History of the Nature Preserve

The Nature Preserve designation of the forested and unaltered lands on campus was introduced after the fall of 1969, when protests arose over the planned used of the area as playing fields. Even though the wetlands had already begun to be filled in, demonstrations by students on campus halted further destruction. In response to the rather large outcry by students and some faculty, the University ceased their efforts to construct the playing fields in the area, and the former President Bruce Dearing proposed that the marsh and pond area be set aside as a nature preserve for the recreational and instructional uses of the students and of the University community. This event sparked much interest, appreciation and awareness, throughout the university and local community, for the ecological values and natural beauty of the land that was preserved. Since then, the 1999 Martin Purchase of 72 acres was added to the official Nature Preserve, bringing it to 182 acres. Since then, another addition of property has brought the total acreage of the Nature Preserve to 190 acres.

Since the Nature Preserve's creation in the late '60s, there have been fairly substantial additions made in terms of acres of land donated to or purchased by the university. The original purchase of land for the school in 1954 totaled 387 acres; now nearly 70 years later the total acreage has more than doubled to nearly 900 acres (872 acres). In 1970, seeing the value of preserved land, an official University committee proposed an expansion of the preserve through both purchase and designation of undeveloped land. Acquisitions of land before 1985 were in areas between Bunn Hill Road and Dodd Road in the west of 55 acres, received from Aswad; a rectangle beginning near the water towers heading towards the Harpur Pond 60 acres; and land along Murray Hill Road on the east side of campus from Mr. Stair 28 acres. These were the only parcels of land that the university received or purchased up to 1985. In 1999, the university bought more land south of Harpur Pond atop the hill cradling the Nature Preserve. This purchase from the Martins added 59 acres of abandoned tilled and grazed land, along with to the east 14 acres of mature forest. The were also 5.5 acres of land added from the Murphys across from the top entrance to the school on Bunn Hill Road. Then only two years ago in 2001, about 45 acres, known as the Tatich Property, were purchased near Bunn Hill road along the Right of Way past the water towers.

The Nature Preserve was to become an area for recreational enjoyment, relaxation, and education for the university and surrounding communities. The preserve would benefit the entire community in an aesthetic sense as a necessary component of basic human ecological needs. In order to preserve its natural beauty and intrinsic value it was suggested that hunting, littering, use of motorized or wheeled vehicles, picking of plantlife, and harassment of animal life be prohibited throughout the entire area.

Although the official Nature Preserve has not yet reached these proposed dimensions, much of the land that is in an undeveloped and wild state has received the semi-official designation of Natural Area. Though this land is not officially protected, there is a broad recognition within the campus of the value of maintaining these areas in an undeveloped state. In fact, many people don't know the true borders of the Nature Preserve and generally believe that much of the undeveloped land on campus is part of the Nature Preserve.

History adapted from History and Natural Resource Inventory of Binghamton's University's Campus Nature Preserve and Natural Areas, an honors thesis by Kevin Brozyna, 2003.