By Lauren DiSpirito

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)– Leaders in Boulder County are scheduled to decide Tuesday whether to approve proposed new regulations for its parks and open spaces.

The new rules would prohibit smoking, including marijuana, and the consumption of marijuana foods and edibles in all county-managed parks and open spaces, like the popular Betasso Preserve. Also under consideration is a proposal to prohibit visitors from leaving pets inside cars at trail heads and parking lots during extreme temperatures.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The move to keep pets out of hot or cold cars is somewhat unprecedented, according to Bevin Carithers, Department Resource Supervisor for the Boulder County Parks and Open Space. If approved, Boulder County would have one of the first park systems in the U.S. that placed restrictions on such activity.

Carithers says complaints about dogs locked inside hot cars arise frequently during summer months at open space areas like Hall Ranch, west of Lyons, where pets are not permitted on trails.

“When it’s really hot out we get a lot of complaints from park visitors and feedback from individuals that see the dogs in the cars, that’s it’s just too hot or they don’t have adequate ventilation or water,” Carithers said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Right now rangers hands are tied when it comes to those concerns. Carithers hopes county commissioners approve the proposed regulation so rangers would be able to develop a plan for handling such incidents and possibly issue tickets to violators. He says the department would work with animal control officers and county officials to come up with a procedure and define what constitutes “extreme” temperatures.

Policy-makers would also look to other communities with similar rules for ideas on how to form its procedure. Until such a plan is in place, Carithers said rangers would not enforce the rule.

The proposed smoking ban mirrors county regulations that are already in place, Carithers said. State law already bans the use of marijuana in all parks and open spaces. The department wants its own marijuana regulations to make it possible for rangers to enforce rules themselves, without having to call a sheriff’s deputy.

According to Carithers, marijuana use prompts the most complaints from visitors.

“It’s not something they want their kids to see,” Carithers said, ‘It’s not something they want to smell and it’s not something they want to be exposed to.”

David Baloun, visiting Hall Ranch from Thornton, said he supports the proposed rules. He fears smoking on a trail could spark a wildfire.

“I think it would be quite great to ban smoking,” Baloun said, “Just to ban the potential danger of burning.”

The Boulder County Commission is set to take up the issue at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Lauren DiSpirito is CBS4’s Northern Newsroom reporter. Follow her on Twitter @CBS4Lauren. Share your story ideas with her here.

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