UCAR > Communications > Staff Notes Monthly > October 2001 Search


October 2001

Delphi Questions: Dogs on trails, personal days

Delphi Question #480 (received 10 July):

There are two paths on the lower NCAR Mesa Lab property that are used heavily by the public for walks, runs, and walking dogs. One of these paths is north of the NCAR road and runs from the end of Table Mesa Drive. The other runs along the eastern edge of the NCAR property.

My complaint/suggestion concerns mainly the first of these trails. The trail and surrounding open space are contaminated heavily by dog feces and urine. Many children use these paths, raising serious health risks and even potential liability issues for UCAR. Over and above the health issues, the odor of the feces and urine is sometimes quite powerful, particularly near the trail itself. Furthermore, though I am not an expert in this matter, it is hard to believe that this high density of feces and urine is helpful to the fragile environment in the open space.

Many open space areas in the Boulder area have signs stating that dog owners must collect dog feces. The NOAA-owned open space on Kohler Mesa has signs stating something to the effect that it is illegal to leave feces and urine on federal land. I have owned dogs in the past, and I empathize with the desire to walk and run with dog companions in the open space. But it is reasonable to require that owners have their dogs urinate and defecate before entering open spaces shared with children and people who don't own dogs. Can NCAR place signs stating that it is illegal, unhealthy, and rude to leave feces and urine on NCAR property, and can NCAR provide plastic bags for feces collection?

Response (27 August):

We share your concerns regarding the health risks and the unsightly nature of animal droppings along hiking trails. We have discussed the problem with Boulder Open Space officials, with whom we share custodianship of the trails, and they advised us that the best solution is to post signs advising dog owners of their legal responsibilities. We will then report observed violators to the appropriate city officials for further legal action.

Open Space officials report limited success with bags and trash cans. Often the bags are just left along the trails for others to pick up. Trash cans themselves can become a hazard: they require daily attention; attract rodents, bugs, and insects; and generally exacerbate the problem. We feel that while signs are appropriate, bags and trash cans are ineffective solutions to this problem. We will have UCAR maintenance install appropriate signs.

—Steve Sadler, director Safety and Site Services

Delphi Question #483 (17 August):

I was surprised to learn that UCAR does not offer personal days off, a practice I had come to expect from modern employers. It appears that this policy discriminates against non-Christians who may have to use vacation days to take off religious holidays. This is especially unfortunate at a time when UCAR is trying to promote diversity. Are there any plans to offer personal days in addition to, not in place of, vacation days in the future?

Response (21 August):

You are correct; UCAR does not have a separate category for personal days. UCAR provides new employees 12 work days of vacation per year as compared to most other employers who offer one or two weeks (5 or 10 work days) of vacation in the first year. This allows UCAR employees two weeks of vacation plus two additional days for any purpose during the year; in effect vacation days are personal leave days.

We believe the amount of time granted under UCAR's policies is very competitive with other organizations for vacation, personal time off, and holidays. A 2000 survey shows that less than 10% of Denver/Boulder employers provide new employees with two (or more) weeks of vacation. Moreover, 85% of Denver/Boulder employers require employees to have three or more years of service to earn three weeks of vacation; UCAR employees begin earning three weeks of vacation after two years of service. About a third of Denver/Boulder employers have formal policies for personal days off, giving employees two or three additional days per year. Some 80% of Denver/Boulder employers offer less than 11 holidays. UCAR follows the 9 federal legal holidays (with the exception of Columbus day, which is replaced with the day after Thanksgiving) and adds 2 floater holidays selected by employees each year.

UCAR does not discriminate against employees for religious reasons; all employees receive equal benefits, including time off. Employees needing time off for religious purposes should work with their supervisors. Supervisors have several options to accommodate these requests; vacation time is one. Division and Program Administrators were contacted last year concerning such requests, and there were no problems reported with accommodating employees' needs.

UCAR's leave policy is currently under review. Consideration is being given to additional employee flexibility to cover personal, family, and other needs. I expect we'll know more about any changes in the policy by the first quarter of next calendar year.

—Bob Roesch, director Human Resources

Questions and suggestions from the staff to management may be submitted in confidence to the coordinator, Janet Evans (ext. 1114, ML room 517). They should be submitted in written form, preferably via interoffice mail in a sealed envelope marked confidential; they must be signed. Detailed procedures for submitting questions are given in the UCAR Policies and Procedures Manual, section 4-1-2. Questions and answers of general interest to staff are submitted to Staff Notes Monthly by Janet. They may be edited for publication. For more information, including links to questions and answers published in Staff Notes Monthly and a log of all questions submitted since 1995, see the Delphi Service Web page.


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UCAR > Communications > Staff Notes Monthly > October 2001 Search

Edited by David Hosansky, hosansky@ucar.edu
Prepared for the Web by Jacque Marshall
Last revised: Thu Oct 25 11:18:36 MDT 2001