Orono Land Trust (OLT) owns properties (fee lands), holds Conservation Easements (CEs), Trail Easements (TEs), and it serves as a steward for property belonging to private land owners. Much of the OLT land has hiking and biking trails that connect OLT properties with town-owned properties. Members of the public frequently ask if dogs are allowed on OLT land and, if so, are dogs required to be on a leash.
Many residents have pet or hunting dogs and need places to walk and exercise their animal. This activity concerns private landowners, some who simply do not want animals on their land or the deposits they make. Other concerns are that dogs will chase and disturb wildlife, intimidate people, especially children and the elderly, who are walking trails, will trample or urinate on and kill rare plants, will charge at bicyclists, and in general be a nuisance. These concerns need addressing in a clear policy for the OLT.
General guidelines that apply to use of OLT properties with dogs are as follows:
- Dogs MUST be under the control of their owner at all times. Owners must keep the dogs on leash at all times, unless specifically posted that dogs are permitted off-leash.
- Dogs are to be steered away from sensitive areas on the property.
- Dogs are not allowed to jump on or disturb other users of the property.
- Dogs are not allowed to chase or disturb wildlife/birds.
- Dogs must be on a leash on the Stillwater River Trail, on any areas that are private land, and in areas that are posted.
- Dogs (and people) are not allowed in areas that are posted or closed at certain times of the year for habitat protection.
- Owners MUST remove all poop produced by their dog on the trail.
According to the Town of Orono Ordinance below the Town properties of Jeremiah Colburn Natural Area, land behind the OHS athletic fields, and Sklar Park allow dogs off leash. Dogs will be allowed off leash on the following OLT fee lands in Orono: Caribou Bog Conservation Area, Piney Knoll Conservation Area, Penobscot Shores, Cota property, and Hsu property. In Veazie: McPheters Forest and Buck Hill. In Old Town; the Wickett and Thibodeau properties. In Hudson, the Pushaw Inlet and Pushaw View properties are subject to ordinances of those towns, but because of their rural setting, are included in this policy.
As for Conservation Easements, owners have allowed dogs off leash on the Rampe CE (which is adjacent to land behind the OHS athletic fields). Dogs must be on a leash on the Manter CE in Veazie. Much of the Stillwater River Trail is in private ownership and dogs MUST be on a leash.
OLT’s policy on restraint of dogs must be consistent with the Dog Leash Law of the Town of Orono, which was described in the Orono Observer (Volume 21.2, June-July-August. 2014). The Animal Ordinance (Section 6-29) addresses dogs running at large and the leash requirements. The language is as follows: “(a) It shall be unlawful for the owner of any dog, whether licensed or unlicensed, to permit such dog to run at large, except when used for hunting. (b) Any dog shall be controlled by a leash of not more than eight feet in length in the following areas within the Town of Orono: (1) All properties, public ways, and sidewalks located within the Village Commercial District: (2) School and library properties; (3) Birch Street school property: (4) Marden Park; and (5) Webster Park. Nothing in this subsection shall require the leashing of any dog while it is on the property of its owner. No dog shall be left unattended in the areas listed in this subsection.”