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Tag: trails

I see a problem and I want it painted orange

orange poop 1

Dog poop is being spray painted bright orange on some forest trails in Oregon to increase public awareness of the problem — as if stepping in it doesn’t make you aware enough.

The campaign from the Oregon State University College of Forestry and local veterinarians is aimed at showing the amount of dog waste owners are leaving behind, and the potential ecological problems that could result.

Both of those are real enough concerns. But — not to question the noble efforts of organizers and volunteers — does spray painting something orange really solve anything?

If so, there are a few things (coming up in a minute) that I want to spray paint orange.

“We’ve been getting dozens of complaints from people noticing the increasing amount of poop on the trails and it’s been getting worse the last couple of years,” explained Ryan Brown, recreation and engagement program manager for OSU Research Forests. “We’re all dog lovers and dog owners and walkers of these trails and we know the opportunity to have dogs out here is super important to the community of Corvallis. And 99 percent of them are really careful and clean up after their dogs. But we want people to be aware that this is causing a lot of problems.”

“There are stream ecology studies happening in the waterways along Oak Creek and anything that gets into the water can drastically change the ecology,” Brown added. “That isn’t natural and it can really throw off the health of the streams and cause certain organisms to grow that aren’t natural to the area.”

So on Saturdays for the past month or so, volunteers had been spray painting any piles of dog poop they spot on trails with heavy duty orange paint, which really isn’t natural either.

Later — in theory, after the orange piles have made their point — volunteers return to pick up the day-glo messes.

orange poop 2On Saturday, about 20 volunteers picked up around 1,000 piles of poop at Oak Creek, Peavy Arboretum, Lewisburg Saddle and Calloway Creek trail, the Seattle Times reported.

I thank them for their service, but I would also note that pollution and annoyances comes in all shapes, sizes and consistencies, from all sorts of human sources, and they regularly taint our air, water and peaceful existence.

Should those get painted orange as well?

What about those signs of political candidates who leave them up for weeks, or months, after the election?

What about the ringing cellphones of people in a theater?

What about those robots who work for companies that call YOU up and ask YOU to hold for an actual representative?

What about utility and credit card companies who, while urging you to go paperless and thereby save trees, send you through the mail pounds of paperwork, credit applications, loan offers, advertising and pamphlets touting themselves?

And, while we’re at it, what about the car windshields of non-handicapped people who park in handicapped spaces, and presidential candidates who spread hate? What about handguns, or maybe just their barrels, and all the lies and bullshit spewed in the course of an average day.

Paint them all orange, I say. You know what that will bring us?

A still troubled, very orange world.

(Photo: Top photo Albany Democrat-Herald)

Get off your butt, Butte


A proposal that would have allowed leashed dogs — leashed dogs! — at all public parks in Butte appears all but dead.

While Butte-Silver Bow County commissioners endorsed the idea of looking at a second dog park, they didn’t budge Wednesday night when it came to a proposal to alter the local law that bans dogs — even those on leashes — in all of the other parks in Butte.

Because, as one commissioner said, “dogs don’t belong in parks.”

Even in a town as stuck in the past as Butte — the “richest hill on earth,” the home of our good friend, the Auditor — that kind of thinking can only be described as medieval.

The council endorsed a measure 7-4 Wednesday night that would open the door for future designated dog park areas, like the one that exists at Skyline Park on Butte’s east side, but the local law that bans all dogs in all other parks appears likely to stay in place for now, the Montana Standard reported today.

Commissioners recently approved an “emergency ordinance” allowing leashed dogs in Skyline.

But it hasn’t acted on a broader proposal to allow leashed dogs in all parks, on public trails and in open spaces.

Commissioner John Sorich moved that the council reject that proposal but leave open the possibility of having other designated dog areas.

“I too love dogs,” Sorich said. “I have a 10-week-old puppy I’m trying to train, but I don’t believe they belong in parks. I don’t have a problem with walking trails.”

Other commissioners backing the ban say many dogs are mean, and leave messes behind them.

“We spent a long time getting dogs out of parks in Butte-Silver Bow County, and a large majority (of people) don’t want to go back,” Commissioner Jim Fisher said. “I’m a messenger for the people, and they are telling me no dogs in parks.”

Ordinances ban dogs from all parks in the county, but not from public trails.

Commissioner Bill Andersen said dogs are an important part of many people’s lives and should be allowed in more parks.

“I like my dog better than most people,” he said.

Kelley Christensen, the county’s special events coordinator, also spoke in favor of the proposal to open parks up to dogs, saying many people have dogs and they should be welcome in more parks.

“We feel this is giving our community a way to walk out in nature with their pets,” she said.

Opening parks in the county to leashed dogs was part of a proposal put forth by Parks Director E. Jay Ellington. He said the ban and large “no dogs allowed” posted at parks signs sent an unwelcome message about Butte.

Ellington recently announced he was leaving Butte to take a parks job in Texas.

(Photo: Walter Hinick / Montana Standard)

Reynolds: The man, the smokes, the legacy

So he played a big role in getting a nation hooked on cigarettes. So he was the richest man in the state of North Carolina. So he was the sort of fat cat businessman from whom I tend to initially withhold respect — based on my automatic assumption that they had to crush a lot of butts on their way to the top of whatever heap they are on.

I wanted to hate him — for being the father of my addiction, for the fact that I can’t finish this blog entry without taking a break for one of his products — but, after a little research, I think I almost like R.J. Reynolds, and, even more, the estate he left behind.

Ace and I hang out there at least once a week — roaming the 130 acres that were part of his 1,000-plus acre country home, known as Reynolda.

The mansion is an art museum now. There are formal gardens, and a one-time village that’s now home to galleries, shops and restaurants.

But what we like best are the hiking trails that take you through thick woods and open meadows, rich with wildflowers and wildlife, past beds of pine needles and vines of  honeysuckle so pungently sweet they penetrate even a smoker’s jaundiced nostrils.

I got my start in cigarettes at, probably, age 16, pilfering Salems from my mother. Then I moved on to unfiltered Pall Malls — also a R.J. Reynolds brand, and also pilfered, in this case from a neighbor.

I remember my mother used to put her Salems in little ceramic holders. The little cups with a dozen or so cigarettes in them could be found around the house, serving almost as decorations. She didn’t smoke them that often, and when she did, she didn’t inhale.

I did — first her throat-searing menthols, then the neighbor’s filterless Pall Malls, before working my way up to Marlboros; those, after all, were perceived as the most manly, and didn’t leave you spitting out little pieces of tobacco.

Like most smokers, I ponder quitting at least weekly, most recently last week as I walked the trails of Reynolda, past a vine of honeysuckle that was leaning out into the path, the tiny tendrils of its blossom waving in the wind, like beckoning index fingers.

If only I could be hooked on honeysuckle, I thought. If only its sweet essence could be inhaled. Then I realized that’s exactly what I was doing. As I wondered if honeysuckle might be my salvation, I realized, if somebody studied it enough, honeysuckle could turn out to be bad for us too (though I don’t see how something with “honey” and “suckle” in its name possibly could).

Then too — even if honeysuckle did satiate that urge, and even if I harvested my own and came up with a smokeless way to imbibe it — it would still lack that ease of use that plays such a big role in getting us hooked.

It was R.J. Reynolds who made smoking so convenient.

In 1913, Reynolds developed the pre-rolled, packaged cigarette. He priced them low, called them Camels, because Turkish paper was used, and they helped propel him to the top of the tobacco heap.

Reynold was born in Virginia to a tobacco-growing, slave-owning family. He attended two colleges, one of them in Baltimore, and went to work for his father before striking out on his own.

In 1874, he moved to what’s now Winston-Salem to start his own tobacco company.  He started his own tobacco company in what was then Winston. There were 15 other tobacco companies in town, but his outgrew them all.

Reynolds was an astute businessman and a hard worker, and he quickly became a wealthy man. He married a woman 30 years his junior, his former secretary Mary Katherine Smith, who, historical accounts suggest, helped bring out his progressive and philanthropic sides.

She successfully urged him to shorten the work hours of employees, pay them more and provide them with meals, schools and nursery services.

When he built what would become Reynolda House, he also had a village constructed nearby where workers could live. It’s now called Reynolda Village, a collection of restaurants and shops. Also on the grounds, golf being his passion, he commissioned a 9-hole golf course, which now serves as the grassy meadow where Ace likes to romp, or just rest.

Before he died, in 1918 of pancreatic cancer, Reynolds served as a city commissioner and helped get both property taxes and income taxes approved.

He also granted endowments to Guilford College, the Oxford Orphan Asylum, and the Baptist Orphanage, in addition to a lot of  other charities and churches in the Winston-Salem community. He became the first southern man to establish a hospital serving African-Americans. He donated as well to establish the Slater Industrial School, which became Winston-Salem State University.

R.J. didn’t get to enjoy Reynolda House too long. He died the year after it was completed.

His daughter, Mary Reynolds Babcock, would donate it for use as an art museum, and the Reynolds’ philanthropic ways would continue. About 300 acres of the Reynolda estate was donated to Wake Forest University, which moved from the town of Wake Forest to Winston-Salem in 1956.

Today, the Reynolds family name is stamped on much of Winston-Salem, including the library at Wake Forest, the airport, a high school, a park and an auditorium, and the various components that make up Reynolda — Reynolda House, Reynolda Village, Reynolda Gardens.

(Having recently returned to my ancestral homeplace in Winston-Salem, moving into the modest apartment in which my parents lived when I was born, I thought about naming it and its adjoining patch of grass after me. But I’m only renting, and Woestendieka doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like Reynolda.)

My honeysuckle encounter, and the hours I’ve spent slow-walking with Ace around Reynolda, have got me thinking I need to do more walking and less smoking, more pursuing of health and less feeding of urges. They’ve gotten me thinking too about how times change, and how things we were told were OK turn out not to be –  like slavery and smoking, which, not to diminish the massive evil of the former, have much in common.

I don’t blame R.J. Reynolds for inflicting the scourge of cigarettes on society. He was a product of his times, peddling a product of his times, and pouring some of the profits back into his community. Far more devious, I think, were the subsequent generations of tobacco pitchmen and the marketing techniques they used, aimed as they were at young people (Camels) and women (Virginia Slims and Eve).

Light up — if you want to be cool, if you want to be sexy, if you want to be liberated, or if you merely want to be a rugged Marlboro man.

Most of us — though it took decades — wised up and saw through that. Smoking is bad, and bad for you — always has been, always will be.

At least, maybe, until they come out with All Natural Smokeless Honeysuckle 100′s, which would have the added benefit of leaving you smelling sweet.

Then, and only then, will we have come a long way, baby.

(For more about visiting Reynolda with your dog, see our next entry.)

Are we thirsty in the desert? Oh Ace is

Ace — though he seems to appreciate the slightly wobbly stability our temporary trailer home in Cave Creek, Arizona, is providing — woke up Saturday morning raring to go.

Where, I do not know.

Maybe, with all the driving of the last six months, he now feels the need to ride. Maybe it was the crisp morning temperatures; or perhaps he’d gotten worked up by all the coyote howling the night before. They sounded as if they were having a feast, or a fight, or possibly an orgy.

Ace galloped out of the trailer, ran up to the car and took a seat in the dirt, his wagging tail kicking up dust and a look on his face that said, to me, “What are we waiting for?”

So, on the spur of the moment, I decided we’d revisit Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area — 2,154 acres of desert that over the years has been home to cowboys, Indians and mining operations. Now it’s part of the Maricopa County park system — and it’s just a few miles of paved and dirt roads from where we’re staying.

I’d driven out there last weekend, hearing it was a good place to romp with dogs, but didn’t really explore. On Saturday, I tossed Ace’s leash, water bowl and jug in the car, and off we went — planning not a long hike, just a 30 minute tour to better check things out.

The first thing we encountered was not a gila monster or a rattlesnake, but an extremely nice sheriff’s deputy. He was explaining the lay of the land to me and suggesting some trails when three guys on horses rode up. Ace, who had been around horses only a little — like back when we were passing through Maine — was a perfect gentlemen, and sat at my side. His eyes got big, as they seem to do when he’s amazed, but his hackles stayed down.

The weekend cowboys rode off, and the deputy and I talked some more. I asked if there were any areas where dogs weren’t allowed. He said they were fine everywhere — that rules call for them to stay leashed, but that the rules were pretty flexible. Well behaved dogs, he implied, could romp a bit off leash.

So, 50 yards down the path we chose, off it came.

Ace walked tentatively, avoiding the rocks as he veered from one side of the dusty path to the other, carefully sniffing the various types of cacti as I tried to remember their names, all of which I’d made a point of learning when I moved to Tucson 35 years ago — saguaro, cholla, prickly pear, barrel, agave … my memory of the rest had gone dry.

So had Ace. Not planning a long hike, I hadn’t brought any water — for me or him.

I wasn’t particularly thirsty. We’d only been walking 30 minutes or so, and at a very slow pace, with lots of pauses for sniffing. But Ace, who seems to have a better understanding of the need to hydrate than I, was clearly wishing for water.

He got his wish.

I didn’t know there even was a Cave Creek — as in an actual creek — much less that we were headed towards it, or that it, unlike most alleged bodies of water in these parts, would actually, at this particular time anyway, have water running through it.

Ace, after approaching cautiously, made the most of it. First he pawed it, then he took a tiny taste, then he plunged his head in, taking a long drink, running in circles, then drinking some more.

It wasn’t exactly a raging river, but here in the desert, you take what you can get. We hiked a little deeper down the trail, then turned around. By the time we reached the creek, he was ready to celebrate it once again.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Dogs have a way of living fully in the moment – no matter how piddly a moment it is — and we could learn from that.

Our 30-minute hike took two hours. We encountered five other dogs along the way, people on horses and people on mountain bikes, one of whom, as he rode, was singing at the top of his lungs. Possibly that guy was living in the moment, or just a nut.

We had one sour moment, when a lone female hiker snuck up behind me and decided I needed a scolding for not having Ace on a leash.

I hooked him up and let her pass, holding him to my side and assuring her that he was friendly. “That’s what everybody whose dog has ever bitten anybody says,” she said. She kept mumbling as she went by and, once at the trailhead, reported me to the sheriff’s deputy, who — though he didn’t consider it a hanging offense — reminded me of the official rules.

Spur Cross is the newest addition to Maricopa County’s Regional Parks System. Citizens of Cave Creek voted to pay more taxes to help the county and the state to buy the land. The conservation area’s trails pass through through archeological sites of the ancient Hohokam, who once lived along the creek, and one can see relics as well of its mining heritage and its days as a dude ranch.

None of that mattered to Ace. But he sure liked the water.

Running with dogs: All you need to know

Runner’s World magazine isn’t on my list of must-reads, anymore than jogging is on my list of must-dos, but I’m tempted to slowly walk out and get the latest issue right now — for it has gone (you guessed it) to the dogs.

Everything you ever wanted to know about dogs and running with them seems to be covered — from the top running breeds to how to avoid dangerous run-ins with dogs. It also has an interesting debate on whether dogs should be allowed off leash on running trails.

What are the top running breeds? Depends on the type of running you are doing. Runner’s World recommends weimaraners, goldendoodles, German shorthaired pointers, vizslas and Jack Russell terriers for long steady runs of more than 10 miles.

If you’re into shorter, speedier jaunts, go with a pit bull, greyhound, retriever or beagle.

If you’re running through more rugged terrain, or obstacles, choose a border collie, vizsla or Belgian sheepdog.

The magazine also suggests certain breeds for hot weather runs and cold weather runs.

Being Runner’s World, the magazine doesn’t suggest what type of dog is best for laying around and watching TV. But I can help you out there. Bulldog!

You can find links to all the dog-related articles in the issue here.

Robert E. Lee Park will rise again

releemastoffBaltimore County plans to spend $6 million in local and state funds to begin the first phase of improvements to Robert E. Lee Park — one of which is to establish a dog park within the park’s 415 acres.

Long a popular, but unsanctioned spot for dogs to run off-leash, the park — owned by Baltimore City but located within the county — remains officially closed. The footbridge leading to it was condemned as unsafe and recently demolished. The county will soon sign a long-term lease and take over management of the park.

While there is pressure from some groups to declare parts of the park off limits to dogs, plans call for a fenced-in area where dogs can run unleashed, and have access to the water. In all other areas of the park, dogs will have to remain on leash — a rule that will be enforced by park rangers.DSC02802

Work on a new bridge, estimated to cost about $2.8 million, is to begin in March and take about six months to complete. Construction of a fenced dog park and trails will start in late spring, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Plans call for the park to include a nature center, hiking and biking trails, fountains, benches, restrooms and improved access to Lake Roland.DSC02811

I took these photos at the park last year, while it was still open, but a little down at the heels. I’m fairly certain dogs, leashed or unleashed, didn’t vandalize the signs — more likely unleashed humans.

State parks may become dog-friendlier

gunpowder 023
State parks would become more dog-friendly under a series of proposed policy changes being considered by the Maryland Park Service.

The proposals are now open to public comment, which you can do by clicking here.

To see the full list of changes, park by park, click here.

Under the proposed changes, dogs will be allowed on some of the trails, picnic areas, campgrounds and day use areas from which they were previously banned.

At Gunpowder Falls, for instance, the proposals call for pets being allowed year-round in Dogwood section of the Hammerman area, and in the entire Hammerman area from October 1 to April 30.

“The proposed pet policy changes were developed with consideration for the opinions and perspectives of park staff and visitors who have contacted us about this specific issue over the years,” the Park Service said. “We also reviewed pet policies employed by similar parks and recreational facilities in Maryland and in other states.

“As part of the overall policy, park managers will retain the discretion to prohibit pets from certain facilities within areas where pets are allowed (e.g. visitor centers, playgrounds). Service animals will still be allowed in all areas open to their owners. Current regulations requiring that all pets be leashed and owners clean up after their pets will remain in effect.”

The state is also accepting snail-mailed comments. Send them to:

Pet Policy Comments
Maryland Park Service
580 Taylor Ave., E-3
Annapolis, MD 21401

Public comments will be accepted until November 30, 2009.