Who We Are


Located on the Avon-Simsbury line, Nod Brook is approximately 137 acres in size, with three ponds and access to the Farmington River. The State of Connecticut purchased the property in 1975, with the assistance of federal funds that require the land to be open to public use. While the State has fully complied with that stipulation, it intended at the time of purchase that this land be available for dog field trials and dog trainers who compete in those trials. It is one of only four such dog training areas in the state. As expected, dog trainers, along with fishermen and hunters, are frequent users of the property. The area has also become a popular place for recreational walkers to exercise their dogs off-leash.


Unfortunately, at Nod Brook, there were occasionally conflicts between dog trainers and recreational off-leash walkers, often due to misunderstandings over the rules. In response to complaints from dog trainers, in 2007 the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) proposed a regulation that would have terminated off-leash walking for all but the dog training groups. If passed, this regulation would have ended the recreational walkers’ ability to exercise their dogs off-leash on this treasured property and as a result, would have terminated their enjoyment and use of Nod Brook. Faced with the threat of losing one of the only remaining off-leash areas in Connecticut, people banded together and asked State Senator Thomas Herlihy and all the members of the State Regulations Review Committee to reject the proposal. In fact, over 600 people signed a petition against this proposal. Partly as a result of this popular outcry, the Review Committee declined to pass the regulation or leash law and instead sought a compromise. In 2008, the DEP submitted a revised regulation that requires dogs to be leashed at all wildlife management areas, but it retained the exceptions for the four dog training areas. That revised regulation passed. It therefore remains legal to walk dogs off leash at Nod Brook provided they are under voice control.


It is now essential that we, as off-leash recreational walkers, do our part to educate people engaging in this activity about the unique rules at Nod Brook and encourage its responsible use. It is unfortunate that our first interaction with the DEP took the form of conflict politics, but there was no other option given the proposed ban on off-leash walking. During this past summer of 2008, we have been able to establish a friendly relationship with at least a few of the training clubs. Building on this foundation, our plan for going forward is to establish an organization that can work with the DEP and dog training groups to ensure that Nod Brook remains a place of great enjoyment for all! This goal of a multi-use area, with all groups respecting the activities of others, is in keeping with both federal requirements and the original purpose of Nod Brook. In the summer of 2008, several friends who regularly visit and enjoy the Nod Brook Wildlife Management Area with their dogs decided to organize NodBark for just that purpose.