Photo by Paul JahnigeThe Department of Conservation and Recreation released new guidelines for visitors to the Middlesex Fells Reservation, the agency said yesterday.
The guidelines come ahead of plans to closed miles of trails deemed redundant, illegal, user-created, or in too poor a condition to support heavy use. The agency also will install better signage on the remaining pathways, and update the trail map to reflect the changes.
"Users and stakeholders care deeply about the future of DCRís Middlesex Fells Reservation," said Edward M. Lambert Jr., conservation and recreation commissioner, in a statement. "We look forward to working with our partners and volunteers to protect, promote, and enhance the natural, cultural, and recreational resources at this special place."
The agency also pledged to commit more resources to enforcing the guidelines, after an extensive resource management planning process revealed a culture of rule-breaking at the 2,757-acre reservation.
The resource management plan, released last year, stirred an outcry among the diverse groups who use the Fells, many of whom were vocal critics of the process.
Below are the guidelines the DCR released yesterday.
-The DCR Middlesex Reservation is open only from dawn to dusk.
-Dogs must be on leash at all times in the reservation, outside of the designated area at the Sheepfold. Dogs at the Sheepfold must be under voice control of their owner.
-There is a three dog per person limit in the reservation.
-All dog waste must be properly picked up and disposed of. Do not leave bags along trail.
-All off-trail uses, including nature study and geo-caching, are prohibited without a permit.
-No Trespassing means no trespassing. Do not hike, walk, or ride on trails or roads posted as no public access by the Town of Winchester.
-Mountain biking is allowed only on designated trails, and not in Virginia Woods or the Long Pond areas.
-Mountain biking is not allowed on unpaved trails from March 1 to March 31 or as posted.
-Users must obey all posted signs.
-Be friendly and courteous.
-Share the trails. Ride, walk, or run on the right, pass on the left.
-Stay on the official trails. Going off trail or on user-created trails creates erosion, damages habitat, and causes new trails which can't be maintained.
-Bicyclists should yield to equestrians, runners, and hikers. Keep your bike under control and at a safe speed.
-Avoid unpaved trails when they are muddy or wet.
-Warn people when you are planning to pass.
Ride within your ability at all times.
-When a horse approaches, move off the trail.
Leave no trace. Pack out your litter.
Donít use bells or horns, which may frighten horses.
-Dogs should be kept on leashes and under control on all trails.
-Respect private property.
-Anticipate other trail users around corners and blind spots.