Martin County BARK Ranger

Explore Responsibly With Your Pet

The BARK Ranger Program

The BARK Ranger program started in 2015 within the National Park system as a way to raise awareness on how to explore the outdoors responsibly when with a pet. By doing so, parks would be able to ensure a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience for all adventurers, human or animal, while also protecting the surrounding environment. Since then, the program has continued to expand, creating a network of BARK Rangers all across the United States. Now, we are inviting you and your pet to take part in helping to promote responsible recreation and stewardship wherever you like to explore.

Keep reading to learn how your pet can become an official Martin County BARK Ranger!

Bag your pet's waste

Always leave the outdoors better than you found it, which means picking up after your dog on the trail and disposing of their waste properly. This is important because it keeps the area clean and pleasant for other visitors and keeps diseases and bacteria from entering our waterways. And, if you don’t want to carry it, there are lots of unique ideas for getting around it, such as getting a special vest designed for your dog to carry it themselves or leash attachments. 

Always on leash

Our parks, preserves, and beaches are for us to enjoy, but also to protect. Keeping your pet leashed while enjoying our beautiful public lands helps protect these places and the wildlife that lives there. Our beaches support threatened sea turtles from March to October, and they are sensitive to disturbance from people and dogs. Our scrub habitat is home to many rare and threatened plants and animals like the gopher tortoise, the scrub lizard, and fascinating lichens and flowers. Our hammocks have many species of birds, small mammals, and even orchids.

Keeping your pet leashed and on the trail keeps them from trampling vegetation and from scaring, injuring or killing wildlife. It also keeps them safe from potentially dangerous wildlife. It is also important to keep in mind that your dog may be friendly, but other leashed pets might not be, so staying on leash will help avoid unnecessary confrontation. And let’s not forget that not everyone feels comfortable with dogs, so keeping them on leash helps all to enjoy our public lands.

Read this article for more about hiking safely with your dog

Respect wildlife

Make sure you and your pet always keeps a safe distance from any wildlife while out exploring. Keeping your pet on leash and on the trail helps decrease the chances of them scaring or endangering wildlife.  Our beaches and sand spits can be habitat for ground nesting birds which are extremely vulnerable to off leash pets (always look out for signs indicating nesting areas). Birds you see resting or loafing on the beaches or sand spits may be resting after migrating hundreds or even thousands of miles, so it’s important to keep your dog from chasing them. To learn more, read HERE.

Sea turtle hatchings are also extremely vulnerable making their journey from their nest to the ocean during the summer and fall months, so keeping your pet leashed on the beach helps increase their chances or survival. Remember, while out in our parks, preserves and beaches, you are in their home so please respect them by not letting your dog sniff, chase, or interact with wildlife.

Know where you can go

When exploring a new place with your dog, it is important to check beforehand if that place allows dogs and if there are any specific rules for bringing them. For example, in many state parks, dogs are allowed, but only in specific areas, so it is important to call ahead. Dogs are allowed in Martin County parks, but never on athletic fields. Leashed dogs are allowed on unguarded beaches in Martin County such as Bob Graham, Beachwalk Pasley and Tiger Shores. Dogs are allowed in all county preserves, but they must be on leash. Always keep in mind trail distances, conditions and weather to make sure your BARK Ranger enjoys their trip, and don’t forget to bring enough water! Being aware of your surroundings and where you are venturing helps keep you and your BARK Ranger safe.

Would your pet make the perfect BARK Ranger?

Take the pledge by filling out the form below and your pet can become an official Martin County BARK Ranger.  BARK Rangers receive an official bandana and tag that they can proudly wear while out enjoying our beautiful natural areas!

BARK Rangers

BARK Ranger/Dog's Name(Required)
Sign up for the EcoTourism Newsletter
Postal/ZIP Code(Required)
Put N/A if you have not collected your gear. Keep an eye out for your confirmation email for details on how to retrieve it!
Accepted file types: jpg, gif, png, Max. file size: 50 MB.
Watch this podcast episode on dog-friendly places on the Treasure Coast!

PET FRIENDLY TRAVEL IN MARTIN COUNTY 

Planning a getaway with your four-legged family member? To help you plan, below are some pet-friendly hotels, restaurants,  activities, and more.

HOTELS

The Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa, part of the Opal Collection and in Jensen Beach, follows the company-wide Opal Paws policy. Canine guests weighing 30 pounds and under are welcome at the resort for a non-refundable fee of $75 per night per dog. The puppy pampering begins immediately upon arrival with perks like a welcome bag (filled with treats, fresh breath dental chews, and waste bags); dedicated food and water bowls; and plush Opal Paws dog bed (which is also available for purchase upon check-out). Other pet-friendly hotels within Jensen include the River Palm Cottages & Fish Camp in Jensen Beach and the Driftwood Motel.

The Old Colorado Inn located in Historic Downtown Stuart includes a collection of various boutique accommodation styles, and their charming Coastal Cottage welcomes pups of all sizes. They welcome dogs up to 35 pounds with a $125 non-refundable fee. The Courtyard Stuart by Marriott is another pet-friendly hotel with a maximum of two pets per room (weighing less than 75 pounds) for a non-refundable fee of $75.

 

PATIOS & PAMPERING

Tako Tiki, in downtown Jensen, is an eclectic open-air restaurant serves elevated street tacos, small plates, and craft cocktails and features live music four nights a week. The outdoor retreat is also pet-friendly and has become a favorite hang-out for the area’s four-legged friends. They also provide water bowls and healthy pet dishes prepared just for pups.

Pineapple Jack’s in the Historic R.R. Ricou building (established 1909) in Downtown Jensen is now home to Pineapple Jack’s, an upscale bistro featuring fresh, locally sourced American fare with European influences. The tropical outdoor patio space is dog-friendly and is especially popular during the weekly “Jammin’ Jensen street fair every Thursday night and during weekend brunch.

Bunkhouse Café, nestled in downtown Jensen Beach, has fabulous coffee, bowls, smoothies and more. This dog-friendly café has a great atmosphere and lots of love for your four-legged buddy. Grab a breakfast sandwich and take a stroll around the back streets of Jensen or relax on their back patio amongst the flowers.

Wagnolia’s , located in Stuart, opened their doors in April 2018. The doggy boutique offers all the essentials, from premium dog food and healthy treats, to the dog toys, beds, and outfits. And make sure to check out the Wagnolia’s Bakery. There, the team creates custom cupcakes, cookies, treats and even birthday cakes especially for your fur baby.

Dog Mamma’s  specializes in small-batch, handmade, oven-baked dog treats, the husband and wife team only uses 100% USDA organic certified ingredients. Some of the most popular flavors include peanut butter, berry banana coconut, and pumpkin snaps.

Hair of the Dog is a full-service dog grooming studio that has been serving canines of the Treasure Coast for 20 years. Located in the Rio community of Jensen Beach, David Pierce can groom any breed from a poodle to Pekingese.

 

ACTIVITIES & ADVENTURES

Poppleton Creek Dog Park in Stuart, is a great place with a safe fenced in area for your dog to play off leash. Click here to learn more!

Savannas Preserve State Park often holds dog-friendly hikes at several of their locations including the two southern entrances in Martin County. Check out their Eventbrite page here to check out any upcoming doggy hikes!

Looking for a quiet stroll on the beach? Check out one of our gorgeous un-guarded beaches with your on-leash pet such as  Santa Lucea BeachTiger ShoresRoss Witham Beach, and Bob Graham Beach. Or, bring your pooch for a leisurely stroll along Indian Riverside Park, he he’s bound to make a new friend or two.

And check out any of our beautiful trails in our Martin County Preserves. Soak in scenic views of the South Fork of the St. Lucie River on hiking trails at Halpatiokee Regional Park, venture amongst the old oaks and Spanish moss at Maggy’s Hammock Park or make your way through the mangroves to the Indian River Lagoon at Peck Lake Park. Looking to visit a State Park like Jonathan Dickinson or Atlantic Ridge Preserve? Be sure to call ahead or research the specific pet policies for each park as they are different.

There is no shortage of beautiful natural areas to explore with your pet here in Martin County and by following the rules of BARK you are helping to keep them, our wildlife and our community safe.

Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to pay to participate?
Do BARK Ranger's have to be a dog, or can my cat participate?
Where can I pickup my dog tag and bandana?
Do I have to live in Martin County to participate?
My dog doesn't like to go hiking, should they still become a BARK Ranger?