April 2012: Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve

West Danby, New York

As Director of the Cornell Institute for Research in Chemical Ecology Thomas Eisner was well familiar with trips to exotic locales around the world in search of beneficial plants. Born in Uruguay, he had extensive field experience on four continents. But what about in his own backyard? Was it possible that temperate climates like that experienced in Ithaca, New York could harbor plants with medicinal value like those hunted for in humid tropical jungles? Dr. Eisner approached the Finger Lakes Land Trust to see if they could find an ecologically diverse tract to pursue research for useful botanical chemicals. Through significant private donations the trust was able to piece together this remarkable preserve that became the world’s first temperate-zone preserve for research in chemical ecology and bio-prospecting. 

One of the joys of hiking with your dog is watching her react to her surroundings and there is plenty to stimulate the canine senses here. Ravines, heavy brush, open meadows, beaver ponds, stands of hemlock and pine, marshes, glacially carved hillside, oak-hickory forests are all on the hiking menu at Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve.
The star walk here is the Blue Trail that mixes open meadows with long views of the surrounding hills and a hillside woodland loop. The full tour of the Blue Trail will take about an hour but you will want to mix in trips along Red Trail and Yellow Trail to get the full effect of the preserve. This is a sporty track, down one side of a wide valley and up the other. The property is drained by the Cayuga Outlet creating plenty of soft, paw-friendly soil under paw.

Celia’s Cup, named for the wife of a preserve benefactor, is a large depression hollowed by a mighty chunk of glacial ice. It makes ian easy-to-see example of the region’s “kettle and kame” topography. Kettles can contain a number of different ecosystems. Celia’s Cup is a dry, unforested kettle.

West Danby; south of town on Route 34/96. The preserve lot is on the east side of the road.