Friday, October 31, 2008

a thank you

i was a bit worked up yesterday and forgot to thank the people with the city and on the foothills conservation advisory committee who have listened to us and provided information and insight, printed materials, answered questions, etc.

it's not all bad- there are plenty of good folks involved too.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

clarification pt. 2- my turn

my turn to clarify something. after being told by a few people involved with the fcac yesterday that this process has not been confusing, i feel the need to explain.

first, with all due respect, if the public finds the process confusing, it is. what was sent yesterday as an example of the public process looks more like a timeline to me. and it is a timeline that ends in april, although the process did not.

part of my confusion stems from my past experience dealing with various city & county agencies on different issues. i started the central bench neighborhood association in the early 90s, was involved in the neighborhood alliance, served on the nena board and participated in the off leash dog park process.

although i didn't always agree with elected officials, i did find most of them willing to listen. i always felt like if we had facts and presented them rationally we would be heard. i also felt like there was a genuine effort to include affected parties. in the case of the dog parks (and later the first off leash trail committee, which i wasn't a part of, but which i did follow), there was a desire to find a workable solution. that's why the process took so long.

maybe that's the difference between working with elected officials and an appointed body. by the way, this is my opinion, and one that i know is shared by other dog owners. i don't think any of this was intentional, i'm just relating how it looks from here.

this process has thrown me off from the start. holding one open house in february (i assume the lowest time of the year for trail use, so it's hard to reach users who don't read the paper, or missed it that day), not posting the information at the kiosks and allowing only 2 weeks for public comment just doesn't seem like an approach designed to get the most out of public input. i know people who called and asked to be included on the working group who were turned down.

the apparent lack of factual evidence for the working group recommendations confuses me. the comments from the open house, when tallied, don't seem to me to suggest dealing with issues in the manner the group came up with. there seems to be no data on which trails are the biggest problems, what time of day most conflicts occur (or what they are, or how many) or any specific dog and wildlife studies that were printed out and given to the group to read.

the priority of the issues confuses me. it takes different tactics to solve for different things. i maintain that if, indeed, there is an issue with wildlife, we need to understand what it is, where it occurs, what time of year the animals are most vulnerable and approach things reasonably. i understand that by posting a sign in barber park about keeping dogs on leash due to fawns in the area, ada county has positively impacted the deer situation.

saying there would be opportunity for public input prior to sending a recommendation to council, then having that opportunity happen at 7:30 a.m. on a weekday with less than a week's notice confuses me. the fcac seems to be giving the notion of more public input lip service. it doesn't appear to be born of a genuine desire to work with citizens toward a solution.

lastly, being told to step up and doing that very thing- organizing dog owners to improve trail conditions and compliance with the rules- improvement that has been noted in meetings and acknowledged by the ridge to rivers staff- only to face the very real possibility of still losing access- is really confusing.

i understand that there was no guarantee. no one ever said "if you do this, we won't change the rules". but the committee needs to understand that we entered this in good faith. we have worked hard on the premise that our efforts would count for something. we accomplished a lot, especially given that we didn't even have regular enforcement until september.

there is nothing so pressing that a year's probation- tracked and report carded- wouldn't work. the time could be used to gather more information to build a baseline for acceptable behavior and to increase educational efforts.


beautiful day

another gorgeous sunrise. a lovely walk with my well behaved off leash dogs. met 2 other dog owners with well behaved dogs following the rules and 3 groups without dogs- even mix with/without.

as usual these days, thankful for being able to do this daily- to have access to a place to start my day with exercise and nature. to be able to watch my dogs interact and smell and play and be reminded to just be.

i needed the meditation. am a bit worked up by the fcac's approach. all we can do is follow the channels and present our case. so that's what we'll do.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


wildlife article-

i guess i found the article in may, which would have been after the working group met, so it could not have been shared. my apologies for that mistake.

also, this is the process that was followed:

When it was first decided to gather a working group to look at dog related issues on trails back in January, we had a planned process that we (staff) had been directed to undertake by the FCAC. This process was on the R2R website, at the public open house and talked about in a number of newspaper articles (see info below). The Public Open House ended up also involving two weeks of public comment on how to address the 4 trends of concern. After the recommendations were made public and many people who had not participated in the public process were concerned how it would effect them. Since that time the FCAC has been listening to the concerns of many individuals while still trying to move ahead to send some recommendations to city council that address the 4 trends of concern.

Process for Arriving at Solutions

Timeframe Activity
February 6, 2008 Working Group Introduction
February 20, 2008 Public Open House
March-April 2008 Series of Working Group Meetings
Early April 2008 Recommendation to FCAC
Late April 2008 Recommendation to Boise City Council
Summer 2008 Implementation

i am still confused about the process, but for other reasons.

anyway- in the interest of being fair there you are.

process questions

people are passionate about their dogs. that's part of what makes this issue difficult to navigate. that and the fact that we have had our dogs off leash in the foothills for 10 years with little or no enforcement of the rules. it seems unreasonable to make drastic changes when the first time many people realized that there was a problem was last March.

there have been periodic articles in the paper about poop, but there has not been much communication about other issues- like trail etiquette. i am glad that this happened, because it allowed dog owners to get organized and to become better citizens.

i have been to most of the fcac meetings this summer and have heard some thoughtful discussions on the issue. committee members do bring up comments made to them by citizens, and have discussed Boise Trail DOG's input as well.

that being said, better communication and more transparency in the process would help considerably.

the process is confusing.

i am still not entirely clear on the priority of issues the working group was tasked to solve.

i heard chairman mcdevitt say in one of the meetings that it was primarily a public health issue which would make fecal matter (aka poop) and unruly dogs the main focus. an article on dogs and wildlife was sent out by julia grant a few weeks ago to the fcac members (she also copied me). i found the same article in march after googling dogs and wildlife. if the information is pertinent, it should have been provided to the working group (and the public) then and there should have been ongoing discussions.

we have been solving the public health issue because we understood that to be the important one. we need to have more discussion and information before addressing other, more complex issues.

the fcac said there would be more public input before they decided on a final recommendation to send to city council, but i still don't know how or when they intend to take it.

i found out yesterday that the public will be allowed to speak at next week's 7:30 am fcac meeting. i really hope that's not the full extent of public involvement planned.

i do know that many more of us are able to make it to an evening City Council meeting to provide testimony than to a meeting at 7:30 am with only a week's notice to arrange job, kids, etc.

i don't think that the confusion is the result of anyone having an agenda of trying to kick dogs off of the trails.

i do think that there are 2 fcac committee members who would probably like to see that happen, but the city employees involved in this issue are not taking sides. they are providing information as requested.

i feel like this has been poorly handled. the original off leash parks and trails process took a long time. the trails group met for over a year. there was a lot of public input, research and experts were brought in to talk to the task force. even if people didn't agree with the end solution they had input and felt comfortable that due diligence was followed.

it would alleviate a lot of uncertainty and confusion if we had a clearly defined process, both for resolving this particular issue and for addressing issues with all user groups going forward.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

BTD Letter to the FCAC

Dear Foothills Conservation Advisory Committee Members,

Thank you for the time and thought that you have put into the dogs and trails issue over the past months. We appreciate your consideration of our initial proposal and are pleased to see enforcement in place.

We ask that trails are made on leash for 200 feet from parking areas and that no other changes are made for a year.

Our suggestion is to use the year as a well publicized period giving dog owners the opportunity to sustain and improve on the progress made over the summer.
o Provide regular, consistent updates to the public via local media and on the Parks & R2R websites
o Develop a baseline to measure activity based on phone calls and email, Ranger and PET officer reports
 React more quickly to problem areas
 Clearly identify and address specific issues
 Increase transparency and communication with the public
o Continue enforcement and educational efforts
 give the programs time to work

Dog owners were called on to step up and we have done so. There is anecdotal evidence that trail conditions have improved. Poop counts are lower. Leash compliance is up. Reducing Off Leash trail access now largely negates the efforts made by so many of us over the past months.

The Ridge to Rivers Staff Recommendations may be viewed as reasonable by many dog owners. There are many, however- those of us who have worked to improve conditions, those who are not in good health, or with older dogs, or who have been using the trails for years for exercise at non peak times- who will take exception.

We suggest an additional public comment period for whatever proposal the FCAC chooses to pass along to council. Many dog owners do not trust the process, and this would help address that issue.

Staff’s suggestion of revisiting any recommendations enacted within a specified time period should be extended to encompass all user groups. Every activity impacting the resource should be regularly evaluated. Singling out one user group has created increased divisiveness among trail users. We all need to work together to share and to preserve the resource, and the city should lead this effort.

Thank you for your consideration,

Boise Trail DOG
Marianne Konvalinka, Tracy Landauer , Paula McCollum, Margie Rosenberg

cc: Julia Grant, David Gordon, Jim Hall, Mayor Bieter, Boise City Council

busy busy

smoggy day...

started work at 6, so we walked at about 10:15. it was really busy. the women at the top of the pic past the bikers had 3 dogs- 2 off leash where they should have been on leash and one on leash.

there are always going to be some people who think the rules just don't apply to them. there will always be folks who don't pick up, or who don't see their dogs as a problem. we have made great progress this summer (i have heard it from ridge to rivers staff, and in fcac meetings) and we can make more progress, but we will never reach everyone. just like swimba won't reach all of the mt bike riders.

given the amount of progress seen in a relatively short time period, much of it before enforcement actively started (PET patrol started september 1, before that it was hit or miss police coverage), we have a lot to be proud of.

i sure hope that all of the time and effort we've invested is acknowledged by the fcac when they decide what recommendations to pass along to city council.

if the primary issue to be addressed was a public health issue- regarding poop & unruly dogs- which is what i heard in one of the fcac meetings- we have come a long way. we need to stay on it, and there is still room for improvement, but dog owners really stepped up, took on the challenge and responded.

if the committee restricts access after all of our hard work, what sort of message does that send? i can live with an expanded on leash area at trail heads & parking lots, and with things being reviewed annually.

policy for all user groups should probably undergo a formalized review annually so everyone understands the process and people know what is expected of them. policies may need to be changed, but all groups should be treated equally and consistently.

it will be interesting to see what happens.

unfortunately i'll be out of town on business next wednesday, but margie will be at the meeting. i encourage those of you who can make it to do so.

if you have (polite, constructive) input for the committee, please send your comments to julia ( ) .

Monday, October 27, 2008

another monday

it's been crazy at the day job. we did get out friday noonish, but i didn't have time to download photos & post- and the weekend was crazy busy too, but now i'm back :)

35 this am at 7:45.... i am still putting on too many clothes trying to make that adjustment to fall... and there are fewer people out in the mornings. my guess that there are more after work.

trees continue their show. not much of a tree person- i am more of a high desert landscape lover- but it is really pretty to look down on the city & see all of the trees turning.
sagebrush break.....
more trees.....
and the morning light...
great start to the day- 6 with, 4 without, everyone following the rules.

and off to work.....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

color everywhere!

cold, but beautiful, again. here's what happens when trying to take photos with gloves on with my camera........the on/off button is very small and right next to the picture snapper button (a technical term). i may have to try glove liners, or suffer for my art.

one good thing about cleaning up after the dog is that it's instant hand warmer :)

i was noticing that the rabbitbrush is pretty bloomed out, and the trees are really coming into their full fall glory. plan to go back to the beginning of the blog and look at the changes through the seasons. this is a beautiful, special place we have here. for it to be right out so many people's doors is just amazing...

went thru the scary trees for a change. the rose bushes have all sorts of hips one them- love the bright red. supposed to be full of vitamin c (i think that's the one). nice and quiet among the trees.... peaceful
we came out & saw a woman coming down the hill with one dog on leash & another crashing through the brush nearby (on leash area). promptly turned & went out the other direction. anymore if i see a dog not on the trail near the owner my mind says "danger danger" and we look for a way to stay away. so much easier!

the dogs are getting better at passing on trails, and at sit stays, but it helps when training them to do so in a controlled environment. i don't want to test it against unruly dog bounding up until i a) have only 1 dog with me or b) am pretty sure they will hold, even though it may not be fair to ask them to do so.

that was the only other dog/dog group we saw today. and 6 without.

happy thursday!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

wednesday morning

it was 30 out when we left the house at 7:45.... i was ALL bundled up! it was beautiful- nice & quiet and the temp was quite pleasant.

i forgot to mention yesterday that we had a really nice bike encounter- we got off the trail coming down chickadee when we heard brakes behind us & the riders said "you don't have to do that, but thank you".
today was a great walk. 6 with, 4 without, everyone following the rules & well behaved.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

noon walk

echo and i were out early, in the dark around the neighborhood. halle & carolyn & i want to the trail noonish. beautiful day- the colors are really pretty.

not too many people out, but we did see 2 or 3 off leash in the on leash area- one we totally avoided b/c the dog was ahead of the woman who didn't appear to be paying attention. the other gal was really nice, was visiting & couldn't tell what was on leash & what was off leash...leashed up right away.

anyway- we'll be out early again tomorrow- woo hoo!

Monday, October 20, 2008

today's head scratcher

great way to start the work week- nice morning, the standard beautiful sunrise and very mild, pleasant weather.... i love fall!

here's another one of those doesn't happen on leash moments, courtesy of halle the goof ball...

saw this woman & her dogs headed our way. one a husky, walking ahead of her and one an older mid sized mix lagging behind. we sat on the side of the trail & i called "we'd rather not say hi to your dogs"

she replied "my problem is that i have one that's young & one that's old and they move at different speeds"

i said "that's nice, i'd rather they don't come over here"

she just looked at me (she had the husky's collar by now).

i said "my dogs play rough, and they could hurt your older dog" (what the heck, they could knock her over). she waited for the older dog (who, from what i saw, could have been merrily pooping down the trail and owner would never have known) and grabbed its collar and walked by.

so, why would having a young dog and an older dog excuse a person from carrying leashes? they're actually sort of a handy tool.

the woman was very nice, her dogs were fine- no lunging, etc as they walked by, no problem there, just a disconnect.

oh well.....trails looked pretty good for after a weekend.

4 with and 2 without- have a great week!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

sunday corrals

my good buddy leaf was in from montana and caught me this morning just in time to go up to corrals with us. we got there around 8:30 and the parking lot was empty- balloons on the horizon. a warm and beautiful morning.

it wasn't very busy, but everyone we did encounter was great. all bike riders (3 or 4 groups) said thanks for getting the dogs off the trail & passed us a t a reasonable speed, all dog walkers controlled their dogs (and i controlled mine) as we passed each other. it was a really pleasant outing- leaf even commented on how nice everyone was.

trail looks good, and there's actually water in the creek at the second gate headed over to 8th street.

and still some yummy dried cow & sheep snacks along the trail for the discriminating (and sneaky) dog to sample....

Friday, October 17, 2008

recall- or not

another nice sunrise

you may have noticed my love for sagebrush- and i really like the movement in this patch, and the color variation.
nice moon over the hills
i have been trying to capture one of halle's YIPPEEEE SKIPPEEE WHEEEE moments to share- this comes close. she's sideways b/c she was checking to see if echo would bite & chase her down the trail. this is one of those things that a dog has to be off leash to do....
as we were coming back out, we saw this below us. we stopped & sat, the woman kept walking, the dog kept hanging back. i finally called & asked her to keep the dog with her. she stopped & called the dog (turrey?) who kept coming toward us. woman called, dog kept coming. i finally dropped halle's leash when it became clear the dog was not going to return to the owner.

once halle got there, the dog rolled over & the woman got her & leashed her up. she also apologized & i observed we were in the on leash area. she said she was visiting, not her dog, so i told her that she could look for signs, but that since the dog didn't come when she called she might just want to keep her leashed. probably be easier to pick up poop that way, too, since there's a better chance of seeing it happen if the dog isn't behind you.

7 without, 4 with.....

have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

thursday october 16

out at about 7:45, cloudy, not too cold, a few colors in the sky.

everyone i encountered had dogs on- or off- according to the rules and was polite.

met up with a woman on chickadee with a lab & a small terrier. we were leashed & off trail, b/c the pups warned me someone was coming. if i just pay attantion to them, i don't get surprised. they always stop & look at me if there's a dog headed our way, giving me time to call them back & get situated. it's great. echo pointed out stroller family coming down off of chickadee, even tho they were pretty far away from us- but i followed what he was obviously watching.

anyway, we saw her, but she didn't see us, so the little dog came over to say hi. and i worked on making h & e sit. owner apologized which was good.

busy- 7 without, 6 with.

this is the new volleyball court in camel's back. next to the tennis courts. i still maintain that an off leash area in the park would help with some of the dog issues in the reserve. people need a place they can throw a ball for their dogs. and they want it to be somewhere they can walk to.

there should be room in the neighborhood parks to accomodate the needs of the neighborhood. providing, of course, that the users are good stewards.