The Dog Task Force has recommended banning dogs on many of our trails; and a closer look at their recommendations reveals that, basically, all new and proposed trails are closed to dogs. Naming the committee the "Dog" Task Force has allowed recommendations that focus on the negative impact of dogs, conveniently ignore the impact of humans and fail to address the possible commercial use of trails.
At the first meeting of the Dog Task Force it was stated that there may need to be seasonal closures on certain trails due to nesting wildlife - an understandable request. However, the Dog Task Force has overstepped its domain and lost credibility as in naming its own "sensitive" wildlife areas and unnecessarily and unfairly recommending full-time closure of many trails. They conveniently choose to ignore the habituation of wildlife to dogs in areas such as Eagle Beach, which the committee would love to see as a banned-dog zone, yet support trails and ignore human impacts in sensitive areas that they want to see opened up. Also, the committee recommends closing several more trails - DZ and Auke Lake Trail - to have trails free of dogs, as if all the other trails unfairly closed because of wildlife are not enough.
Could it be that the real agenda here is the future commercial use of these trails once most of the local dog-owning public is banned from the trails? Isn't it telling how all the new trails ended up on the banned-dog list?
Better guidelines for our trail usage are necessary to ensure that all users may enjoy our trails, but segregating the trails is not the answer. The Education Subcommittee of the Dog Task Force has done an excellent job in identifying areas to target for an education campaign, and they should be allowed to continue their efforts, especially before extreme measures are taken.
Recommendations for our trails should be made fairly; and the possibility of commercial use should be disclosed to the public, rather than manipulating the system to close trails as part of a preconceived agenda.
The Dog Task Force recommendations may be viewed at www.juneau.org/parksrec. Public comment will be taken on the recommendations at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, at Centennial Hall. Written comments will be taken until Sept. 24, to be emailed to, firstname.lastname@example.org.