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Lines Drawn In Battle Over Bay Area Dog Leash Restrictions

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) – Passionate Bay Area dog owners and the National Park Service continue to bicker over planned leash restrictions in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The parkland covers large swaths of Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties. Up until now, many areas had no problem with people letting their dogs run off leash.

But as time has passed, National Park spokesman Howard Levitt said potential problems have arisen.

"We've found that there's been an increase in the number of conflicts: dog vs. dog, dog vs. horse, dog vs. bike," said Levitt.

He said there has also been damage to the area's natural habitat, including the fact that dogs have been harassing endangered species. All of this led the National Park Service to come up with a draft plan that would severely limit where people can let their dogs off leash.

Levitt does point out that the plan in its current form leaves seven selected locations throughout the GGNRA where dogs can roam free, while no other park in the National Park Service system even allows one.

KCBS' Mark Seelig Reports:

Corola is a longtime dog lover and said the potential rules simply don't make sense.

"It's like with anything. There's always going to be somebody. There's bad drivers, bad parents, there's irresponsible people all over the place," she said.

Sally Stephens is the chair of the nonprofit San Francisco Dog Owners Group and said the National Park Service is not taking into account the scope of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

"They're treating the GGNRA as if it was Yellowstone, as if it was a pristine wilderness in the middle of nowhere," she said. "This is an urban recreational area. That's why it was developed and created."

The National Park Service has scheduled a public meeting for Monday at Fort Mason and a final one will be held on Wednesday in Pacifica. The deadline for public comments on the draft plan has been extended until late May.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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