enhance their socialization skills. Dogs on leash are more aggressive than those off leash. On leash dogs cannot run, catch, play, scamper, visit each other in a healthy canine manner. They become frustrated; they bark; they have no way to expend the vast amount of energy that they generate. As a result of your proposed plan, dogs in the city and likely in suburban areas as well, are much more likely to be less than model citizens. Again, as above, older people (perhaps more than any other people) will be affected adversely by living with pups who no longer are calm, sated, attentive and well behaved. Older people simply cannot walk long enough to give their canine friends their due!

3. The Health of the Environment: Bringing (of all things) more horses onto the trails of Fort Funston, brings with it a population with a horrific sense of entitlement - and no sense of responsibility. The regular dog walkers of Ft Funston clean up after their animals not only on a daily basis but also on a monthly clean-up. Those who bring their horses up to Ft Funston 1) do not stay on the horse trails, 2) frequently do not know how to ride a horse, and have little control of their animals, 3) never clean up after their horses, and 4) leave trails more heavily eroded, more covered with manure, vermin and flies. Turning our trails into 'Horse Trails' makes both the official trails and the adjacent areas unfit, unsafe, and unsanitary for human walkers (with or without dogs). The horse riders have been by far the most inconsiderate and destructive population at Ft Funston. I urge you to reconsider this proposal. I agree that setting standards and procedures for use of public spaces is important. But the drastic expansion of banned areas for off-leash walkers is punitive for the vast majority of citizens who use, love, respect, and protect these wondrous outdoor spaces. The unintended consequences of your proposal to both human and canine members of the community cannot be underestimated.

Comment ID: 466402-38106/1203

Comments on the Fort Funston maps of proposed alternative plans.

Please consider that all but one of the GGNRA alternate plans for Fort Funston discriminate against seniors walking the trails.

MAP 16: This proposal is the second most restrictive of those proposed. It is punitive to seniors in particular, who cannot navigate easily or regularly up anddown the steep cliffs to the designated off-leash area below.

MAP 16A: The Voice Control alternative is by far the most reasonable and responsible of your plans. It makes it clear to all that open spaces are open only to those who have taken care to train their dogs as good neighbors and citizens. This plan is fair, even handed, and a good reminder that humans on the trails should always have their dogs under voice control.

MAP 16E: This plan is a poor second plan choice to 16A. Its advantage is that it allows a contiguous area for walkers. However, because of its reduced area, it is likely to be eroded quickly through over use. My greater concern is that this plan also discriminates against those seniors who cannot navigate the steep, deep sandy trails of the prescribed areas.

Of your plans, if changed must be made, Map 16A is a compromise alternative that is viable and fair to all. It is also the only plan that will work well for seniors. Please take seriously the detrimental effects the more severe restrictions will have on the health and welfare of seniors who have so long diligently and reverentially cared for Fort Funston.

Thank you for your serious reconsideration on these restrictions at Fort Funston.

Comment ID: 466407-38106/1205


  1. You tell 'em, Mira!

    Horses?! WTF? I have nothing against horses, but their riders are another story. Talk about serving a privileged minority whose needs are already well-met elsewhere.

  2. Agreed. And those have been my favorite trails. If they are closed off (or even if they aren't), I've been thinking for a while of exquisite Golden Gate Park that I have right next door. From the arboretum to Stow Lake, the museums and the tea garden... Time for greater appreciation of my own backyard.

    But it doesn't solve the Funston problem... Horses — what a mess.