Dogs to be leashed at Cache Creek Trailhead, Teton Pass in winter

(Jackson, Wyo.) - The Jackson Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest has issued a decision intended to improve management of recreation during the winter months in the Cache Creek and Teton Pass areas. The decision comes after nearly a year of public dialogue primarily focused on how to improve responsible behavior for people recreating with their dogs on the National Forest. New requirements for other uses were also proposed in December 2015 to support the overall goals of protecting wintering wildlife, safety for people and pets, clean water, and promoting positive respectful experiences among trail users. According to a released issued today by the BTNF, it is clear that many of the issues are rooted in visitor behaviors that are best addressed through peer-to-peer educational pressure to follow shared use ethics for entire areas rather than enacting regulations for very small areas. In January, the Forest Service launched an expanded winter ambassador program and educational outreach effort around responsible dog ownership with assistance from Friends of Pathways and PAWS. Five community volunteers stepped up to be ambassadors and to date, monitoring and visitor feedback suggests that their efforts in combination with Forest Service snow ranger presence and opening of the temporary dog park in town is making a difference. Jackson District Ranger Dale Deiter, stated that this positive feedback in addition to thoughtful insights provided by the public strongly influenced his decision. Public input to the proposals released in December 2015 revealed support for many of the proposed changes while also highlighting potential negative consequences, particularly related to leashes being required on the Cache Creek trail and prohibiting fat tire bikes on the sidewalk trail. After reviewing public comment and resource specialist input, Dale Deiter decided to implement the following changes to winter use management effective December 1 through April 30 annually: - *Dogs will be required to be leashed in the Cache Creek trailhead area.* The trailhead area includes the road, parking areas and kiosk areas. The requirement is intended to reduce dog waste that accumulates because people are not watching their pets immediately after they exit the vehicle. The requirement also helps promote safety by requiring people to have greater control over their dogs in a very congested area where vehicles and loose dogs are not compatible. Leashes will not be required on the Cache Creek trail beyond the kiosk area to avoid unintentionally pushing more people to the Sidewalk and Hagen trails resulting in potentially more conflict between different trail users and with wildlife. Good dog control through the use of leashes, electronic collars, and voice recall training will continue to be essential elements of responsible behavior on the trails. - *Dog waste will be required to be picked up and bags deposited in trash cans.* This change will aid enforcement efforts to reduce dog waste in support of clean water and safety for people and pets. - *Dogs will be required to be leashed on Teton Pass.* This area includes the roadway, parking areas at the summit of Teton Pass, and kiosk areas on the trails towards Mount Glory and towards Mount Elly. This requirement is intended to reduce dog waste and improve safety in very congested areas where vehicles and loose dogs are incompatible. - *Winter wildlife closure areas will be expanded in the Crystal Butte area and slightly modified in the KC-Sink or Swim area* as described in the December 2015 proposal. The sledding/walking knoll at Nelson Drive will remain open to human use as will the road to the town water tank. This change in the winter closure boundary will greatly improve protection for winter wildlife and aid in the enforceability of closures. - *The Sidewalk trail will remain a shared use trail open to walkers, runners and fat bikes.* The newly constructed Woods Canyon hiking trail accessed from Nelson Drive is closed to bike use in the summer and the decision clarifies that this closure extends through the winter season. The decision to keep the sidewalk trail shared use was made to avoid unintentionally pushing more use to the Hagen trail, maximize the ability to disperse use within the congested lower Cache Creek area, and keep trail uses consistent between the summer and winter seasons. Signs will be installed to help promote shared use ethics on trails where bikes and walkers mix. The new Woods Canyon hiking trail does provide a reasonable alternative for walkers who prefer a trail with no bikes, recognizing that this trail may not be as well-packed and thus, may require snowshoes or skis for use. - *Snowmobiles will be required to stay on the Cache Creek road for approximately the first 1.2 miles.* The requirement provides access for those wishing to use snowmobiles to recreate in the upper portions of the drainage but helps avoid conflict with wintering wildlife and people in the lower canyon. At noted in the proposal, keeping speed slow, keeping the classic ski track intact, and respecting the Wilderness boundary will be critical to maintaining future snowmobile access in this area. Other aspects of the winter use recreation program already underway will continue. Leash requirements in the Putt-putt trail area and on Game Creek will remain intact with improved maps that clarify where regulations apply. The expanded educational outreach programs, ambassador efforts, and enforcement efforts underway this winter will continue as will efforts to improve trailhead facilities where funding can be secured. The Forest Service recognizes that these changes are only part of a continual evolution in the work necessary to manage ever increasing use in the Cache-Game and Teton Pass areas. Dale Deiter noted that, based on monitoring trends in dog waste, public safety, use conflicts, and wildlife incidents as well as public feedback, he intends to continue working with the community to improve resource conditions and promote positive experiences for all. The changes in regulations will be implemented through amending existing Forest special orders. This process is expected to take a few weeks. Forest Service staff will immediately begin informing trail users about the regulation changes. For more information on winter use regulations in the Forest and to acquire a winter use travel map, visit *Feature Photo: Cache Creek / Pitchengine Communities.* #buckrail #news