Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Letter to FCAC

These are the suggestions we sent to the FCAC. We are on next Wednesday's Agenda after approval of minutes from last month's meeting. Just like last time, there is no public comment, but the public is welcome to attend. 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 4 at the Foothills Learning Center off of 8th street.

Dear Foothills Conservation Advisory Committee,

We are writing to request that other than the agreed upon enforcement of existing rules, a decision on dog off leash trails is put on hold pending collection of data to better inform the end solution. We agree that dogs and their owners, along with all trail users, impact the trails but disagree with the scope of the recommendations from the working group.

We ask that the Foothills Conservation Advisory Committee:
  1. Continue with the decision to step up enforcement
  2. Put any far reaching decisions on hold pending further research including:
    · Establish a baseline understanding of current wildlife and vegetation conditions
    o Health of local populations
    o How different activities impact various types of wildlife
    o Which species are most impacted
    o Which areas are most sensitive
    o Predator population information
    · Research alternative management options*
    · Track dog related calls**
    o Take caller information for follow up
    o Which trail
    o Time of day
    o Nature of incident- find chronic offenders
    o Create a baseline to know if efforts are working
    o Track positive comments as well
  3. Create a more transparent process for citizen involvement
    We appreciate the time and effort put in by the current working group, but the perception among dog owners is that the group does not provide balanced representation. If this existing group is to continue, Boise Trail DOG would like to have an additional seat on the committee. However, we feel that Item 4 is a more appropriate approach to moving forward. This item describes creating a new task force to pick up where the last one ended.
  4. Name a task force to develop a comprehensive user plan for the trails to address the conflicts arising from more people using a limited resource and to ensure that every user group is represented. This might be done by advertising for and interviewing prospective members.

    In order to develop an appropriate management plan we need to start with an inventory of existing species and resources and establish a baseline for monitoring impacts from all foothills recreational activities, encroachment from development, and other factors that affect wildlife and vegetation.

    The problem with creating a plan before we establish a baseline and monitor trends is that there are too many factors in the mix to address only one issue, whether it is dogs, mountain bikes, more cars on 8th street, or development. This is a complex situation. A holistic approach benefits all users and better protects the resource.

    We agree that dog owners need to step up and be responsible for maintaining our access. Boise Trail DOG is organizing as a non profit in order to serve as a liaison between dog owners and the city and to work with the IHS on educational programs. See attached sheet for programs/ideas in process. We are very willing to work with the FCAC to finalize the steps forward as proposed here and to assist in any way possible with the data collection.

    Thank you for your consideration of our request. We look forward to working with you.


    Marianne Konvalinka, 866-6306
    Margie Rosenberg, SWIMBA Board Member, 850-7824
    Paula McCollum, Professional Dog Trainer, Ridge to Rivers Ranger Volunteer, Jeb’s (BPR spokesdog) owner, 850-4124
    (note: Margie and Paula are the dissenting votes on the working group memo recommendation I, which would move all off leash activity to the upper trails)

    Cc: Mayor Bieter
    Boise City Parks and Recreation Director Hall
    Boise City Council
    Julia Kertz Grant, Foothills and Open Space Manager
    David Gordon, Ridge to Rivers Trails Coordinator

    * There are no specific studies on the impact of dogs on wildlife or vegetation cited in either the final recommendation or the facilitator’s meeting notes.

    ** Regarding conflicts with other users and dog fights the evidence is largely anecdotal. We do not dispute that there are issues, but without a reporting process it is difficult to know where to start. The 2007 Ranger report includes 5 dog incidents from January 16 through October 4. The rest of the information came from phone calls and conversations. We need more detailed information to develop an equitable and effective solution.

    Programs/ideas in progress:

    · Enforcement, peer pressure and organized clean ups in conjunction with education will help. The trails have been noticeably cleaner since this started.
    · Boise Trail DOG (working with the Idaho Humane Society) has a clean up/education day organized for Saturday, May 31
    · Adopt a trail program

    Off Leash Under Control
    · Clearly define off leash under control dog behavior
    · Instructional/educational videos done by Paula McCollum, who is a professional dog trainer, owner of Jeb, the Boise Parks Department Spokesdog and a Ridge to Rivers volunteer Ranger.
    · Paula will hold free clinics for dog owners

    · Ridge to Rivers website information (updates on the Parks page look great, but I am not finding all of the same information on the R to R site):
    · proper trail etiquette,
    · a map with on leash or no dog trails marked in red as well as listed by name (the pdf link on the parks site is great. Am I missing the file on the R to R site?)
    · e- bulletin board so that trail users can post areas to avoid- like where the sheep or cattle are, where there is a fox den, etc. Most dog owners would rather not deal with these potential conflicts and this is one way of providing up to date information
    § Boise Trail DOG website to reinforce information above and provide data regarding impact of fecal matter in watersheds, training information (Paula’s videos posted), etc.
    § The IHS and Boise Trail DOG are exploring other education options

    Trailhead Leash Program
    · Provide leashes at lower Hull’s trailheads for people who have shown up without them
    · Positive way to remind people to have leashes even in off leash areas · Easy way to remind about on leash areas

    more to come!

    For more information on Boise Trail DOG, visit email or call Marianne at 866-6306

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