January 17, 2017

Commercial dog walking on federal public lands

The Presidio Trust is proposing to accept the conditions of a San Francisco ordinance that would permit a commercial dog-walker to bring as many as eight dogs at a time into the Presidio.

Commercial dog-walking is not legal in any of the almost 400 units of the National Park System. The Trust’s proposal would institutionalize a use that is not compliant with park policies and should not be allowed. It constitutes an exploitation of park lands for private financial gain and is not compatible with park values, park resources, and good visitor experiences.

The Presidio is federal park land, and the Trust manages only “Area B”, the developed area of the park; the rest, mostly perimeter, is managed by the National Park Service (NPS), which is in the midst of a multi-year rule making process on allowing dogs in the Presidio and the rest of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. If the Trust establishes its own policy, we do not believe that the Trust intends to devote resources to enforcing it, and the NPS would have to expend its limited resources to police its part of the Presidio.

Adverse impacts of dog-walking include noise, disturbance to quiet park use, odors, harassment of wildlife, damage to soil and plants from dog urine, and loss of tranquility. Visitor parking would be occupied by commercial vehicles, which would be ubiquitous on park roadways. There could also be public-safety issues from packs of dogs on trails and at program sites. Many people, especially children and the elderly, are afraid of dogs.

The Presidio Trust should postpone any consideration of adopting the city’s dog-walking policies until the NPS publishes its own policies and requirements.

The Sierra Club joined with five other organizational members and individuals in the Presidio Environmental Council’s comments to the Presidio Trust’s Proposed Use Limit on Commercial Dog Walking; Revised Disposal Conditions (36CFR 1002).

Becky Evans, chair, Sierra Club San Francisco Group

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