US Forest Service Extends Comment Period on Dog Use to March 20th

US Forest Service Extends Comment Period on Dog Use to March 20th

The Forest Service has posted requests for comments on dog restrictions on GMNC trails. At present, we cannot operate Skyway Trails as “dog free” as there are no formal restrictions on use. Your Board of Directors will be discussing their response and recommendations at their next meeting at Bill Heddles Rec. Center in Delta 2/7 starting at 6:30 p.m. Our position in the past has welcomed dogs at Ward and at the County Line trail systems. Although the GMNC has asked vigorously for years that skiers keep their dogs from Skyway as a courtesy, at present we cannot operate Skyway Trails as “dog free” as there are no formal restrictions on use. You may send individual comments directly to the USFS at comments-rocky-mountain-gmug-grande-valley@fs.fed.us

 

69 Comments

  1. I support dogs allowed at County Line and dog-free Skyway.

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  2. We have skied both the Skyway and County Line trail systems for almost two decades and strongly support GMNC. We think the current arrangement of having dog free and dog friendly areas works pretty well. We would like to see this continued, and if necessary have the policy formalized by the Forest Service. Also, we think having a dog friendly area is important for the people who do skijoring. Having dog poop bags and receptacles for the bags at County Line trailhead (as is the case at many hiking trails) would help keep these trails cleaner and certainly more enjoyable.

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  3. My husband and I utilized the County Line trail on the weekdays of 1/30 & 1/31/17 and Ward Lake trail on 1/30. The County Line trail was very well groomed and beautiful. At Ward Lake there were many unsightly piles of dog feces next to and in the trail. It’s unsanitary and in the spring the feces will become part of the runoff into the reservoirs of Grand Mesa. Dog owners need to take responsibility for cleaning up after their pets! If some dog owners don’t clean up, others will assume it is the status quo and the problem will multiply.

    Additionally at Ward Lake, while I was bent down checking a ski a dog ran up to me and got into my face. No issue this time but having previously experienced a dog bite from an unexpected dog encounter, I know that harm can concur. Once the dog owner appeared they laughed off their dog’s “enthusiasm”.

    I like dogs but also want to enjoy the Grand Mesa skiing experience in a safe and clean environment.

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  4. Should there also be a smoking section and a non-smoking section? How about a section for people who want to ski with their boom-boxes? For people who want to ski naked?

    I always find the discussions about dog access interesting. I understand people enjoy their dogs. The question is, in all these cases, a question of how much is society willing to accommodate people’s individual enjoyment at the expense of the general enjoyment. As with smoking and music (I’ll just leave the nudity thing alone), and as much as dog owners seem reluctant to admit this, people’s dogs are typically detrimental to everyone else’s enjoyment but their own.

    As a society, we accept a certain amount of this, but as densities go up, the impact of these “selfish” enjoyments becomes more and more significant up to the point of overwhelming the general experience. I can’t say whether Grand Mesa has crossed that tipping point, but I think it’s a very valid question as to whether we need to be having this discussion at all. If this were, instead a question of whether to ban audible music or smoking, I think you’d find many of the pro-dog people coming down strongly against both.

    Based on that assumption (perhaps incorrect) I’d suggest that dogs be banned throughout (as well as smoking and audible music). People come here to ski and they should be able to experience that as free from the impact of other people’s auxiliary enjoyments as possible. Whatever you have on your i-Pod is fine with me, but I don’t want to hear it.

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    • Public lands are based on the multiple use principle. What you call “selfish enjoyments” others consider to be their rights as the taxpayers.

      If you want a private area with no dogs then you would have to buy the property and build your ski area, or pay lots of money for a special use permit like Powderhorn does.

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  5. I use the groomed trails solely to skate as there is no where else on the Mesa to skate. I don’t own dogs, but I have taken my sister’s two well behaved labs up on the County Line trails to skate, never taken them to Skyway. I never go classic skiing with the dogs at these areas because there are so many other places to use my classic skis with dogs. I enjoy going to both Skyway and County Line to skate- I love to go to the overlook to see the San Juans, so I often decide to go to the dog side, with or without dogs. When I skate with the dogs, they are usually in line right behind me.

    I agree that County Line should be the dog friendly side, but would ask that a larger loop be “OK” for dogs over there, I would not probably take them up on occasion as lapping the official dog loop is too short to be an enjoyable outing for me. I would be totally OK if the loop out and around and back from the Overlook was the only dog friendly loop in the network. I would also support “dog memberships” and paying for the dogs to go as an individual would pay to go. I agree that the tracks cause an issue to the grooming, but if we can limit the impact to one large loop it would be a lovely compromise. I think skijoring- being pulled in part by dogs- would be an awesome sport to support and at least allow on part of the trail system.

    But most importantly at this juncture, I think we must do a better job at education and signage up there on the trails. Visitor education (i.e. friendly reminders) need to be posted throughout the network of trails, and I would advocate for signs reminding folks of proper poop and dog etiquette. Other nordic trails do so, and we already have maps at the trail junctions, so why not add “There is no such thing as the poop fairy” (my personal favorite) below the maps and “Don’t let your dog ruin someone’s ski” -Education that it is important to keep your dog out of the way of other skiers, as it is a much different environment than a trail where one can easily stop hiking and avoid a dog. I have had multiple encounters on my skate skis where I nearly wrecked because of out of control dogs, and it is admittedly annoying (though also my choice to ski county line for the view).

    We have a lot of education to do with folks (though admittedly a pile of dog poop on the trail should be self explanatory) and I think this is a great opportunity to discuss how it is best to get the etiquette messages to the users, and how best to ensure dog owner compliance regarding poop and control, and how best to spend our limited resources (i.e. how much track and which track should be allowed to be torn up by my sisters dog’s paw prints when I bring them up on occasion- especially if I buy day passes for them).

    Thanks everyone! See ya out on the trails!!

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    • Cynthia M’s input is one of the best yet. Her emphasis on education, signage and suggestion to establish an extended “dog loop” is a great compromise for County Line.

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  6. This is really waste of money! Are we going to restrict bears, coyotes, squirrels, deer and other animals who might poop on the trail? The trails and forest are a good outlet for dog enjoyment and exercise. For heavens sakes let the dog’s have a life too!

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  7. I would like to voice my support for formalizing the current situation: dog-free at Skyway, dog friendly elsewhere. That said – at County Line last weekend I was charged by and growled at by an unleashed dog on loop 1. The owners had minimal to no voice control of the dog and seemed oblivious how potentially dangerous the situation was. I cannot understand how dog owners with aggressive tendency dogs fail to leash them and subject other folks to the aggression and I suppose there is no practical way to improve this dynamic except to tell the owner that ‘it’s not cool’.

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  8. I’m glad to see that most of the posts here are relatively civil and have well-constructed arguments for both sides. I’m an avid skate skier and enjoy having my pick of dog-friendly, or dog-discouraged trails. I respect the no dog policy on Skyway and enjoy skijouring and skate skiing with my dog at County Line. There are few other places to take my dog for exercise in the winter month’s, especially when the trails in the Grand Valley are wet and cannot be frequented. Having dog friendly trails is a great way to spend time with my training partner year round. As a multi-year GMNC supporter, I would have to discontinue my support if I am forced to leave my dog at home. Like me, she can’t stand being pent-up inside. I agree that dog owners should be respectful, pick up after their pets, and be responsible for their dogs actions. I like the current dog policy at both trails, and feel that its in-line with the tag line of many National Forests: “Land of Many Uses”.

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  9. “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it.” I have skied All of the groomed trails of the Grand Mesa Nordic Council for more than ten years. In that time I have never experienced problems with dogs on the County Line trails. In fact I enjoy seeing the dogs — part of the family! I like Skyway dogfree as it is. Keep things the way they are. It is, perhaps a compromise among users — but that’s the name of the game.

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  10. It’s quite simple really. If you would like to go on trails where the tracks are groomed and dogs are prohibited, please enjoy trails A, B, and C. If you would like to enjoy a experience where dogs are allowed and no leash requirements, then please enjoy trails X, Y, and Z.

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  11. This is an easy win. Those who don’t like dogs can go ski Skyway.
    Dog lovers like myself will ski County Line.There is plenty of room on the trails at Grand Mesa for us all to enjoy our freedom and the beauty of the forest without infringement on anyone.

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  12. “The proper response to a GIFT, even a gift of charity, is GRATITUDE.” Beware- when “charity is replaced by justice as the ruling principle upon which social benefits are distributed…
    while charity deals in gifts, justice deals in rights…When gifts are replaced by rights, so is gratitude replaced by claims.
    And claims breed resentment. Since you are queuing on equal terms with the competition, you will begin to think of the special conditions that entitle you to a greater, a speedier, or a more effective share. You will be always one step from the official complaint, the court action, the press interview, and the snarling reproach against Them.” (Gratitude & Grace- Roger Scruton, American Spectator- April 2, 2010)
    Is this where we find ourselves – regarding dog usage on the Grand Mesa ski trails issue?
    We have been skiing this area for over 40 years, and GLADLY pay our annual Grand Mesa Nordic Council membership- in recognition of our gratitude for this gift.
    Perhaps it was inevitable- with increased usage over time- that some would choose to turn this into a “justice and rights” issue. It doesn’t have to be that way…
    As a former field employee of the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, I would like to RESPECTFULLY remind everyone that these lands are managed under a multiple use doctrine for all Americans…
    And speaking of RESPECT, we users would be well served to demonstrate a little of that rare & precious quality- in consideration of those who may have different preferences than our own.
    In light of the current reality (which has worked just fine for so many years)- that folks with dogs have been ASKED to ski at the County Line and Ward areas, and those without dogs can ski the Skyway area- why can’t folks just continue to voluntarily exhibit a little tolerance, respect, and GRATITUDE for the GIFT we enjoy?
    (There are many other NO DOG areas; but very few that allow dogs.)
    The old cliché- “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”- seems apropos.
    Very Respectfully- John Cossick & Mary Wood, Montrose, CO

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  13. Because of the increasing popularity of skiing on the Grand Mesa, conflicts with dogs and people are also increasing. Our Nordic tracks are so beautiful until destroyed by dogs. Shouldn’t our priority be on skiing? I find that dog owners often feel a sense of entitlement about their own pets and are oblivious to the rights of others. Last week an aggressive canine charged me. Today pristine tracks were quickly ruined by doggy paws and someone left three plastic bags filled with feces by the bathroom. If people leave their dogs at home the problem is solved.

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  14. Last year while skate skiing with a friend on Scales Lake Road, we encountered a skate skier being pulled by 4 dogs. They took up the whole trail. When we spoke to the skier, he became enraged, claiming the dogs were service dogs, entitled to go anywhere. Not wanting to argue, we skied away. Then the maniac started screaming at us in a threatening way. We left. Confrontations like this are becoming more common. Remove (ban) the dogs and the dangerous confrontations go away. Then it will just be people out skiing, and usually saying hello.

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  15. I completely support a ban of dogs at Skyway. Please keep County Line dog friendly and maybe we dog owners need to hold each other accountable for leashing at the trailhead and for cleaning up poop. I am also a dues-paying member of GMNC and would probably give up my membership if dogs were not allowed at County Line because I always ski with my dog. Thanks for all of the great work!

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  16. I hope that the GMNC will consider keeping County Line dog-friendly as-is. On any matter, there will always be people who disagree with something and be a squeaky wheel. The amounts of dog owners who use these trails respectfully far outweigh irresponsible ones. I have supported GMNC in the past and will continue to do so if the trails remain relevant to my needs. I have no problem keeping dogs off Skyway, so if any changes against dog owners are decided I hope this is the only one. Thanks for your consideration!

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  17. As a service dog user, I have every right to use whatever trail I desire to use up on Grand Mesa. I bring my dog with me when I go cross-country skiing.
    HOWEVER, I have chosen to respect Grand Mesa Nordic Councils’ request that Skyway and any other trails that are dog-free, remain dog free. I am not denied access on Grand Mesa, there are places where dogs are allowed, just as gorgeous as Skyway. While I do love dogs, especially my service dog, she does not need to be on every single trail that is up on the Grand Mesa. This is true for anyone who has a dog. I feel that it is a matter of respect as to where owners take their dogs.
    So, in short, yes – there should be trails where dogs are NOT allowed AND designated trails for dogs.

    A hearty thank you to GMNC & donors for making it possible to enjoy the beauty! Let’s not abuse this folks, please, just because we want “Fido” with us.

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  18. I’d like to first thank the Nordic Council and the Forest Service for providing the outdoor loving population a superior and spectacular Nordic skiing venue. Most users know that skiers with dogs customarily use County Line, and those wanting a dog free experience use Skyline. Without signage this may be unclear to some users. I know I and other conscientious dog owners would be happy to step up our effort to be courteous and compliant with obvious etiquette actions such as: leashing in the parking lot until away from the congestion; scooping poop; and informing fellow users of the importance of above actions. Please give us a chance to do the right thing! We love skiing with our dogs!

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  19. Please continue to allow freedom for our canines at County line & Ward . It is my understanding that as a courtesy Skyway is a Dog-Free system which is honored by the majority of dog owners. My four legged friend loves the great outdoors as much as I do

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  20. I’m not completely sure that I understand the issue here. I agree with keeping Skyway Area completely dog free for the serious skiers who are training there. As a moderate skier, I mostly ski at County Line and frequently come across out of control dogs who present a hazard to me and degrade the tracks. (I am a total doggie lover, have 3 and never take them with me to ski.) If the dog-free zone at Skyway cannot be enforced without banning dogs from all areas, then I am in favor of a total ban. The trails are primarily there for skiing, not for walking dogs.
    I have been a member/supporter of GMNC for 10 years. Lived in Steamboat for 30 years before moving to this area, and am blown away by the quality ski trails that we have here. Please keep them for skiing.

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  21. My wife and I sincerely hope that County Line will remain a “dog-friendly” ski area, and we are both in agreement that Skyway should either informally remain a “dog-free” area or formally ban all dogs. We also believe that owners’ dog-control could be improved in the County Line parking lot and trailhead areas.
    My wife and I are classic cross country skiers, and we are dog owners. Over the years, we have mainly skied at County Line (about 90% of our outings), but we have occasionally skied at Skyway (9% of outings) and infrequently skied at the Ward area, Mesa Lakes, the West Bench Trail, the Waterdog Reservoir Trail, and the Lake of the Woods Trail. When we ski at County Line, we bring our dog along about 90% of the time. When we ski at Skyway, we NEVER bring our dog. We have ALWAYS removed all of our dog’s excrement off of the groomed & un-groomed trails, and we have occasionally removed other people’s dogs’ excrement off of the trails; you might have witnessed us doing this, since we use a blaze-orange, plastic trowel, and I always carry this trowel on the side of my backpack.
    We are guilty of allowing our medium-size dog (50 pounds) to mostly run free on the trails, but we do carry and utilize a leash for any encounters with other leashed dogs and some other occasional situations. As a side note, after numerous early attempts to ski entirely with our adult dog on a 6’ leash, we found those ski outings to be considerably more hazardous to our dog, us, and other skiers than free-roaming outings. Also, our dog has never growled at, bit, or attempted to bite any other dog or person, and she has minimally interfered with other skiers if she has interfered at all. Our dog loves snow and other dogs, and she is generally indifferent to other skiers. Since our dog is almost 14 years old, I do not believe her behaviors or temperament will change.
    As for any damage done to the groomed trails, I believe that our dog’s impact has been minimal; I have witnessed considerably worse damage to the trails caused by snowshoes, human boot-prints, excessively-wide skate-ski cuts (deep into classic tracks), human falls, snowdrifts, or falling snow/ice globs from trees.
    For those skiers complaining about dog owners not paying their “fair share”, my wife and I have contributed exactly $1025.00 to GMNC during the most recent four years (from Jan. 1, 2013 through Dec. 31, 2016). Have we donated enough? How do you determine anyone’s “fair share”? Furthermore, I thought that contributions to GMNC were voluntary, not mandatory, and based upon the donors ability and generosity.
    As for our dog possibly ruining other skiers’ wildlife experiences, considering all the numerous times my wife and I have either skied or snowshoed on the Grand Mesa with or without our dog (hundreds of outings), we have never seen any additional species of wildlife beyond a few bird and one squirrel. Exactly what wildlife species are any dogs supposedly interfering with in any capacity near Grand Mesa trails (anywhere above 9000’ elevation) during GMNC’s snow-grooming season?

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  22. I really would like to see the County Line trails open to skiers with dogs and Skyway trails open only to skiers. I hope that nobody is suggesting an outright ban on all trails on responsible dog owners with dogs. I am a cross country skier, a GMNC contributor, and I have a dog. There are days when I want to focus on my skiing so I go to Skyway and I leave my dog at home. There are also times when it’s fun to ski with my doggie and on those days I stay within the bounds of the Dog Loop at the County Line.

    My hope is that we would keep the needs of all users in balance and that we keep the current rules: no dogs on Skyway and a continued OK to be with a dog at County Line. I think that education and periodic enforcement of the current rules would be sufficient and very efficient.

    Safety concerns. Owners of dogs that endanger skiers should be held responsible for their dog’s actions. Period. That includes penalties and shaming for leaving dog’s waste on the trails.

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  23. Please keep the current policy of allowing dogs just on the County Line Doggy Trails. As a long time GMNC member and skier of the trails, I appreciate being able to ski without the unpredictable element of having a dog on the trail I am using. Even when on a leash they can cause problems and off leash they are not programmed for “ON BY”. Please do not allow them on Skyway and or do not expand to allow dogs on more County Line Trails. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

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  24. My husband and I come from out of state to ski the month of March. Our complaint with dogs on County Line is the poop left on the groomed trails. As long as you have dogs on the trails this will happen, the owners will not stop to pick it up.(This is huge dog poop too) We have only seen a couple of dogs with restraint, the rest are running free. We are dog lovers and have dogs but we leave them home to ski. Something for dog owners to think about, consideration for other skiers.

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  25. It’s unfortunate to read the seemingly “we against them” rhetoric that has appeared in some of the comments regarding “Grand Mesa Winter Dog Management”.
    Don’t most of us go to the Skyway, County Line and Ward trails for a positive experience, albeit on different levels?
    I have been a GNMC member for 22 years, and in the past, served on the Board, built and maintained trails, volunteered for events, and watched the GMNC trail systems grow and attract a larger and wider variety of skiers and snowshoers. I was around when dogs were okay at Skyway (oh-no!) and even for a year when there was no GMNC presence at Skyway…only County Line and Ward. I learned to cross country ski at Skyway and enjoy the trails, but my husband and I are dog owners and we respect the decision to attempt to make Skyway trails dog-free. We don’t have a separate membership for our dog, but we donate generously to the GMNC, monetarily and with our time.
    I think there will always be those who feel they have the right to “do whatever they want”, and bring their dogs to trails where they are not welcome or allowed; run snowmobiles on closed Nordic areas; and ignore general trail etiquette. Education and enforcement helps, but never eliminates the problems.
    I support trying to institute a completely dog-free policy at Skyway, and to leave County Line and Ward open to dogs on those trails. Leashing in the parking lot and dog poop/dog trail etiquette requirements are good ideas, but they can only attempt to be effective with some kind of signage and educational outreach at trailheads. It also takes everyone being responsible and helping others understand that responsibility too.
    I also agree that the GMNC will lose a lot of support, including possibly ours, if the USFS creates an across the board banning of dogs at all three of the Nordic systems.
    Sorry for such a long post, but I felt I needed to make a few important points.

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  26. I forgot to add. You could alternate each season to give people more opportunity to mix it up :)

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  27. Skyway should be dog free while county line should allow dogs. This is a fair compromise.

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  28. I am very heartened to hear other GMNC members would like to see greater management of dogs on our trails. I do not want dogs banned from our trails- but I sure would like to see more clearly defined access. My husband and I contribute generously each year to the GMNC to support grooming efforts and and I am honestly disappointed as an endurance skate skier whenever I ski on the County Line system. I hope to never see dogs allowed at Skyway and while I support responsible dog recreation at Countyline- I’d love to see some proper compliance with trail etiquette (ie. dogs leashed at the trailhead, dog owners yield to skiers on the groomed trail, and dog owners manage dog poop appropriately). Grooming is expensive and we gladly pay for it (as members) for a reason.

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  29. Keep Skyway dog free but do anything else and I would drop out of GMNC and strongly encourage others to do the same. Also consider that people, including myself, donate a lot of money to them (so actually many do pay for the grooming). I would not support them anymore.

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  30. My husband and I are frequent users of the trails on the Grand Mesa and take our dogs with us. We have respected the “no dogs allowed” at Skyway. We would like to continue to enjoy outdoor activities with our dogs on the Grand Mesa, without additional restrictions on where we can take them.

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  31. I love everything about the cross country and snowshoe trails that the GMNC oversees on the Grand Mesa. We are so lucky to have such an awesome Nordic trail system so close to home!!
    I am an active GMNC member and have been for years. I am proud to donate and to be a member of such a wonderful organization. Over the last couple of years, I have really enjoyed participating in the GMN race series as well. The race events are so fun and offer another opportunity to donate a bit more to our beloved GMNC. 
    I have always enjoyed taking my dog to the County Line trail system to ski and snowshoe with him. I have a loveable 100 pound Labrador and I am pretty sure that a trip to the County Line trails is his favorite thing in the world.
    I try to get up to Skyway or County Line once a week in the winter so I am up there quite a bit. I have always thought that the dog etiquette of allowing dogs at County Line and discouraging of dogs at Skyway has worked well. I have never seen an issue on either trail system in all of the many times I have been out there enjoying a ski or snowshoe. Trail users at Skyway refrain from bringing their dogs and trail users at County Line enjoy bringing their pooches out for some exercise in the snow.
    Regarding dog etiquette on the trails that GMNC oversees, I would like to see the current system stay in place. I think that trail users are respectful of the current guidelines. From what I have observed, skiers, snowshoers and dogs are getting along out there and are enjoying their trail experiences.

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  32. I am not in favor of making any changes to the existing Dog Policy. It’s my observation that for the most part people resect the local unofficial rules and that few dogs are found at Skyway. Encouraging the USFS to make any changes could have unintended consequences such as eliminating all Dog Friendly areas and summer use.

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  33. The Telluride Nordic Association (TNA) trails at Trout Lake and Matterhorn have the same safety, sanitary and confrontational dog issues you are discussing. TNA has the same type of FS permit GMNC has and is not allowed to separate the user groups. TNA has a “dog loop” designation which is voluntary to abide by. But that said, it is unfortunately generally disregarded by dog users. TNA would like to regulate/enforce one of our venues to be dog free but cannot per our FS permit at this time. I admire you for tackling the dog issues. 1/2 half of our users are dog owners and I would like TNA to provide a wonderful skiing and dog experience for them but in a separated user area. Rosemerry and I are members of GMNC also.

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    • Thanks Eric for sharing TNA’s experience. FYI Please have a look at what Meissner Nordic and Deschutes National Forest at Bend OR did in the late 1980s to deal with the user conflict issues.(meissnernordic.org, dogpac.org and conordicclub.org). The good news is there is a Forest Service precedent and reasonable solutions out there to deal with increasing winter user conflicts on public lands.

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  34. I fully support the current voluntary policy of keeping the Skyway Trail System free of dogs. Having an area dog free is appealing to many of the people that use, race, train and contribute to the trail system. While not a dog owner, I frequently ski at County Line and expect to see dogs on the trails. The problem isn’t the dogs, it’s the owners not keeping track of them pooping on the track or not leashing them in the parking area. I suggest signage at both areas as well as Ward Lake outlining proper trail/dog etiquette be installed. If dog owners want to continue using the GMNC trail system they need to step up and start being responsible for their dogs. I’ve never encountered aggressive dogs on the trails, only aggressive users. Because of the increase in usage of all the trails on the Grand Mesa dog owners need to take responsibility for their pets. If the USFS decides on changing the current policy regarding dogs, then enforcement will fall on them.

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  35. Please keep Skyway dog free and allow dogs at County Line and Ward Lake.

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  36. The way it is, works for me. If dogs are banned from the trails membership will drop and I wonder how viable the present model will be. Dogs should be welcomed on Skyway when county line is closed as it was a few years ago(in early season) for logging.

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  37. If people do not want to have any contact with dogs, skiers, in cooperation with the USFS and the GMNC, could agree to keep Skyway dog-free but please, please keep County Line dog-friendly. Dog owners, we all need to do our part and realize that consideration and caution go a long way, but those who don’t want to encounter dogs could use other parts of the trail system if we keep things as they are now.

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  38. Having only Skyway dog-free is not a realistic long-term solution. Skyway has only 15km of skate-classic trails, less than half the average of Nordic areas in the US. And most of the Skyway trails are moderate to difficult skiing – and over 10,000’ in elevation. A minority of users are capable of enjoyable skiing at this level, plus the number of users on GMNC groomed trails is increasing dramatically. If County Line is designated as a dog park, the large number of skiers looking for groomed, easy-to-moderate trails will be the losers. This group needs County Line where they can ski without interference from off-leash, out-of-control dogs.
    The large majority of dogs and their owners currently do not obey Forest Service regulations, County ordinances, and basic etiquette rules. Until they do, there will continue to be public safety issues, sanitation issues, and dogs encroaching on Skyway across the connecting trails. After years of bad dog behavior at County Line, I have no confidence that compliance with the laws will ever happen.
    Furthermore, if County Line trails are officially designated 100% dog-friendly, it would be difficult to justify the cost of Pisten Bully grooming when less expensive grooming would be more than adequate. If dogs do not have “Mutts Memberships” and their owners have GMNC memberships, they are not paying their fair share of the grooming cost. Apparently very few dogs, if any, have ever purchased a membership.
    Trail users with dogs have unlimited winter opportunities on 99% of Grand Mesa National Forest outside the GMNC groomed ski areas. They can form their own non-profit such as the very successful dogpac.org and work with the USFS to create a suitable separate snow park for their activities that will not endanger other users.
    Skyway and County Line, to remain a sustainable long-term Nordic operation, should be designated a dog-free area consistent with the world class Nordic area that it has become. If that happens I would gladly triple my donation to GMNC.

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  39. I totally agree with Art

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  40. I take my dog to County Line and Ward because I want to ski with like minded dog owners. I would never take my dog to Skyway as I respect the fact that not everyone wants to deal with dogs. I have supported GMNC for several years and appreciate all the great work they do on these trails. If my dog is banned from every trail I will be cancelling my membership. I want to continue to support this wonderful organization and hope we can find a way to compromise.

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  41. I hope that dogs will continue to be welcome at Ward and at County Line. Keeping Skyway “Dog Free” is reasonable. It would also be reasonable to require that dogs be kept on leashes in parking areas. I would predict that the GMNC will loose many members if dogs are prohibited at County Line and Ward.

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  42. While a dog owner myself, I don’t take my dog up to County Line or Skyway since those are groomed trails. There are other trails on the Mesa that can handle dog use and abuse. A couple of years ago, the mass of dogs running around off-leash knock me down, which resulted in a hairline fracture of my tailbone. The owners didn’t even apologize. I’m wary of dogs while I’m skiing now; most dogs are off-leash, don’t listen when called, and their owners don’t clean-up after them. Already, there are too many out of control dogs up there, including at Skyway. Many growl and bark at both humans and other dogs. Leash them and limit them to the Dog Loop. I’ll pay more to support the Council at that time.

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  43. I think the way this is presented above is unclear. The comment by GMNC, “The Forest Service has posted requests for comments on dog restrictions on GMNC trails. At present, we cannot operate Skyway Trails as “dog free” as there are no formal restrictions on use” implies the question is as to whether formal restrictions should be placed on dogs at Skyway. That is not the the question the NFS is exploring. I spoke to an NFS employee today who explained that they have been inundated with complaints regarding dogs, their poop and parking lot behavior at County Line. This is why they are seeking input. With this in mind- I still believe dogs should be kept out of Skyway and would like to see this formalized. I personally do not like skiing (riding, hiking or being) with a lot of dogs on the trails and in the parking lot because, frankly, I am afraid of dogs and carry the scars of having been brutally attacked by someone’s “very nice dog that does not bite”. However- because I know a lot of folks love being outside with their dogs, I’m all for the current arrangement of separation. As for the behavior of dog owners- it’s probably a good idea to get a handle on the poop and the lack of leashes in the parking lot (which is, in fact, the law)

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  44. Over the years my wife and I have skied at both Skyway and County Line many times. We have never encountered any dogs or dog droppings at Skyway. At County Line we have encountered dogs and what they leave behind. Some dog owners just knock snow over their dog droppings on the trails and parking lot. We have both skied or stepped in their droppings which is not fun to clean off of your skis and boots. Also, my wife has been bitten by dogs (not while skiing)whose owners say that “their dog does not bite”. Because of this my wife gets very anxious when dogs approach us on the ski trails and in the parking lot. At the least, keep Skyway dog free. Another factor to consider is the affect of the dogs on the wildlife.

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  45. To the USFS:
    For many years the informal, voluntary exclusion of dogs from the groomed, x-country ski trails at the Skyway Trailhead on Grand Mesa, while allowing dogs on other, extensive trail systems, has facilitated safe, enjoyable recreational opportunities for different user groups. This year I have encountered people with dogs at Skyway which has created tensions and potential conflict.
    Other people’s dogs and serious skate skiing don’t mix well. Other people’s dogs and little children don’t mix well. Other people’s dogs and the pristine quality of the natural, wondrous, winter world don’t mix well.
    At least one extensive, dog-free, trail system should be legally maintained on the Grand Mesa.
    Please prohibit by regulation dogs on the Skyway Trailhead system. Please allow this one area to be free of dog-poop, dog-interactive-play, and dog-tracked trail abrasion.
    Thank you for your consideration of this serious issue,
    Charles Kerr
    Grand Junction, Colorado

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  46. I do not like dogs on the trails on which I ski. Part of the reason I ski is to observe the winter wildlife. Dogs eliminate that part of my experience.

    I have no problem with trails being set aside for skiers with dogs, but most trails should not permit dogs.

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  47. For GMNC to continue calling itself truly a Nordic skiing center, it must adhere to having some part of the system reserved exclusively for skiing. We are asking for unwanted consequences, like dog attacks and personal liability issues at places where races and ski classes are scheduled. There is no way to keep up with the damage caused with dogs in the 60 pound range when running freely on classic tracks. The last straw for me was encountering three dogs tethered to a skier in the middle of the track along with 4 other dogs running freely along side the others! Priorities are askew. How about taking dogs for a run on the expansive BLM lands around our communities. I doubt the Forest Service or Powderhorn resort condone dogs running freely at the ski resort. Why can’t we expect the same? Solution: restrict dogs to the “dog loop” at Countyline…the dog waste on our trails is reason enough to set some limits.

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  48. We have a cabin across from Sunset Lake that we like to visit in the winter. We access it from the Jumbo Lake parking lot. We like to take our two dogs with us. We have them on leash but sometimes that becomes very cumbersome when other people let their dog run free and approach us. I wish they would just leash their dogs! Please continue to let dogs go towards Sunset Lake.

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  49. Allow dogs at County Line and Ward Lake I understand that some skiers don’t like dogs at Skyway. That’s fine to keep separate.

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  50. No dogs allowed on groomed trails! Many times I’ve had to maneuver around dogs running around the trails. Close to disaster on downhill stretches, and I don’t even go that hard. Also have had to get out of the track because of dog crap. Let dogs go in non-groomed areas, and even then be leashed.

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    • What some people may not understand is that National Forests are designated multiple use areas. To attempt to exclude dog owners from an area where dogs have traditionally allowed would be very difficult and most likely unsuccessful. This is not a private area like most others and the Forest Service is obligated to try to accommodate uses that are consistent with National Forests.

      Does the GMNC have a position on this issue?

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  51. Please keep County Line open to dogs! That is something those of us who ski and have four legged friends value greatly. Thank you!!

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  52. We ski with our dog and it is a big reason we go to Grand Mesa and belong to the GMNC. However, it is only fair that those of us without dogs and those skiing with dogs be kept separate, the way skiers and snowmobiles are kept separate. Skyway should be dog-free and County Line should have dogs, is my recommendation.

    Ed Marston,
    Paonia

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    • Yes, I agree with Ed. The only thing I would add is that we dog owners should help educate one another about the necessity of keeping dogs leashed. I skijor on at County Line almost weekly with my huskies and the only issue I encounter is that other people’s unleashed dogs run up to my dogs and start fights. My dogs will ignore another person’s leashed dogs, but they will not ignore a dog who runs up to them.

      Suzi

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  53. As a contributing member of GMNC, I am fully in favor of keeping the Skyway trail network dog-free and this is one of the primary reasons I love skiing there. Aesthetically speaking, it is so enjoyable to have a place to ski without the canine dynamic (and accompanying waste along the trails). As for safety, allowing dogs at Skyway would, in my opinion, pose a safety risk for the more advanced skiers in that area – especially on the tighter, winding trails such as Vista Ridge and Sunset where poorly controlled dogs may pose hazards to fast moving skiers. The sheer number of dogs at County Line on weekends sometimes appears as an out-of-control free-for-all but while I understand and support the inclusive County Line dog policy I would be really saddened to see this also occur st Skyway. On a broader perspective this is an important point to make. Nearly every Nordic center in Colorado designates both dog-free and dog-friendly trails while some ban dogs outright on any ski trail. It would be highly unusual to designate an entire Nordic area as dog-friendly absent of any accommodation for those who prefer a dog-free Nordic experience. I ask that GMNC in conjunction with the Forest Service continue the present policy and continue to maintain Skyway as a dog-free area. Thank you,

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  54. Thanks for working on addressing the Dog issues on Nordic trails.
    It is my hope that the Forest Service can distinguish dog friendly zones. As a dog lover I am all for Skyway being dog free and I have always abided by the request to keep my dogs off of those trails.
    I have supported GMNC financially and politically because there are trails available to responsible dog owners wishing to ski with their canine companions.
    If the FS blanket bans canines from the Nordic trails GMNC will lose my support. There is a place for both.

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  55. How bad is the problem? We seldom use Skyway because of the dog restriction, but the times we have, we haven’t seen dogs other than the parking lot.

    I would hate to see the USFS implement a ban with no interest or ability to enforce it. A ranger on skis would be cool, but probably not a very wise use of their limited staff.

    Most of the time we use the “Dog Loop” at County Line. Would it help to have a similar dog friendly area at Skyway?

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  56. I like the way it is now. Is the question whether to put an official restriction in place for Skyway? I think that would be fine, so long as it is just Skyway. It’s only fair to have a place where people who don’t want to ski with dogs around have a place to do that.

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  57. Lots of Nordic skiers own and love dogs. However, we don’t all take our dogs to the groomed ski trails that we spend thousands of dollars to maintain! Let those who choose to destroy freshly-groomed trails with their dogs be the ones who pay to maintain them. If dogs can’t be prohibited from Skyway AND County Line, I’m going to seriously consider discontinuing my support for the G.M.N.C.. The people skiing with their dogs aren’t paying their fair share, so why should I?

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    • Dave,

      How do you know that people with dogs are not paying their fair share?
      The trails and land are for everyone to share.

      Suzi

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      • Suzi,
        I was told that many of the “pro dog” folks who supplied their last names are not even paid members. As quickly as dogs can destroy a freshly groomed trail, it means they have to put more hours on the snow cat. It has a life expectancy of fifteen years. However, that is totally dependent on how much it’s run. By keeping my dogs off the groomed trails, I’m not impacting the quality of skiing of others or requiring the Pisten Bully to re-groom a trashed trail.

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        • Dave,

          We would like to correct your opinion that dog owners do not contribute to the GMNC. As responsible dog owners, we have donated several times the posted dues amount/year to the GMNC over the past 7 years. We know other dog owners who do likewise.

          Art Trevena
          Joyce Tanihara

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      • I do not know if people who ski with their dogs on our groomed trails pay their fair share.Maybe if they want to ski with them on the groomed trails, they should buy a membership for their Dogs, which should be the same as for the people. We have done a hike to the Wave and hikers with dogs had to pay for a permit for their dogs, same as a human hiker. That is, if there are only 10 permits sold per day, the dog would take the place of a human. My husband and I have been members since 1992, we have skied the Grand Mesa before there was any grooming. In those days you saw very few dogs on the trails. Since grooming enables dogs to enjoy running on the trails, they should pay like us for the privilege.

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    • My dogs don’t destroy trails. It’s one of the only places were I can go to play and ski with my dogs. I love to go with my parents and my dogs. So many people and dogs enjoy it, why take away a fun, outdoor, family oriented activity. My dogs are part of my family and I love them. I love to ski in the beautiful pine forest with them.

      Yishai Trowbridge, 10 years old.

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      • Dogs destroy the grooming by simply walking and running on them. For quality Nordic skiing, the type we are expected to financial support, the grooming has to be pristine. It is a similar line of reasoning in prohibiting snowshoeing on groomed trails. There are countless other more appropriate options for taking one’s dogs out in the snow. Thanks!

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    • I have been member of GMNC now for 8 seasons and I am proud to say that I always try to contribute extra : as I did for warming hut and the new groomer! Since my activities now as a new dog owner are limited to County Line, I suggest to all dog owners a separate “dog” account.
      Even as of now I pay more for a “km” groomed since I am only allowed to skate on County line and NOT the whole system!
      In any case I strongly disagree with saying that dogs destroy trails ( except soiling ) I do NOT think that those trails are any slower and most of the “damage” is only, and I emphasize, Cosmetic!
      Happy Skiing.
      Filip

      Reply

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