Park City poised to heavily restrict dogs in Bonanza Flat
Park City appears poised to heavily restrict dogs in the expansive Bonanza Flat acreage, potentially prohibiting them from one-third of the acreage, a policy that would be meant to protect the watershed but one that could be seen as countering the community’s dog-friendly attitudes.
Park City leaders and the not-for-profit Utah Open Lands continue to discuss a management plan for the 1,350 acres of high-altitude land in Wasatch County as well as a document known as a conservation easement that will outline the restrictions on the acreage. Policies regulating dogs on the land are under discussion as part of the overall talks.
Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council on Thursday continued the discussions and are expected to finalize the management plan and conservation easement in coming months. Bonanza Flat is seen as Park City’s most complex parcel of open space based partially on the vast number of acres, the location at the top of the watershed and the jurisdictional lines, and the talks have likewise been complicated.
Wendy Fisher, the executive director of Utah Open Lands, described in an interview a recommendation to build two trails that will be designated as open to dogs. Dogs would otherwise be prohibited on the land, she said.
Fisher said the routes of the two trails have not been designed. The parties involved in the talks have not made a recommendation regarding whether the two trails should be designated as off-leash areas. She noted, though, Wasatch County laws regarding the matter would be in effect rather than those in Park City.
She said the restrictions on dogs are needed to protect the watershed, rare plants and wildlife. A lake in Bonanza Flat provides culinary water for the Camp Cloud Rim Girl Scouts camp and Bonanza Flat is a source of culinary water for Midway, Fisher said. Water from melting snow in Bonanza Flat also drains into the Provo River watershed and eventually into culinary water sources along the Wasatch Front, she also noted.
Fisher said studies have shown dogs increase the amount of biological contaminants in a watershed by between 20 percent and 30 percent as compared to areas where dogs are prohibited.
She said the dog restrictions proposed for Bonanza Flat were crafted after talks that included input from those who wanted dogs prohibited outright based on concerns about the watershed. The proposal represents a balanced approach, she said.
The elected officials did not discuss the issue of dogs in any depth on Thursday. There was no public input at the meeting.
The issue regarding dogs could eventually become especially intriguing within the overall discussions as Parkites learn more about the proposed restrictions. The community has long seen itself as friendly to dogs, and Park City leaders have taken steps meant to promote that culture. City Hall most notably designated municipally owned acreage in Round Valley as an off-leash area, providing approximately 1,400 acres of land for dogs to run free on the edge of Park Meadows.
Fisher said she hopes the conservation easement and management plan are finalized by the middle of August.
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