FIDOS April 1998 Newsletter
Boulder Community Network | FIDOS Home Page
FIDOS Hits Brick Wall at County
Drive for Five
How to Contact the County Commissioners
Dogs Retain Access to Wilderness
FIDOS Goes North
Dogs on Trails: Myths versus Facts
Dog Parks and Other Ways to Get Involved
Dry Creek Alert
The Scoop on Poop
Poop Pick-Up Calendar
Nothing gives us a greater feeling of pride in the democratic process than participating as citizens in the development of local government policy. This was the feeling experienced by active FIDOS members when the Boulder City Council unanimously accepted the Dog Management Plan in December 1996. On the other hand, nothing is more discouraging than to have sincere attempts at establishing dialog on the local level repeatedly rebuffed. Such has been FIDOS' experience in dealings with Boulder County.
The fair and reasonable City of Boulder Dog Management Plan applies on public lands such as the Mesa Trail area and Boulder Valley Ranch. On the other hand, the policy on county-owned open space lands such as Walker
Ranch and Betasso Preserve has long required dogs to be leashed. We recognize the need for restrictions in certain circumstances, but a blanket leash law is an oversimplification that unnecessarily burdens responsible dog owners. Thus, we were anxious to enter into dialog with the County on the dog issue.
In June 1996, without previously publicizing the issue, the County Commissioners approved a proposal, spearheaded by Commissioner Jana Mendez, creating a one-year moratorium banning dogs from the newly acquired Hall Ranch Open Space near Lyons, ostensibly to allow staff time for studies. In the meantime, the Commissioners created a citizen's advisory committee, on which FIDOS was represented, to provide feedback. After many meetings, the majority of representatives on the committee agreed on a proposal that would have set aside some "no dog" trails but allowed dogs on leash on remaining trails. Discouragingly, the Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee rejected the citizen's group proposal, and the County Commissioners affirmed the rejection, voting unanimously to extend the moratorium until the end of 1998, again for the purpose of further study.
While all of this was going on, FIDOS board members took the opportunity to approach the commissioners individually, urging the creation of a fair county dog management plan, but all of our advances were brushed aside by the commissioners. Further, while giving their decision to extend the Hall ranch moratorium, the commissioners took the opportunity to publicly criticize dog owners for what they saw as poor compliance with the county's Open Space leash law.
So what can we do? Dog owners can express their dissatisfaction to the commissioners, who are, after all, elected officials. (See "Contacting County Commissioners." on this page). Jana Mendez seeks reelection this November, opposed by Louisville mayor Tom Davidson, who has expressed willingness to have voice-and-sight areas on County Open Space. Ron Stewart and Paul Danish are up for reelection next year. Also, a movement is currently underway to put a question on next November's ballot calling for five, instead of three, commissioners. Some feel that if we had more county commissioners, issues would have a better chance of getting a fair hearing. See the sidebar, "Drive for Five," on this page.
The Boulder County Drive for Five is a non-profit, non-partisan political action committee organized with the intention of increasing the number of elected county commissioners in Boulder County form 3 to 5.
For more information, contact:
Babette Dente, Director
Send contributions to:
Boulder County Drive for Five
1209 Columbia Drive
Longmont, CO 80503
Letters may be addressed to County Commissioners (staff will make copies for each commissioner) or to an individual commissioner. In either case, the address is
P.O. Box 471
Boulder, CO 80306
by Kent Dannen
The final version of a management plan for Roosevelt-Arapaho National Forest recently became available to the public with regulations significantly changed from those which caused much concern among dog owners when the USDA Forest Service presented a draft plan for public comment two years ago.
The proposed regulations would have banned dogs from wilderness trails, a ban which likely would have spread from the influential wilderness recreation areas of Colorado's Front Range to national forests throughout the state and then throughout America.
After many dog owners wrote letters of protest, Forest Service planners revised the regulations in the management plan, leaving the status of dogs on trails much as it has been in the past. Managers of Indian Peaks, the most popular national forest wilderness in Colorado, also bolstered the cause of hikers with dogs by demonstrating Forest Service ability to enforce leash regulations. Dogs should be leashed while hiking on wilderness trails, with the enforcement of leash rules left by the new management plan as the responsibility of local wilderness managers.
Efforts by dog organizations and individual dog owners to keep national forest wilderness open to dogs seem to have been successful. However, a significant amount of public open land in other government jurisdictions remains closed to hikers with dogs, including significant amounts of open space in Boulder County.
The pressure to close more public land to dogs is constant. Preventing such bans and getting present bans reversed is an unending challenge to hikers who enjoy canine companionship.
Dog owners can protect and increase their rights to hike with dogs in four ways that have worked in Colorado national forests: 1) Keep dogs leashed in the wilds when regulations require leashes and urge other dog owners to do the same. 2) Keep wilderness administrators aware of positive experiences with dogs, because the administrators receive complaints from anti-dog people on a regular basis. 3) Volunteer to help with management chores in hiking areas, which will put dog owners in a positive light and also put dog owners in contact with sources that will inform them of impending anti-dog regulations. 4) Upon learning of proposed anti-dog regulations, vigorously oppose them and organize other dog owners to oppose these regulations.
Kent Dannen led the opposition to the Forest Service proposal of threatening a dog ban in case of poor compliance with the leash law.
by Marty Traynor
FIDOS is moving north this spring with the formation of a Fort Collins chapter, according to one of the group organizers, Connie Stone.
Dog owners in Fort Collins have been meeting for more than a year to develop a plan to persuade the City Council of the need for access to some of the trails and former open space areas (now natural areas) within the city boundaries. Plans for fenced dogs-off-lead areas within some city parks were also part of the group's goal.
After learning about Boulder's FIDOS, Stone and Cheryl Spencer, John Ambler and Lisa Sadar met with the FIDOS board of directors in February.
"FIDOS had already gone through all of the headaches, and we were hoping to streamline the process," Stone said. "Boulder has been through it all, and they've been kind enough to guide us."
Fort FIDOS is planning its first public event May 9 at the 8th Annual Fire Hydrant 5 at Edora Park in Fort Collins. The group will have a booth at park to introduce Fort FIDOS to the Fort Collins community. The Fire Hydrant 5 is a 5K run, 3K fun run and 5K walk to raise money for the Larimer County Humane Society's Pet Adoption Program. Registration for the events is $15 through May 7 and$18 on the day of the event. The day's activities will include a FIDO Fest with obedience and agility demonstrations and free games for people and their pets. Boulder FIDOS members and their dogs are welcome to participate in this entertaining event that will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Look for our booth - we'd enjoy meeting more of you.
Fort FIDOS can be reached by e-mail at Fortfidos@aol.com, by phone at (970) 226-2100 or at Post Office Box 821, Fort Collins, CO 80522.
Marty Traynor is an active member of the newly formed Fort FIDOS group.
To some people, the idea of dogs off leash on open space trails conjures up an image of a pack of marauding predators cutting a swath of carnage across wildlife habitat. As with most myths concerning the impact of dogs on wildlife, this scenario is not supported by scientific studies. Most family pets are more interested in exploring scents along the trails than in chasing wildlife, and would probably starve if they had to fend for themselves in the wilderness.
For example, a paper by Marc Bekoff of the University of Colorado and Carron Meaney of the Denver Museum of Natural History appeared in the journal Anthrozoos, describing a study in which 800 dogs were observed on trails in Boulder City Open Space and Mountain Parks. According to Bekoff and Meaney, "off-leash dogs generally traveled less than 2-5 meters off trail for fewer than 1-2 minutes."
In a less formal study conducted by Clint Miller of Boulder's Open Space Department, 18 dogs were observed. Miller observed that "the maximum distance a dog was off trail was 34 meters. However, 14 of the 18 dogs observed remained on trail the majority of the time they passed through the observation site."
These studies were done before the present voice and sight ordinance was put into place, so owners were not particularly sensitive to keeping control of their dogs. With the greater awareness that we have now, the numbers would probably be even more favorable.
"...dog owners must ensure that the canine visitor has minimal effect on either nature or other visitors." Staff is concerned that the voice and sight requirement is understood and followed. "Your dog must come and stay immediately on command" and" not charge or display aggression" towards any person, dog, wildlife, or livestock. In addition, "contact with other dogs or persons must be invited" or meet with their approval. There may be no more than 2 dogs off leash per owner, and you must have a leash in your possession, for each dog. The bottom line is, don't let your dog bother others or wildlife.
The Tails on Trails program needs volunteers to walk homeless dogs. Help provide much needed exercise and the exposure they need to find a new home. For information call Bridgette Chesne at 442-4030extension 654.
A City Dog Licensing Clinic will be held on Wednesday, May 6th from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the Dog Obedience center at 5320 Arapahoe Avenue. (Dogs 3months of age or older need to be licensed annually and have current rabies vaccinations).
Implanted identification microchips are now in use and available for dogs and cats. When scanned the rice sized microchip provides a serial number, which allows 24-hour access to owner information. For questions, call the Humane Society Veterinary Clinic at443-8102.
A tremendous amount of work has gone into setting the stage for the creation of dog parks within the Boulder City limits. According to the procedure that has been set up, dog parks need to be "neighborhood initiated." If you are interested in working on designing and implementing a dog park in your neighborhood, call the yap line 447-FIDO.
FIDOS welcomes participation in the organization. Whether you have a special skill you would like to contribute to the cause or just like to mingle with dog lovers, you are welcome to attend a monthly board meeting and get acquainted. We meet on the third Wednesday of each month at the Nature Center at 4201 North Broadway.
The Open Space Department's South Boulder Creek Management plan has targeted dog use at Dry Creek, and may seek to place restrictions on dogs there. Dog owners who want to be involved in negotiations should call the FIDOS yap line, 447-FIDO.
The biggest complaint FIDOS receives from the public at large concerns dog excrement. Even though we have not discovered a documented health hazard concerning dog poop, the smell and sight offends many people. Please pickup after your dog. FIDOS encourages all dog owners to join FIDOS members in the monthly Poop Pick Up on the first Saturday of each month at various trailheads throughout Open Space and Mountain Parks. It is a small price to pay for promoting responsible dog ownership, and the social aspect is pretty fun, considering the activity. Bring your scoopers, bags and gloves and join FIDOS during the schedule on this page.
June 6, 9AM Marshall Mesa
0.9 mi. east of Highway 93 on Highway 170 (Marshall Road).
July 4, 9AM Mt. Sanitas
0.5 mi. west of 4th Street on Mapleton Avenue.
August 1, 9AM Eagle Trail
2.1 mi. north of Jay Road on 55th Street.
September 5, 9AM Dry Creek
1 mi. east of intersection of Cherryvale and Baseline Roads.
October 3, 9AM Boulder Valley Ranch
1 mi. east of Highway 36 on Longhorn Road.