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Park officials vote to downsize areas for

off-leash dog parks / 9 news Denver

http://www.9news.com/video/default.aspx?bctid=117214512001

Above is a link to the 9 news video report.Sorry they make you watch a commercial first. It is an informative report though and worth watching.

ARAPAHOE COUNTY – For months, dog owners have been writing 9NEWS about a conflict at two of the state’s most popular parks. After hundreds of hours of debate, Colorado parks officials voted against those dog owners.

They voted to downsize areas for off-leash dog parks on Thursday.

The Cherry Creek State Park area will go from its current 125 acres to 107 acres, and the area at Chatfield from 80 acres to 69 acres. The downsizing was not the only decision made.

Park officials also unanimously voted to renovate the off-leash parks with new fencing, and extra staffing. The officials say they felt the changes were needed because of exponential growth of users at the two parks.

They say over the last 20 years, the number of off-leash dog users is 20 times what it used to be. The state says that growth has led to some safety and environmental issues.

David Tracer, an off-leash dog user for 12 years, attended Thursday’s public hearing.

“It really is a recreational area for people, first and foremost, and I’d like to see all users accommodated,” he said.

Tracer says he feels officials are downplaying how significant this downsizing really is.

“There is some conflict over what the actual size is, there are some areas that users believe have never been off limit that they’re saying have always been off limits,” he said.

On the other side of the debate is Bob Hantschel, who has run a horse camp for 37 years outside Cherry Creek State Park. Hantschel says he and his colleagues have not taken any public rides out this year. He says that is because there are too many dogs that spook his horses. The lack of public rides means a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in business.

“The unfortunate thing is that Fluffy doesn’t listen to their mom,” Hantschel said.

Cherry Creek State Park officials hope a wire fence will lower the number of user conflicts between dogs and horses. They say they do not feel their requests to downsize are unreasonable.

“[We've] formally designated almost the entire area at Chatfield, and a very large area at Cherry Creek to be, what we believe to be possibly the biggest off-leash dog areas in the country,” Ken Brink with the Colorado State Parks said.

Implementation of this plan could take up to five years. The full cost for the Chatfield plan is almost $190,000, and the cost for Cherry Creek State Parks renovation is more than $850,000. They say the reason that number is so high is because they are responding to the public’s request to create an entrance to the dog park at the 12-Mile South entrance.

The new user fee will be $2 per day or a $20 annual tag for off-leash users.