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Parks and Rec News

Posted on: October 9, 2020

Council Approves New Leash Rules for Baxter Woods


On October 5, 2020, the City Council approved new leash rules for Baxter Woods. The full leash rules for all City properties can be found in Chapter 5 of the City Code.

After two years of public discussion at the Parks Commission, the Sustainability and Transportation Committee, and the City Council, the proposal for new leash rules was crafted with community input over time to allow for a more balanced use of Baxter Woods that improves wildlife habitat and allows for enjoyment of Baxter Woods by dog walkers (including on-leash and off-leash dogs), school groups, and Portlanders of all ages and backgrounds. When Governor Baxter gifted the woods to the City in 1946, the deed stated that the woods “shall forever be kept in its natural wild state and as a bird sanctuary for wild birds….”. The new rules will allow the City to serve as better stewards of the land, to honor the intent of the deed, and to make Baxter Woods welcoming to all, regardless of their background. 

The new rules as approved by the Council on October 5, 2020 are: 

  • April 1 through July 31, annually:  Dogs on 8-foot leash at all times (to coincide with migratory bird nesting season). 
  • August 1 through March 31, annually:  Dogs permitted off-leash and under voice control from 5 AM to 9 AM, and from 3 PM to 10 PM. (From 9 AM to 3 PM, dogs must be on 8-foot leash).

Habitat Restoration Area: In addition to the off-leash schedule, staff will work with various conservation, school and community groups to create a habitat restoration area where restoration efforts would contribute to creating habitat that can support migratory bird reproduction. The habitat restoration area would be off limits to off-leash dogs year round. This is similar to efforts on the Eastern Promenade where there are designated off-leash areas, as well as wildlife habitat meadow areas. The habitat restoration area would be delineated by designating the Northern Carriage Path and areas north of it on-leash only. Staff have heard from dog owners who prefer to keep their dogs on leash for various reasons, or who have dogs that don't socialize well with off-leash dogs. This on-leash path would simultaneously create a border for the habitat restoration area and give those people and pets a place to enjoy the woods as well.

COVID-19 INFO:  The Council Emergency order restricting off-leash dogs on all city properties between the hours of 10 AM and 5 PM remains in effect until October 19th, and is subject to extension by the City Council. Once the Emergency Order expires, these new rules will take place. City Parks Staff will engage in an educational campaign to inform park users of the new policies for a period of time prior to strict enforcement.

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