Jackson Hole Daily, Mike Koshmrl– Dogs will soon need to be leashed at two of Jackson Hole’s most popular wintertime recreation destinations, but only in the areas directly around parking lots.
Required leash zones at Cache Creek and Teton Pass will cover roads, parking and kiosk areas.
The reach of the new rules, expected to take effect within a “few weeks,” is reduced from a Bridger-Teton National Forest proposal that designated the first half-mile of Cache Creek’s main trail a leash zone, said Linda Merigliano, wilderness and recreation program manager.
“Because we’ve seen a pretty positive response from the [trail] ambassadors and people do seem to be improving their responsibility,” Merigliano said, “we’re going to try to see if we can make that work without having a leash requirement on the trail.”
People who engaged the Bridger-Teton while the proposal was being vetted indicated they would walk their dogs on other Cache routes if there were a leash rule.
“Our intent was not really to push use to side trails,” Merigliano said.
A proposal to designate the Cache Sidewalk trail off limits to fat bikes was also scrapped to avoid pushing too many bikers onto the Hagen Trail, Merigliano said.
A coming Bridger-Teton special order, which will formalize the regulations, will make it a $125 offense to not pick up and dispose of dog poop. Currently the forest doesn’t have the authority to ticket people who look the other way.
The new parking area leash requirement is designed in part to cut down on left-behind dog waste, which has accumulated in volumes in the past but is harder to find this winter.
“The overwhelming response this year has been that it’s much better in Cache Creek than it ever has been,” Merigliano said, “and we’re thrilled to see that.”
The community dialogue, temporary dog park at the fairgrounds and volunteer trail ambassadors trained by the Bridger-Teton are factors Merigliano credited for the improvement. Funds and education campaigns from Friends of Pathways and PAWS of Jackson Hole have also helped, she said.
PAWS Executive Director Amy Romaine said the Bridger-Teton’s new rules are a “good idea.”
“From the standpoint of PAWS and responsible pet ownership, leashing in the parking lot is going to help tremendously with poop pickup,” Romaine said.
The Bridger-Teton’s special order will also modify some wildlife closure areas, which are off limits to pets and humans from Dec. 1 to April 30. The closure will be expanded on the slopes of the Crystal Butte area to prohibit use of the Crystal Lite and Crystal Butte trails. Near the KC and Sink or Swim trails east of Snow King the winter closure area will shrink slightly to give people a looped wintertime hiking option on the edge of town.
Snowmobiles will be barred from off-trail travel along the first 1.2 miles of the main Cache Creek trail once the rules take effect.
While enforcement won’t begin until the special order is signed, education about the regulations starts immediately.
“We’re to use some discretion with this,” Merigliano said. “Our overall approach is always to educate first and gain people’s compliance.”