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The original item was published from 10/10/2017 3:04:44 PM to 3/3/2018 12:00:00 AM.

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Posted on: March 2, 2017

[ARCHIVED] Most of Elk Meadow Park Dog Off-leash Area to Close; Search for New Suitable, Sustainable Site Begin

The Elk Meadow Park Dog Off-leash Area (DOLA) in Evergreen has become so popular with dog owners that the land has suffered from overuse near the point of no return. The high level of use, coupled with challenging site constraints, has resulted in unsafe conditions for visitors and dogs, trampled natural vegetation, poor water quality, eroding soils and streambanks and lack of compliance from park visitors. Due to these conditions, the majority of the Elk Meadow Park DOLA will be closed on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 for major restoration work. The fenced area of the park will remain open and will undergo changes in management. The remainder of the park will be closed indefinitely in order to allow the area to recover using tailored management strategies.

“The tough decision to close the majority of the park became the most responsible choice to address the safety and environmental challenges at this site,” said Tom Hoby, Director of Jeffco Open Space. “We are currently working with a local group in order to keep a portion of the park open under strict conditions. These conditions include immediate and ongoing acceptable water quality levels, and compliance with all park regulations, parking and crosswalk requirements. If visitors to this area fail to comply with these requirements the remaining fenced area will be closed as well.”

A local group, called the Friends of Evergreen Dog Park (FEDP), is currently forming a non-profit organization that will help to manage the portion of the Elk Meadow Park DOLA that will remain open. To address the current challenges, the FEDP will work to create a culture of voluntary compliance and stewardship through education and peer monitoring.

Jeffco Open Space hopes to offer uninterrupted access to this off-leash area while a search is conducted for a new off-leash area. Once a new site has been opened, the remaining fenced area of the Elk Meadow Park DOLA will be evaluated for future uses.

To address public safety concerns on Stagecoach Boulevard adjacent to the DOLA, Jeffco Open Space is working with Jefferson County Transportation and Engineering to address unsafe parking along the road and possibly implement tow away zones. The south parking lot will be designated for disabled, emergency and staff parking.

The safety and environmental challenges at the DOLA were highlighted at two community meetings in January and February of 2017. The public safety concerns include: unsafe parking along Stagecoach Boulevard, visitor ingress and egress, as well as exposing dogs and humans to high E. coli levels in the stream that runs through the park. The amount of dog waste left on the ground has caused high levels of harmful bacteria in the stream, coupled with the high impact of visitation, has created significant loss of vegetation, which acts as a critical barrier to prevent erosion and cleanse water.

The Jeffco Open Space Natural Resources Team is developing an ecological restoration plan that will guide staff, volunteer and contracted efforts to restore the main DOLA area during its closure. Closing the area is required for the land to recover, vegetation to re-establish, the streambank to stabilize and bacteria levels to drop. Restoring the natural vegetation will likely take at least three years, which is highly dependent upon the moisture received over this period of time.

The closure area will be strictly enforced in accordance with the Jefferson County Open Space regulation C.5. Natural Resources Protection that carries a $100 fine for the first offense. “It is extremely important that the public stays out of this area so the restoration work and vegetation recovery is not adversely impacted,” said Mary Ann Bonnell, Jeffco Open Space Visitor Services Manager.

Community Meeting: Thursday March 2, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Buchanan Park Recreation Center, 32003 Ellingwood Trail, Evergreen, CO 80439.

To sign-up to volunteer at the DOLA please contact Matt Martinez, Volunteer Services Specialist, [email protected]

Jeffco Open Space was founded as a land conservation organization in 1972. Our mission is to preserve open space and parkland, protect park and natural resources, and provide healthy, nature-based experiences. Funded with a one-half of one percent sales tax, our organization contributes to city and park district projects, has preserved more than 54,000 acres, and manages 29 open space parks and more than 230 miles of trails in Jefferson County, Colorado.

Matt Robbins
Community Connections Manager
[email protected]

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