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KCBS Cover Story: Dog Lovers Unleash Concerns Over GGNRA’s Pet Restriction Plan

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MARIN COUNTY (KCBS) — A group of dog-advocates in Marin County are mobilizing to preserve dog walking on parkland that a proposal by Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s draft management may curtail.

Laura Pandapas, a member of marincountydog.org, enjoys walking her three-year-old poodle, Sugie, on Muir Beach and isn’t happy about the GGNRA’s draft-management plan to ban dogs on some trails while restricting them to leashes on others—including Muir Beach.

“This has always been dog friendly; this is why we moved here and if this plan goes through—the way they want it to be—we won’t have access to any of these trails,” she said.

The plan as it stands would leave Rodeo Beach as the only off-leash GGNRA area in Marin County.

“Their 1970 pet policy set aside certain areas to be used for recreating with a pet and that was spelled out and legitimized and it was important,” Pandapas said.

Frank Dean, General Superintendent of the GGNRA, said the National Park Service typically doesn’t allow dogs in other park areas outside the parking lot.

“We’ve gotten special permission from our national office to create a special regulation to allow dog walking in the park; so this plan will actually make that legit and bring clarity to it so people will know where they can go,” he said.

Dean, who said he’s a dog owner himself, pointed out that there are sensitive resources and endangered species.

There are also corridors, he said, used by horseback riders and hikers in the parklands who don’t want to necessarily interact with dogs.

“When the park was created, you could walk your dog with ‘under voice control’ which meant off-leash but under control of some type. And that has proven to be not be working effectively in every place,” Dean said.

But Marin County dog lovers, like Pandapas, claim that there is no evidence for such measures.

“It’s the veritable stew of ‘might, may, could.’ There’s no data, they’re just hypothesizing what dogs, maybe, could potentially do.”

Charley Barret, of Mill Valley, was at the beach over the weekend with his dog, MacGyver doubts things will change if the plan goes through.

“I think people will still poach trail up there because there’s no enforcement. For all intents and purposes, the risk of getting a $35 fine for walking your dog might happen once a year; so I think most people will still just walk their dogs,” he said.

Pandapas, however, is hopeful that dog owners can have haven an effect.

“We’re trying to work with the Marin County Board of Supervisors to hopefully get some sort of resolution like San Francisco did to formerly oppose the dog-management plan,” she said.

Public comments can be submitted on the draft-management plan through Feb. 18. All comments will be evaluated with a final plan out next year.

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