Memorial Day Hours: The Nature Center will be open from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM on Monday, May 27

Memorial Day Hours: The Nature Center will be open from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM on Monday, May 27

Preserving Nature’s Harmony: Why Dogs are Prohibited at Fontenelle Forest 

One of our most frequently asked questions Fontenelle Forest’s Visitor Services staff receives is, “Can I bring my dog?” 

If you’re looking for the short answer: No, dogs and other pets are not permitted at Fontenelle Forest or Neale Woods Nature Reserve. Service animals as outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act are allowed.  

While we adore our pets and understand the joy of hiking with a four-legged friend, Fontenelle Forest and Neale Woods are both active conservation areas, where we are working to promote native habitats.  

Below are a few ways pets can disrupt conservation efforts: 

Pet waste can change the properties and nutrients of the soil.

Dog feces and urine add additional nitrogen and phosphorus to the soil – which increases fertilization. Lower soil nutrient levels are needed to enhance plant and animal biodiversity.  Increased nutrients can delay restoration goals and even be detrimental to ecosystems.  

Pets can spread invasive species.

Paws, much like hiking boots or bike tires, pick up seeds and move them to other places. Invasive plant seeds are particularly easy to spread, especially if a dog were to go off trail. Many of the invasive species found in the Forest tend to be aggressive and choke out native plants.   

Pets can cause wildlife to become displaced.

The presence of dogs along recreational trails causes wildlife to flee from their habitats where they usually feed, breed, and rest. Even the scent of a dog repels wildlife long after it’s left the area, causing additional stress and preventing animals from engaging in their usual behavior. 

As stewards to this land, we ask that you leave your dogs at home to minimize negative impacts to our environment. Research shows that hikers with dogs are significantly more detrimental to wildlife than people alone.  

Fontenelle Forest and Neale Woods are both oak savannas, which are one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems with only 0.01% remaining. By respecting our trail guidelines, we welcome you to view this unique habitat and thank you for supporting our conservation efforts.  

For more information on this topic, please see the resources below:  

Fontenelle Forest is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit.

Make a tax deductible donation NOW

Skip to content