| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December, 8, 2005
Contact: Brent Plater, 415-572-6989
Center for Biological Diversity
Off-leash advocates in San Francisco have announced that they are abandoning a consensus-building process established by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) to address pet management issues, according to a petition they are circulating at parks and on the internet this week. Instead, the advocates are urging dog owners to unite behind a controversial Bush administration initiative to end the National Park System's preservation mandate and replace it with a policy that favors motorized recreation and commercialization, a policy condemned by conservationists around the country.
The announcement was made just weeks before the first consensus-building meetings were to take place, putting over three years of park planning in jeopardy.
"As a dog guardian, I'm excited to share the GGNRA in a way that ensures that everyone-including plovers, plants, and people-can enjoy the park," said Brent Plater, Bay Area Director of the Center for Biological Diversity. "The irresponsible dog owners who have hitched their wagon with the Bush administration and those who want to mine Yosemite, run off-road vehicles in Yellowstone, and develop the Great Smokey Mountains discredit San Francisco's animal welfare movement. I call on all of San Francisco's dog owners to join me in demanding that the D.O.G. groups stop advancing the Bush agenda. "
The GGNRA is one of the most biologically diverse places in North America, and in 1988 it was designated as part of the Golden Gate Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations, the same status given to Brazil's Central Amazon rainforests. It contains more imperiled species than Yosemite, Yellowstone, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks combined.
However, off-leash groups have demanded that dogs be allowed to roam without leads throughout the GGNRA's most sensitive wildlife habitats, despite the fact that park biologists have called off-leash dogs "the most significant recreational threat" to imperiled species such as the western snowy plover.
But the GGNRA already has the most generous domestic animal access policy in the country. Because of this, the National Park System's pet management regulations have been supported by responsible animal welfare groups such as the ASPCA, PETA, and the American Humane Association, and over 70 percent of Bay Area residents support the National Park System's pet management regulations.
Nevertheless, environmentalists, advocates for children and youth, advocates for the elderly and the disabled, and several government agencies have agreed to participate in a "negotiated rulemaking" to address the off-leash group's concerns. These efforts now appear to be in jeopardy, and the off-leash group's promotion of the Bush administration's policy puts the GGNRA's irreplaceable biological and cultural resources at great risk.
"The National Park System protects monuments to our nation's greatest war heroes, African-American leaders, and our most pristine wilderness areas," said Plater. "The Bush administration's new policy initiative would undermine the preservation of these great places, and the off-leash group's decision to walk away from a consensus process and embrace this policy is simply irresponsible."
Analysis of the Bush administration Policy endorsed by D.O.G. Groups:
For more information about pet management regulations at the GGNRA: