MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life
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Friday, July 3, 2009

A Message From FIDOS (Friends Interested in Dogs and Open Space)

I realize this post is geared towards dog guardians in the Boulder County area, but it feels important to share. This information is taken in full from an update from the FIDOS organization.

The Western Trail Study Area: Dogs Beware

After having completed its restrictive Visitor Master Plan (VMP), Boulder's Open Space/Mountain Parks (OSMP) department is going back over the whole system piece by piece and "fine tuning" management strategy in one so-called Trail Study Area (TSA) at a time. In principle, "fine tuning" ought to imply seeking a balance between increasing and decreasing restrictions. However, in the first two TSAs (Marshal Mesa and Doudy Draw-Eldorado Mountain), changes have been in the direction of increased restrictions on dogs.

Up next for consideration is the Western Trail Study Area, which includes popular voice and sight trails such as Shanahan Ridge, the Mesa Trail, Chautauqua, Sanitas and many others. The area spans OSMP land west of Broadway, from Eldorado Road in the south to the Mount Sanitas area in the north. At a recent study session, OSMP staff stated that they want to designate some existing trails in this area as "no-dog," so dog owners should watch this process closely.

This attitude is disappointing because dog owners had already accepted many new restrictions in the development of the VMP. Large portions of Open Space land, previously designated voice and sight received the Habitat Conservation Area (HCA) designation, which carried the default regulation of requiring dogs to be on leash and to remain on designated trails. In all, at least 31 trails received additional dog restrictions. Even on voice and sight trails, dogs must be leashed at trailheads. And no dog can be off leash unless they wear a green tag showing that their owner has watched a training video.

FIDOS accepted the new restrictions in good faith because the compromises were seen as a kind of insurance against greater losses in the future. HCA zones received severe default dog restrictions, but so-called Recreational and Natural Areas still received the default designation of voice and sight. Upon approving the VMP, City Council described the plan as a fair and balanced solution. Although the VMP did allow for changes, the hope has been that the balance between stricter and less strict regulations reflected in the VMP would be preserved.

The Scary Part: How Will Decisions Be Made?

There has been much debate on how decisions about the WTSA will be made. The OSMP department is promoting the creation of a citizen's advisory committee, the Community Group Forum (CGF), which would discuss the issues and make recommendations to the Open Space Board of Trustees. The sobering part is that OSMP does not intend to allow advocacy groups such as FIDOS to select representatives to serve on the group. This attitude is reminiscent of the attitude responsible for the infamous Visitor Plan Advisory Committee, which was created to provide recommendations on the Visitor Master Plan. Officers of FIDOS and other advocacy groups were specifically not invited to serve on that committee, which created an uproar from recreational groups.

The method of selecting the CGF participants has been hotly debated lately, but it appears that they may be selected by a group of interested persons from the general public. Thus, it is crucial that dog-friendly citizens engage in this process. Those interested in influencing the selection of CGF participants will have an opportunity to sign up at an OSMP sponsored meeting on Tuesday July 14 or at an OSMP website still to be created. Even if you are not interested in participating further in the CGF, please at least sign up to help select CGF representatives. Otherwise, dog owners could be left without representation on the CGF.

FIDOS Goals for the Western Trail Study Area

Our goals for the WTSA are modest. Broadly speaking, we just want the agreements made in the VMP to be honored. Some specific items are listed below:

• Neighborhood Voice & Sight. FIDOS has continually emphasized the need to retain voice and sight access for neighborhood trails. Most dog owners walk their dogs daily and local voice and sight trails are an important part of their lifestyle. In fact, dog access opportunities are, for many dog owners, a consideration in choosing a neighborhood in which to live. When trails become leashed residents have to drive to the nearest voice and sight trail every day.

• Balance. At the very least, increases in restrictions should be balanced by corresponding decreases in restrictions.

• Social Trails. Certain social trails (unofficial trails) that have been enjoyed for years should be formally designated or simply left alone to be used by those familiar with them.

• Fern Canyon Trail. This trail, which was designated leash in the VMP, should be converted to voice and sight. The trail lies within a Natural Area, for which the default designation is voice and sight, and it is steep and rocky, providing little opportunity for off-leash dogs to leave the trail. Furthermore, the steepness makes it awkward and dangerous to walk a dog on leash.

• EM Greenman Trail. This trail received a no-dog designation in the VMP because it passed through a sensitive area. The trail has since been rerouted away from the sensitive area, so the no-dog designation should be removed. This would allow dog walkers to hike a complete loop with their dogs.

Get Involved With FIDOS

If you are interested in working more closely with FIDOS or in helping determine our goals and objectives, learn about the possibilities by contacting Lori Fuller, FIDOS vice president at

Please Support FIDOS

FIDOS has a large membership, but we are not particularly strict about collecting dues. We rely on your contributions and involvement. If you have not contributed lately, please help. Send contributions to: FIDOS, P.O. Box 18928, Boulder, CO 80308-8928 or contribute via Pay Pall by going to

How to Contact FIDOS
FIDOS, P.O. Box 18928, Boulder, CO 80308-8928

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

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