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The GGNRA was established in part through a campaign in 1970 by Secretary of Interior Walter Hickel "to bring parks to the people", putting the National Park Service in a movement to increase outdoor recreation in urban areas. (U.S. Department of Interior News Release, September 14, 1970.)

 

In recent years, we have wondered if the GGNRA really wants us in “their park”.  If you look at some of the GGNRA’s management activities, you have cause to wonder.  For example, in 1989 the GGNRA, under the supervision of Brian O’Neill, signed on to a biosphere habitat program entitled “Man and Biosphere Habitat Programme” (“MAB” or “MAP”). One would be hard pressed to find a philosophy in greater conflict with the recreational priority of the GGNRA than that of Peter Bridgewater, Secretary of the MAB/MAP Programme, who has said, “Earth would be a better place if we had no people.”

 

This DEIS is premised as a necessity to save the GGNRA from being permanently degraded by overuse of the park.  From the GGNRA DEIS Executive Summary (see: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=303&projectID=11759&documentID=38106)  :

"Since the 1990s, the San Francisco Bay Area population and overall use of GGNRA park sites have increased…”

From ABC News (http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local&id=8000372):

"But the GGNRA says the number of visitors to the park has increased dramatically in the past 20 years, threatening the condition of the parks. The GGNRA also points out that it is the only recreation area in the national parks system that has any off-leash areas at all.”

The article further quotes GGNRA spokesperson Howard Levitt,

We need to consider the spectrum of visitor use of an area, people who want to enjoy the park with their dogs off leash, people who want to experience it as dog-free, and all of our, as you can imagine, 16 million visitors that fit along that spectrum."

Funny thing, when you actually get a look at the NPS official visitor statistics for the GGNRA, you see that the GGNRA management is once again, lying. 

From http://www.nature.nps.gov/stats/park.cfm?parkid=296 :

Total GGNRA Recreation Visits

 

Golden Gate NRA

 Year

Recreational Visitors 

1973

42,600

1974

702,300

1975

1,196,900

1976

1,457,600

1977

6,300,200

1978

8,960,938

1979

11,321,127

1980

18,421,773

1981

20,279,789

1982

19,897,389

1983

17,604,551

1984

16,731,706

1985

18,355,365

1986

21,582,368

1987

21,767,176

1988

21,759,271

1989

16,656,896

1990

14,650,213

1991

14,695,771

1992

15,309,338

1993

14,695,771

1994

14,695,771

1995

14,695,771

1996

14,043,984

1997

13,803,382

1998

14,046,590

1999

14,048,085

2000

14,486,065

2001

13,457,900

2002

13,961,267

2003

13,854,750

2004

13,270,547

2005

13,602,629

2006

13,486,824

2007

14,397,313

2008

14,554,750

2009

15,036,372

2010

14,271,503

Total

522,102,545

 

The year of 1989, when the Biosphere program began, saw visitors drop by over 5 million in this Recreation Area that otherwise had shown steady growth in recreation visitors since they started tracking visitors in 1973. 

The number of park visitors has NOT increased dramatically over the past 20 years. In fact, in 1988 the GGNRA experienced close to its greatest number of visitors, (second only to 1987 which had about 8,000 more) coming in at 21,759,271 recreational visitors.  According to NPS statistics, in 2010, the total number of recreational visitors was 14,271,503, down about 34% from 1988. 

Consider also that in the past 20 years the GGNRA acreage has almost doubled in size, and expanded into San Mateo County.  This puts a far larger population in direct proximity to the Recreation Area, yet the visitor numbers are down dramatically.  Users of the GGNRA will tell you that this DEIS is just a reflection of the management priorities that Brian O’Neill started with his Biosphere commitment that have systematically denied and discouraged access for the public to this Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  And the users would be right!  This DEIS is not about increased conflicts in the park because of dogs, or degradation of the park, it’s about keeping people out of the GGNRA.  With the GGNRA now owning close to sixty percent of the open park space in cities like San Francisco and Pacifica, don’t you think it’s about time that we take back our parks?