Steamboat Parks and Rec Commission OKs new off-leash dog areas |

Steamboat Parks and Rec Commission OKs new off-leash dog areas

Scott Franz

Steamboat Springs Animal Control Officer Jennifer Good thanks a dog walker for keeping her dog on a leash in May 2017 on Blackmere Road.

The Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission threw dog advocates a few bones Wednesday night by endorsing a proposal to create new off-leash areas and recommending the city supply compostable dog waste bags at city parks.

"It's one small step for dog-kind," Steamboat Digs Dogs spokeswoman Kathy Connell said Thursday morning. "We're thrilled we are making headway."

The Parks and Recreation Commission endorsed plans for a one-year trial of new off-leash dog areas at Whistler and Stehly parks as well as on Blackmere Road.

Commissioners are also potentially open to allowing off-leash dogs at Fetcher Park and Emerald Mountain's Gas Line Meadows trail, but the proposals were tabled to gather some more information and to seek input from neighbors.

Some proposals, such as off-leash areas on loop trails on Emerald, were withdrawn due to concerns about conservation easements on the property.

There will be certain restrictions placed on the off-leash areas.

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For example, off-leash dogs will not be allowed in Whistler when there are organized sporting events in the summer.

The off-leash recommendations will now go to the Steamboat Springs City Council for consideration.

Wednesday's unanimous endorsement from the Parks and Recreation Commission on a few new off-leash areas was a victory for Steamboat Digs Dogs, a grassroots volunteer group that is aiming to make the city more canine friendly.

Currently, dog owners have two places they can take their pets to play off leash.

The off-leash areas include part of Rita Valentine Park and a pond at Spring Creek park.

The Parks and Recreation Commission also wants the city to add dog waste bags back into its budget next year.

The city used to offer dog waste bags at city parks, but city officials say the program caused headaches.

Many bags were stolen, and staff had to spend time replacing them and putting locks on the dispensers, city officials said.

"Staff cut this expense due to challenges of funding basic maintenance of all land management facilities, and this challenge continues today," city parks manager Craig Robinson wrote in a memo about the program.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10