Dogs in the Intervale

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We’ve been working hard to make the land here at the Intervale Center more welcoming and accessible! In addition to necessary improvements to the parking areas, trails, and public spaces of rest and new signage , we’ve also started a Volunteer Trail Stewardship program to help keep our trails safe and trash free for all. Along with these changes, we are anticipating more and more visitors each year. This is a wonderful thing—we welcome you, walkers, skiers, birders, runners, fishers, nature enthusiasts, dog walkers and more!  With 340 acres and over four miles of seasonal trails, we have plenty of land for us all to enjoy together! 

Our Special Ask of You

There is something we need to ask of you while you visit the land here at Intervale Center if you are coming with your dog: 

“Will you please keep your dog on a leash?”

For those of you who do so already, thank you!  Others of you might be saying, ‘But I have been coming here for quite some time now without hearing this request.’ Yes, we haven’t asked this of you formally as an organization until now.  We recognize that there might be a period of adjustment, but to be responsible stewards of this land, we need to implement this policy effective this spring, 2019.  Here are the reasons behind our request:


10 Reasons Why Keeping Your Dog On Leash During Your Visit to the Intervale is a Great Idea:

  1. Contain the poop! Dog feces can add up.  Dogs can harbor lots of viruses, bacteria and parasites — including harmful pathogens like e coli, giardia and salmonella. Our land here is in a floodplain, so whatever bacteria is left on the ground, gets swept into the Winooski and can contaminate our water and even nourish cyanobacteria in our beautiful lake. By keeping your dog on leash, you can easily pick up the poop by the trail and dispose of it properly.  We will be installing courtesy dog poop bags and trash receptacles at our trailheads to help with this.

  2. Be kind to scaredy cats! Even though your dog is friendly, not everyone who comes to visit the Intervale (especially young children) is comfortable with unknown dogs approaching them off leash.   By keeping your dog on leash, you can prevent this from happening.

  3. Avoid electrocution! Many fields have electric fencing, so we want to be sure your dog doesn’t get zapped.  This sadly happens every year.  The dogs end up being ok, but it is never a pleasant experience for anyone.  Having your dog on leash would certainly help prevent this.

  4. Keep farm fields fresh! Our trails run parallel to our many farm fields here, and we want to be sure we keep the produce clean, undisturbed and food safe.   Keeping your dog on leash will greatly help the hard working farmers of the Intervale!

  5. Protect wildlife! We have a sensitive ecosystem here, and keeping your dog on leash helps maintain this special balance.  Dogs can trample unique plants, and chaseaway or even kill wildlife. A resident family of red foxes helps our farmers fend off rodents that eat their crops.  Majestic great blue herons and dozens of other bird species live and nest here.  We’d like to ask you to help protect the special natural communities in the Intervale by leashing your dog.

  6. Watch out for wildcrafters! We have a small and responsible wild crafting or sustainable foraging community that visits to harvest plants for food and medicine (no fiddleheads or ramps!).  Many of our invasive species can be foraged, including Japanese Knotweed and Garlic Mustard.  Dogs can contaminate and kill plants that could be used for eating and making medicines and teas.

  7. Avoid altercations! At times, dogs can get into altercations, especially when one dog is off leash and the other isn’t.  Keeping your dog on leash and close to you will keep all pups safe. 

  8. Let drivers drive! Intervale Road can be quite busy at times with people picking up CSA shares and tractors and trucks going to and fro.  Farmers are often afraid of harming errant dogs when driving equipment in their fields and on the farm roads. In order to keep everyone and their dogs as safe as possible, a leash goes a long way.

  9. Sync up! As we build relationships with surrounding lands and parks, we want our policies to be consistent. Our neighbors’  land use policies, such as those at the Winooski Valley Park District at Ethan Allen Homestead and Salmon Hole; Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront at McKenzie Park;, and Rock Point on the shore, all require dogs be on leash during your visit. We ask you to enjoy the trails at the Intervale Center in the same way.

  10. Honor community! Leashing your dog is the responsible thing to do!  Thank you for helping!



Abby Portman