Dear Foothills Advisory Committee Members,
I am writing to request that you do not accept the Dog Policy Review and Recommendations Memo. Although I agree that there are issues to be addressed, the proposed solution is heavy handed and does not reflect the comments received during public input (less than half of respondents, and not even all of those identified as “non dog” people suggested primarily on leash as a solution), nor does it serve the needs of the 70% of trail users who recreate with their dogs (open house story board, Hull’s Gulch Trailhead).
The committee’s comment that one drawback of the plan is “Displacing problems and impacts to higher elevations in the Foothills, although less significantly since we suspect fewer people/dogs would be willing to travel to those higher elevations” (p.5) indicates a complete disregard for people who want to hike, run or bike with their dogs off leash.
* Current regulations are not enforced, let’s try that before passing more unenforceable rules
* Off Leash Parks serve a need in the community, but not the same need as off leash trails. Some people have bikes as fitness equipment, I have dogs
o Part of the problem around the pond is that when the City kicked dog owners out of Camel’s Back, many of them said fine, we’ll go into the reserve, hence the off leash dogs in the on leash area. A dog park in Camel’s Back would probably help with the congestion in that area.
* The proposed off leash trails are remote
o many women are not comfortable using them
o many of us using trails walk/bike from home- this puts more cars in the reserve
o these areas have more wildlife and free range and will also be harder to patrol, potentially causing greater issues
* although both enforcement and education are mentioned in the memo, there are no provisions for either.
Clearly the majority of dog owners who use the trails object strongly to the current proposal. Many of us feel that the issues need to be addressed first within the current regulations.
The 2007 Ranger Report cited a variety of user conflicts. It is time to put together a comprehensive plan for the trail system with all user groups represented at the table. This is the way to gain ownership among all trail users. It will take more than 2 weeks of public commentary and more than a few months for an advisory committee to develop a plan, but it is the only equitable way to manage this great resource that we all support with our tax dollars, and that we voted to grow with the Foothills Levy.