By Robert Hudson
In 1995 and again in 2006 Metro proposed two bond measures to acquire land for future parks. This was widely supported by Portlanders, but what was never disclosed to the public was Metro’s plans to make all the parks prohibited to dog owners even though the trails on the purchased lands has been used to walk dogs for over 40 years.
In the last couple months, many people have taken notice and expressed their concern to the media. Some people are going as far to say they feel the bond measures to aquire the land was misleading in leaving out that information and would not have supported it if that was known, causing Metro’s Parks and Nature Conservation program director Dan Moeller to speak out in an attempt to justify the policy.
Over 17,000 acres of attained land are off limits to dog owners. The justification for this according to Mr. Moeller is that dogs would disturb wildlife away from the trails and out of sight of patrons of the parks. He also went on to say that dogs are natural predators and their mere presence would deter wildlife away from the parks altogether or somehow cause their demise. It’s hard to think of a wiener dog as a dangerous predator. In one interview he even went as far to say that dog poop would pollute the water system in these areas and kill wildlife. The geese population leaves many times over more waste products in the environment than dogs in the busiest dog park.
Yet in other parts of the state this is handled much differently with designated trails that are OK for dogs while others are prohibited, or actual dog parks were built within a large park and kept separate. This way dog owners and people without dogs could co mingle peacefully. That is not the case with the Metro Park System.
Moeller also suggests there are alternative parks from Portland to Wilsonville, but fails to take into account not everyone is able to make long treks to parks outside their neighborhoods, or may not even have their own transportation. These Metro parks from the bond measures were popular walking spots for seniors and others with limited transportation options.
Many people hope with all the new public pressure Moeller will rethink this policy, but so far has refused to enter into any two way discussion of the subject.
What is your opinion on this? Should limited access to the parks be given to dog owners? Email Don Moeller firstname.lastname@example.org