The ICNL Reserves
Ithaca College owns over 560 acres of undeveloped land that is protected and managed by the Ithaca College Natural Lands (ICNL). The ICNL system consists of two reserves adjacent to Ithaca College's built campus in the town of Ithaca (South Hill Natural Area East and South Hill Natural Area West), in addition to two reserves approximately ten miles from the built campus in the neighboring town of Newfield (the Bob Robinson Family Preserve and the Ithaca College Natural Resource Reserve).
There are many areas within our natural lands which are designated by Tompkins County as "Unique Natural Areas" for their outstanding environmental qualities, which are "deserving of special attention for preservation and protection". Unique Natural Areas featured within our reserves include swamps, rare forest types, and fens. Click here for a map depicting the UNA designations within Tompkins County.
History of the Natural Lands
The ICNL system began in 2004 when faculty from the Department of Biology met with the College administration to assess and develop a sound management philosophy for the biological resources of the properties in Newfield and on South Hill. This discussion followed the announcement in an issue of the campus newspaper, The Ithacan, that logging was to occur on Ithaca College’s forested South Hill properties. This announcement piqued the curiosity of numerous faculty, staff, and students. One of the outcomes of the discussions between Biology and the College administration was the establishment of the Ithaca College Natural Areas Stewardship Committee (NASC), to be co-chaired by Biology faculty member, Jason Hamilton, and Associate Vice President of Facilities, Rick Couture. The NASC was charged with promoting substantive teaching and research, exploring compatible additional uses, and serving as the managerial body for the Newfield property. In addition, the committee was charged with developing management recommendations for IC’s lands adjacent to campus on South Hill. In early 2005, NASC was reorganized as the Ithaca College Natural Lands Committee (ICNLC). This group, still co-chaired by a Faculty Manager and the Associate Vice President of Facilities, serves as an advisory body to the Vice President of Finance and Administration on matters pertaining to the use and management of the ICNL system.
A brief history of the ICNL Reserves:
South Hill Natural Area (East and West). Before the college’s acquisition of what is now SHNA-East, the land was used for agriculture and animal husbandry. Evidence of these land uses are still readily apparent to the trained eye in the form of stone walls and wire fence lines dissecting SHNA's forests. When Ithaca College moved its campus from the DeWitt Park neighborhood to South Hill, the property that would become SHNA-East was included in the original land acquisition.
The Bob Robinson Family Preserve. Robert Robinson donated the preserve’s 82 acres to Ithaca College in the 1970s, with the express wish that it be managed as a nature preserve. This reserve is only accessible with a permit from the ICNL Committee.
The Ithaca College Natural Resource Reserve. Also donated to the college in the 1970s by Robert Robinson who wanted to protect its ecological character, these 46 acres of land are managed and used more intensively than its sister preserve, the Bob Robinson Family Preserve. This reserve is only accessible with a permit from the ICNL Committee.