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!
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.
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
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.
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.
Learn more about BARK Ranger at one of our partner locations: