Recreation, unleashed

 

There are situations in which leash laws are appropriate on trails, but I encourage the Jackson Hole task force (“Heard around the West,” HCN, 10/12/15) and others to consider their effect on off-leash recreationists. Places off-leash recreationists can legally engage in their activity are often limited in number, accessibility and quality. For many (perhaps most) of them, on-leash or non-dog recreation is not a substitute.


A recent survey conducted for Oregon’s State Trails Plan provides some perspective. When asked their favorite trail activity, a greater percentage of trail users indicated off-leash walking/running than indicated horseback riding, mountain biking, or on-leash walking/running.  People who engage in off-leash recreation do so more days of the year, more hours per day, and at higher aerobic levels than those who engage in on-leash recreation; this leads to public health benefits.


I encourage everyone wrestling with this issue to find solutions that address diverse citizen interests over the long term, rather than pursuing “easy fixes.”


Kreg Lindberg
Bend, Oregon