Guidelines & Safety

The guidelines below are set forth to ensure that the Office of the Duke Forest can provide the best information to teachers and facilitate the most efficient use of the Forest for a variety of activities.  Please do not commence any activities on the Forest until registering your activity and receiving approval.

To download the guidelines, click here.

Getting Started

Before you host your activity, please contact the Office of the Duke Forest to discuss the specifics of the event at (919) 613-8013 or Please send as much information on the activity as possible, including the date of the proposed event, name of the school or center with which you are affiliated, the age group, and the number of students.

Not sure where to visit or want to schedule a tour with an expert? The Office of the Duke Forest can help! Just give a call or send an email and we can begin planning the logistics of your visit. Once you know the specifics and have confirmed the date, you can register the educational activity.

Registration & Approval

Teaching activities on the Duke Forest should not be initiated without registration with and approval by, the Office of the Duke Forest. The Office will immediately review your Teaching Registration to provide approval and any special conditions of use that are required given the project site and proposed activities. These steps are essential to document activity on the Forest and to avoid conflicts between teaching activities, research projects, and forest management operations.

Reportable activities include but are not limited to: classes, one-time activities, and uses that do not require entry into the Forest such as case studies and remote sensing/GIS activities for which Duke Forest data and information are requested and used.

Status Update

Upon request by the Office of the Duke Forest, the teaching activity contact and/or professors/instructors listed on the Teaching Registration and Teaching Approval should submit an annual Teaching Report to provide updates about the activity, including any changes to the dates of use.

Site Clean-Up

Unless approved in advance by the Office of the Duke Forest, all materials such as plastic flagging, stakes, tree tags, sampling equipment, and/or any other teaching materials must be removed upon completion of the teaching activity. This will prevent confusion and reduce hazards for foot traffic and equipment operation. The teacher contacts and/or professors/instructors are responsible for the timely removal of material and all costs associated with site clean-up.

Site Access & Parking

Sites within the Duke Forest can be reached either on foot or by vehicle. If regular vehicular access is necessary, you may obtain keys to the gates from the Office of the Duke Forest for a $10.00 refundable deposit. At this time, you will be issued a parking permit, which must be displayed on your dashboard. If only one-time access is necessary, please make arrangements with the Office to have the gate(s) opened for you.

All vehicles should be parked on the side of Forest roads and if parked outside of the gates, should not block gate access. Gates should not be driven over and all gates should be locked immediately after entering and leaving the Forest. Drivers should be aware that they will encounter researchers, recreational users, staff, and contractors on the Forest roads.


Please keep in mind the following general safety considerations:

  • The Forest, like the Duke Campus, is not immune to criminal activity. Despite occasional patrol coverage by the Duke University Campus Police Department, portions of the Forest are remote and thereby warrant the need for visitors to travel together. If this is not possible, be sure to alert someone of your whereabouts and your expected time of return.
  • Take a cell phone with you. In the event of an emergency or if you observe possible unauthorized activity within the Forest, please contact Duke Police (919-684-2444), the Office of the Duke Forest (919-613- 8013), or call 911.
  • Lock your vehicle and be sure there is nothing on the seats or visible within the car that might entice someone to break into the vehicle.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and possible exposure to hazards such as insect, tick, and snake bites, allergic reactions, low hanging limbs, and tripping hazards. Please become familiar with the area’s poisonous plants and animals.
  • Be aware of the weather conditions and dress appropriately. During times of high temperature and humidity, it is recommended that you carry drinking water.
  • Maintain a safe distance away from any machinery or vehicles operating in the Forest.
  • Follow all posted Duke Forest regulations and signage. Failure to abide by these rules could result in your loss of use of the Forest.

Background Information

The Office of the Duke Forest has the following information available to assist you in your project: paper, electronic, and/or GIS-ready copies of stand management histories, aerial photographs, property records, forest cover maps, soils maps, and topographic maps.

Other Support

The Office of the Duke Forest is committed to the mission of the Forest as a teaching and research laboratory. If there are other considerations, logistics, or questions that Duke Forest Staff can help you with, please don’t hesitate to call (919-613-8013) or email (

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