Gift expands Plantations' old-growth forest preserve

Dunn and Bandler
Christopher Dunn, left, the E.N. Wilds Director of Cornell Plantations, and David Bandler, emeritus professor of food science, hike the Bandler Tract.

Cornell Plantations recently expanded the Fischer Old-Growth Forest Natural Area in the Town of Newfield, New York, through a gift of 17.43 acres.

The new property, named the Bandler Family Tract, was donated by David K. Bandler, emeritus professor in Cornell’s Department of Food Science. The preserve now protects nearly 60 acres, with almost 30 acres of old-growth forest.

The Bandler Family Tract is characterized by herbaceous and shrub-dominated old fields and young successional forests. These habitats, together with historic stone walls and old plow lines, evoke the past agricultural uses that reshaped this landscape. The addition also provides an important buffer to the old growth forest, which now collectively protects a one-half mile stretch of small gradient stream within the Cayuga Inlet Valley.

“We are very grateful to the Bandler family for their support of Cornell Plantations,” said Christopher Dunn, the E.N. Wilds director of Cornell Plantations. “Their gift will allow us to expand our mission to protect and preserve unique and beautiful native landscapes for years to come.”

Beyond enhancing conservation efforts, the addition includes frontage along Elmira Road/Route 13, which allows for improvements to visitor parking, orientation and hiking trails. New and existing trails will allow visitors and students the opportunity to observe the land use history through a continuum from meadow to successional forests of different ages to old-growth forest.

With trees more than 150 feet tall, the Fischer Old-Growth Forest is the best of the few remaining examples of pre-European settlement forest in the region. This forest is notable not only for the extreme size of many individual trees, but also for the high number of tree species, at least 23, of canopy size. Among these is yellow oak (Quercus muehlenbergii), a locally rare species. This natural area was recognized for its significance by the Old-Growth Forest Network and was registered as the network's 16th important Eastern Old-Growth Forest in September 2013.

Billy Kepner is marketing and public relations coordinator at Cornell Plantations.

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Melissa Osgood