by Katie Krejsa as part of a recreation management assignment in the Nicholas School’s Forest Practicum class this Spring.
While the Duke Forest is a beautiful place to get outside and explore nature, it is important for recreational users to be aware of their surroundings and the inherent risks that coincide with outdoor activities – which can range from annoying (chiggers) to dangerous (Copperheads). For the safety of Duke Forest visitors, all off-trail activities are prohibited, and it is strongly advised that visitors refrain from touching any unfamiliar vegetation to prevent contact with poisonous plant. Visitors should also be aware of and learn to identify the poisonous snakes, insects, and ticks in Duke Forest. If you think you have encountered a poisonous plant or animal, please call NC Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.
Snags (which are standing dead trees) and downed logs are important habitat for a variety of wildlife, including birds and small mammals. However, they can also be a falling or tripping hazard to recreational users using the trails through Duke Forest trails. For all of these reasons, it is a good idea to bring a cell phone with you.