Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions are the most commonly asked questions of park staff. If you have a question not asked below, please feel free to contact the Public Works Department at (207) 439-0333.
Q: When are dogs allowed in the park?
A: Dogs are allowed in the park year round from sunrise to sunset. However, they must be leashed when the park is open for business during the season. Fort Foster is a "Carry-In Carry-Out" park. Dog owners are required to bag and take dog waste with them upon exiting the park. There are no facilities for leaving dog waste in the park. Click here for the ordinance governing dogs in the park.
Q: How are early closing times determined?
A: The park's closing time is posted as "8 pm or dusk - whichever comes first". Due to the lack of lighting within the park, Fort Foster is subject to the changing times of sunset in late summer. Dusk is that time just after sunset when driving can be the most difficult. The park tries to match the posted closing times with the combined times of sunset and dusk. In an effort to avoid disagreements on what dusk is, the park sets and clearly posts the earlier closing times. Posted closing times begin to change near the end of the season. Visitors should be aware of the changes and read the "This Gate Is Locked" sign at the gatehouse when entering.
Q: Are there lifeguards at Fort Foster?
A: Fort Foster is a self-supervised park and there are no lifeguards. Visitors must swim at their own risk.
Q: Do I need a permit to fish from the pier?
A: If you are under 16 years of age, you do not need register with the state, however anyone 16 or older must meet certain criteria. The link provided here (State of Maine Department of Marine Resources) will help you determine if you need to register or not.
Q: How do I reserve one of the pavilions?
A: You can view the Pavilion Availability Calendar and make reservations through the Kittery Public Works Department or by calling (207) 439-0333.
Q: Are there grills and tables at the fort?
A: We have charcoal grills throughout the park for you to use, you only need to bring the charcoal. Please leave charcoal in the grills to cool down. The park employees will remove them. Tables are also spread throughout the park as well. We ask you to not move tables away from their assigned grills so that other visitors can have a place to sit and eat.
Q: Can we trap crabs?
A: Any type of trap, whether crab or lobster, is illegal in the State of Maine without a proper license. While the taking of lobsters in any manner is illegal without a license, crabs may be taken by hook and line or by hand. Click here for link to the State of Maine's statute ( §6421Lobster and Crab Fishing Licenses ) regarding crabs. Note section "4. Exceptions".
Q: What are the beaches like?
A: Two of the beaches within the park are typical Maine gray granite hard pack sand. One of them is mostly rocks from fist sized to pebbles. At low tide, the two sand beaches provide a slow and shallow entry into the water which makes it perfect for tide pooling. The rocky beach offers a quicker entry into deeper water.
Q: Why is there a fence preventing visitors from accessing the beach to the right of the pier?
A: Greatly misunderstood and often damaged, the fence next to Battery Chapin is maintained by the Town of Kittery to demarcate the end of the public park. The fence is set above high tide and any visitor passing over or through a fence from the park is trespassing onto private property and may be subject to prosecution by that private property owner.
Q: Can someone really own a beach at low tide?
A: Only in Massachusetts and Maine is it possible to "own" to the low tide mark at the beach. While it is uncommon for individuals to push the issue, the right to own the land between high and low tide has become front page news in the past. Where did it all begin? There's an old set of laws from Colonial times that supports this concept. Known as the Colonial Ordinance of 1641-47, the law gives right of ownership between the high and low tide but also guarantees access to the general public for fishing, fowling (hunting birds) and navigation when the water is "in." For those wondering why Maine is included, don't forget Maine was part of Massachusetts until 1821 and its old laws were Massachusetts laws. Click here for a link to a copy of the Colonial Ordinance.