Keep Concord Conservation Lands Open For Off Leash Dog Walks

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It is with great dismay and astonishment to hear that Harvard has permanently closed Estabrook Woods to off leash dog walking. And even more shocking, The Concord Natural Resource Commission (NRC), is strongly favoring leash laws in Punkatasset, Monument Farm, Mattison Field and White Pond conservation lands. In total, this means nearly 1300 acres will soon be unavailable for off leash walks.

Much of Concord’s land has already restricted off-leash walking of our pets. Great Meadows, Minuteman Park, Old North Bridge, and Walden Pond are just a few. And now we are losing nearly 1000 acres in Estabrook Woods. We therefore seriously question the wisdom of reducing it by another 300 acres.

This will create much greater stress on the few remaining areas where dogs can go off leash. The problem will not only be shifted, but it will be intensified and the nimby syndrome is likely to spread. The NRC states that this represents only 25% of the town owned lands, but unfortunately, it will only add to the already limited areas residents have for freely walking with their dogs.

The NRC is making the case that because of Harvard’s restrictions, the Town should also restrict Punkatasset. The logic being that it will create a consistent policy throughout the interconnected properties. They are also claiming that off leash, dogs have a serious negative effect on the natural environment and create a hazard for other users who may be enjoying the property without pets.

The evidence presented for this was anecdotal and subjective. No data was provided to substantiate these claims. Many long term users dispute the intensity of these assertions and the vast majority of walkers are responsible dog owners who practice proper pet etiquette. Recent changes at the entrance to Estabrook have resulted in cleaner pathways, and concessions to the neighbors over parking have significantly reduced usage.

Our conservation lands are one of Concord's greatest assets, and it is indeed a privilege to use them. It is an attraction for many to move and continue to live here. They provide a much needed refuge and place for people of all means to experience the prosperity of wide open spaces. The joy of sharing them with our two and four legged friends actually connects us with nature and creates an even greater appreciation. Sadly, closing them to off leash walking will mean fewer, if any residents, will regularly engage them.

Please sign our petition to allow dogs to walk off-leash in our Town conservation lands (which were purchased using our taxpayer funds). Thank you.



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