Pitkin County holds tight on existing leash law | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County holds tight on existing leash law

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Pitkin County open space officials declined Thursday to relax the leash law on several trails, including a section of the Rio Grande Trail, during the winter months.

The county’s Open Space and Trails board of trustees had been mulling a request to allow unleashed dogs on the Rio Grande Trail below Stein Park, heading northeast from Aspen, and on the lower Hunter Creek and Lani White trails in the wintertime. Aspen resident Lara Lewis spearheaded the push and was joined by others in a call to relax the rules during the winter months. A handful of citizens spoke out in favor of the move at a March meeting of the board.

The Hunter Creek and Lani White trails, which access the Hunter Creek Valley from Aspen, can be slick and treacherous in the winter, particularly while holding onto a dog, Lewis said. All of the trails see lighter use in the winter and could provide another place for dogs to run, she added.

But Dale Will, Open Space and Trails director, called for retaining a year-round leash law on the trails as a way to balance public recreation with wildlife protection and maintain a balance between people with and without dogs.

“Staff believes the existing rules are just fine,” he told the board.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife also urged the board to retain the leash law, noted Gary Tennenbaum, county land steward.

“They were pretty adamant,” he said.

Public sentiment appears to be split on the issue, several open space board members noted.

“I think we have it right in terms of a balancing act … general public access, dog owner public access and wildlife issues,” said board member Hawk Greenway.

“There’s a lot of people out there who don’t necessarily want dogs off-leash,” Tennenbaum said. “It’s an impact to their personal space. It’s an impact to their use of the trail.”