[Federal Register Volume 67, Number 8 (Friday, January 11, 2002)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 1424-1430]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 02-568]



National Park Service

36 CFR Parts 2 and 7

RIN 1024-AD03

Pet Management in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San 
Francisco, California

AGENCY: National Park Service, Interior.

ACTION: Advanced notice of proposed rulemaking.


SUMMARY: The National Park Service seeks public comment on a range of 
potential management options for addressing appropriate pet management 
within Golden Gate National Recreation Area, consistent with protecting 
national park resources and assuring visitor safety.

DATES: Written comments and submissions in response to this advanced 
notice of proposed rulemaking must be received on or before March 12, 

ADDRESSES: Comments on this advanced notice of proposed rulemaking 
should be mailed to: Superintendent, Attention: ANPR, Golden Gate 
National Recreation Area, Building 201, Fort Mason, San Francisco, 
California 94123.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian O'Neill, Superintendent, Golden 
Gate National Recreation Area, on 415-561-4720.



NPS Pet Regulation

    Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) governs the use 
and management of all national park areas. One regulation, 36 CFR 2.15 
(a)(2), requires that all pets, where allowed in national park sites, 
are to be crated, caged or restrained at all times. All areas within 
Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), where pets are allowed, 
are subject to the requirement to have pets on leash. Pets currently 
are not allowed in some areas of the park, including: Alcatraz, China 
Beach, Crissy Beach tidal marsh and wildlife protection area, East Fort 
Baker Pier, Kirby Cove, Muir Woods, Stinson Beach, Tennessee Valley, 
trails and areas not designated for pets, and all areas fenced and/or 
posted as closed to the public. The latter includes two habitat closure 
areas at Fort Funston, and mission blue butterfly habitat areas in the 
Marin Headlands. Pets are not allowed in these areas to reduce possible 
conflict between users, protect the natural and cultural resources,

[[Page 1425]]

ensure public safety, and address public health concerns.

Past Pet Management at GGNRA

    In 1972, the GGNRA Citizens Advisory Commission (the Commission) 
was established by the Secretary of the Interior. As outlined in its 

    The purpose of the Commission is to meet with and advise the 
Secretary of the Interior, or the Secretary's designee, on general 
policies and specific matters related to planning, administration, 
and development affecting the recreation area * * * the duties of 
the Commission are solely advisory.

    In 1979, the Commission developed and recommended a pet policy to 
GGNRA that established guidance for locations and criteria for ``voice 
control'' of pets within certain areas of the park. The Commission's 
policy identified the following ``voice control'' areas (meaning off 
leash areas): In the San Francisco area--Fort Funston, Lands End, Fort 
Miley, North Baker Beach, Crissy Field, Ocean Beach; in Marin County + 
Rodeo Beach, Muir Beach, 4 Corners tract above Mill Valley, Coast Trail 
from Golden Gate Bridge to the junction of Wolf Ridge Trail, Loop Trail 
at Battery Townsley, Wolf Ridge Trail between Coast Trail and Miwok 
Trail, Miwok Trail between Wolf Ridge Trail and Coast Trail, Oakwood 
Valley Road to Alta Avenue, and Alta Avenue between Marin City and 
Oakwood Valley. (February 24, 1979, GGNRA Advisory Commission's 
Approved Guidelines for a Pet Policy--San Francisco and Marin County).
    The Commission's ``voice control'' policy did not and can not 
override NPS regulations prohibiting pets off leash. As stated in the 
charter, the Commission may make recommendations, but these 
recommendations are advisory in nature. Any recommendation by the 
Commission must comply with NPS regulations. Nevertheless, the park, in 
error, implemented the ``voice control'' policy, in contradiction to 
Service-wide regulations. For more than 20 years, this unofficial 
``voice control'' policy was in place within GGNRA.

Current Pet Management at GGNRA

    Several recent events have underscored the need for undertaking a 
public process concerning dog management in the Golden Gate National 
Recreation Area, including increased visitation to GGNRA, 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.
    Since 1972, visitation to the park and the population of the Bay 
Area have both increased. The park has experienced increased use of the 
area for off leash dogs, and, as a result, there is increased conflict 
and potential for conflict between other user groups and dogs and their 
owners, as well as heightened sensitivity on the part of the visiting 
    Underscoring the conflict over the off leash dog use, in March 
2000, a lawsuit was filed in federal court by dog walking groups, 
seeking to prevent a 10-acre habitat closure for threatened and native 
species at Fort Funston. Prior to March 2000, GGNRA staff had consulted 
with interested groups, including both environmental and off leash 
interests, to discuss a slightly larger 12-acre proposed closure and 
its purposes. The goals and objectives of the closure were to: (1) 
Provide protection to the new nesting locations of the state-listed 
(threatened) bank swallow colony at Fort Funston; (2) increase 
biological diversity by restoring coastal native dune scrub habitat; 
(3) increase public safety by keeping visitors and their pets away from 
cliff areas; and (4) protect geologic resources, including bluff top 
and interior dunes subject to accelerated erosion by humans and pets.
    Based on that consultation with the interested groups, the 12-acre 
closure was reduced to 10 acres, with approximately half of it to be 
open seasonally. Upon initiation of the 10-acre project, the lawsuit 
was filed. The Golden Gate Audubon Society intervened in the lawsuit to 
defend the proposed closure. On February 13, 2001, the Federal District 
Court held that,

    Defendants (NPS) have held public hearings after notice and 
comment and allowed public input and debate, all before issuing a 
new and final closure plan for Fort Funston in January 2001 * * * 
the defendants have now fully complied with 36 CFR Section 1.5 (and) 
that the need for prompt protective action is genuine * * *

Accordingly, GGNRA took prompt action to close the originally proposed 
12 acre area, which was effected February 14, 2001.
    On January 23, 2001, the GGNRA Citizen's Advisory Commission 
acknowledged publicly the 1979 ``voice control'' policy was null and 
void since it was contrary to NPS regulation. Hundreds of people in 
favor of off leash dog use attended this meeting and the park has 
received significant comment in support of off leash dog walking in the 
park. Also in January 2001, a 32-year-old woman was mauled to death by 
a dog in San Francisco. Although this incident occurred outside the 
park boundaries, it underscored the danger of dogs in the local 
community to local users. Comments to the park opposing off leash dogs 
have increased significantly since that time.
    The park has received complaints by park visitors, including 
minorities, seniors and families with small children, alleging that off 
leash dogs have precluded them from visiting the park for fear of being 
knocked over, attacked by dogs, or verbally abused by dog owners. 
Several recent letters involve visitors requesting permission or 
authorization to carry weapons (stun guns, pepper spray) for personal 
protection from dog attacks.
    These recent events--from increased visitor use to the highly 
publicized litigation to the potential effects of off leash pets on the 
public and the park resources--have dramatically changed the climate in 
which the park had previously allowed off leash pets in certain areas 
of the park. The GGNRA has no authority to avoid or ignore the 
regulation disallowing pets off leash, and education efforts are 
underway to clarify this issue to the public. This regulation has 
always applied to GGNRA and failure to apply it consistently at GGNRA 
does not in any way limit its applicability today. In the interest of 
public safety, and as required by existing regulations, it is essential 
that the NPS enforce the pet restraint regulations during the ANPR 
process. Since January 2001, the park has installed additional signs 
regarding the regulation throughout the park, has continued educational 
outreach to visitors regarding the regulation, and is working toward 
consistent enforcement of the leash regulation parkwide.

Pet Management in Other Jurisdictions

    The GGNRA is adjacent to other publicly owned places, including 
state parks, open space areas, and city parks, each having various 
rules regarding dog walking. While these agencies are governed by 
differing agencies with varying mandates, this section provides a 
regional context to this issue. Several jurisdictions in the Bay Area 
are moving toward more stringent leash requirements and enforcement, 
due to the volume of use and negative impacts associated with off-leash 
use. As of June 2001, the following regulations were in place and/or 
being considered:

--The California Department of Parks and Recreation requires pets to be 
on a leash and under the immediate control of a person or confined in a 
vehicle; in most park units, pets are permitted only in parking lots, 
picnic areas, some campgrounds, and other

[[Page 1426]]

developed areas. Pets are not permitted on state park trails.
--The Marin Municipal Water District requires pets to be leashed.
--The Marin County Open Space District requires dogs on leash, with the 
exception of fire roads; they are currently reviewing their policy 
restricting the number of off leash dogs where off leash is permitted, 
along with limits on commercial dog walking.
--The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District permits dogs on leash 
in seven of 24 preserves. Of the seven, there is one preserve that has 
a 16-acre off leash area. Dogs are not permitted in the remaining 17 
--San Mateo County Parks prohibits pets to enter or go at large in any 
County Park or Recreation area, either with or without a keeper.
--East Bay Regional Park District requires pets on leash in developed 
areas, which are defined as public road, lawn or play field, parking 
lot, picnic area, campground, concession area, equestrian center, 
archery facility, gun ranges, paved multi-use Regional Trail, or any 
other areas designated by the Board; the number of dogs is limited to 
three. Dogs are prohibited at swimming beaches, pools, wetlands, 
marshes or designated nature study areas, wildlife protection areas 
(for listed species at risk), golf courses, public buildings, major 
fishing piers, stream protection areas, and district lakes.
--The City of San Francisco issued a draft policy on June 12, 2001 that 
specifies more consistent enforcement of their existing leash law. Off 
leash use is permitted within 19 designated off-leash parks. The draft 
policy also identifies areas where dogs are not permitted, which 
includes significant natural resource areas. The City of San 
Francisco's Board of Supervisors has passed a resolution expressing 
interest in having certain lands within GGNRA, formerly owned by the 
City of San Francisco, returned to the city. Such lands include a 
portion of Fort Funston, Ocean Beach, Sutro Heights, Lands End and 
Municipal Pier. Transfer of the lands from NPS to the city would 
require federal legislation.

    Because many of these leash restrictions have occurred over the 
last ten years, it is suspected that local dog owners who prefer off 
leash recreational use have moved to GGNRA areas, increasing pressure 
and impacts on the resources and visitor use conflicts.

NPS Law, Policy and Other Guidance

    Management of the national park system is guided by the 
Constitution, public laws, proclamations, executive orders, rules, 
National Park Service regulations, management policies, and the 
directives of the Secretary of the Interior, Assistant Secretary for 
Fish, and Wildlife and Parks, and Director of the National Park Service 
(NPS). The Act of August 25, 1916, otherwise known as the NPS Organic 
Act, established the NPS and serves as the touchstone for National Park 
System management, philosophy and policy. The Act created the NPS to 
promote and regulate national park sites in accordance with the 
fundamental purpose of said parks, which is:

    To conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and 
wild life therein and to provide for enjoyment of the same in such 
manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the 
enjoyment of future generations.

(16 U.S.C. sec. 1)

    Congress supplemented and clarified the NPS mandate through 
enactment of the General Authorities Act in 1970, and again through 
enactment of a 1978 amendment to that law, which states in pertinent 

    Congress declares that the national park system, which began 
with the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872, has 
since grown to include superlative natural, historic, and recreation 
areas in every major region of the United States, its territories 
and island possessions; that these areas, though distinct in 
character, are united through their inter-related purposes and 
resources into one national park system as cumulative expressions of 
a single national heritage; that, individually and collectively, 
these areas derive increased national dignity and recognition of 
their superlative environmental quality through their inclusion 
jointly with each other in one national park system preserved and 
managed for the benefit and inspiration of all the people of the 
United States; and that it is the purpose of this Act to include all 
such areas in the System and to clarify the authorities applicable 
to the System. Congress further reaffirms, declares, and directs 
that the promotion and regulation of the various areas of the 
National Park System, as defined in section 1c of this title, shall 
be consistent with and founded in the purpose established by section 
1 of this title [16 U.S.C. sec. 1], to all the people of the United 
States. The authorization of activities shall be construed and the 
protection, management, and administration of these areas shall be 
conducted in light of the high public value and integrity of the 
National Park System and shall not be exercised in derogation of the 
values and purposes for which these various areas have been 
established, except as may have been or shall be directly and 
specifically provided by Congress.

(16 U.S.C. sec. 1-a)

Park Legislation

    Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) was established on 
Oct. 27, 1972, for the purpose of preserving:

    * * * for public use and enjoyment certain areas of Marin and 
San Francisco [and San Mateo] Counties, California, possessing 
outstanding natural, historic, scenic, and recreational values, and 
in order to provide for the maintenance of needed recreational open 
space necessary to urban environment and planning * * * In the 
management of the recreation area, the Secretary of the Interior * * 
* shall utilize the resources in a manner which will provide for 
recreation and educational opportunities consistent with sound 
principles of land use planning and management. In carrying out the 
provisions of the Act, the Secretary shall preserve the recreation 
area, as far as possible, in its natural setting, and protect it 
from development and uses which would destroy the scenic beauty and 
natural character of the area.

(Pub. L. 92-589,16 U.S.C sec. 460bb)

    The park includes nearly 75,000 acres located in three counties. 
The regional population of the San Francisco Bay Area is approximately 
seven million, and the park-including Fort Point and Muir Woods--
supports approximately 17 million visitors annually. Popular Golden 
Gate National Recreation Area sites include, from north to south: Olema 
Valley, Stinson Beach, Muir Beach, Marin Headlands, Alcatraz, the 
Presidio of San Francisco, Fort Mason, Baker Beach, China Beach, Lands 
End, Cliff House, Ocean Beach, Fort Funston, Sweeney Ridge, Milagra 
Ridge, and the Phleger Estate. Muir Woods National Monument and Fort 
Point National Historic Site are separate units of the National Park 
System that are within the boundaries of and administered by GGNRA.

NPS 2001 Management Policies

    The new 2001 NPS Management Policies provide policy direction for 
making management decisions in the administration of the National Park 
System and provide interpretation of the laws governing management the 
National Park System, including the NPS Organic Act. Adherence to 
policy is mandatory unless specifically waived or modified by the 
Secretary, the Assistant Secretary, or the Director. Of primary 
importance is the NPS obligation to conserve and provide for enjoyment 
of park resources and values. The 2001 NPS Management Policies explain:

    The ``fundamental purpose'' of the national park system, 
established by the Organic Act and reaffirmed by the General 
Authorities Act, as amended, begins with the mandate to

[[Page 1427]]

conserve park resources and values. This mandate is independent of 
the separate prohibition on impairment, and so applies all the time, 
with respect to all park resources and values, even when there is no 
risk that any park resources or values may be impaired. NPS managers 
must always seek ways to avoid, or to minimize to the greatest 
extent practicable, adverse impacts on park resources and values. 
However, the laws do give the Service management discretion to allow 
impacts to park resources and values when necessary and appropriate 
to fulfill the purposes of a park, so long as the impact does not 
constitute impairment of affected resources and values.

(2001 NPS Management Policies, Section 1.4.3)
    The fact that a park use may have an impact does not necessarily 
mean that it will impair park resources or values for the enjoyment 
of future generations. Impacts may affect park resources and still 
be within the limits of the discretionary authority conferred by the 
Organic Act. However, negative or adverse environmental impacts are 
never welcome in national parks, even when they fall far short of 
causing impairment. For this reason, the Service will not knowingly 
authorize park uses that would cause negative or adverse impacts 
unless it has been fully evaluated, appropriate public involvement 
has been obtained, and a compelling management need is present. In 
those situations, the Service will ensure that any negative or 
adverse impacts are the minimum necessary, unavoidable, cannot be 
further mitigated, and do not constitute impairment of park 
resources and values.

(2001 NPS Management Policies, Section 8.1)

    The Management Policies emphasize the Park Service mandate to 
prevent impairment of natural and cultural resources, to preserve park 
resources and to limit recreational activities that degrade resources. 
The policies distinguish that:

    Congress, recognizing that the enjoyment of future generations 
of the national parks can only be ensured if the superb quality of 
park resources and values is left unimpaired, has provided that when 
there is a conflict between conserving resources and values and 
providing for enjoyment of them, conservation is to be predominant. 
This is how courts have consistently interpreted the Organic Act, in 
decisions that variously describe it as making ``resource protection 
the primary goal'' or ``resource protection the overarching 
concern,'' or as establishing a ``primary mission of resource 
conservation,'' a ``conservation mandate,'' ``an overriding 
preservation mandate,'' ``an overarching goal of resource 
protection,'' or ``but a single purpose, namely, conservation.''

(2001 NPS Management Policies, Section 1.4.3)
    The impairment of resources and values may not be allowed by the 
Service unless directly provided for by legislation or by the 
proclamation establishing the park. The relevant legislation or 
proclamation must provide explicitly (not by implication or 
reference) for the activity, in terms that keep the Service from 
having authority to manage the activity so as to avoid impairment.

(2001 NPS Management Policies, Section 1.4.4)

    GGNRA's enabling legislation does not directly or specifically 
allow impairment of resources. Therefore, in assessing options for 
accommodating dog walking in GGNRA, each option must meet NPS mandates 
as outlined in the 2001 NPS Management Policies.
    The 2001 NPS Management Policies also explain that ``enjoyment'' in 
the Organic Act has broad meaning:

    The fundamental purpose of all parks also includes providing for 
the enjoyment of park resources and values by the people of the 
United States. The ``enjoyment'' that is contemplated by the statute 
is broad; it is the enjoyment of all the people of the United 
States, not just those who visit parks, and so includes enjoyment 
both by people who directly experience parks and by those who 
appreciate them from afar. It also includes deriving benefit 
(including scientific knowledge) and inspiration from parks, as well 
as other forms of enjoyment.

(2001 NPS Management Policies, Section 1.4.3)

    Accordingly, NPS seeks broad input in order to consider the wide 
range of interests of those who appreciate--from both near and afar--
the resources of GGNRA.
    The 2001 NPS Management Policies also define suitable visitor uses, 
noting that:

    Enjoyment of park resources and values by the people of the 
United States is part of the fundamental purpose of all parks. The 
Service is committed to providing appropriate, high quality 
opportunities for visitors to enjoy the parks, and will maintain 
within the parks an atmosphere that is open, inviting, and 
accessible to every segment of American society. However, many forms 
of recreation enjoyed by the public do not require a national park 
setting, and are more appropriate to other venues. The Service will 

--Provide opportunities for forms of enjoyment that are uniquely 
suited and appropriate to the superlative natural and cultural 
resources found in the parks.
--Defer to local, state, and other federal agencies; private 
industry; and non-governmental organizations to meet the broader 
spectrum of recreational needs and demands.

    To provide for the enjoyment of the parks, the National Park 
Service will encourage visitor activities that:

--Are appropriate to the purpose for which the park was established; 
--Are inspirational, educational, healthful, and otherwise 
appropriate to the park environment; and
--Will foster an understanding of, and appreciation for, park 
resources and values, or will promote enjoyment through a direct 
association with, interaction with, or relation to park resources; 
--Can be sustained without causing unacceptable impacts to park 
resources or values.

    Unless mandated by statute, the Service will not allow visitors 
to conduct activities that:

--Would impair park resources or values;
--Create an unsafe or unhealthful environment for other visitors or 
--Are contrary to the purposes for which the park was established; 
--Unreasonably interfere with:
    --The atmosphere of peace and tranquillity, or the natural 
soundscape maintained in the wilderness and natural, historic, or 
commemorative locations within the park;
    --NPS interpretive, visitor service, administrative, or other 
    --NPS concessioner or contractor operations or services; or

    --Other existing, appropriate park uses

(2001 NPS Management Policies, Section 8.2)

    Finally, the Management Policies address the importance of visitor 

    The saving of all human life will take precedence over all other 
management actions as the Park Service strives to protect human life 
and provide for injury-free visits * * * When practicable, and 
consistent with congressionally designated purposes and mandates, 
the Service will reduce or remove known hazards and apply other 
appropriate measures, including closures, guarding, signing, or 
other forms of education. In doing so, the Service's preferred 
actions will be those that have the least impact on park resources 
and values.

(2001 NPS Management Policies, Section

Other NPS Policies and Guidelines

    There are a number of NPS System wide guidelines that address park 
management requirements and use limitations, and are available at 
www.nps.gov/refdesk/DOrders/. These include Natural Resource Management 
Guidelines (NPS 77), and NPS Director's Orders (DO) on Wetland 
Protection (DO 77-1), Public Health (DO 83), Soundscape Preservation 
and Noise Management (DO 47), and Conservation Planning, Environmental 
Impact Analysis, and Decision-Making (DO 12).

Natural Resources

    The lands encompassing GGNRA provide critical habitat for many of 
the country's and the state's most rare and threatened species. The 
central coast including the San Francisco Bay Area and GGNRA, is 
considered one of North America's biodiversity hot spots (Precious 
Heritage: the Status of Biodiversity in the United States, Nature 
Conservancy). The California Floristic Province is identified as the 
8th global

[[Page 1428]]

biodiversity hotspot in a list of 25 (Nature's Place: Population and 
the Future of Diversity, 2000 Report by Population Action 
International). GGNRA was designated a Biosphere Reserve in 1989. The 
unique Golden Gate Biosphere Reserve, including marine, coastal and 
upland areas adjacent to a major metropolitan area, is designated as an 
international biosphere reserve in recognition of its importance to 
conservation of biodiversity, sustainable development, research and 
    Wildlife: There are currently 75 rare or special status wildlife 
species currently identified as permanent or seasonal residents of the 
park, or dependent upon parklands for migration. Of these, eleven are 
listed as federally endangered, thirteen are federally threatened, two 
are state endangered, three are state threatened, and 32 are state-
designated species of special concern. Nearly all of the native birds 
documented in the park are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act 
(16 U.S.C. secs. 528-531).
    Vegetation: Approximately 36 rare or special status plant species 
are currently identified within GGNRA. Of those species, nine are 
federally endangered, one is federally threatened, and one is state 
threatened. The remaining 25 species are plants listed by the 
California Native Plant Society as rare, threatened, endangered, or of 
limited distribution.
    The NPS has a heightened responsibility to preserve and protect 
those species and their habitat everywhere they occur within GGNRA, in 
accordance with its own mandate as well as other laws.

Impacts to Natural Resources

    Scientific studies attribute disturbance, harassment, displacement, 
injury and direct mortality of wildlife to domestic dogs that accompany 
recreationists (``Effects of Recreation on Rocky Mountain Wildlife: a 
Review for Montana.'' Committee on Effects of Recreation on Wildlife, 
Montana Chapter of the Wildlife Society, September 1999, Joslin and 
Youman coordinators). This study indicates that domestic dogs retain 
their instincts to hunt or chase. Further, the study indicates that 
even without chasing, the mere presence of a dog can frighten wildlife 
away. A dog's urine and fecal deposits serve as strong territorial 
markings that are equally alarming to native species long after the dog 
has departed. Native vegetation may also be destroyed by digging and by 
chasing behavior.
    In recent years, the park has increased its knowledge of park 
resources, potential wildlife impacts and public safety risks. During 
the last 10 years, there have been increasing impacts to natural 
resources related to unrestrained dogs, including digging and trampling 
of native vegetation including the habitat for the endangered mission 
blue butterfly as well as endangered plant habitat; bird habitat 
disturbance; and harassment of wildlife including both birds and marine 
mammals. Off leash dogs harassing beached sea lions occurs periodically 
during May/June along the waterline at Ocean Beach, Fort Funston and 
Rodeo Beach. At Rodeo Lagoon, off leash dogs at the edge of the lagoon 
and in shallow waters potentially crush tidewater goby burrows; the 
tidewater goby is an endangered species. Some problems with off leash 
dogs have also arisen with disturbance of steelhead trout and coho 
salmon populations at the mouth of Redwood Creek at Muir Beach; 
behavioral disturbance to the resident fish includes dogs wading and 
running through the creek mouth and lagoon.
    Within GGNRA, Ocean Beach is the longest stretch of sandy beach 
between Point Reyes National Seashore and Half Moon Bay. The entire 
length of this beach provides critically important feeding and resting 
habitat for wintering and migrating shorebirds, gulls and terns. The 
species found in the highest numbers (hundreds to low thousands 
depending on time of year) include sanderlings, willets, marbled 
godwits, elegant and Caspian terns, and various gull species. The gulls 
and terns roost in large numbers on the beach with their newly fledged 
young during portions of the year. The federally threatened snowy 
plover also resides on portions of the beach for 10 months of the year. 
According to park biologists and protection rangers, shorebirds, gulls 
and terns are chased by off leash dogs, interrupting feeding and 
resting that help to build fat reserves for long migrations and 
breeding. Off leash dogs can also be a threat to sick and injured birds 
and marine mammals that may beach themselves. During the last several 
years, fencing has been erected in areas of Fort Funston, Crissy Field 
and other GGNRA locations, an effort limited to keep off leash dogs out 
of these most sensitive habitat areas. These closures have negative 
visual impacts and do not completely protect natural resources from off 
leash dog use.
    According to Dr. Elliot Katz, founder and president of In Defense 
of Animals:

    If a dog has shown a propensity to run after deer or other 
wildlife in the open spaces, then that dog should be on a leash. 
There should be a substantial penalty for chasing wildlife. I don't 
think that anyone can control more than three dogs off leash at one 
time. I know it will anger the dog handlers if I say so, but in 
numbers dogs do have a pack mentality.

(In the Doghouse, by Michael McCarthy, ``Pacific Sun,'' June 13 + 
19, 2001)

    The NPS Management Policies and Director's Orders require that the 
park prevent impairment to part resources and minimize adverse impacts, 
while providing appropriate recreational opportunities.

Impacts to Public Safety

    Dogs biting visitors, aggressive behavior toward other dogs and/or 
people, dogs falling off cliffs, people going after their dogs that 
have fallen off cliffs, and visitors being knocked down are the public 
safety concerns related to off leash dog walking. Public controversy 
continues to grow over dog issues, increasing the demand by some for 
stronger enforcement of the leash law by the park.
    The GGNRA's tracking of dog-related incidents during a 3-year 
period (1998 + 2000) reveals a total of 54 reported dog bites. Between 
January 1, 2001, and June 16, 2001, there have been 13 reported dog 
bites. According to protection rangers, these numbers reflect a small 
fraction of the total occurrences, reported and non-reported. From 1998 
+ 2000, there have been 890 leash law reports, and another 105 reports 
of dogs in closed areas. Between 1998 and 2000, protection rangers 
performed 58 technical rescues of dogs or their owners that had fallen 
over the side of the cliffs at Fort Funston, a popular off leash area. 
In calendar year 2000, this resulted in three ranger injuries. Cliff 
rescues at Fort Funston are a serious threat to public safety and 
employ a large number of park personnel and equipment, leaving major 
areas of GGNRA unprotected. In 1998, the number of cliff rescues at 
Fort Funston was 25; in contrast, there were a total of 11 rescues 
along the remaining nine miles of San Francisco shoreline from Fort 
Point to the Cliff House.
    A review of animal organizations and web sites show that there are 
possible impacts to public safety. According to the American Dog Owners 

    * * * unleashed dogs intimidate * * * unleashed dogs harass, 
injure and sometimes kills wildlife.


    And, according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation Task 
Force on Canine Aggression:

[[Page 1429]]

    Although most dog bites occur on the property where the dog 
lives, unrestrained or free-roaming dogs do pose a substantial 
threat to the public. Enforcement of restraint laws is, therefore, 
essential if the incidence of dog bites is to be reduced.

(''JAVMA,'' Vol. 218, No. 11, June 1, 2001, www.avma.org)

    Any alternative to the leash regulation must address these safety 
concerns, and be consistent with NPS policies and mandates.

Recreational Benefits of Off Leash Dog Walking

    There are recreational benefits to both humans and dogs related to 
off leash dog use. A review of animal organizations' publications and 
web sites show that many organizations support the recreational 
benefits--for both the dog and the human--of off leash dog walking. 
According to the San Francisco chapter of the Society for the 
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (S.F. SPCA), dogs require daily 
exercise and contact with other dogs in order to remain healthy and 
well socialized. The S.F. SPCA considers off-leash areas as essential 
for the health and well being of dogs, and further, that:

    * * * dogs socialize with each other through subtle displays of 
posture and behavior that can only occur when they are not impeded 
by a leash. A leash limits a dog's natural movement and can even 
cause some dogs to become territorial, protecting the area to which 
the leash confines them.


    According to the San Francisco Dog Owners Group, known as SF Dog:

    * * * the creation of off-leash recreation space encourages the 
development of well-socialized dog populations as well as owners who 
are responsible.

(''Managing Off-Leash Recreation in Urban Parks,'' April 19, 1999, 

    The SF Dog group also underscores the benefits of dog ownership:

    * * * daily exercise routines that dogs demand reduces crimes in 
parks for the simple reason that people involved in criminal 
activity do not like to be observed.


    The California Dog Owners Group supports increased understanding of

    * * * the natural relationship of open space to humans with dogs 
and to be vigilant in promoting appropriate rules for shared and 
continued use.


    In articles written by dog walkers on the Fort Funston web site 
(www.fortfunstonforum.com), off leash dog use is alleged to be 
beneficial to the bank swallows, specifically:

    It really looked like the birds were using the dogs to flush out 
insects for them to eat.

(Linda Shore, July 21, 2000)
    I had first thought they were playing with Scout and then it 
became clear that they were circling around and flying low to ground 
to hunt for insects. It seemed to me that they were following Scout 
and looking for food where he was walking, as though he might be 
making the insects scurry around so that the swallows could see 

(Christy Cameron, July 19, 2000)

    In an interview with Dr. Nicholas Dodman, of the Tufts University 
Veterinary Center, ``Bark Magazine'' quoted him as follows:

    The vast majority of dogs do benefit greatly from having 
exercise periods. And walking dogs on a leash is not sufficient 
exercise. It's not that they die if they walk on a leash, just as 
it's not that a human being dies in solitary confinement either. 
It's just that it is not optimal for their physiological and 
psychological well-being. * * * It is important for a dog to be 
provided with natural outlets--to be able to run and exercise and 
chase things and do as a dog was bred to do


    The benefit to both the dog and human were also noted:

    * * * walking with a canine ``best friend'' increases physical 
and mental fitness for both the human and the dog, a community of 
other dog walkers offers positive social interactions, the high 
density of park users and the presence of dogs offers a level of 
personal safety.

(``Survey of Fort Funston Recreational Use,'' Karin Hu, Ph.D., 
September 2000, www.fortfunstondog.org)

Options for Evaluation

    This Notice is intended to solicit public comment on a range of 
potential management options for addressing appropriate pet management 
within Golden Gate National Recreation Area, consistent with protecting 
national park resources and assuring visitor safety. This procedure 
could result in a range of outcomes, from enforcement of the existing 
regulation, to revisions of the existing regulation that would permit 
off leash pets within portions of Golden Gate National Recreation Area 
under specific conditions.
    All interested persons are invited to submit to the National Park 
Service their comments on any aspect of the alternatives described 
below, including responses regarding:

 Should the leash law regulation remain intact parkwide?
     Should additional areas currently closed to dogs be open 
to on leash use?
 Should additional areas be closed to dogs?
 Should analysis of any alternatives be measured from the 
current baseline of no off-leash dog walking, or the long-standing 
former policy that allowed off-leash dog walking in certain areas?
 Should the regulation be changed to designate former ``voice 
control'' areas for off leash dog walking? If so,
     Which geographical areas should/should not be considered 
for off leash?
     Should there be a limit on the number of dogs?
     Should areas be open to off leash use at certain times of 
the day or days of the week?
     Should there be a bond required to cover liability?
     Should people be required to sign waivers of liability?
     What are potential environmental impacts of any of the 
     What additional mitigating factors should be imposed?
     What conditions could be required of owners?
     Should areas be fenced?
     Should voice control be employed?
     How should the numbers of dogs be limited?
     Who should pay for facilities, improvements, and 

Specific Options

    In summary, in considering changes to existing regulation, any 
change must comply with the NPS Organic Act, GGNRA's enabling 
legislation and Systemwide policies and directives. In order to comply 
with NPS rules and regulations, including the obligation to minimize 
adverse impacts on park resources and values and the prohibition on 
resource impairment, the following areas of the park, in which pets 
have never been allowed (e.g. there is no history of dog walking use, 
and/or it has not been an issue) or have been restricted due to 
sensitivity of resources, are precluded from consideration for off 
leash uses: Alcatraz, China Beach, Crissy Beach tidal marsh and 
wildlife protection area, East Fort Baker Pier, coastal dunes and cliff 
areas of Fort Funston, Kirby Cove, Muir Woods, Phleger Estate, Fort 
Point historic structure, the beach at Stinson Beach, Tennessee Valley, 
Rodeo Lagoon, Redwood Creek, all freshwater bodies in the park, and 
other threatened or endangered species habitat areas in the park. The 
latter includes areas of endangered mission blue butterfly habitat at 
Milagra Ridge, Marin Headlands and East Fort Baker, as well as the 
threatened snowy plover management area at Ocean Beach.

[[Page 1430]]

    A. Enforce existing regulation/dogs on leash and on trail: 
Enforcement of the existing regulation park wide would reduce visitor 
conflicts, improve visitor and employee safety, and reduce impacts on 
natural resources. Continued visitor education would be required to 
increase understanding of the regulation and reasons for it. On leash 
dog use in the park could result in removal of fences in some locations 
at Fort Funston and Crissy Field, and possibly other locations where 
exclosures have been created in order to protect sensitive species and 
habitat areas. The following additional areas, where dogs currently are 
prohibited, could be opened to on leash dogs under appropriate 
circumstances: East Fort Baker Pier, Phleger Estate, Stinson Beach, and 
portions of Tennessee Valley. Enforcement of the existing regulation 
may displace off leash dog use into other jurisdictions within the 
counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. This option would not 
require rulemaking because the leash regulation is already in place. 
The GGNRA must enforce the leash law unless a regulation is promulgated 
and adopted allowing off leash dog use; Option B discusses that option. 
The agency seeks comment on the merit of enforcement of the existing 
regulation, including specific suggestions on implementation and 
education regarding its enforcement, as well as suggestions regarding 
the opening of additional on leash dog areas as described above.
    B. Identify specific locations/ways to address off leash use within 
the park: Off leash dog use could be allowed in specific locations 
within the park, with the remainder of the park subject to enforcement 
of the existing regulation requiring pets to be leashed where 
permitted. Any location selected for off leash would carry the 
requirement that any negative or adverse impacts are the minimum 
necessary, unavoidable, cannot be further mitigated, and do not 
constitute impairment of park resources and values. To that end, 
appropriate environmental compliance would be required to evaluate all 
potential effects within GGNRA, in accordance with federal laws 
including National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic 
Preservation Act. This option would require rulemaking. Negative 
effects could include additional park operating financial requirements 
to remove pet excrement, develop capital improvements and additional 
enforcement staff to assure conformance with the restrictions related 
to off leash areas. Off leash dog use, where it does not conflict with 
protection of natural resources, can promote exercise and enjoyment of 
park areas. The agency seeks comment on the merit of permitting off 
leash use and identification of specific locations and measures to 
minimize any impacts on visitors and resources.

Request for Comments

    The National Park Service solicits comment and information from all 
segments of the public interested in GGNRA and appropriate pet 
management. All comments received by the Park Service at the address 
and by the date listed above will be reviewed and analyzed. If 
rulemaking is determined necessary as a result of this process, such 
proposed rulemaking would involve additional extensive public review 
and comment. If rulemaking is not an option chosen by NPS, then the 
public will be appropriately notified.
    If individuals submitting comments request that their name and/or 
address be withheld from public disclosure, it will be honored to the 
extent allowable by law. Such requests must be stated prominently at 
the beginning of the comments.
    The GGNRA will hold two public meetings where public comment on 
this Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will be invited. Additional 
opportunities for public involvement will be announced locally and in 
the Federal Register.

    Dated: January 3, 2002.
Joseph E. Doddridge,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 02-568 Filed 1-10-02; 8:45 am]