In July 2015, Save Our Recreation submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the National Park Service asking for documents pertaining to the development of the dog management plan for Golden Gate National Recreation Area located in the densely populated San Francisco Bay Area.
The National Park Service’s proposed severe restrictions to dog walking in this 80,000 acre urban recreation area has been one of the most contentious park management issues ever. Throughout the process, the National Park Service failed to provide the scientific and site-specific rationale needed to support and justify theses severe cuts to dog walking spaces—cuts that are overwhelmingly opposed by the public and Bay Area elected officials.
Our goal was to make these documents available to the public for the purpose of submitting substantive comments on the plan.
In April 2016, after months with no response by the National Park Service, Save Our Recreation and Bay Area dog groups filed a lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco to get this information. The last official public comment period on the dog plan ended on May 25, 2016, but at that point we still had not received the requested information from the National Park Service.
Under the guidance of a Magistrate Judge, the National Park Service started releasing the requested FOIA documents in June 2016. Although we have received documents (many heavily redacted by the agency) from only four (4) custodians to date, we cannot wait any longer to share the highlights because the Park Service has made clear its intent to issue a final Dog Rule before January 20, 2017.
Our groups and thousands in the Bay Area participated in the dog management planning process in good faith, yet our input and concerns have been not just systematically ignored, but also derided and ultimately dismissed without serious consideration because of the agency’s predetermination to end up with the preferred alternative identified in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). Emails produced in response to the FOIA request confirm this.
Our hope is that WoofieLeaks sheds some light on this process.