BTNF: You need to leash your dog on Putt-Putt Trail

(Jackson, Wyo.) - Today, the Bridger-Teton National Forest issued a release reminding people who recreate on Putt-Putt Trail that it is required to leash your dog to protect both the dog and area wildlife. The Jackson Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest released a proposal in December of last year for improving management of recreation use during the winter months (December 1-April 30), particularly in the Cache Creek drainage. District staff are now reviewing public input and weighing options to address the issues. The goal for the proposal is to develop community based solutions that minimize the effects of growing recreation use by improving user responsibility, especially with respect to wildlife, water, and trail use interactions. With strong roots in both recreation and conservation, the Forest wants to be a dog friendly community that cares about wildlife, a healthy environment, and access to nature. The proposal for winter use emphasizes an expanded educational effort with relatively small changes in regulations. This method is based on the premise that the most effective approach is peer-to-peer pressure that results in a change to social norms for acceptable behavior. The proposal also calls for more monitoring using four metrics which track whether or not there is an improvement in conditions on the ground. One of the metrics is the compliance with existing leash requirements in the Putt-putt and Game Creek areas adjacent to crucial winter wildlife habitat. Leash requirements in the Putt-putt and Game Creek areas have been in effect since 2005 with visible signage. Since 2005, there has been a substantial change in use on the Putt-putt trail originating from the trailhead at Nelson Drive. More people are discovering that the trails are packed down enough to offer an easily accessible walk, bike, or run into the National Forest. However, the Putt-putt trail area is also very important habitat for wildlife. It is located adjacent to the National Elk Refuge and contains open aspen stands and accessible vegetation which is ideal habitat for animals to use during the day for feeding and resting. Moose are often encountered in this area as are deer and elk and occasionally cougars or bighorn sheep. In 2005, the decision made allowed people to use this area for winter recreation but required dogs to be leashed to minimize wildlife disturbance. Dogs are viewed as predators by many wildlife species, leashing them helps reduce the potential for harassment and minimizes the energy expenditure from wintering wildlife. Recent monitoring suggests that less than 50 percent of trail users are complying with the leash requirement in this area with much of the activity happening early in the morning or in the evening. “As a community that consistently expresses support for wildlife protection, I would hope that more recreationists would demonstrate their respect for wildlife through the simple act of leashing their dog in critical areas,” said Dale Deiter, District Ranger for the Jackson Ranger District. In response to the monitoring information, district staff is asking for the community’s help to support compliance with leash requirements in the Putt-putt and Game Creek areas. Patrol and monitoring efforts will be increased and additional input will be sought on how to balance the needs of both wildlife and recreation in this area before a decision is made on winter use in the Cache Creek and Teton Pass areas. For winter closure maps and more information about the Bridger-Teton National Forest visit #buckrail #news