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End of the dog and pony show on the Rancho Corral de Tierra?

This scene may be a thing of the past if the GGNRA has its way.
This scene may be a thing of the past if the GGNRA has its way.
Larry De Young

For decades a curious phenomenon has existed on 4,262 acres of San Francisco Peninsula private land known as the Rancho Corral de Tierra. This land has been unfenced, unpatrolled, unmaintained and open to the public. The curious element is that the public consists of hikers, mountain bikers, dog walkers and equestrians who all get along! Even the previous owners, the private Peninsula Open Space Trust had allowed total public access. One particular tract of the Rancho located adjacent to the northern border of Montara has had heavy traffic from off leash dogs and equestrians. The norm is for the dog walkers to leash their dogs up and have a pleasant chat with the rider as the rider passes. Dogs that are left unleashed are almost never an issue and in the rare instances dogs do cause a problem the community self-regulates the owners.

All this is about to change. The GGNRA has acquired the Rancho and has released its draft dog management plan. The GGNRA’s preferred alternative for the Rancho (which is considered “New Lands”), is a total ban on dogs, leashed or unleashed. This has enraged locals who walk their dogs daily on the property. The GGNRA has missed a (pardon the expression) “golden” opportunity to understand how the Rancho’s multi users have kept it in pristine condition and lived harmoniously. This is a situation that is well worth preserving as much as possible, especially in the densely populated SF Bay Area.

To be fair, the transition of the Rancho from a local haven to a national park will bring more people with more dogs and therefore require some regulations. However, the GGNRA has provided no data to support a total ban on dogs in the Rancho. Moreover, except for one meeting at the elementary school which borders the Rancho, the GGNRA has not engaged the locals in the discussion. They certainly have not attempted to work out a compromise which takes into account the heavy local usage by dog walkers and the apparent lack of negative impact of that usage.

In contrast to the situation with the dog walkers, the GGNRA engaged in deep and fruitful discussions with the local equestrian community. The Rancho is home to 4 boarding stables and all will continue to operate when the GGNRA formally takes control. Also the vast majority of trails will remain open to horses. The draft dog management plan is open for public comment until April 14, 2011. It is not too late for the GGNRA and the dog walkers to sit down and work out their differences.


  • Dan 4 years ago

    It is ironic that the increased use is justification for a ban on dogs. During a recent MMCA meeting, GGNRA said they expected an initial uptic as the new lands were advertised but then a normalization close to current usage levels over time. This seems in stark contrast to there are going to be too many users to let dog walkers use it also.

  • Jan Scott 4 years ago

    This is a great article and pretty much matches my exeriences at Fort Funston and Ocean Beach. People pretty much self-regulate. I've been jogging on those 2 beaches for 30 years, and there were fewer confrontations when the GGNRA did not patrol and people could let their dogs run free.

  • Montara Dog Owner 4 years ago

    I would like to know what will be the fine for breaking the no dog rule and taking your dog on this land anyway - since i have NO intention of following it.

  • DogDad 4 years ago

    I'm seeing this blow up in the faces of ggnra staff. Personally, I can live with a well presented , fact based justification of modified darg rules. Something akin to , OK, there will be X amount of acreage within the lowland-urban fringe area of RCdT for continued off leash access within the RCdT property. Subject to review after , say, 5 yrs, and let's work together to ensure this system is sustainable.

    And/or, Dawgs allowed on leash everywhere that horse's are allowed.

    I know change is inevitable, but, gradual uptick in regulations might stave off the lawsuits I see on the horizon.

  • Profile picture of Larry De Young
    Larry De Young 4 years ago

    GGNRA makes not distinction between preserve and reclaim. The dog walking area in Montara has been used for that purpose for decades. The fact is that just 100 yards from the edge of where the dogs are exercised is a habitat that is home to deer, coyotes, bobcat, rabbits, quail and mountain lions, wild daffodils etc. etc. Thus whatever ecological damage has occurred to the area is very limited. To suddenly close off the dog walking area in the name of preservation makes about as much ecological sense as telling all residents to bulldoze their homes and allow nature to reclaim the area. The fact is that Montara in general and the dog walking area in particular is surrounded by a thriving ecosystem. An ecosystem that the residents cherish as much as they cherish walking their dogs.

  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    Save our land -- Don’t let GGNRA cut off access and ban long-established areas for dog exercise.

  • Use a leash 4 years ago

    I live in Montara and walk in Rancho Coral de Tierra. I have been accosted by off-leash dogs. I have seen off-leash dogs chasing deer and other wildlife. I do not think dogs should be allowed off-leash here. The north end of Montara is not a good place for off-leash dogs- children play there also. The so-called self regulation is not monitored or measured so there are no records of how many incidents have occurred.

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