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Misconceptions about Current Usage of the Fells

posted Nov 30, 2011, 11:48 AM by michele biscoe
Despite the fact that the RMP clearly states that, based on trailhead counts, there is one dog for every two people visiting the Fells and that 85% of all dogs in the Fells are off leash, the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation persists in promulgating the misconception that off-leash on-trail would somehow be a new or added use in the Fells.  According to the "Fells RMP Update - October 11, 2011" that was sent by e-mail by Paul Jahnige, Director Greenways and Trails Program, "mountain biking and off-leash dog recreation at the Fells that might be characterized as expansions."

It is therefore not entirely surprising that many of the stakeholder groups remain ill-informed about the reality current usage in the Fells and maintain an official position in support of enforcement of the existing regulations, and, thus, opposed to legal provisions for off-leash on-trail.  Here's what they have to say in their responses to the draft RMP with regard tos the existing regulations at the Fells requiring dogs to be on leash everywhere except in the designated off-leash area at Sheepfold.
  • The Appalachian Mountain Club includes "Enforce leash regulations outside of official designated areas and circumstances" among high priorities in the RMP that should be fast-tracked for funding and implementation;
  • The Environmental League of Massachusetts explicitly supports the RMP's recommendation for no additional off-leash opportunities beyond the designated area at the Sheepfold;
  • The Friends of the Middlesex Fells write "The DCR Fells RMP must not add visitor uses and access to the Fells, or promise new remediation and enforcement measures, until and unless DCR has demonstrated ability to provide effective enforcement of rules and regulations governing use of its urban parklands"; and
  • The Sierra Club writes that "the DCR should focus its current efforts and limited resources on closing unauthorized trails, curtailing unauthorized activities, maintaining existing trails, and repairing damage to sensitive areas".