The Nature Preserve
The Binghamton University campus in Broome County, New York currently encompasses 930 acres of land, of which over 600 is presently undeveloped and in its natural state. The core of this undeveloped land is officially designated the Nature Preserve, and at present encompasses 182 acres of land which includes a 20-acre wetland.
A Unique Resource
Binghamton University is unique among other schools in that it has such a large, on campus resource. Few other schools have such direct, easy access to such a variety of natural systems as found here, making this university a valuable resource for teaching and learning, ecology, arts, literature and outdoor recreation. Among other things, it is also the largest and best-used laboratory on the Binghamton University campus. While it has no workstations, sinks, computers or petri dishes, it is home to deer, beaver, fox, mink, muskrat, porcupines and other mammals, a diverse amphibian and reptilian population, and over two-hundred bird species, the broadest range to be sighted in any one place in the Southern Tier (PDF, 74 KB). Its habitats include hemlock forest, oak woodlands, a beaver pond, streams, wetlands, shrubbed meadows and lichen-covered dry sites. The Preserve includes a number of maintained hiking trails and a wooden footbridge.
Overall, the Nature Preserve is home to an amazing array of species and is a beautiful area for study and recreation. It's setting, as part of the campus directly adjacent to the developed portion, makes it a welcome sight for students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community.
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.