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Fort Funston in Limbo

Tranquil Paradise Marred By Turmoil

Though seemingly idyllic and tranquil, Fort Funston remains a hotbed of discontent with The National Park Service having to battle in court to close off areas for threatened species protection, erosion control and habitat restoration.

The National Park Service was dragged into Federal court earlier this year by The Fort Funston Dog Walkers who objected to their precious walking grounds being closed.

"This is not just dog walkers. This is everyone," said Lydia Boesch, who represented the Fort Funston Dog Walkers. "Kids playing in the dunes. People sitting on the bluffs looking at the ocean...."

Federal Judge William Alsup allowed the National Park Service to close the areas while the threatened bank swallows were nesting on the cliffs of Ft. Funston over the summer, but the areas have now been open.

The final decision has not been made yet with The National Park Service opening the decision making process to public comment.

"We've had a good response to the request," said Roger Scott, public affairs spokesperson for GGNRA which oversees the property. "We will make a decision about how to proceed in early December."

Describing the public comment period Scott said,"Lots and lots of dog wlakers, but also a lot from native plant societies and bird watching groups and Audubon and other environmental enthusiasts."

A recent twist has involved the City of San Francisco looking into the matter.

Supervisor Leland Yee, Chair of the Finance and Labor Committee, is exploring whether the National Park Service has maintained its agreement with City which signed over the property to The GGNRA in 1975.

A recent press release of his asks if "GGNRA violated its agreement with the City of San Francisco to keep Fort Funston an "open space necessary to urban environment and planning"". The release also notes the 20 percent of the area was closed against the wishes of the local residents.

"They are doing things unaware of their prior commitments to The City and County of San Francisco," said Boesch. "City and County of San Francisco is looking at it. They can take this park back. The Park Service seems completely unaware of it."

But many environmentalists are happy with the actions The National Park Service has been taking.

"I think the NPS has finally made a move that will reduce erosion on the cliffs on which the bank swallows have historically nested," said Dan Murphy, Sunset District resident and former president of The Golden Gate Audubon Society.

"I agree with The Park Service wholeheartedly that that area needs to be closed," said Murphy. "I think thats that only way that that part of the Merced formation can be saved for future generations."

The Park Service with a legal requirement to protect the areas the bank swallows nest feel the dog walkers have gone too far.

"Although the dog walkers are a majority user at Fort Funston, Park Service policies require that we weigh any decision made in managing the resource with input from all user groups," said Scott. "We can't make a decision based on one group."


Take A Walk At Nearby Lake Merced Which Also Is In Turmoil

Dog Walkers State Their Case