Bay Area dog lovers came out in full force Saturday to rally against a proposed federal rule that would ban dog walking in some of Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s most coveted spots.
The legislation, which is open to public comment until May 25, would designate where people will be able to take their dogs within park grounds in San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo, while also stipulating that some areas remain dog free.
The legislation will eliminate off-leash dog walking in San Francisco’s Fort Mason, Fort Miley and Lands End. Portions of Crissy Field will also be restricted to all canines.
Groups hoping to put a stop to the proposed rule expressed concern about some of the Bay Area’s most popular beaches becoming canine-free.
"The proposed rule is not based on science, not on legal merrit, just based on subjective feelings that they want to get rid of dogs," said Martha Walters, chair of the Crissy Field dog group, at the walk. "They issued a proposed rule that is a set up for failure."
At San San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, dogs will still be allowed off-leash from stairwell 21 north to the Cliff House restaurant. However, no dogs will be permitted between Stairwell 21 south to Fort Funston. All canine companions will be banned from the northern half of Baker Beach.
In Marin’s Muir Beach, off-leash dog walking will be eliminated from the beach and trails, while Stinson Beach will be restricted to all dogs.
There will also be additional restrictions for people caught walking more than three dogs in San Francisco and Marin, although a permit can be obtained to skirt some of those policies.
At Saturday’s march, canines and their companions headed out to Crissy field and meandered about a mile to the East Beach picnic area. Organizers asked that all dogs be on-leash.
“If ultimately implemented, the rule would ensure the protection of the park’s natural and cultural resources and continue to provide recreational opportunities for a wide variety of park users,” San Francisco Superintendent Chris Lehnertz said in a statement favoring the rule.
Meanwhile, San Francisco Supervisors Scott Wiener and John Avalos, as well as SF-SPCA Co-President Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, attended the march and spoke in favor of groups that hope to put the kibosh on the proposed rule.