New Orcas Off-Leash Area Opening on Friday

— from Jeff Hanson —

Creating a permanent home for a dog park has been a true community effort, two years in the making. The long anticipated, new Orcas Off-Leash Area (OLA), located adjacent to Buck Park on Mt. Baker Rd., will open this Friday morning, September 15.

When the Port of Orcas learned they could no longer offer the current area for this use due to FCC regulations, they reached out to get the ball rolling. The San Juan County Land Bank agreed to provide a corner of the Crescent Beach Preserve adjacent to Buck Park, Orcas Park and Rec offered to manage the area, and the non-profit OOLA went to work to raise funds. Representatives from each group have met dozens of times to complete the planning. Hundreds of Orcas community members stepped up with donations, through the Orcas Island Community Foundation and individually. Additional funds were received via a Lodging Tax Facilities Grant administered by San Juan County.

The new OLA has significant advantages over the present site, providing an overall larger area, separate sections for large and small dogs, on-site water, trees for shade, convenient parking, and management and maintenance oversight by Orcas Park and Rec.

While our new OLA is ready to open Friday, a few more improvements are planned before it is truly complete. Over the winter, fire hydrant style water pumps and stone drinking bowls will be installed, the shelter from the existing park will be moved over, and some limited rain protection will be provided in both the small and large dog areas. A Grand Opening will take place next spring after all of the improvements are in place.

The present off-leash area at North Beach and Mt. Baker Rd. will close on September 22.

For additional information please contact Orcas Park and Rec at 360-376-7275

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