GGNRA releases final plan


Fifteen million dollars in capital improvements and a shift to more interpretive services could be in store for Muir Woods National Monument, if the park adopts its preferred alternatives for a final general management plan and environmental impact statement that covers 50,000 acres of land in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Under the preferred alternative for the monument, the woods would be presented “as a contemplative outdoor museum where visitors could discover and learn about the primeval redwood forest and the monument’s place in U.S. conservation history,” with more interpretive trails to help people “touch, see, and learn” about the forest. The alternative would only apply to the woods and Alcatraz Island; a separate preferred alternative for the rest of the park—including Stinson and Muir Beaches—would generally add more informational services, avoid impacts on natural resources when feasible, fix up dilapidated facilities like bathrooms, improve or increase public transportation and expand visitor access to park sites through better trail connections. But because it is a general plan, it is not overly specific. The voluminous document included responses to comments and concerns expressed after the draft was released in 2011; some worried that natural resources were not adequately protected, while others felt the park was trying to illegally shift the focus away from urban recreation to natural resource preservation. The park responded that though G.G.N.R.A. was created as part of a “parks to the people” initiative, the founding legislation did not elevate recreation over preservation, but instead sought a balance between the two. The new plan, which replaces a previous general management plan over three decades old, is just an ideal, said Alexandra Picavet, a spokeswoman for the park. To undertake specific projects to improve visitor access or natural resources, the park would need to obtain funding, probably from a mix of grants, National Park Service money and partnerships. The plan says that it does not affect the management of dogs, which will be covered separately in a dog management plan that many pet owners have blasted as prejudiced against their pooches.