Point Roberts Parks and Recreation commissioners have officially designated all of Baker Field and associated forested land owned by the district as an off-leash area.
At their June 13 meeting commissioners all agreed that, with increased enforcement of leash laws by sheriff’s deputies and county parks staff, the Point needed a place where dogs could legally be exercised off-leash. They also acknowledged the need to establish limitations that could create conflicts with other user groups.
“I think it needs to be specific and not just at any time,” said commission chair Linda Hughes. “There are potentials for conflicts with equestrians and concerns from parents.”
Commissioner Mary Edgley said she had checked with county officials and the district had the authority to make the rules for off-leash use of the park. The land is zoned recreational and open space, and off-leash areas are a permitted use, the county planning and development services confirmed.
“We just need to decide how we want to manage it,” Edgley said.
Commissioners agreed to set time limits for off-leash use, and signage, rather than fencing, to increase the flexibility of the property and cut costs. “If people get used to the concept you can have multi-use areas that really work,” Edgley said, citing examples such as Lake Padden in Bellingham and the Delta Watershed area.
Edgley suggested off-leash times in the morning and afternoon. “That way if you’re a parent and you don’t want your child around dogs you can choose all other times,” she said. Commissioners agreed to establish before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. as off-leash times from April through October. The area will be designated multi-use at all times for the remainder of the year, with later limitations to be established during school hours.
Commissioner Bennett Blaustein will be drafting rules for off-leash use of the park, first and foremost being that dog owners pick up after their dogs. “So far the off-leash people who have been using the park have been really good about this,” he said. “If it becomes an issue we’ll have to look at it again.”
Other rules will include that dogs be under owner control at all times and owners are responsible for the actions of their animals. “If you can’t control your dog, it shouldn’t be there,” he said. The district will also reserve the right to require that dogs be leashed during special events.