Victory for Wildlife at Pillar Point Bluff

Photo of Pillar Point Bluff
Photo by Lisa Ketcham

On April 5, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to deny the Coastal Development Permit for the proposed Off-Leash Dog Pilot Program at Pillar Point Bluff, while approving the Pilot Program at Quarry Park, as we had recommended. This is a significant victory for wildlife and sensitive habitats at Pillar Point Bluff and the adjacent Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.

Pillar Point Bluff is a Local Biological Hotspot

Pillar Point Bluff and Fitzgerald Marine Reserve support more special status species of wildlife than any other comparable County Park area. Rare coastal prairie grassland, seasonal wetlands, and coastal scrub provide habitat for the federally protected California red-legged frog as well as many songbirds and raptors. Ross’ Cove and beach at the foot of the Bluff are visited by sea lions, sea otters and elephant seals, while harbor seals can be found year-round; all are protected by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Off-Leash Dogs Can Be a Threat to Many Wildlife Species as Well as Other Dogs and People

Just as dogs love to chase balls and frisbees, they instinctively will chase birds and other wildlife. The most profound effects of off-leash dogs are avoidance of an area rather than mortality of prey species, according to research on predator-prey relationships. Many on-leash dog walkers also avoid areas where off-leash dogs are allowed; and off-leash dogs can “recreationally displace” people who are fearful of dogs; these may include young children, older people, people with disabilities, and even on-leash dog walkers.

Nearby Quarry Park’s Trails are More Suitable for Off-Leash Dog Recreation

Quarry Park’s eight miles of trails and roads are located within a non-native eucalyptus forest, with just a few scattered areas of sensitive habitat. We will be monitoring compliance with the off-leash rules during the 12-month Pilot Program. We continue to request more ranger presence and oversight of on-leash dog walking at Pillar Point Bluff and prohibition of all pets within the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.

Thanks to everyone who wrote or spoke on behalf of wildlife and special habitats at Pillar Point Bluff! You have made a tremendous difference!

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