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2014-2018 Voice and Sight Tag Program Monitoring

Executive Summary 

During the summer months of 2014, 2016, and 2018 OSMP staff conducted three planned monitoring cycles for the Tag Program. The Tag Program monitoring was designed to evaluate compliance rates with select dog regulations on OSMP lands. It also assists with evaluating management effects resulting from the Tag Program enhancements (1-hour educational class, annual renewal, rabies vaccination requirement, etc.) that were made in 2015. A brief background of the Tag Program, high-level compliance results for key monitoring measures, and some initial research recommendations are presented below in this executive summary. Full results, including a general overview of methods, a more detailed analysis of key measures, and additional research recommendations, are provided in the Voice and Sight Tag Program and Leash Regulations: 2014 – 2018 Monitoring Results report


The Tag Program is a management strategy of the Visitor Master Plan (Figure 1). Under the Tag Program, launched in the summer of 2006, visitors wanting to have their dog(s) off-leash and under voice and sight control when visiting designated OSMP voice and sight areas must have a voice and sight tag visibly displayed on their dog(s). In 2011, under the direction of the City of Boulder City Council, OSMP began developing Tag Program enhancement to try and increase compliance with voice and sight regulations. OSMP implemented several Tag Program enhancements in 2015. Since that time, individuals wishing to participate in the program have been required to attend an hour-long in-person Tag Program training session before registering and purchasing a tag. Note: At this time, the Voice and Sight course has been migrated to an online course following health orders to minimize social interactions in response to COVID-19.  

During the development of the 2015 Tag Program enhancements, the Voice and Sight Dog Tag Monitoring Program (Tag Monitoring Program) was also reviewed, resulting in significant revisions to the existing protocol (used from 2006 to 2010). The new protocol integrated methods developed through extensive collaboration between OSMP staff, public stakeholder groups, and individuals. The updated monitoring protocol was first enacted as part of the 2014 monitoring cycle and has now fully superseded the previous monitoring protocol in effect between 2006 and 2010. The three monitoring cycles were designed to be conducted before (2014), soon after (2016), and three years after (2018) implementation of the Tag Program enhancements in 2015. 

Figure 1: Timeline for the OSMP Voice and Sight Tag Program Monitoring

Major Findings 

The Tag Monitoring Program collects two primary datasets related to dog compliance on OSMP lands:  

  • compliance with off-leash dog regulations on designated voice and sight trails and  
  • compliance with on-leash regulations for permanent and seasonally leash required trails.  

In 2018, the leash status monitoring was also extended to voice and sight trails as an add-on effort in order to establish baseline measures for all visitor groups with dogs on voice and sight trails, not just those that had off-leash dogs. Key findings for each regulation category are reported below. 

Voice and Sight 

Compliance within the voice and sight component can be broadly separated into administrative compliance and skills-based compliance. Administrative compliance is evidence of participation in the Voice and Sight program through the proper display of a Voice and Sight tag for all off-leash dogs. Skills-based compliance encompasses the remainder of the monitoring measures including no more than two off-leash dogs per adult guardian; keeping dogs within sight; not entering closed areas; dog excrement pickup and removal; lack of charging, chasing, or harassing other people, wildlife or dogs; and voice recall (Table 1). 

Overall, compliance with tag display has ranged from 69% in 2014 (95% CI, 64 to 74) to a low of 56% in 2016 (95% CI, 51 to 61) to an increase in 2018 to 82% (95% CI, 78 to 85). Some individual measures, such as voice recall, show similar compliance rates to tag display (this measure could only be assessed when guardians issued commands). For 2018, the 82% compliance rate for tag display was based on 425 visitor groups, while the 78% compliance for voice recall was based on only 55 visitor groups.   

For simplicity, the table below presents compliance percentages in a compact form for all measures. Most compliance percentages are reported at the visitor group level, meaning observers assessed a single compliance outcome for the entire group. However, some measures were able to be split out and are reported by individual events, which has been noted in the table. An asterisk (*) has been added to all measures that are calculated based on only a subset of visitor groups, and a † symbol has been added for items with low sample sizes (n < 10). Sample sizes for all measures can be found in the results tables within the main report. 

Table 1: Compliance outcome for each monitoring measure and year for the Voice and Sight behavioral monitoring component

Leash Status 

Staff also collected leash status observations on permanent and seasonal leash required trails for all three years and additionally for Voice and Sight trails in 2018. Unlike the Voice and Sight behavioral monitoring which only includes visitor groups with at least one off-leash dog, the leash status monitoring collects a census of all visitor groups with dogs as they pass over a pre-defined line transect across the trail. This observation method provides the most robust assessment of the composition of visitor groups with dogs on the OSMP trail system.  

For both permanent and seasonal leash required trails, compliance is simply based on whether the dog is on leash, regardless of tag status (Table 2). For the Voice and Sight leash status monitoring, compliance integrates tag display for off-leash dogs, so a dog without a tag is compliant if on leash and a dog with a tag is compliant whether on or off-leash. In all three instances, compliance rates can be thought of as “the percent of visitor groups that are complying with applicable leash and tag laws for the area they are in.” Compliance for Permanent Leash trails has remained around 80% for all three monitoring years. Seasonal leash trails have had lower overall compliance around 60%. Voice and Sight trails had the highest compliance in 2018 at 89%. 

Table 2: Compliance outcomes for leash and tag status monitoring for each year and trail regulation class. This monitoring component was only conducted for Voice and Sight trails in 2018.

Although tag status for leash required trails does not factor into compliance assessment, it was still recorded for all dogs in the visitor group. Looking at dog distribution by tag status can provide a sense of how tag presence - and by extension, dog guardians who have gone through the Voice and Sight class – compare to dogs without a tag (Table 3). One notable result is that around 40% of dogs on Voice and Sight trails are on-leash, of which about half had a Voice and Sight tag. Another notable result is that the overall percentage of off-leash dogs for Seasonal Leash trails has been higher than for Permanent Leash trails. Non-compliant seasonal off-leash dogs mostly had no tag in 2014 (24%) and 2016 (16%), but in 2018 more (30%) did have a tag.    

Table 3: Proportions for tag display by on/off-leash status for each year and trail regulation class. This monitoring component was only conducted for Voice and Sight trails in 2018.

Next Steps 

This report represents the completion of the three monitoring cycles called for as part of the Tag Program Enhancement. At this time, OSMP staff do not have specific recommendations for additional monitoring. However, we have included some recommendations for conducting future monitoring in the main report based primarily on insights from the past three cycles of this monitoring effort. A primary consideration is that observational monitoring is a resource-intensive effort. Depending on the monitoring effort's scale, this project required between 20 and 40 percent of the Human Dimensions program capacity in any given year.   

The Tag Program monitoring was designed to assess regulatory compliance on trails where guardians are legally allowed to have dogs. Specifically, the Voice and Sight behavioral monitoring was designed to assess regulatory compliance for off-leash dogs on Voice and Sight trails. There are many aspects to consider when it comes to dog management on OSMP lands, and the Tag Program in particular, which will be covered in a series of presentations to the Open Space Board of Trustees over the coming months.   

The Human Dimensions team will be working closely with other staff, especially the Recreation Coordinator, to integrate relevant findings from this monitoring report as OSMP staff evaluates the Tag Program's various components. There are several aspects of dog management that are not covered by this monitoring program, including:   

  • off-leash dog behaviors in areas where dogs are not legally allowed to be off-leash,   
  • dog management at trailheads, and   
  • dog presence in no dog areas such as HCAs.   

However, for most trails on the OSMP system that allow dogs, the measures evaluated through this monitoring effort represent the most comprehensive and systematically collected data regarding regulatory compliance, to date.   

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