Dogs on Trails

Q

There are two paths on the lower NCAR Mesa Lab property that are used
heavily by the public for walks, runs, and walking dogs. One of these paths
is north of the NCAR road and runs from the end of Table Mesa Drive. The
other runs along the eastern edge of the NCAR property.

My complaint/suggestion concerns mainly the first of these trails. The
trail and surrounding open space are contaminated heavily by dog feces and
urine. Many children use these paths, raising serious health risks and even
potential liability issues for UCAR. Over and above the health issues, the
odor of the feces and urine is sometimes quite powerful, particularly near
the trail itself. Furthermore, though I am not an expert in this matter, it
is hard to believe that this high density of feces and urine is helpful to
the fragile environment in the open space.

Many open space areas in the Boulder area have signs stating that dog
owners must collect dog feces. The NOAA-owned open space on Kohler Mesa has
signs stating something to the effect that it is illegal to leave feces and
urine on federal land. I have owned dogs in the past, and I empathize with
the desire to walk and run with dog companions in the open space. But it is
reasonable to require that owners have their dogs urinate and defecate
before entering open spaces shared with children and people who don't own
dogs. Can NCAR place signs stating that it is illegal, unhealthy, and rude
to leave feces and urine on NCAR property, and can NCAR provide plastic
bags for feces collection?

Answered on August 27, 2001

A

We share your concerns regarding the health risks and the unsightly nature
of animal droppings along hiking trails. We have discussed the problem with
Boulder Open Space officials, with whom we share custodianship of the
trails, and they advised us that the best solution is to post signs
advising dog owners of their legal responsibilities. We will then report
observed violators to the appropriate city officials for further legal action.

Open Space officials report limited success with bags and trash cans. Often
the bags are just left along the trails for others to pick up. Trash cans
themselves can become a hazard: they require daily attention; attract
rodents, bugs, and insects; and generally exacerbate the problem. We feel
that while signs are appropriate, bags and trash cans are ineffective
solutions to this problem. We will have UCAR maintenance install
appropriate signs.

-Steve Sadler, Director, Safety and Site Services