Dog print

FIDOS Fall 2000 Newsletter

FIDOS Home Page
Added on: November 5, 2000


2000 Boulder County Commissioner Candidates
Open Space-Mountain Parks Merger


FIDOS members interested in filling upcoming vacancies on Boulder's Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Planning Board, and Open Space Board ofTrustees should contact FIDOS for more information.

A Denver-based chapter of FIDOS is forming with the goal of getting some voice and sight areas. Check out their web site.

Candidates for Boulder County Commissioners in 2000

Attempts at reaching reasonable compromises on dog issues have often been unsuccessful on Boulder County Open Space lands (see "Dogs Banned on North Foothills Open Space" in July's Voice and Sight). FIDOS therefore conducted a survey of candidates for County Commissioner in November's election,which pits incumbents Ron Stewart and Paul Danish against Katie Witt and Kevin Probst, respectively. Below are our questions, with the candidates' responses.

Background: The City of Boulder Open SpaceDepartment allows dogs under voice and sight control on many of its trails, while Boulder County Open Space requires dogs to be leashed on all County Open Space lands. It has been suggested that this arrangement encourages dog owners outside the city of Boulder to drive to city Open Space lands, creating more pressure on these lands.

1. Do you think the Boulder County Open Space Department should allow dogs under voice and sight control on some of its lands?

Stewart: I think Boulder County should consider this on specific properties.
Witt: I strongly believe that some provision should be, and can be, made for dogs who prefer to be off-leash on Open Space.
Probst: Yes.It is clear that well controlled dogs can appropriately run off-leash on selected open space areas.

Background: The various recreational activities allowed on open space lands, such as hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, bird watching, and dog walking may have an effect on the ecology of the lands.

2. Please tell whether you think that allowing dogs on open space lands has a significantly greater effect on the ecology of the lands than do other recreational uses.

Stewart: Depends on specific properties.
Witt: No. Many dogs are better behaved than some people who are allowed to use open space.
Danish: Depends of which open space lands are under discussion. Wildlife habitats and breeding areas may be more sensitive to dogs than other areas.
Probst: No. I do not think dogs have a significantly greater impact.

Background: The City of Boulder has created, with citizen input, a Dog Management Plan that defines dog management policies on Open Space and Mountain Park lands,and designates areas as "no dog," "leash," or "voice and sight."

3. Please tell whether you think Boulder County should create a similar dog management plan defining dog management policy on County Open Space lands.

Stewart: Boulder County, throughdevelopment of management plans for each of the public access properties, can establish dog policy on a property specific basis.
Witt: Yes. This seems to be evidence that such a program does work, and further study, or stalling, is unreasonable.
Danish: Yes, I think Boulder County should create a similar dog management plan.
Probst: Yes, I think Boulder County should create a similar dog management plan.

Background: In June 1996, the Commissioners voted to create a temporary moratorium on dogs at the newly acquired Hall Ranch Open Space, for the purpose of allowing time for further studies. In May 2000, the Commissioners voted to continue the moratorium for another 5 years but with the proviso that, over the next year, staff would investigate the viability of a time-sharing plan which would allow dogs access to designated trails on Hall Ranch on certain days of the week.

4. Do you think that FIDOS should be invited to participate in discussions with Open Space staff regarding a time sharing plan?

Stewart: Yes.
Witt: Yes. Citizen participation is essential to the proper working of government machinery.
Danish: Yes
Probst: Yes. Public interest groups often have unique expertise and an understanding of the issue. The County should clearly capitalize on these resources.

5. Do you think that instituting a temporary experimental time sharing plan, with close monitoring, would be a good way to assess the viability of such a plan?

Stewart: I think this depends on the results of item 4 above.
Witt: Yes. This seems like a very reasonable way to test the plan.
Danish: Yes. Again, it depends on which areas are under consideration. However, I think a pilot program on selected areas is worth trying.
Probst: Yes. Time sharing is a common sense approach that should be tested.

6. Please feel free to add comments relevant to dogs or dog policy in Boulder County.

Stewart: Did not comment.
Witt: I think Mr. Stewart's dual role as Parks and Open Space Director and County Commissioner has caused a conflict of interest, specifically in this case. Sixteen years as County Commissioner has dulled Mr. Stewart's ability to listen to those he is supposed to represent.
Danish: Did not comment.
Probst: Dog owners, like other useri nterest groups, should be brought together to find viable mutually supportive approaches to enhancing public access to open space lands.

Open Space-Mountain Parks Merger

In the June issue of Voice and Sight, we expressed concern about the Open Space-Mountain Parks merger process.Then suddenly, on September 28, the Daily Camera announced in an inconspicuous article that the reorganization plan for the new department had been completed, with Open Space director Jim Crain and Open Space head of Visitor Services Mike Patton named as co-directors. Former Mountain Parks director (and dog advocate) Ann Wichmann will remain with the Parks and Recreation Department.

In a meeting with Mike Patton, we learned the City has determined that certain traditional recreation-oriented uses of Mountain Parks, such as events on Flagstaff Mountain and picnics at Buckingham park, are not inconsistent with the Open Space charter and will be allowed to continue under the new department. This less restrictive attitude towards recreational uses is probably a positive outcome for dog owners.

On a more disconcerting note, when we asked whether dog owners could expect policy to remain status quo, Patton expressed concern about user conflicts that have been reported at Sanitas. He implied that some action would be taken, but expressed hope that the issue could be handled to the satisfaction of all users. This issue could be the first test of how the new department will relate to dog owners. It was only when FIDOS began a dialog with Patton that we finally reached an acceptable agreement at Dry Creek, so we expect this concern to be handled fairly. In the meantime, Sanitas users should continue to promote responsible behaviour and should remain on the alert for future developments.