Willow Creek Highlands trail to go leash only | SummitDaily.com

Willow Creek Highlands trail to go leash only

Jane Reuter

SUMMIT COUNTY – Where dogs once were allowed to roam free, under their owner’s voice command, they now will likely be required to be on a leash.

County commissioners are expected to pass a resolution May 13 that will make an approximately one-half mile portion of the Willow Creek Highlands trail a leash-only area for dogs. They passed the first reading of that resolution Monday.

The stretch of trail is short, but popular, particularly among residents of Silverthorne’s Willowbrook and Willow Creek Highlands subdivisions. It extends from the Silverthorne trailhead to the Eagles Nest Wilderness area; dogs are required to be on leashes in Silverthorne as well as in all wilderness areas.

The 39 acres that surrounds and includes that portion of trail is an open space parcel owned by Summit County Government.

County open space resource specialist Brian Lorch said the leash requirement makes sense because the trail “is sandwiched between two jurisdictions that require leashes.”

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Willowbrook resident and dog owner Nancy Shelden. “Personally, I find it intimidating and a little unsettling when I’m walking along and a dog is coming at me and there are no people in sight. If I know the dog, it’s not an issue. But nine times out of 10, I don’t know the dog or its disposition.”

Shelden frequently walks the Willow Creek Highlands trail with her dog, and said the majority of dog owners she meets don’t have their pet on a leash.

“I don’t necessarily have a problem with it when they have visual sight of the dog and it listens, but I’ve seen many a time where the dog is not in sight or it doesn’t listen, and that’s when I have a problem,” she said.

Summit County bought the parcel as open space in 1999. Since then, the open space department has been working to create a management plan for it. It held three public meetings on the proposed leash requirement.

“We haven’t gotten any comment in opposition to it,” Lorch said.

Outside of the base of the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Willow Creek Highlands, all dogs in the county are allowed to be off leash as long as they are under their owner’s voice control. The towns all have leash laws.

Lorch doesn’t anticipate adding other open space areas to the list of leash-required areas.

“We really feel that this is unusual because it is sandwiched between two other jurisdictions,” he said. “But we feel the rules and regulations which refer to animal control regulations are sufficient at this time on all the other properties.”

If commissioners approve the resolution during the May 13 meeting, signs about the change will be posted at the Willow Creek Highlands trailhead.

Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at jreuter@summitdaily.com

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