Friday, December 5, 2008

thoughts about wed evening

here are my editorial remarks on wednesday evening's meeting:

  • i have spoken with several people who were apalled, as i was, at tom baskin scolding anne hausrath for looking for an off leash alternative trail in lower hulls. it is clear that mr. baskin is passionate about the resource and i respect that, but it was entirely inappropriate to talk to a peer that way in open session.
  • it appeared that several members of the committee, mr. baskin being one of them, had their minds made up about this issue long ago and no public testimony was going to make a difference.
  • suki molina talked about having dog owners come up to her and talk about their right to let their dogs "run free" in the foothills because they've been doing it for years. the whole "running free" thing implies to me that the dog is not under control, the owner has no recall & doesn't really care if the dog is chasing wildlife or pooping off the trail or jumping on other trail users. that is just not acceptable. this attitude really annoys me, and it hurts us as a user group. it is a privilege to use the trails, and we have lost access because the privilege is abused.
  • probably due to conversations like the one described above, some of the committee seem to think that off leash trail use means letting dogs run all over, disturbing wildlife, harassing other trail users, trampling vegetation, etc. i resent the implication that because i want to run with my dogs off leash it inherently means that i'm all for destroying the resource. not so. this is why it makes sense to have some sort of test for dog owners to be approved to have their dogs off leash. it would be an opportunity to educate both about the resource and about responsible behavior on the trails.
  • when suki molina was talking about liking to use the lower trails because there are so many people on them that it's a big community and how it was like a party over thanksgiving tracy and i were shuddering. we use the trails early in the morning or at odd hours just to avoid that entire scenario. this leads me to wonder if it isn't possible to put off leash trail use on a time frame, allowing the activity when the trails are less congested.
  • bill eastlake mentioned that the committee has been dealing with dog issues for years and that the community has been given ample opportunity to address issues, so he felt no need to compromise. if we had known that this was this big a problem years ago, we would have organized years ago. there have been articles in the paper off and on mostly focused on poop. it took the working group recommendations and the realization that we could really lose access to make the point of how serious the committee understands the problem to be.
  • sue chelstrom said that she would like to ban dogs and mountain bikes from the lower trails so that everyone could enjoy them (except people with dogs and mountain bikes). she may have meant on leash dogs to be ok, it was unclear.
  • the discussion centered around conservation and protecting the resource. chairman mcdevitt said that the role of the committee is conservation. it is appropriate that recommendations then go to city council, who can balance the needs of the community with the need to conserve the resource.

i would like to thank suki molina, milt gillespie, annie black, anne hausrath and betsy roberts for being open minded enough to listen to the public testimony and give thought to alternative solutions. i would like to note that anne is the only one of this group who said anything about our proposal of waiting a year. these folks are the ones who appear to be actively looking for the balance between preservation of and community use of the resource.

with any luck at all, i will be able to walk again next week and we can get back to photo opps!

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