With a gift of 17.43 acres of land from Prof. Emeritus David K. Bandler, food science, last January, Cornell Plantations’ Fischer Old-Growth Forest Natural Area in the town of Newfield has now expanded from 30 acres to nearly 60 acres, according to the Cornell Plantations.
The new addition will be integrated into the pre-existing Plantations and will operate in the same manner, according to Dr. Christopher Dunn, director of the Plantations.
“It does, certainly, add to the amount of land we have to manage, but in fact it provides greater opportunities to engage faculty, students and the community in a better understanding and appreciation of the natural world around us,” Dunn said.
The new land — which consists of “herbaceous and shrub-dominated old fields and young successional forests,” according to a Plantations press release — will offer visitors the opportunity to observe ecological succession.
The Fischer Old-Growth Forest is one of the few remaining pre-European settlement forests in the region, according to the release. Because of the area’s high number of tree species and notably large trees, it was registered as the 16th most important Eastern Old-Growth Forest in September 2013 by the Old-Growth Forest Network.
The Bandler family, who have lived next to the Fischer Old-Growth Forest for the past 55 years, finally decided to purchase the 17.43 acres of land and give it to Cornell, according to Bandler.
“It is a living laboratory for the students in the natural resources department and a hiking outing for others who want to enjoy the beauty, wildlife and tranquility of this natural area,” he said.
The land was given to the Plantations with the expectation that it would be used to improve access to the Forest and to provide parking and space for buses to turn around at the entrance, Bandler said. In addition, the gift required the Plantations to protect the area above the Forest from any development and pollution.
Efforts to improve access and orientation to the preserve and to improve the visitor experience are underway, according to Dunn.
In addition to a new quarter mile loop trail through the meadow and young forest, the Plantations are also planning to construct a new parking area and kiosk to provide natural and cultural information. The addition of the new land also provides a new entrance to the preserve, which is hoped to significantly improve public access.