Photo: John Smith

Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve

The Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve consists of 537 acres of lakes, forests, meadows, brushland, gorges, streams and wetlands.

Natural History

The diverse habitats found in the preserve are home to an equally diverse variety of flora and fauna.  Some rare species have been identified in the preserve although a thorough inventory has not yet been completed.  The preserve provides an exceptional place for bird watching; for example, in May 1995, during a two-hour period, 76 species of birds were counted!

There are several trails at the Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve, and the public is welcome to visit.  Trails on the property lead to the forest, the lake and the beaver pond.

One of the Land Trust’s and the Cornell Institute for Research in Chemical Ecology (CIRCE)’s goals for this preserve was to make it the world’s first temperate-zone preserve for research in biodiversity and chemical ecology.  With this aim in mind, the scientists and students at Cornell have used the preserve to study the chemical interactions of organisms there.  In addition, the preserve may also be used by the public for hiking, skiing, birding, and nature walks.  Due to the size and diversity of this preserve, it is ideal for use by area colleges and schools for different educational purposes.  It also provides a place for quiet contemplation.

After many years of focused dedication, the Land Trust can claim stewardship of the world’s first temperate zone preserve for research in chemical ecology.  News coverage of the Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve in West Danby has been widespread and rewarding.  The Lindsay-Parson’s Biodiversity Preserve has been featured in the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s “As It Happens,” National Public Radio’s “Living on Earth,” the New York Times, the Albany Times Union and the Syracuse Herald.


The Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve consists of about 537 acres of lakes, forests, meadows, brushland, gorges, streams and wetlands.  Thirty-six and a half acres were given to the Finger Lakes Land Trust by Tompkins County, while the remainder has been donated or purchased from private landowners.

The preserve was named after Anne Marguerite Victoria Lindsay, from North Bay, Ontario and Wilbur Fay Parsons, who was from Central New York.  We are thankful for the generosity and sense of land stewardship of their daughter, Elizabeth Parsons Kirchner of State College, Pennsylvania.  Ms. Kirchner made a generous lead gift to the Land Trust in honor of her parents who instilled in her the lifelong love of nature.

In 1998, Edmond G. Blumner also made a generous gift supporting the project, in memory of his wife, Celia.  Mr. Blumner graduated from Cornell University in 1931 and read about the project in the Cornell Alumni Magazine — the same article that inspired Elizabeth Kirchner to help the project.

Public Use

Please see our public use policies for recreational activities on nature preserves.

From October 1 – October 31, all marked hiking trails will be open to the public while bow-hunters use trail-less areas of the preserve. Hikers must stay on the marked hiking trails at all times.

From November 1 – November 18, all marked hiking trails will be open to the public. Bow-hunters will be hunting in trail-less areas of the preserve, and also hunting in the area around the yellow trail (north of the open fields) and in the area around the red trail (east of the railroad tracks), but not within 150 feet of the marked trails. Hikers must stay on the marked hiking trails at all times.

From November 19 – December 20, the hiking trails east of the railroad tracks will be closed to the public, and the hiking trails between Rt. 34/96 and the railroad tracks will remain open to the public; hikers must stay on the marked hiking trails in this area at all times. All other trail-less areas of the preserve will be hunted and are closed to the public.


The Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve is located in West Danby, about 8 miles away from Ithaca. Take Rt. 13 south from Ithaca, then take Rt. 34/96 south to West Danby. Most of the preserve is located on the east side of the highway, across from Sylvan Drive and the West Danby Fire Station. Ample parking is available about 1/2 mile south of Sylvan Drive, on the east side of the road. Entrance to the parking lot is at the top of a hill, opposite a house and barn.