Photo: John Smith

Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve

The Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve consists of 554 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.

A wetland overlook offering plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities can be found on Sylvan Lane next to the West Danby Firehouse. Opposite the main preserve entrance, the wetlands are home to river otters, Great Blue Herons, Kingfishers, and many other creatures.

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.

Recent History

The Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve consists of about 554 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.

Land Acknowledgment

The Finger Lakes Land Trust recognizes that our nature preserves exist on the homeland of the Haudenosaunee. We hope to honor indigenous peoples’ ongoing relationship with the land by conserving wild places forever.

Public Use

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

Go Finger Lakes

Go Finger Lakes is the free web site created by the Finger Lakes Land Trust to promote recreation and conservation. Use the interactive map of over 50 hiking, biking, paddling, skiing, and outdoor adventure destinations across the region!

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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.