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Why horses can poop on the trails but your dog can't, and a proposed nature center for the north end 

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You've seen the big piles of horse poop on your favorite trails, often right in the middle of the path. They're big and ugly and no one wants to step or ride through them — yuck. Meanwhile, you're packing poop-scoop bags and hauling your dog's waste along to the nearest trash can. It can get you to wonder, if horses can poop on the trail, I can leave my dog's there too, right? Well, wrong, and for good reason.

Since horses don't eat meat, or anything derived from meat, horse poop is relatively "clean," with so few bacteria, parasites or viruses that the Centers for Disease Control says that instances of humans getting sick from contact with horse manure is rare. On the other hand, your dog poop is very toxic, with all manner of bacteria.

While horse manure breaks down rather quickly, dog poop sticks around a lot longer. It gets into ground water and spreading fecal coliform bacteria, which can make life miserable. Bacteria can also get into reservoirs and contaminate water supplies, which then has to be treated prior to being delivered to our homes. Last fall the Town of Palmer Lake banned dogs on trails near its reservoirs due to dog owners not picking up the animals' waste and straining their water treatment plant.

So, do everyone a favor and pick-up after your pooch. And don't worry about the horses.

As for local outdoor news, El Paso County Parks is also exploring building a nature center to service the north end of the county. Parks department staff and Altitude Land Consultants are hosting a public meeting to determine the community desire for a nature center, possible locations and partnerships for a nature center.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, January 31, from 6 to 7:30pm at Black Forest Fire and Rescue, 11445 Teachout Road in Black Forest.  For more information, or questions, contact Todd Marts at  toddmarts@elpasoco.com or 719-520-6399.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for more than 26 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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