Selectboard bans dogs from Oak View Hill trails

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

Dogs are no longer allowed on the Oak View Hill trails.

The Williston Selectboard voted unanimously Tuesday to ban dogs from the trail system — a town trail easement located on the Isham Family Farm — after persistent disregard of leash rules by pet owners. A growing number of off-leash dogs have been degrading the farmland and interfering with the farm’s operations.

“We’ve asked people nicely to follow the rules and keep their dogs leashed, and still people are disregarding the rules and letting their dogs off leash and leaving their dog doo bags behind,” Williston Conservation Planner Melinda Scott said. “At this point, it’s really become untenable.”

The trail system has been town-managed since 2001. It’s the only one of the town’s trails that winds through a working farm. The land, located on the east side of Oak Hill Road, is managed for wildlife habitat and maple sugaring. 

Signage will be posted alerting users of the new policy. It may serve as a wakeup call to local dog owners for the consequences of not following leash laws on publicly managed trails, landowner Mike Isham said. 

“This will be a good lesson to the dog owners that they have to be respectful on other trails, too,” he said. 

Scott acknowledged that enforcement of the no dog policy will be a challenge that relies on reports from the landowners and other trail-users. If dog owners continue to take their pets on the trails, the next step would be to chain off the parking area and close the trails to the public, Scott said. 

“I’m sorry to see it come to this,” Selectboard member Joy Limoge said.

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