News Flash

Parks and Rec News

Posted on: March 11, 2021

Update on NEW LEASH RULES in Mayor Baxter Woods


As spring approaches, we are writing with an update on NEW LEASH RULES in Baxter Woods.

As many of you are aware, in October 2020, the City Council passed new rules for off-leash dogs in Baxter Woods to better balance the varying uses of this beloved city property. Under the new rules, off-leash dogs (under voice control) are still welcome in Baxter Woods much of the year. However, as part of the rule changes, all dogs will be on-leash only from April 1 to July 31 during bird nesting season. Dogs will also be required to be on-leash at all times year-round in the Habitat Restoration Area (the Northern Carriage Path and all areas northward). You can read the specific rules in City Code here. and see a map of the Habitat Restoration Area below.

We know this is a big change for many regular users and we appreciate your cooperation in helping to make this adaptation that will ultimately make Baxter Woods more welcoming for wildlife, school children, and park users of all backgrounds. And of course, dogs are still welcome on-leash in Baxter Woods year-round, and off-leash for 8 months of the year (in areas outside of the Habitat Restoration Area).

During the period that Baxter Woods is on-leash only (April 1-July 31 annually), we encourage you to get out and discover some of the other hidden gems in our park system where dogs are allowed off-leash and under voice control year round. Those areas include Quarry Run Dog Park, Valley Street Dog Park, Evergreen Woods, Canco Woods, PATHS Open Space, and many others. Overall, the City has 463 acres of park space where dogs can run off leash and under voice control year round--you can explore those using our Park Finder Map or on our Parks, Trails and Playgrounds page.

Our Park Rangers will be visiting Baxter Woods more frequently during the month of March to interact with and educate park visitors about the new rules. We have also installed new signage to help park visitors understand the rules and learn more about why they are in place.

Starting on April 1, Park Rangers will start to more strictly enforce the leash rules. Our foremost goal is to help inform visitors and dog owners with reminders and education, and we will continue with those efforts after April 1. But for dog-owners who do not comply with park rules or Park Ranger requests, tickets will be issued. We are hoping to avoid that as much as possible and that the community comes together to respectfully share the park with all park users and wildlife.

And lastly, we are working with Maine Audubon and our Horticulture team to plan habitat improvements in the Habitat Restoration Area north of the Northern Carriage Path. We will be planting native species of shrubs, grasses, sedges, trees and other habitat that will promote bird nesting and breeding. We are working to find the best time to schedule that during the year to have minimum impact and to ensure planting success. As that schedule is created we will share that with the community and hope to host multiple volunteer planting events for folks who would like to get involved in the effort.

Please help to spread the word about the upcoming changes. We wish you a great spring!

All the best,
Ethan Hipple
Parks, Recreation and Facilities Department


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