FIDOS Spring 2003 Newsletter
Voice & Sight
FIDOS Home Page
Published in: April, 2003
Open Space-Mountain Parks Visitor Plan: Booting the Dog Out the Back Door?
Volume 6, Issue 1,
Visitor Plan Report: "A natural setting is not essential" for dog walking.
A 1994 proposal to ban or leash dogs on all Open Space lands led to a three-year controversy in Boulder that culminated with the City Council unanimously adopting the Dog Management Plan, a plan that formalized the privileges we currently enjoy on Open Space and Mountain Parks lands. A certain faction has never accepted that outcome and these people are eagerly awaiting the unveiling of the draft Visitor Master Plan this summer. The plan will make recommendations on policy governing allowed activities on Open Space.
In March 2000 the Visitor Plan Advisory Committee produced a rambling 65-page report, which to a paranoid Boulder dog lover, could be interpreted as another attempt to boot dogs off Open Space and Mountain parks lands. For example, a recommended criterion for evaluating allowed activities is to gauge the importance of the Open Space setting to the activities. For hiking, the report states, "An Open Space setting is integral to this activity", while for dog walking it concludes, "A natural setting is not essential and could be provided in a developed park setting, but many participants prefer an Open Space setting."
Although the report pays lip service to recreation, it avoids giving any real guarantees about preserving recreation. On the other hand, the document is full of guarantees about environmental preservation, with statements such as, "Where there is a reasonable doubt about the nature of potential impacts, or where all other considerations are equal, preference will be given to protecting the environment." (To read the full text of the report, go to Visitor Plan and click on Report March 2000 under Visitor Plan Archives.)
In a telephone survey of city of Boulder citizens, overseen by the Advisory Committee, 62% of those interviewed felt the current balance between recreation and environmental preservation was about right, 20% felt there was too much emphasis on recreation, and 11% felt there was to much emphasis on preservation. This ideal balance is presumably the result of the way the Open Space charter has been interpreted by policy makers since its approval by voters in 1986.
The charter lists purposes of open space, such as preservation of fauna, flora, and wildlife habitats; limiting urban sprawl; and preservation of land for passive recreational use. Significantly, however, the charter does not assign priorities to the various uses, and this has been a source of frustration to those who would ban our dogs from Open Space lands. While we agree that preservation of wildlife habitat is important, we fear that assigning it a higher priority than recreation could upset the delicate balance that we currently have.
In January, the Open Space Board of Trustees created a completely new Visitor Plan Advisory Committee. FIDOS put forth a candidate, but the Board deliberately rejected representatives of stakeholder groups (with the exception of the representative of Boulder County Nature Association). Many of the newly selected committee have had little experience dealing with Open Space issues, and are relatively unknown to us. We have objected to being cut out of the process, and Open Space staff has assured us that we will be allowed input into the process. As we go to press, it has not been worked out how that input will occur.
This is a time when FIDOS members can help. In November’s election, the city will be asking us to approve an additional tax to support Open Space, so voting citizens have some leverage now. FIDOS members should give their input on the visitor plan (see Where to Send Input below). The public may also attend meetings of the new Visitor Plan Advisory committee (although public input will be limited). For details, see More Information below.
Where to Send Input
Open Space Visitor Plan
FIDOS is quite concerned about the poop problems on Open Space trails, and has initiated a program to address this issue. This is especially important in light of budget cuts eliminating the baggies previously provided the trailheads (see page 3 for the complete story).
It is simple. And it could work. We have to take responsibility for this issue, or stand to lose the privileges we enjoy. Look for our 1 + 1 - Pick Up an Extra signs at Sanitas, Boulder Valley Ranch, and the Dry Creek Trail. Pick up an extra on every trail. Please see page 3 for more information.
Anyone who’s anyone knows this is THE event of the year for humans and pooches. Don’t miss out on the fun, or Rover will feel like the laughing stock of the dog park for the next 12 months.
Run or walk 5K or 10K with or without your smiling canine companion at the Canine Classic, MESA’s spring fundraiser (Moving to End Sexual Assault, part of Boulder County Mental Health).
Come out to support the organization, meet lots of wonderful people, eat, and browse the doggie exhibitors. Join us in competing for wonderful prizes in the Wacky Pet Contest, including best dog costume. (Your dog need not run/walk the course in costume; this follows the walk/run.)
The Canine Classic 10K is also a qualifier for those of you wanting to run in the Bolder Boulder. Visit www.joinmesa.org for information, and register online through www.active.com (enter event name and follow the links).
Puttin’ on the Leash: Saturday April 26
Mark your calendars now for the Boulder Valley Humane Society’s huge spring fundraising extravaganza. Once more it will be at the Coors Event Center on the CU campus at 7 p.m. on April 26.
If you haven't attended this amazing event before, you’ve been missing an annual jolly good time with loads of GOOD food, fun and great dogs on parade. Bring your checkbook for the best silent and live auctions you’ve ever experienced.
Furry Friends Fest: May 10
The 10th annual Furry Friends Fest, which benefits the Longmont Humane Society, will be held at the shelter this year, at 9595 Nelson Road. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., and the walk sets off at 9 a.m., followed by all sorts of animal antics, food and exhibitors.
The day winds up at 1 p.m. Be sure to visit the FIDOS booth on Mutt Main Street after the walk and introduce yourself. Let’s really support this year’s work with so many critters in need.
For more information call Julie at the Longmont Humane Society at 303-772-1232. You can also visit their Web site at www.longmonthumane.org.
Got cabin fever? Then get out to one of these events and make new friends.
Dog poop bags will no longer be supplied at trailheads by Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks. Presently, over 35 trailheads have bag dispensers that are regularly refilled by park staff. Steve Taylor, Maintenance and Operations Supervisor for Open Space and Mountain Parks, said the bags themselves cost more than $20,000 last year. With the present forced budget cuts, they cannot maintain this service.
The first trails to be affected will be: Four Pines at 17th St. and King Ave.; Viewpoint trailhead at 4th St. and Arapahoe; Galena Way in the Shannahan Ridge area; Lefthand trailhead at Neva Road; and Sawhill Ponds. In place of the dispensers, staff will install pole-mounted plastic tubes that the public can fill with bags to be recycled. Within the next three months, 22 trailheads will have the bag dispensers service removed. And by the end of the year, all such dispensers will be gone.
This means that a lot of dog "guardian" and dog-walker behaviors will need to change. We can no longer expect to be supplied with poop bags. It will be the responsibility of every dog walker to have not only a leash in his/her possession (the law), but also a poop bag. If the plastic tube at the trailhead is empty, we are still responsible for pickup. Tie empty bags to your leash so that you are never caught short. Bring a load of recyclable bags, free of holes, with you to put in the tubes. Offer bags nicely to people without them, when needed. And tell others about this change in service. You could even recruit a youngster in your neighborhood to collect newspaper bags for you to take to the trailheads.
We at FIDOS understand the budget dilemma facing the Open Space and Mountain Parks staff. We understand the need to make this budget cut, but are very concerned about dog walkers transitioning to this change with so little time for education and preparation. Open Space and Mountain Parks will, for a period of only two weeks, fill the new bag tubes. After that, we are on our own. Please pack bags with you every time you go for a walk with your companion. Let’s keep our trail privileges by keeping our trails clean.
1 + 1 is FIDOS’ campaign to promote responsible dog guardianship on Boulder’s Open Space trails. Dog guardians who pick up after their pets far outnumber those who do not. If we successfully promote a 1 + 1 program, where responsible guardians pick up their dog’s pile plus one extra, all our trails will become - and remain - clean. If we neglect this issue, we will be in danger of losing the wonderful privilege of walking our dogs on Boulder’s Open Space lands.
The Boulder Open Space Department has endorsed this campaign and you will soon see signs promoting it. Please support our latest effort to get the trails clean!
Late Breaking News: As we go to press, the ""pick up an extra" program is on hold. Mountain Parks and Open Space staff, after not following through on this program for more than a year, have once again decided this program cannot be utilized as designed, stating that signs can only be posted on three trails on a temporary basis. Check the FIDOS Web site for future details.
April 5, 11 a.m., Mt. Sanitas Trail
May 3, 9 a.m., Boulder Valley Ranch
June 7, 9 a.m., Marshall Mesa Trail
July 5, 9 a.m., East Boulder Dog Park
August 2, 9 a.m., Valmont Dog Park
September 6, 9 a.m., Bobolink Trail (north end) Meet at the trailhead on Baseline Road just west of the Junction with Cherryvale Road.
October 4, 9 a.m., Dry Creek Trail
November 1, 11 a.m, Doudy Draw
December 6, 11 a.m., Mt. Sanitas Trail
Neither rain, nor sleet... nor three feet of snow stopped these hearty FIDOS board members from attending the meeting on March 20.
Come to the next FIDOS meeting on April 16 and get to know them, and a whole pack of other FIDOS members and dog lovers, while helping stuff bags for the Canine Classic. April 16th’s meeting will be held in a special location, at the MESA office on Aurora Avenue. Call Cheri Hoffer for directions at 303.998.1111.
(From left to right, top row): Robin Lowry, Dan Sukle, Chris Morrison, Ed Mills. (Bottom row): Jill Jones, Taffy, Cheri Hoffer, Barbara Kipp, Otto.
Send us your e-mail address (kept confidential) and we’ll send Voice & Sight electronically. Starting with the next issue, FIDOS will give readers an option of getting the newsletter in either electronic (printable) or paper formats. Not only will it reduce the environmental impact of printing, but will save FIDOS money on printing and postage. Also through e-mail, if you choose, FIDOS can keep you abreast of changes or threats to your Open Space access.
Please send us your e-mail now, and let us know whether you want Voice & Sight and/or e-mails about breaking news. Use the membership renewal form on page 5, and while you’re at it, update all of your other info with us.
Also, FIDOS new e-mail is email@example.com. Add it to your address book now, while you’re thinking of it, so if your e-mail address changes we’ll be on the list of people to notify.
All it takes to be a FIDOS member, and help keep Open Space open for everyone, is to think of us once a year and renew your membership.
Memberships are THE ONLY way FIDOS can keep running. And while we know you’d rather spend your valuable time out running with your pooch, please take a moment right now to continue your support of FIDOS efforts and Voice & Sight by filling out the renewal form on page 5.
Just 5 minutes now will help ensure a lifetime of sharing romps around open spaces with your best friend.
Everyone is welcome; third Wednesday of each month. 6 to 8 p.m. at the Nature Center, 4201 N. Broadway.
Leave a message for FIDOS at 303.447.FIDO (3436).
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