NPS ends effort to update dog regulations

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NPS ends effort to update dog regulations

Postby Steve Rodrigues » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:27 am

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National Park Service ends effort to update regulations on dogs at Golden Gate National Recreation Area

10/19/2017
WASHINGTON - Today, the National Park Service (NPS) announced it has permanently ended a planning and rulemaking process intended to establish new regulations related to dog management at Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) in California. The decision follows the completion of an independent review of the dog rule planning and rulemaking process.

In its report, the independent review team concluded that the use of personal email by NPS employees to conduct official business was inappropriate, but the emails the team reviewed ultimately did not influence the outcome of the planning and rulemaking process. However, NPS officials, with the support of the Department of the Interior leadership, concluded that it is no longer appropriate to proceed with the rulemaking process.

"We can do better and in the interest of upholding the highest standard of transparency and trust with our Bay Area neighbors, we have determined that it is no longer appropriate to continue with the current dog management rulemaking process at Golden Gate National Recreation Area," said NPS acting Director Michael Reynolds.

In January, the National Park Service asked an independent group of experts in government planning efforts to review the use of personal email accounts for official communications related to the Dog Management Plan planning and rulemaking process. Additionally, the NPS took several steps to educate staff about the importance of conducting official business using official email accounts. In May, a memo from Acting Director Reynolds was sent to every agency employee to highlight the importance of ethical behavior and appropriate use of email.

GGNRA will continue to enforce existing pet regulations detailed in a 1979 pet policy and the Superintendent's Compendium. The current regulations allow visitors to walk managed dogs under voice or leash control in specific areas of the park. The nationwide National Park Service regulation requiring dogs to be on-leash will apply to areas not covered by the 1979 policy. The NPS has also adopted two special regulations that modify the 1979 policy for parts of Crissy Field and Ocean Beach. For the time being, the interim permit requirement for commercial dog walkers will remain in effect.

In 2002, the park began enforcing the National Park Service's nationwide pet regulation, but a 2005 federal district court decision found that the park could not rescind its 1979 pet policy without first completing a rulemaking process. The park's subsequent decision to examine alternatives to the 1979 pet policy triggered the Dog Management Plan environmental review and the associated rulemaking process. A final rule was anticipated in early 2017 but was placed on hold in January, pending completion of the NPS initiated independent review to determine whether the use of personal email by park employees affected the planning and rulemaking processes.
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