Dogs deserve a place to run free |

Dogs deserve a place to run free

Like many people in our community, I have two great dogs. They need to run on a daily basis, or they sure get cranky. But there are very few places around Grass Valley proper where I can let them run. There’s no fenced area around Grass Valley to let your dog run free.

We need an off-leash dog park: a place where both dogs and people can exercise, socialize and relax.

Many communities throughout California do have dog parks. Even people who don’t own or like dogs benefit from such a park. It puts running and sometimes muddy dogs out of the way and behind a fence.

People who like dogs but don’t own one can go to the park, play with the dogs there and then simply go home – no dog to feed or care for. We have such great terrain possibilities in our community, yet people still have to drive great distances to visit a dog park.

It’s time for our community and all animal organizations to join together to create such a park within a couple of miles of downtown Grass Valley. We need to bring our ideas, our money, our land and our muscle together to make it happen. I have talked to city officials, animal organizations and volunteers, as well as dog owners throughout the area.

For the most part, we all see the need and want the same thing. The only reason it hasn’t happened yet is that our hopes and efforts have been too diversified. As a community, we must join our efforts to make it happen.

The City of Grass Valley and the Parks and Recreation Department should be commended for allowing dogs on leashes in parts of Condon Park. Although many officials in City Hall support a dog park, there is no money in the city budget to develop or maintain one. Also, city officials have stated that there is no existing city park that could be fenced in for dogs.

It is most likely our park will be developed on private land – donated or purchased for canine lovers.

It’s going to be up to the people of Grass Valley. It is crucial that we develop a plan for insurance, ongoing upkeep and maintenance.

Many people have asked what happened to the Al Salter gift to the community. In 2003, the Al Salter Living Trust transferred about 36 acres at Bitney Springs and Mystic Mine to the Nevada County Land Trust “to be used primarily as a recreational park for the benefit of dogs and other pets and their owners.”

Through an extensive volunteer effort, the Land Trust attempted to create a dog park there but ultimately decided it was not feasible, and they sold the land. With the roughly $600,000 in proceeds, the Land Trust created a fund in Salter’s name to promote the welfare of animals. This month they awarded grants totaling $22,500 to four different groups.

The fund’s chairman, John Taylor, has stated they would consider a request to participate in funding a dog park provided the community’s plan is well structured and financially stable. Such a dog park would be a worthy legacy to Al Salter.

You can help. At many local veterinarians, we are circulating a petition in support of creating an off-leash dog park, which you may sign. Or call or e-mail me (274-1086 or, and I’ll send you one.

We are looking for a some young people to take over the gathering of signatures for this petition. More than 200 people already have signed.

Help identify parcels of land that may be suitable for such a park – at least two to four acres. Perhaps you know an animal lover who is good with budgets and proposals – we need them.

Most important, come to the community meeting for the creation of a Grass Valley Off Leash Dog Park. It will be held on April 16, 6:30 p.m., at the Grass Valley City Council Chambers on East Main Street. Mayor Mark Johnson has agreed to moderate this meeting. Many animal groups and lovers will be coming together at this meeting. I hope to see you there.

Jeff Russell lives in Nevada County.

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