What We Do
Fontenelle Forest’s mission is to provide 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 is a federally designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that owns and manages Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue and Neale Woods 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.
Fontenelle Forest provides services in the following areas:
Conservation: Fontenelle Forest conserves and preserves over 2,100 acres of natural land in Douglas and Sarpy County along the Missouri River. The Forest maintains a comprehensive land management policy, directed by a staff of full-time rangers. Conservation initiatives and activities include oak savanna restoration, habitat restoration and prairie restoration; prescribed fire; erosion and invasive species control; wildlife management; as well as maintenance of 24 miles of trails and a mile-long, ADA-accessible boardwalk. Fontenelle Forest also provides prescribed burning and land management training to local, state, regional, national, and international partner organizations.
Education: Fontenelle Forest's education programs serve children, adults, seniors, families, schools, and partner organizations. Our nature-based programs are designed to provide participants with the opportunity to interact with the natural world through exploration and discovery. Our school program curricula are tied to state science standards and we serve 40,000 students each year in the form of on-site field trips, school programs, and summer/winter camps, as well as on-the-go programs at schools, community libraries, and other groups.
Outdoors and Wellness: At the Forest, believe the outdoors and nature go hand-in-hand and strive to directly address the nature deficit observed in today's world. Through our many experiences, programs and events, we encourage individuals to spend more time outdoors to improve their physical and mental health.
Statewide Raptor Education: The Raptor Woodland Refuge, located at the Fontenelle Forest Nature Center, opened in 2016 and 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 across the state of Nebraska about conserving birds of prey. Non-releasable birds join the roster of education birds utilized for outreach programs at schools, libraries, retirement communities, and other community organizations. These programs are designed to teach the general public about these birds, their role within the natural world, and the impact of human activity on them and their habitats.
Recreation: Fontenelle Forest and Neale Woods are beautiful natural settings that provide visitors with a location for physical activity, relaxation, reflection and enjoyment.
- Fontenelle Forest offers 24 miles of maintained trails, a mile-long ADA accessible boardwalk, the Raptor Woodland Refuge, Acorn Acres (a one-acre natural playscape outdoors), and Habitat Hollow (an indoor discovery area for children and families).
- Neale Woods is a 560-acre nature preserve in north Omaha featuring abundant plant and wildlife, as well as a unique opportunity to see up-close the various techniques our land management staff utilize for oak savannah, habitat and prairie restoration.
- Additionally, Fontenelle Forest’s partnership with TreeRush Adventures offers tourists the opportunity to climb and zipline at a five-acre, aerial adventure park (separate admission required).