The History of Walking With Dogs in the GGNRA

In 1972, Congress created the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), incorporating nearly all the coastal land in San Francisco and Marin Counties. Later land in San Mateo County would be added. Congress wanted to preserve recreational access to open space in the densely urban San Francisco Bay Area, and so created the GGNRA, one of the first national recreation areas in the country. It is clear that walking with a dog was part of that recreational access.

Indeed, in 1979, the Park Service codified a Pet Policy that outlined where dogs could be walked on- and off-leash in the GGNRA. Dogs were allowed off-leash on less than 1% of GGNRA land.

But over the years, the National Park Service, the agency that manages the GGNRA, tried to restrict recreational access on its lands, including where you can walk with a dog. SFDOG and other dog groups fought back. In 2017, the Park Service officially abandoned its efforts to cut back on where you could walk with a dog.

You can read about the history of the GGNRA, the Pet Policy, and the efforts to restrict recreational access for people with dogs by following the links below.

The Creation of the GGNRA, including copies of the congressional legislation establishing the GGNRA

The 1979 Pet Policy, including early efforts to ban off-leash dog walking

Attempts to Change the Name of the GGNRA, intended to overturn the emphasis on preserving recreational access that was the foundation for the creation of the GGNRA

Negotiated Rulemaking, a fatally flawed, unsuccessful attempt by the GGNRA to negotiate a restrictive policy on dog walking, begun in 2006

The Proposed Dog Management Plan, a proposed plan to severely restrict where you could walk with a dog in the GGNRA

Woofieleaks and the Lawsuit that Stopped the Dog Management Plan
When dog groups uncovered evidence of bias, illegal use of private emails, and collusion between Park Service employees and opponents of dog walking, the agency withdrew its proposed dog management plan, leaving the 1979 Pet Policy as the rule governing where you can walk with a dog in the GGNRA. We

A new General Management Plan changed the mission of the GGNRA away from recreation

Sally Stephens