Is Round Valley going to the dogs?
January 8, 2013
The Mountain Trails Foundation is seeking input on whether dogs should only be allowed every other day in Round Valley during the winter. For example, ‘Dog Days’ may be limited to odd days only, between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.
"We’re putting it out to the public and asking what they think," said Charlie Sturgis, Mountain Trails Foundation Executive Director. "And we’ve gotten a lot of Facebook feedback that I was a little surprised at. They basically said, ‘Hey, we aren’t really into doing that.’ And I thought dog owners would be a little more accommodating."
Jessica Jakupcak, who lives in Salt Lake City, but owns a condo in Park City, enjoys cross-country skiing with her dogs Winston and Abner in Round Valley.
Jakupcak said she would be disappointed if dogs become limited to certain days in Round Valley.
"There are so few places you can take dogs and ski already, so I really appreciate having a place we can come," Jakupcak said. "I try to be aware of other people and I try to be responsible. If they poop, I pick it up. I think it takes everybody with dogs to be responsible. I do recognize it is a privilege, and I don’t take it for granted."
Sturgis said he’s a little disappointed the idea isn’t getting more support from dog owners, adding that some of the Facebook responders are naive about the depth of the problem in Round Valley.
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"One of the big issues there is wildlife," Sturgis said. "It would give wildlife, especially at a high stress point in their lives, a chance to not be chased by dogs all the time. But a lot of people say, ‘My dogs aren’t chasing moose and elk.’ No, but they are chasing all the small wildlife. And when the small wildlife expires, the ecosystem is disrupted. There’s always a cause and effect."
Sturgis added that limiting dogs to certain days will also alleviate traffic in Round Valley.
"If dog owners can only show up and ski on those days, it would reduce traffic in Round Valley in a significant way, and it would also open the door for people who don’t use Round Valley because there are too many dogs, to give them a chance to show up," he said.
Sturgis said they have been careful to not have policies that minimize one user group’s enjoyment of the area for the benefit of another.
"That’s what we’re trying not to do. But to succeed at not doing that, we need to find some solutions to make it possible for everyone to have an equally good time," he said.
While there are already areas such as the White Pine Nordic Track and the Basin Nordic Trail that don’t allow bicyclists, runners or dogs, Sturgis said there are also options for those who have dogs to bring them on days they wouldn’t be able to go to Round Valley, if ‘Dog Days’ is enacted by the Park City Council.
"We’re trying to take pressure off the area and let another user group that has been somewhat slighted, or not having as good of an experience as they’d like, to have a shot as well. But it’s a delicate balance," he said. "The amazing thing is, the whole trail system has over a million users over the course of the year, and we have very few complaints. But, if I only have 2 percent of users out there having a bad time, that’s still 20,000 users. That’s kind of a problem."
To make ‘Dog Days’ a reality, there has to be "reasonable support," said Sturgis. And it could be a year, if enough support is received, for the idea to make its way to the Park City Council for approval.
Residents are invited to comment about the Dog Days; idea on the Mountain Trails Foundation Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/mountaintrailsfoundation .
"We’re open to anything you want to throw out there. Throw it on Facebook, so that it’s public. But throw it out there intelligently without beating anybody up," he said.