GGNRA plans to ban all dogs from Rancho Corral de Tierra;  Protest meeting Saturday


Posted by on Wed, January 19, 2011

Bill Bechtell

On January 14, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) released its draft “Dog Management Plan/EIS.”, [home page]  Much to the dismay of local residents who have been walking their dogs for years in the open space between Montara and El Granada, the plan’s preferred alternative, Alternative D, calls for “No dog walking allowed unless opened by GGNRA Compendium.”

The huge report, 2400 pages and 14.7 lbs, is available on line at About 99.9% of the report, however, has nothing to do with Rancho, which was not a part of GGNRA at the time the report was being prepared (and the transfer of Rancho from POST to GGNRA has still not been completed). Most of the report deals with conditions in Marin County, San Francisco County, and northern San Mateo County (Pacifica).

In the report, Rancho falls under the generic category of “new lands” and the dog walking regulations to be promulgated by the report will apply to Rancho, even though the area has not been studied, and local residents have had no opportunity for input until now.

The public has 90 days to review and comment on the report.  Montara Dog Group,

is holding a public meeting on Saturday, January 22, to further explain details of the report, provide information on how to comment, and to answer questions.  The meeting will be at 10 am at the LeConte St. entrance to the open space, behind Farallone View school.  Dogs are welcome!

In addition, GGNRA will be holding an open house on Wednesday, March 9, at Cabrillo School, 601 Crespi Drive, Pacifica, from 4pm until 8 pm.

Comment 1
Wed, January 19, 2011 12:16pm
Barry Parr
All my comments

The Examiner also had a blog entry on this change.

In the area immediately north of Montara, most of the walkers have dogs.

Comment 2
Fri, January 21, 2011 8:38pm
Carl May
All my comments

If more dog owners were responsible in places like McNee Ranch State Park and on local beaches (and thanks to the half or fewer who are), following leash laws and picking up after their dogs, do you suppose the feds might have developed a different outlook for the CdT lands?


I do not know how the feds came up with the decision to ban dogs from Rancho.  The “Dog Management Plan/EIS” was developed for Pacifica, San Francisco and Marin.  It seems like they arbitrarily decided to hold Rancho to a higher standard than all other lands in the national park system, where dog are allowed on leash.

I don’t know where you came up with the statistic that fewer than half of dog owners are following leash laws, but that sounds low to me.  In April of 2008 I formed Montara Dog Group and put up a web site,, primarily to encourage dog owners to leash their dogs when appropriate and to pick up after their dogs.  If you go to the web site you can see our leash protocol, and also where we have put out dog waste disposal cans and pickup bags maintained by a staff of volunteers, with the approval of POST.  I think that you will find that Montara trails are relatively free of dog poop, particularly considering how heavily used they are.  That being said, I realize there will never be 100% compliance, just like there will never be 100% compliance by picnickers who leave trash on the beach.

Like it or not, dog owners are a major stakeholder in this exercise.  More people walk their dogs on Montara trails than hikers, bikers and equestrians combined.  We are perfectly willing to work with GGNRA, if they ever invite us to do so,  to come up with some sort of compromise solution.  For example, have readily identifiable discrete areas where dogs are allowed off leash, other areas where dog must be on leash, and other areas where dogs are prohibited.  This would allow park users to choose to visit an area that suits their desires.  Or the same thing could be done on a trail by trail basis.  Another approach would be to allow off leash dogs up until 10 am and after that dogs mush be leashed.  Of course, we readily agree that dogs (and people) should be restricted from ecologically sensitive areas
such as the wetlands mitigation site and riparian corridors.

Comment 4
Mon, January 24, 2011 7:45am
Bob Poole
All my comments

Can anyone point me to a map of the entire area of concern here? I am familiar with the north of Montara area, but not how far south it extends to or in El Granada,where I live and usually walk my dog. I have to agree with your comments Bill, and would be perfectly willing to abide by reasonable rules.

There’s a map of the affected area in this San Mateo County Times article:

The land extends to the El Granada Highlands neighborhood. If you access Rancho trails from the end of Almeria, Coral Reef, or any of the access points behind Clipper Ridge, you’re affected.

I agree with Bill’s comments, too. We’d like to work cooperatively with GGNRA and would be happy to abide by reasonable rules.


I don’t know where you came up with the statistic that fewer than half of dog owners are following leash laws, but that sounds low to me.”

“More people walk their dogs on Montara trails than hikers, bikers and equestrians combined. “

Bill, I don’t know where you came up with the statistic that more dogwalkers populate the POST/GGNRA than hikers, bikers and equestrians COMBINED, but this sounds like ballyhoo.

Besides, I don’t need a statistic on leashed vs unleashed. I can walk this fine eve from Kanoff thru POST to the ranch/farm and back with a tally of unleased dogs at 2/3. Easy. Odds -140.

There are already a number of areas w/in GGNRA were dogs aren’t allowed. Tennessee Valley amongst others come to mind. Don’t have much of an opinion one way or another on this, just reflecting.


In April of 2008 I formed Montara Dog Group and put up a web site,, primarily to encourage dog owners to leash their dogs”

Um Bill?

I find it ironic, or (pinky against lips a la Dr Evil) hypocritical, that you’ve chosen…

for this article…

a picture of your dog…

in POST…


EPIC. I’m upping my 2/3 to 3/4.

I assume this is the same canine at your quarter on your dog blog


Not hypocritical at all!  I have long been of an advocate for off leash dog walking while respecting others in the area who may not care to interact with an off leash dog.  See my leash protocol on the dog blog <>.  Also, you incorrectly quoted me out of context above.  What I said was ”  I formed Montara Dog Group and put up a web site,, primarily to encourage dog owners to leash their dogs when appropriate and to pick up after their dogs.” 

True, there are many areas in GGNRA where dogs are not allowed, but there are also many areas where dogs are allowed on leash and off leash (Fort Funston, Ocean Beach, Crissy Field, and Muir Beach). GGNRA is proposing in their “Dog Management Plan” to ban all dogs in this area, whether on leash or off leash.  This total ban on dogs is a “guilty until proven innocent” approach to dog “management.”  A more accurate title of their report would be “Dog Banishment Plan.”

Comment 9
Mon, January 24, 2011 5:44pm
Carl May
All my comments


Every year or two those of us who walk Montara Mountain in McNee Ranch SP almost every day do casual counts of dogs on-leash and off-leash.

But, first, even with the large number of people with dogs, most (easily more than half) of those using the state park do not have dogs along.

All kinds of facts fall out of the simple dog counts, and they have been consistent over recent years. A larger percentage of dogs are on-leash in the park on the on the weekends and holidays than on weekdays. More dogs are on-leash within roughly a quarter mile of the entrances to the park than beyond that. All of the dogs initiating incidents—running up to people or other dogs and snarling and nipping at them or outright biting—are off-leash. (I personally average about two incidents per year, some of these with the same dogs.) All of the dogs tearing off through the scrub or chaparral—running wildlife or on the scent of goodness knows what—are off-leash. All of the people with dogs off-leash in the park are ignoring the signs at the entrances and elsewhere stating that dogs are only allowed on-leash.

State Parks is both unwilling and perhaps unable to enforce its own reasonable requirements in McNee regarding dogs. Also unwilling is the county sheriff, even with the county-wide leash law obviously applying in parks as elsewhere. What hope is there the GGNRA lands will be any better? On the GGNRA properties we walk near here—Mori Ridge, Milagra Ridge, etc., there are also many off-leash dogs. Obviously, many will conclude the only way to get a degree of control over dogs is to ban them, given the tendency of some dog owners to always go one step beyond what is reasonably acceptable for a location.

I mention McNee Ranch because it is a good indication of what can be expected for the trails on the adjacent CdT lands. The GGNRA areas listed where dogs are permitted are limited in size and easily avoided as already mostly unnatural “sacrifice areas” if one is not into dog-associated activities. The same is not true for the miles of trails in the thousands of acres in our coastal watersheds.

Perhaps the GGNRA could look into creating one or two dog-acceptable areas on its already disturbed lower lands—one just north of Montara in the parcel surrounded by the developed areas and the sprouts fields and below Old San Pedro Mtn. Road comes to mind, as do several trashed places closer to Clipper Ridge and El Granada. Access to the higher trails where dogs are not welcome could be located to avoid the dog areas.


I think we are in total agreement.  I certainly am not going to defend dogs and their owners behaving badly.  Like I said in the last paragraph of my first comment, one solution might be to identify discrete areas where dogs are allowed off leash, areas where dogs are allowed on leash, and areas where dogs are not allowed at all.  Your identification of the parcels north of Montara and east of Clipper Ridge as dog acceptable areas are right on.  Those are the locations where most people currently go to walk their dogs.  They are immediately adjacent to residential areas and easily accessible. I have walked my dogs on the trails north of Montara for over 30 years, as have many others.  This recreational activity shared with my dogs has brought many hours of pleasure to both species, with very few adverse incidents.  It is one of the main reasons that I live in Montara.  As you know, many of us have fought for years to protect this open space, first from developers, then from Caltrans.  It would be ironic if we now are not allowed to enjoy it.

This is NOT TRUE- the headline is misleading and inflammatory.  Dogs are to be on a leash in the park.

I wish you correct, Deborah, but unfortunately it is true.  Go to Table ES-1 in the Executive Summary of GGNRA’s Draft Dog Management Plan/EIS.
It plainly states that GGNRA’s preferred alternative for “New Lands” (that’s us) is Alternative D:  “No dog walking allowed unless opened by GGNRA Compendium…”  This report is available on-line at

Maybe we could have a better time convincing others to let dogs in parks if the owners clean up after them.  We have dogs (multiple) and always clean up after them.  This week we went out to Montara mountain to picnic and found dog poop out on the trails, really close to the trash can provided for such use.  Come on folks, if you want to walk your dogs on the trails, bring something to clean up after them with.  Also, put a lead on your dog if there are hikers close.  You never know if they might not like Fido greeting them, and thus them complaining to the park authorities.

I wonder if the organizers of the protest have spoken to GGNRA?  Rangers have been at recent MCC meetings to discuss the transition.  They explained that the dccument in question is required to comply with Federal Law thus the apparent “ban”.  In reality they will be writing use regulations that could include dogs on leash in the park.

I do not agree with making the north end of Montara into an official off-leash area.  We already have plenty of dogs there without inviting the rest of the Bay Area to join in.
I, personally, have had my fill of being approached by growling dogs with owners who trivialize the frightening experience.  And of observing terrified deer and other wildlife being chased by the same.  Many non dog walkers use the open space and deserve consideration.


The Dog Management Plan is more restrictive than federal law requires.
The law, 36 CFR 2.15 to be exact, requires that dogs be “restrained on a leash not to exceed six feet in length.”  It does not require that dogs be banned.  It is true that under the “GGNRA Compendium” the recreation area superintendent has the discretionary authority to impose restrictions as necessary.  It would have been better if the plan had followed 36 CFR 2.15 and then issued restrictions as required under the compendium, instead of banning dogs and saying maybe they will change the regulation to allow dogs.

The fact is, there are many more places that ban dogs than allow dogs.  Most of the state beaches ban dogs,  San Mateo County bans dog from all parks and trails, Mid-peninsula Regional Open Space District bans dogs from all sites on the coastside.  I acknowledge that some dogs and dog owners behave badly, but it is a small minority.  If you do not want to have any contact with dogs at all, I suggest visiting one of the above mentioned areas.

Comment 16
Thu, February 3, 2011 2:34pm
Rob Carey
All my comments