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March 20, 2012

 

Lime Hollow makes room for dogs

New Lehigh Valley Trail gives dog walkers place to take their pets

DogsJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
A sign informs hikers Monday about walking dogs with leashes along a 1.3-mile stretch of Lime Hollow’s Lehigh Valley Trail off Gracie Road in Cortlandville. The trail, opened in June, is the nature center’s first to allows dogs, which are barred from the park’s other trails.

By MATTHEW NOJIRI
Staff Reporter
mnojiri@cortlandstandardnews.net

CORTLANDVILLE — Glenn Reisweber compares himself to a baseball umpire in telling dog walkers they cannot take their pets on any of the Lime Hollow Center for Environment and Culture’s 10 miles of nature trails.
Lime Hollow has a strict “no dog” policy and Reisweber said most people respect the rule. He said there are still many people who walk away disappointed.
But dog walkers have another option available to them.
Reisweber and other Lime Hollow staff are directing dog walkers to a 1.3-mile stretch of the Lehigh Valley Trail.
“This seems like a phenomenal compromise,” said Reisweber, Lime Hollow’s executive director.
The trail has been open to dogs since it was opened in June 2011 but Reisweber and Lime Hollow officials have recently started making a push to let people know they can walk their dogs there. The trail runs along the old railway right of way.
The Lehigh Valley Trail, also known as the Cortland County Linear Park, is owned by the county. A portion of the trail runs through Lime Hollow so the center has an agreement with the county to maintain the trail.
The county policy allows people to have dogs on the trail as long as they are on a leash.
There is a gravel parking lot on Gracie Road where people begin their dog walk.
Reisweber said the dog owners must keep their animals on a leash and pick up after them.
Reisweber says dog owners still cannot walk their dogs on the Lime Hollow trails. The Lime Hollow policy prohibits dog walking because they are “a threat to wildlife.” Reisweber said the presence of dogs leads some wildlife to take cover or leave the area.
“People are coming to a nature center to see animals in their own habitat,” Reisweber said.
There were also concerns about whether dogs — leashed or unleashed — could be a threat to the people on the trail, particularly children and senior citizens.
Lime Hollow is also has a “secondary concern” about lawsuits that could arise from allowing dogs on the nature trials, Reisweber said. The only exception to the dog policy is an allowance for guide dogs for people with disabilities.
Reisweber said people are still learning about the new policy for the 1.3-mile piece of the Lehigh Valley Trail. Only a section of the trail is open for dog walkers.
The Lehigh Valley Trail is about 2.6 miles.
“People are delighted to see that stretch of trail open (for dogs),” Reisweber said.
On Monday, Rachel Busch, a business manager from Lime Hollow, took her dog Athena on a stroll on the trail.
Busch said the trail is the perfect length for Athena, a white and brown coonhound-pointer mix.
“She just loves the sounds and smells,” Busch said of her 6-year-old dog. “I think she really enjoys being down here.”
Lime Hollow plans to add a new sign letting people know about the dog-friendly trail. Busch said she occasionally sees dog walkers on the trail but expects to see more as the word gets out.

 

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