Bob Robinson Family Preserve
The Bob Robinson Family Preserve (BRFP) is located approximately ten miles southwest of Ithaca College’s main campus on Piper Road in the town of Newfield. Robert Robinson donated the preserve’s 82 acres to Ithaca College in the 1970s. This area is managed to maintain and enhance the biodiversity and ecological integrity of this special area, and to serve the long-term interests of the Ithaca College and Newfield communities with a place for teaching and research, and a place to enjoy the aesthetic value of this special area.
The BRFP presents exciting opportunities for teaching, research, and recreation, but primarily it entails a responsibility for preservation. Preservation was the top priority of the Robinson family, and a stipulation of the donation of this land to Ithaca College. A conservation easement held by the Finger Lakes Land Trust stipulates the uses of the BRFP.
One of the main attractions of the preserve is the steep-walled Van Buskirk Gulf, which is scoured by a relatively high-volume perennial stream. A spectacular waterfall ends in a plunge pool that is known locally as spawning habitat for rainbow trout. This parcel is also home to some rare and unique plants such as the walking fern (Asplenium rhizophyllum).
The BRFP exhibits a variety of forest types, with stands of oak (Quercus spp.), northern hardwoods, northern softwoods, eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), and white pine (Pinus strobus). The rare tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) is also prevalent on the property, growing as tall as 130 feet (Zubal 2003). The Environmental Management Council of Tompkins County declared the BRFP as a Unique Natural Area (UNA) for its biological importance.
Who Was Bob Robinson?
Robert (Bob) Robinson was a very active member of the Tompkins County community. Born in 1909, he graduated from Ithaca High School and attended Cornell University. He had several careers in his life that ranged from banking to coordinating research at Cornell, and he had a long association with the Lab of Ornithology. He loved the outdoors, especially Cayuga Lake, and was an avid boater. He served on an advisory committee to the New York State legislature for motorboat laws, and in 1965 he wrote Cayuga Lake Boating. Besides recreation, Robinson enjoyed the intrinsic worth of nature taking an interest in bird art and general wildlife. In the 1970's, Bob Robinson donated a parcel of land of 126 acres in Newfield to Ithaca College. Although he had been approached by others about purchasing his land, Robinson honored Ithaca College with his trust that the college would be the best land steward. His donation did not come with any legal stipulations, but the understanding was that Ithaca College would protect the land's natural character.