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7 - Recommendations for expanding the Trailhead Leashe Pilot Program to additional trailheads and parking areasCITY OF BOULDER OPEN SPACE BOARD OF TRUSTEES AGENDA ITEA-I MEETING DATE: Nlay 14, 20~~8 AGENDA TITLE: Recommendations for expanding the Trailhead Leash Pilot Program to additional trailheads and parking areas. PRESENTERiS: Open Space and Mountain Pa1•ks I~~Iike Patton, Director Steve Armstead, Visitor Master Plan Implementation Coordinator Jerry Katopodes, Ranger/Naturalist II EXECUTIVE SLT1~Il1L ~R~': The Visitor Master Plan included several strategies for decreasing conflict associated with dogs and improving overall visitor experience and safety. The Trailhead Leash (THL) Pilot Program implemented in the fall of 2045 was one of these strategies. Staff is presenting its recommendation for expanding the pilot program to additional trailheads. Five pilot trailheads were identified to implement the program: Doudy Draw, Dry Creek. Chautauqua, Sanitas and Marshall Mesa. The parking areas and specifically identified leash zones on trails leading out of the trailheads required dogs to be on leash. The objectives of the program were to decrease conflict among dogs and with other trail users, reduce safety hazu•ds in trailhead parking areas, decrease off-trail trampling in the vicinity of the trailhead and increase compliance «Tith existing requirements for dog control and dog ~~~aste removal. Monitoring results of the above objectives and assessments by staff indicate that the program met its objectives. Open Space and lVlountain Parks (OSMP) staff recommends expanding the implementation of the trailhead leash program to trailhead parking areas across the OSMP system. Staff is recommending site-specific applications for individual trailheads. All trailheads will include the leash requirement in the parking area. Some trailheads will include a short area beyond the parking area where a dog information station is located and can be signed as the leash-required boundary. Staff is also recommending that. several picnic areas adjacent to trailheads be included in the leash- required zone (see table Attachment A}. Three of the existing pilot sites, Chautauqua, Sanitas, and Dry Creek, will remain as they were established with leash areas extending beyond the parking areas. AGENDA ITEM # 7 PAGE 1 STAFF REC011~I11~IENDATION: Staff belie~•~es the Trailhead Leash Pilot Program should be expanded to all trailheads with parking areas. Site-specific extensions of the leash zone beyond the parking area are appropriate to provide for the inclusion of adjacent picnic sites and trail entry points that allow more consistent and effective signing and improved opportunity for visitor compliance. C011~I11IUNITY SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENTS AND INIP ACTS: • Economic: Open Space and Mountain Parks contributes to the economic vitality goal of the city as it provides the context. for the diverse and vibrant economic system that sustains services for residents. The land system and the quality of life it represents attract visitors and help businesses to recruit and retain quality employees. • Environmental: The THL program improved compliance with dog regulations, including regulations intended for the protection of wildlife. Requiring leash control at trailheads ensures that visitors with dogs will possess a leash and, for areas included in the leash zone, will reduce off-trail trampling. • Social: The THL program is designed to reduce safety hazards in parking areas and reduce dog-related conflicts in areas with a concentration of visitors. Visitors retain the opportunity to have their dogs accompany them under the THL program, and it provides improved visitor experiences for all. OTHER IMPACTS: • Fiscal: The projected non-personnel cost. for expanding the THL program is approximately $3600. • Staff time: Approximately 160 staff hours. PUBLIC FEEDBACK: Staff has worked with a group of citizens to provide suggestions on the implementation of the THL Pilot Program and associated monitoring program. Staff solicited input from this group regarding the recommendation for expanding the program and received no suggestions to change the approach staff was recommending. Rangers and outreach staff who interact with visitors at the THL pilot trailheads report favorable comments on the THL program. This item is being heard at this public meeting, advertised in the Dail}% Camey'cr on May 11, 2008. ANALYSIS: Background The Visitor l~Iaster Plan includes a user conflict reduction initiative that supports actions that. reduce visitor conflicts with dogs by targeting areas with concentrated visitor use and specific activities that may lead to conflict. The THL program is intended to address areas where visitor congestion and conflicts are more likely to occur. The program is AGENDA ITEM # 7 PAGE 2 intended to: decrease conflict among dogs and ~~ith other trail users; reduce safety hazards in trailhead parking areas; decrease off-trail trampling in the vicinity of trailheads; and increase compliance «~ith dog regulations. The size and configuration of the on-leash areas was designed to fit the specific physical layout and management needs of individual trailheads. The THL program was implemented as a pilot project to test its benefits and feasibility and if successful the program could be applied to other appropriate trailheads. Five trailheads were selected for the pilot program including Chautauqua, Dry Creek, Doudy Draw, Sanitas, and l~larshall Mesa. Each location is a popular destination for doh walking visitors. At each of these trailheads, a regulation was established that. required dogs to be on leash in the parking area and along a small area of the trails leading out of the trailhead. Each trailhead had a unique trail-leash zone that fit the needs and physical layout of the trailhead. In the fall of 2005 after an outreach and education campaign, the leash requirements ~~ent into effect. A monitoring program coincided with the THL program implementation to provide before and after results to inform staff of the program's efficacy. The monitoring results indicated that each of the project objectives was met following program implementation. In the leash zone, dog control as measured by observable dog regulation compliance increased from 85.0% to 92.9%. The percentage of visitor parties that exhibited at least one conflictive behavior decreased from 8.1% to 4.b% and excrement removal compliance increased from 72.5% to 85.1%. Safety hazards decreased (15.7% to 5.'7°%) and dogs leaving the trail declined (28.3p1o to 13.5 ;%). While the results indicated the program achieved its objectives in the leash-required zone, the monitoring results also detected a possible displacement effect where just beyond the leash zone some undesirable behaviors increased and compliance decreased. This indicated the potential that some of the undesirable behaviors were moved from the trailhead to where the visitors could take their dogs off leash under voice and sight control. Recommendation Staff recommends that the THL program be expanded to all trailhead parking lots with several trailheads having site-specific applications of the leash zone beyond the parking lot. A staff team reviewed all trailheads and made specific recommendations for each trailhead. While the pilot sites included sections of the trails leading out of the trailheads in the leash zone, the staff recommendation does not generally include the trail leash zone. The sites that do include a leash zone beyond the trailhead are sites where a trail leads to a busy roadway and another leash-only area or a picnic area is adjacent to parking area and trails. Staff does recommend continuing the leash zone at three of the pilot sites: Chautauqua, Sanitas, and Dry Creek. These three sites are highly concentrated areas of dog walking, and two with dispersed entry points are commonly known and understood. Staft~s recommendation not to include a trail leash zone for many trailheads is based on: AGENDA ITEM # 7 PAGE 3 • the possibility of a displacement effect with the unwanted behaviors being moved farther along the trail; • staff s difficulty in effectively signing the extent of the leash zone while also providing adequate trailhead signing for voice and sight control and the tag program; and • the subsequent implementation of the voice and sight tag program with similar objectives would be the appropriate program to reduce dog-related conflicts and increase compliance along trails. The recommended boundary between the trailhead leash zone and locations where dogs can be managed under voice and sight control is to be located, in most circumstances, at a specialized dog information sign post (dog station) usually located a short distance beyond the parking area (see maps _4ttaclunents B, C and D). Several trailheads have neighboring picnic areas with multiple entry points from the parking lot. South IVlesa, Settlers Park, the new Centennial-Sanitas, and Lost Gulch trailheads are examples (see map Attachment E). Staff recommends that these picnic areas are included in the leash zone. Flagstaff Mountain has a lot of parking areas along the roadway that serve as trail access points, scenic vista locations and picnic areas. The summit of Flagstaff has varied parking areas n~ith dispersed picnic areas, shelters and trail access points. Staff considered the complexity of the numerous parking pull-offs and the necessary sign infrastructure to appropriately define any inclusion of a trail or picnic area to the leash zone and determined it would be most effective to only include the parking areas in the leash zones on Flagstaff. The two upper trailheads and picnic areas for Lost Gulch and Cathedral and their adjacent locations to the Flagstaff Ii~lountain Habitat Conservation Area were the lone exceptions where staff does recommend including the adjacent picnic areas in the leash zone (see maps Attachments F and G). Alternative approaches to the THL program include: expanding only to parking areas, expand to parking areas and establish a leash zone for every trailhead, or not expanding the THL program. The monitoring results indicating reduced parking area hazard incidents and general community support for greater safety in the parking areas support, at least, extending the THL program to parking areas. Expanding the THL program to parking areas and defined trail-leash zones for every trailhead would require a substantial sign infrastructure for posting boundaries and greater outreach and visitor awareness of each trailhead leash boundary potentially causing greater visitor confusion and frustration. Only expanding to parking areas would allow off-leash dogs in picnic areas adj acent to high use trailheads ~rhere safety hazards and the higher potential for conflict exist. To implement the expansion of the THL program, staff will provide advanced notification at trailheads of the forthcoming leash requirement, update the THL program brochure and provide community outreach and education. After advanced notification at AGENDA ITEM # 7 PAGE 4 trailheads and other community outreach, new signs indicating leash requirement will be posted at appropriate trailheads and enforcement ~~~ill occur. Submitted bv: I1~lichael D. Patton, Director Steve Armstead, VMP Implementation Coordinator Jerry Katopodes, Ranger,~Naturalist II Attachments: A. Trailhead Leash Program Phase II B. Bobolink Trailhead Leash Area Nlap C. Boulder Valley Ranch Trailhead Leash Area Nlap D. South Boulder Creek Nest Trailhead Leash Area Map E. South Mesa Trailhead Leash Area Map F. Flagstaff Summit East Trailhead Leash Area Map G. Flagstaff Lower Half Trailhead Leash Area Map AGENDA ITEM # 7 PAGE 5 Open Space and Mountain Parks Trailhead (TH) Leash Program Phase II Trailheads Status Leash Boundr Trailhead Chan es Flatirons Vista TH rebuild planned dog station parking area leashed Greenbelt Plateau TH do station arkin area leashed Marshall Mesa TH ilot/rebuild com lete do station none Doudy Draw TH pilot/rebuild planned dog station drop leashed E. corridor/add connector to S. Mesa Mesa TH do station include icnic area and TH ent road D Creek TH ilot trail sin none Cherryvale TH leashed add signs to parking area BobolinkTH do station arkin area leashed S. Boulder Creek West TH do station arkin area leashed Centennial TH rebuild planned include picnic area and Sanitas TH connector Settler's ParkTH do station include icnic tables Foothills TH do station add si ns to arkin area Four Mile CreekTH leashed add signs to parking area Wonderland Lake leashed add si ns to arkin area Ea le TH do station arkin area leashed BVR TH dog station parking area leashed Lefthand TH leashed add si ns to arkin area Buckin ham Picnic Area leashed add si ns to arkin area South Teller TH dog station parking area leashed North Teller TH do station arkin area leashed Sawhill Ponds TH arkin area leashed Cottonwood TH dog station parking area leashed Gre o Can on TH arkin area leashedlincludin entr road Crown Rock arkin area leashed Contact Corner parking area leashed Panorama Point arkin area leashed Halfwa House arkin area leashed Realization Point TH parking area leashed Last Gulch Overlook arkin area leashedlincludin icnic area Cathedral Park Picnic Area arkin area leashedlincludin icnic area Flagstaff Summit East leashed paved parking area/excluding picnic area Fla staff Summit West leashed aved arkin area/excludin icnic area Chautau ua TH ilot trail si ns none Sanitas TH pilot trail signs Wane Bobolink Trailhead Leash Area ~~~ - ~~ - w~ ~ ~~ - 4 .x, i 4. 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