A message from Peter R. Paden – Executive Director, Columbia Land Conservancy
On Tuesday, August 23, 2011 we had public forum to discuss our policies around dogs at our Public Conservation Areas. We are thankful for the many people who took the time to attend the meeting. As many have commented, it was a good meeting. I know everyone appreciated the respectful and positive tone. I learned that we have to do a better job of informing people about the ground rules for dog walking at these sites. The properties are critically important to our conservation mission. We raise and spend a considerable amount of money needed to maintain them. We have an active volunteer program and would like to find ways to use that program to assist in dealing with these issues. I would encourage anyone interested in assisting with Public Conservation Area monitoring to sign up.
I hope that all who attended came away with a commitment to comply with the rules we have put in place. The leash requirement is not some “paper” rule designed to cover CLC with our insurance carrier. Our rules are grounded in our goal to make these areas available and inviting for the enjoyment of as many people as possible, safe for wildlife and healthy for the things that grow there. We ask everyone in the dog walking community to help us ensure the rules are followed.
We will consider whether we can make some portion of one or more Public Conservation Areas available for off-leash walking on a limited basis. No promises! This assessment will take several months and we may decide that we can’t do it. However, anything we do will involve limitations – e.g., off-leash walking permitted only at certain days or times, or in certain seasons, on certain trails. I will be very reluctant to ask our staff to spend time trying to develop a workable off-leash program, if we don’t have confidence that people will comply with whatever rules we establish. Please show us that we can count on you to respect our rules.
In the coming weeks we will be working on improved signage for all our sites, and we’ll do everything we can to spread the word among those who frequent them about leashes and cleaning up after the dog. We will also include information on places we know of in the area where dogs may be walked off leash.
We welcome any and all suggestions about how we can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience at our conservation areas for everyone. The idea of an email group of Public Conservation Area users was floated at the meeting. Please let us know if you think that would be a useful communication tool and, if so, how you would suggest it be organized and utilized by contacting Nate Davis at 518.392.5252 ext. 205 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
One nice thing that has come from all of this is that it has given me and others on the CLC staff a chance to interact with many of the active users of our Public Conservation Areas. I hope we can find ways to maintain a closer connection going forward.
Very truly yours,
Peter R. Paden
Executive Director, Columbia Land Conservancy