(pictures via Fred Von Lohmann on Flickr)
The Golden Gate National Recreational Area has begun its 90 day comment period for off leash areas as proposed in the the preferred alternatives for the Dog Management Plan/Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Comment closes on April 14th, 2011 so write in if you feel strongly about the areas they are planning to designate for dogs.
I heard the debate on KQED Forum on Monday on my way up to Sacramento and it was a very charged and interesting look on the existing uses in the GGNRA, and how off-leash use has positively and negatively impacted the community. It is also insight to how important dogs have become in our lives and our families. The most interesting comment to me came from a disabled, single father that enlightened the listeners to the impacts the dogs have to people and kids who are unable to run away or diffuse a dangerous situation involving dogs. It's an element that is often overlooked in design and planning but one that will become important in the final EIS.
It seems that they are taking a que from the East Bay Regional Park System regulations on off leash areas and for the most part I don't find them restricting at all. I think leashing your dog in parking lots, picnic areas, and habitat areas are common sense for both owners and recreational users alike. Granted, I think we have more open space available to us in the East Bay and there are quite a few dog parks to chose from, but we all seem to comply for the most part to the rules in more public areas.
I strongly urge you to read through the entire EIS, available online, if you plan to make a comment either way on the plans. I've been through several of them on my own projects and there is abundant information that becomes skewed and twisted in the media and through environmental groups. The more informed you are the more appreciated and validated your comments will be during the EIR process. But, public comment is an incredibly important component of a DEIS because those comments can become conditions or mitigation in the Final EIS!