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Don't Let Them Do It!

posted Nov 11, 2013, 5:30 AM by michele biscoe   [ updated Nov 11, 2013, 6:11 AM ]
In 2012 people who visit the Middlesex Fells with dogs participated in a process that lasted almost the whole year to obtain accommodations to enjoy the trails of the Middlesex Fells with our dogs under voice control.  There are over 100 miles of trails in the Middlesex Fells.  We attended at least eight public meetings. We wrote over seventy letters. We submitted a petition with over three hundred unique signatures. How many miles of trails are there where dogs are allowed to be off leash?  That’s right. Zero.

There is not one inch of trail in the Fells for people with dogs under voice control.  Yet, for every two people visiting the Fells there is one dog, and 85% of dogs in the Fells are not restrained by a leash.  These are the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) numbers from a survey they conducted at the Fells (We'd provide a link if the DCR hadn't taken it down:  For example, however, see our open letter to Senator Katherine Clark, Representative Paul A. Brodeur, Representative Paul J. Donato, Representative Christopher Fallon, Representative Sean Garballey,and Representative Stephen Smith in the Boston Globe.)

The codification of a state-wide leash law on DCR properties is bad policy: It is unenforceableIt ignores longstanding customary use of DCR facilities; Moreover, the proposed Park Rules and Regulations provide no guidance as to the process by which users may petition the DCR to designate and post areas where dogs are allowed off-leash.

Don't let them do it.  Please submit written testimony by 5:00 p.m. E.S.T. on Friday, December 6, 2013 to Laura Dietz via mail to Department of Conservation and Recreation, Suite 600, Boston, MA 02114, or electronically to regs.comments@state.ma.us.

A state-wide leash law is exactly what the DCR is proposing at public hearings across the state regarding the adoption of a new regulation at 302 CMR 12.00, "Park Rules and Regulations".  Hearings have already been held in South Carver and in Lawrence.  You can attend the next public hearing tomorrow night, Tuesday, November 12, in Brighton at the Community Rowing, Inc., 20 Nonantum Road, from 7:30 to 8:30 PM.  Additional meetings will be held on November 14 in West Boylston and on November 21 in Amherst.  Details about the public hearings are available from the DCR online (for a limited time only!) at http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/public-outreach/public-meetings/. (After the meeting dates pass, you'll have to try to find the information by following links on the DCR website for "past meetings".)

The Coalition of Massachusetts Dog Owner also has information about what the proposed new Parks Rules and Regulations mean for MA residents who share our lives with dogs.