Dogs, Too, Are Invasive in the Wildlands


Who could object to a dog being able to frolic and be carefree roaming in the natural open space? A dog off its leash chasing birds and critters. The dog is having a ball, and likely its owner has a big smile, and is blissful and happy.

So, who could object? Well, me. I object.

Laguna Beach is surrounded by 20,000 acres of natural open space.  The idea is that this land is to be kept natural forever. This did not just happen, but was the work of many people starting with Jim Dilley who founded the Laguna Greenbelt in 1968.  The Laguna Canyon Conservancy was founded in 1988, and was the lead sponsor, along with the Laguna Greenbelt, Village Laguna, the City of Laguna Beach, and the Chamber of Commerce, of the Walk in the Canyon in 1989. Almost 80 percent of us voted to raise our own property taxes 6 percent in 1990, and the Laguna Canyon Foundation was formed.

I am on the Historical Society Board, and was recently looking at Chamber of Commerce brochures promoting Laguna Beach in the 1960s. The brochures included shell hunting and surf fishing. Times do change.

The rules of conduct in the open space include: leave only footprints, don’t take anything; do not feed, disturb, molest, or kill wildlife; stay on trails; do not make new trails; where dogs are permitted, they should be kept on leash; even in nature, pick up, carry out, and properly dispose of all dog excrement.

Why these rules, particularly when everybody is having so much fun? Because the wildlife will be threatened and be less likely to be in the open space. Dogs chasing them obviously will cause wildlife to seek other habitat.  But the scent of the dog’s presence will also be threatening.

Please follow the rules in the open space, and if you want your dog to run free, use the Bark Park on Laguna Canyon Road.

Gene Felder, Laguna Beach




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