Do you think issues such as development, affordable housing, and traffic are the hottest topics in town? Think again -- the hottest topic is when and where dogs can go off-leash. Dogs must be leashed at all times in both Park City and Summit County except in designated dog parks, but those laws were routinely ignored by many who want a large area for their dogs to run around. There have been some unfortunate incidents of off-leash dogs attacking people, other pets, or wildlife and this has galvanized both the off-leash and on-leash sides of the discussion.
Park City Council recently changed course and allowed off-leash dogs in two areas where dog owners had often let their dogs run off-leash anyway: the grassy area near the library on Park Ave. and the city-owned portion of Round Valley. Round Valley is a large recreation area bounded by Trailside to the north, US40 to the east, Old Ranch Road and Park Meadows to the west, and Quinn's Junction to the south, which has the hospital, ice rink, and the USSA (United States Ski/Snowboard Assoc.) Center of Excellence. In case you're not familiar with Round Valley, it is a great recreation resource in the Park City area. Most non-motorized recreation is allowed and it is popular in the summer for hiking and mountain biking, and in the winter for cross-country skiing, showshoeing, and snow biking. And of course, dog walking.
The tricky thing is that this new regulation only applies to city-owned property which encompasses most, but not all, of Round Valley. The rest of Round Valley is owned by the county and private owners. Most important at the moment is that this does not applied to land near the Trailside trailhead. There are still kinks to be worked out between the city and the country, but here is a broad description what dog owners should do from what I've heard on the radio and read in the news:
- Dogs should be on leash within 150 feet of trailheads, homes, or other properties like the National Abilities Center
- Dogs should always be within visual and audio range and that they will respond to their owner's commands
- Dogs must not be aggressive with people, other dogs, or wildlife
- You should clean up after your dog. As the signs near trailheads say, "There is no poop fairy" to clean up after your dog
- If your dog is ill, does not get along well with people or other dogs, or should not be approached for some other reason, you should keep it on-leash and also tie a yellow ribbon, scarf, or handerchief around their neck to alert others that they should not approach your dog.
This is a new policy and the details are still being worked out. The best suggestion is just to be responsible and courteous. Here are some resources with more information:
The Park Record: "Park City throws dog owners a 1,400-acre bone"
Mountain Trails Foundation: "Round Valley Off-Leash Dog Information"