Recreation in Our Parks

One of the issues that the Park District must deal with is the balance between recreational uses and other Park values, including the protection of wildlife and habitat and the conflict with other park users. This is not an issue where there is any right or wrong answer. What is required is all groups involved sitting down and working through the issues with a commitment to an accommodation. I have devoted 38 years to doing just that.

Norman at Pt Isabel Dog Park with his daughter and her dog
Norman with his daughter, Annaliese, and her rescue dog, Pacha, at Point Isabel Dog Park. Norman led the campaign to double the size of the park.

Off-Leash Dogs

"I am Annaliese La Force, Norman La Force’s daughter. I have a rescue Husky, Pacha. My dad loves his granddog. He has walked with Pacha and me off-leash at Point Isabel and other East Bay Regional Parks. Pacha and my Dad play “paw to paw” where I taught Pacha to shake my Dad’s hand. I am very upset when I read statements from people who don’t know my Dad who say he doesn’t like dogs or doesn’t want dogs to be able to go off leash. They don’t know Pacha and they don’t know my Dad."

- Annaliese La Force

I believe that we can make our parks work for dogs AND wildlife. In my 38 years of experience, here's what I've done for our furry friends:

• Led the Sierra Club campaign to have EBRPD purchase more land to double the size of the Point Isabel Dog Park
• Served as Co-Chair for multiple East Bay Regional Parks ballot measures that funded improvements to Point Isabel.
• Chaired El Cerrito’s Measure H campaign, which included funding for Bruce King • Memorial Off-Leash Dog Park and the Cerrito Vista Dog Park.
• Co-founded Citizens for East Shore Parks to save our shoreline from Emeryville to Richmond as McLaughlin East Shore State Park.

My daughter has a rescue Husky, Pacha, and I enjoy walking Pacha off leash at Point Isabel and in other East Bay Regional Parks. I do not oppose off-leash dogs at the Albany Bulb or Beach. Any statements that I oppose such use are simply false. There is a small group of off leash dog-owners who want to walk their dogs off leash anywhere, even where it is not safe or appropriate. They have made up statements about me that are untrue. The truth is, dogs deserve to enjoy our parks too, and I intend to ensure that they can!  

Mountain Biking

Mountain bike use in East Bay Regional Parks is certainly an appropriate use and has important recreational values. As with any activity, it must be evaluated with other values and uses. This is no different from evaluating hiking or equestrian activity. For example, the Park District’s Round Valley Regional Park contains valuable and fragile Native American sacred sites. Yet the Park District does not allow hikers to enter the park willy-nilly to hike around those sites.

In regard to mountain bikes on trails, I advocated for an open workshop process with an outside facilitator that would facilitate a series of workshops on trails and trail users access and concerns for all groups to try to reach an agreement and consensus. I am ON RECORD as demanding that the Park District include as many mountain bike groups as it can find, just as I have advocated for other user groups like hikers, off-leash dog advocates, equestrians, etc.

I have the example of the process that we used in regard to opening up trails on EBMUD lands. We went through a workshop process where all groups were brought together. In the end we reached an agreement that all groups could accept by which certain trails were opened up to mountain bike access. The key was that in the end we had a “buy-in” from all groups. That is essential for creating parks and trails where all people feel they can enjoy them without conflict.

Kayaks and Other Small Boat Craft

I led the Sierra Club in the creation of the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park ,which included kayak, small boat, and windsurf launch sites. I support the Bay Water Trail and also kayakers, windsurfers, and small boat users in getting access to the Bay. Again, any statements to the contrary are simply false.