Ithaca College’s commitment to sustaining an inclusive environment extends to the 560 acres of forest surrounding the campus: the Ithaca College Natural Lands. Students and faculty members regularly work together on projects using the Natural Lands as an outdoor classroom, and IC and Ithaca community members can enjoy seven miles of trails throughout the lands. However, prohibitive slopes and uneven surfaces make access to the Natural Lands extremely limited for people with mobility impairments. Now, thanks to two recent grants from the J.M. McDonald Foundation and the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation, a student-led initiative to improve access to one of the most inviting parcels of forest will make the Natural Lands more accessible to members of the campus and surrounding communities.
A raised gravel bed turnpike more than half a mile long has been constructed near the entrance of the Boothroyd Woods Trail near Boothroyd Hall. Additionally, an eight-foot wide path of paved asphalt, funded by the two foundations, will connect the campus with the turnpike and an informational kiosk. This project will also improve drainage and reduce erosion, making the trail more sustainable as well as more accessible.
Jake Brenner, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences, is faculty manager of the lands and serves as the IC Natural Lands committee co-chair with Timothy Carey, associate vice president and chief facilities officer. Brenner’s passion for and expertise in human-environment geography (the study of how humans interact with natural environments) makes him a “natural” fit for the faculty manager position.