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Md. state parks consider relaxing pet policies

November 08, 2009|By JULIE E. GREENE

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- If proposed pet policy changes are approved for Maryland state parks, people would be able to take their dogs to more campgrounds and dogs could take a dip at Greenbrier Lake during the off-season.

The Maryland Park Service has received a lot of requests for greater pet access at state parks, including campers who want to be able to bring their pets along, Deputy Superintendent Chris Bushman said.

Some parks have campground areas that allow pets and some, like Greenbrier State Park, do not, state park officials said.

Park officials have heard some people say they wouldn't go camping without their pets.

More people are planning their vacations and trips around places they can take their pets, whom many people view as part of their family, Bushman said. The proposed policy changes would allow greater pet access.

The major change in Washington County would be at Greenbrier, which is southeast of Hagerstown.

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Proposed changes would allow pets to use the day-use area and lake, except for the sandy portion of the swimming beach area, from Oct. 1 to April 30. The term "day use" is used to differentiate park areas from the campground.

Daniel P. Spedden, park manager for the South Mountain Recreation Area that includes Greenbrier, said some people thought pets were already allowed at Greenbrier.

Pets had been allowed on the Appalachian Trail, which cuts through or goes by several state parks in Washington County, Spedden said. More than a year ago, the South Mountain Recreation Area started allowing pets to go on undeveloped areas in those state parks, including backwoods trails, to be more consistent with Appalachian Trail rules, he said.

To take your pets on those trails, pet owners need to park at the lot off Mountain Laurel Road or the lot off Greenbrier Road, he said.

If the proposal is approved, pets still wouldn't be allowed in the lake during the swimming season or on the sandy beach year-round because those areas can get crowded and also because of sanitation concerns, Spedden said. The proposal calls for pets to be allowed in the picnic area during the off-season.

The proposal also would open Greenbrier's largest campground, the Dogwood camp loop, to campers with pets, Spedden said. Camping season is May 1 through Oct. 30.

At Fort Frederick State Park near Big Pool, the proposal calls for allowing pets in the picnic area.

The Maryland Park Service is accepting public comments on the proposed pet policy changes until Monday, Nov. 30.

After the comments are reviewed, Park Service Superintendent Nita Settina will decide whether to approve the changes, Bushman said. If she approves them, Park Service officials hope to have the changes in place by late winter or early spring, he said.

Learn more



o To view the proposed changes to the pet policy, go to http://dnrweb.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/petpolicy/mpspetpolicy.pdf

o To comment, go to http://dnrweb.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/petpolicy/comment.asp. Or you can mail your comments to: Pet Policy Comments, Maryland Park Service, 580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21401.

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