Tuesday, March 3, 2015

One week temporary dog closure planned for Cache Creek drainage

The Bridger-Teton National Forest will temporarily close the Cache Creek drainage to dogs for a one week period beginning Wednesday March 18th and ending Wednesday March 25th. The temporary closure includes all trails in the Cache Creek drainage including the Cache Creek trail and trailhead, Hagen trails, Putt-putt trails including the Nelson Drive trailhead, Nelson hill, and the Cache Creek sidewalk trail. Jackson District Ranger Dale Deiter said that the temporary closure is intended to be a “time out” that signals change must occur to address the on-going problem of dog waste and dog control. Each day 70 to 90 dogs are on the Cache Creek trail and monitoring over a one month period found 168 dog waste piles left by owners. In areas adjacent to crucial wildlife winter range, 32 violations of leash requirements have occurred so far this winter.

The Forest Service has worked for years with help from non-profit organizations, businesses, and individuals to install and maintain mutt-mitt stations, promote responsible “good dog” behavior, improve trailhead signing, implement leash requirements in limited areas, and employ personnel to talk directly with recreationists. While these efforts have helped, they have not been sufficient. Ranger Dale Deiter said that the cumulative effect of so many dogs and too many owners who don’t pick up waste and don’t have their dog under control is unacceptable.

Beyond the very real evidence of dog waste accumulating at trailheads and along the first sections of trail, there are many issues that are attributed to irresponsible ownership. These include dogs chasing or harassing wildlife, dogs attacking other dogs, dogs nipping people or causing personal injury, wildlife injuring or killing dogs, and dogs being hit by vehicles. Deiter said that the public is clearly asking the Forest Service to address the problem for the sake of wildlife, clean water, people and pets. “The temporary closure serves as a signal that something different must be done it is time to get serious about developing real solutions.” Deiter said he looks forward to working with the community, with town and county officials, and with local non-profit organizations to develop a comprehensive solution that results in real change.

During the week Cache Creek is closed to dogs, owners will need to use alternate areas to recreate with their dog. Forest Service personnel will be at the trailheads and on the trails providing information and enforcing the temporary closure. Deiter noted that, as a community that values wildlife and nature-based recreation, we all own the problem and must do better. Ideas are being gathered via a survey. A service project is scheduled on Saturday March 21st at 9 am for the public to help thoroughly clean-up the trailhead and trails and improve facilities.


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