Panel proposes changes in leash law

Posted: Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Dog Task Force recommended banning five areas to dogs, but increasing to 10 the number of areas where owners can allow their dogs to run off-leash.

The recommendations came after a nearly four-hour special meeting Tuesday, in which task force members debated the rights of dog owners and those interested in the preservation of wildlife.

Areas where dogs will be banned are the Dzantik'i Heeni trail system and police station area; Fish Creek; Auke Lake; Amalga Meadows; and Eagle Beach.

The city ordinance currently requires all dogs to be on leash. The task force is recommending dogs be allowed off-leash in 10 areas: Outer Point; Rainforest Trail from Oct. 1 to April 1; Sandy Beach, excluding the picnic and playground areas; Savikko Park between October and March; Dimond Park under the bridge and an area between the paved trail and river; Melvin Park; parts of the Richard Marriott/Switzer Creek Trail System; Dredge Pond; and Sheep Creek.

Twin Lakes now restricts dogs in July and August. The recommendations would lift that restriction and make the area north of the second culvert off-leash from 6 to 10 a.m. May 15 to Sept. 15. From Sept. 15 to May, that area would be off-leash at all times.

The task force plans to meet again at noon March 30 at the downtown library and create a draft of the recommendations. It hopes to send the recommendations to the public by April, task force Chairwoman and Parks and Recreation Director Kim Kiefer said.

After receiving public comment, final recommendations will be sent to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, State Parks Department and the U.S. Forest Service. Kiefer would make a final decision regarding city-owned land based on the advisory committee's recommendation, she said. State and federal agencies would make decisions for areas under their purview.

While the task force closed some areas to dogs, Kiefer said they compromised with the dog community by allowing more open spaces without leashes and added Twin Lakes in the summer. Among the area's 122 trails, a handful will be closed to dogs, she said.

"We are really trying to address what we've heard (from the public)," Kiefer said.

Dog owner and Grateful Dogs member Perry Shipman said the task force is catering to special interest groups.

"Special things are being done for people who don't like dogs," he said afterward. "Do we have that many scarce resources?"

While the area has many trails, Shipman said the debate really centers around a handful of popular, accessible trails in Juneau.

Shipman and other dog owners mainly use Sandy Beach, Dredge Lake area, Eagle Beach and the Dike Trail near the Juneau Airport. Those areas would be restricted to dogs, except the Dike Trail and parts of Sandy Beach.

• Tara Sidor can be reached at tara.sidor@juneauempire.com.

Proposed dog rules

Areas dogs would be banned

• Fish Creek • D-Z trail, police station area • Auke Lake • Amalga Meadows • Eagle Beach

Areas dogs allowed off-leash

• Outer Point • Rainforest Trail, partial • Sandy Beach, partial • Savikko Park • Dimond Park, partial • Melvin Park • Twin Lakes, partial • Richard Marriott and Switzer Creek Trail System, partial • Dredge Pond • Sheep Creek



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