It’s time to respect James Farm

For dog owners in this community, one of the real joys of living here is walking our dogs at the James Farm Ecological Preserve. It’s a peaceful trek that cuts through unmolested woods and ends at the Indian River Bay, adorned with one of the finest views in the area.

However, some people have not been responsible with their dogs, and now the Center for the Inland Bays (CIB) is considering revoking the privilege of people taking their dogs to the James Farm.

One problem the CIB has seen at the James Farm has been unleashed dogs approaching staff, teachers, volunteers and visitors. Numerous groups — including school classes — visit the James Farm in the spring and fall months, and unleashed dogs create problems.

“Every week, our students have encounters with unleashed dogs that not only disrupt the learning activities, but in some cases, really scare some of the kids,” said Pat Drizd, the lead instructor at James Farm.

Another problem the organization cited is dog excrement. To help with that situation, CIB staff bought and installed a pet waste station, which includes bags for people to use to pick up after their dogs, and a place to deposit them.

“Recently, we found a large pile of dog excrement on the ground right next to the pet waste station; that type of behavior confounds me,” said CIB Executive Director Ed Lewandowski.

It should. It’s confounding.

The James Farm is a natural gift to this area — the 150-acre was originally donated by the late Mary Lighthipe, with the stipulation that “the James Farm be used to promote and foster wildlife habitat and plant life and to also support agricultural and environmental studies.”

CIB has managed the James Farm, and graciously permitted people to enjoy its beauty and have a scenic and calm place to walk their dogs. It truly is a gift to all of us.

But as is often the case, people have abused the generosity of others.

We implore all dog owners to curb their pets, and keep them on a leash when at the James Farm. Your lack of effort could harm the rest of us.