Leash laws proposed for popular Sierra wildlife area | SierraSun.com

Leash laws proposed for popular Sierra wildlife area

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com
One of Martis Creek Lake's recreation picnic areas near the main campground, with the lake in the background as seen in July.
Courtesy Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District |

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The sight of off-leash dogs walking alongside their owners in the Martis Creek Wildlife Area might become a thing of the past.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working on an updated Martis Creek Lake and Dam draft master plan that calls for dogs to be on leash, among other future guidelines for the property.

“It upsets me,” said Jonnie Jacobs, a part-time Truckee resident who walks her dogs regularly in the area. “… It’s a wonderful place away from traffic where humans and dogs alike can exercise and enjoy being outside. I see no need for the change in rules. The dogs are well-behaved, and people are good about picking up after them.”

Under the current Martis Creek Lake Master Plan, which was updated in 1977, dogs only have to be leashed in developed recreation areas, said Doug Grothe, parks manager for Martis Creek Lake.

At that time, the wildlife area was not considered developed by the Army Corps.

“It’s no longer an underdeveloped area with low usage,” Grothe said, in light of trails planned for the area, such as the Martis Valley Trail, and increased visitation.

According to the draft master plan, visitation to the Martis Creek Lake and Dam area located near Truckee off Highway 267 reached a high of 107,600 people in 2009, before falling to 94,600 and 85,400 in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Historically, visitation was between 20,000 and 40,000 from 1987 and 2000.

In addition, Placer County has a leash law, with the approximately 1,000-acre wildlife area falling within the county’s boundaries, Grothe said.

“(The leash proposal) is very disappointing and would greatly affect the desirability of the area for recreation,” said Renee Elsdon Jacobs, Jonnie’s daughter-in-law who lives in Sierra Meadows. “It would be a huge loss for the community, as hundreds (according to the report) of dog owners visit the area on weekends, specifically because it is so dog-friendly. Leash laws would completely change that.”

To accommodate those who wish to have their dog off leash, a fenced dog park is proposed in the document.

“They can be off leash, but it can’t be wherever they want; it will be in a defined area,” Grothe said.

The dog park is proposed between the Alpine Meadows campground and Martis Creek Dam area, he said. The size of the park has yet to be determined.

“Dog parks do not promote exercise for the individual and would not be somewhere I would go to substitute the loss of Martis Valley,” said George Mock, a Northstar resident and dog owner. “… The … proposal is underwhelming in comparison of the existing off-leash area of Martis Valley.”

Elsdon Jacobs added: “I believe that the fenced dog park would be a waste of money and is not desired by the local community. Dog parks are appropriate for cities, not rural areas.”

Other proposals in the document include changes in land classification, and therefore uses; new recreational activities; and infrastructure improvements.

Public comments should be emailed to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District public affairs official Tyler Stalker, at Tyler.m.stalker@usace.army.mil, or mailed to Attn: Tyler Stalker, 1325 J Street, Room 1513, Sacramento, CA 95814.

They will be accepted until the end of Jan. 3, 2015, Stalker said.

Comments received will be incorporated into the final version of the master plan, which is expected to be voted on by the Army Corps’ Sacramento District commander in summer 2015, Grothe said.

The lifespan of the document will be for at least 10 years, he said, with the document to be reviewed regularly to keep it relevant.