What We Do
Fontenelle Forest provides a place where people can experience and enjoy the quiet wild of nature. We want to inspire current and future generations to care for the natural world.
Fontenelle Forest owns and manages Fontenelle Forest Nature Center in Bellevue and Neale Woods Nature Center in Omaha. Founded in 1913, Fontenelle Forest is one of Nebraska's oldest conservation organizations and one of the largest private nature centers in the nation.
With Fontenelle Forest Nature Center and Neale Woods, Fontenelle Forest encompasses 24 miles of trails and over 2,100 acres of forest, prairie, wetlands, and Native American historical sites along the Missouri River. Fontenelle Forest is designated as a National Natural Landmark with the U.S. Department of the Interior and is listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.
Fontenelle Forest conserves and preserves over 2,100 acres of natural land in Douglas and Sarpy County along the Missouri River. It maintains a comprehensive land management policy, directed by a full-time ranger staff.
Fontenelle Forest educational opportunities include early childhood programs that serve children and their parents; extensive school district partnerships with Omaha, Bellevue, the Archdiocese, Council Bluffs, and Papillion La Vista Community Schools and out-of-school STEM and nature-based activities; scouting programs; nature camps; programs for adults and senior citizens, as well as informal education programs, activities, and exhibits.
The Raptor Woodland Refuge, located at the Fontenelle Forest Nature Center, provides visitors with an opportunity to observe many species of birds of prey in a unique, tree-top environment. Fontenelle Forest Raptor Education is focused on educating the public about birds of prey.
Our land contains over 70 preserved historical sites including Native American tribe settlements and frontier trading posts; it is mentioned in the diaries of Lewis and Clark. Notable historic sites that are located within Fontenelle Forest properties include over 70 Nebraska Phase Indian lodge sites; the trading post of Manual Lisa and Lucien Fontenelle; and a portion of the Mormon Trail. There is also reference in the journals of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to a five-day encampment along the Missouri River which is widely held to be located in Fontenelle Forest.
Fontenelle Forest and Neale Woods are Metropolitan Omaha Area tourist destinations. Fontenelle Forest offers tourists 24 miles of maintained trails, a mile-long ADA accessible boardwalk, the Baright Gallery which features local, regional, and national artists, the Raptor Woodland Refuge, and the Acorn Acres natural playscape. Additionally, Fontenelle Forest’s new partnership with TreeRush Adventures offers tourists the opportunity to climb and zipline at a five-acre, aerial adventure park.
Nearly 150,000 visitors walk our paths, trails, and boardwalks each year, including over 40,000 children and adults who participate in our formal environmental education programs and events.