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Salmon Center explores dog park

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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Change in special-use permit now allows dog park at Bel fair location

Dog owners and canine friends alike — go ahead and wag your tail.

The Salmon Center this week announced potential plans to add an off-leash dog park at its Belfair location.

"We're in the process of developing a master plan for our property during the next few weeks," said Mendy Harlow, executive director of the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group, which owns the Salmon Center property. "This is one component."

The Salmon Center is exploring adding a trail and fencing to a 38-acre parcel of property east of its main building to create the dog park, as well as adding a pavilion for functions and renovating a barn on the property.

Harlow said after the Mason County Commission approved a change in the property's special-use permit for the Salmon Center earlier this year, a dog park became feasible. The land is now permitted as "open space."

Harlow said that while she's received positive feedback from the community about a potential dog park, the Salmon Center sees the park as an opportunity for educational programs.

"A big part of what we do is education about water quality," Harlow said. "We've been leading a big push, for the last decade really, for pet owners to pick up their pet waste."

Harlow said that many pet owners might not realize that pet waste left out can make its way back into streams and creeks, which can introduce bacteria into the water supply.

Not only does this have the potential to make people sick, but it also affects shellfish and salmon, Harlow said.

The Salmon Center hopes to be able to add interpretive signs and have a staff member at the park to teach pet owners about the benefits of picking up pet waste. In addition to on-site learning, Harlow said a North Mason dog park would also help reduce the number of cars driving to other places for canine recreation.

"We have people driving their pets into Silverdale, Gig Harbor or Port Orchard to use those dog parks, and when they do, that's more oils that are being put on the roads," she said. "If we had a closer park, those people aren't driving as far."

The closest dog park in Mason County opened last year, at Kneeland Park in Shelton, which opened in August.

That park is 1/4 acre, located at the end of 3.9-acre Kneeland Park on the corner of Front Street and Turner Avenue.

The Hood Canal Salmon

Enhancement Group provides regional ecological restoration, and offers environmental education programs for students and adults through local trail systems, a U-Pick garden and an on-site farm.

Harlow said she hopes to get feedback from the community on the potential dog park.

People with questions, comments or ideas can call Harlow at the Salmon Center at 275-3575, ext. 23.

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Original Publication Date: April 14, 2016

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