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Police say bringing dogs into Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons cause for citation

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Posted at 9:50 PM, May 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-27 09:48:46-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Memorial Day marks the unofficial kick off for summer, and thousands will be visiting Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. But, before you go, there are some important rules you should know.

Much of the water in the canyons is part of the watershed. In order to protect that watershed, bringing dogs into the area is mostly prohibited, along with swimming.

"I don't want people swimming in my drinking water," said David Keenan of South Salt Lake.

Keenan has been hiking through the watershed for years. He appreciates that swimming and dogs are against the law.

"You might drink this water that's going right into our valley, so I don't want to see dogs jumping around in it," Keenan said.

Others say they feel the laws are too strict and prevent people from enjoying the canyons.

"I got a dog about a year ago, and ever since then I never come up here as much cause I can't bring him," said Lacey Cisneros of Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City Public Utilities said, even though the water is treated before it ends up in your faucet, there are still standards they like to maintain.

"The better it is coming in, the easier it is, and the most cost-effective way to treat coming out," said Jesse Stewart of Salt Lake City Public Utilities.

Like them or not, many locals have gotten used to these laws. However, out-of-towners are still trying to adjust.

"We were not aware that you couldn't have dogs in the watershed," said David Lee of Minnesota. "Back in Minnesota, we had dogs everywhere on trails."

Unified Police are not accepting any excuses.

"In every canyon where there are watershed rules, there are signs, there are signs at the mouth of the canyon, there are other signs along the trails," said Lt. Lex Bell.

Last summer, officers handed out more than 600 citations. The most common offense involved dogs.

"I wish I can bring my dog up here," said Brianna Brewster of Sandy.

"You can't even have the dog out of the car in most of these canyons," Bell said. "The average fine for a watershed violation for your first offense is $650, so that's an expensive ticket."