Location: Ithaca, New York
Webpage: Non-profit Public Education Venue
General Description: As part of the Paleontological Research Institution, Cayuga Nature Center provides the opportunity for nature enthusiast to experience and learn about the natural forests of central New York. The center consists of a Visitor Center/Museum that contains rooms devoted to the impact of various factors on the natural environment including past land use and cultural practices, climate, change, invasive species, and other factors. There is also a small collection of stuffed animals indignant to the area and live animals from all over the world that had been pets of local residents. There is also a series of trails in the surrounding forests, along with a TEAM Challenge area that can be reserved by local groups.
1) The small museum in the Visitor Center had a number of interesting exhibits about factors that threaten the natural environment. I especially enjoyed the impact of the past land-use patterns on the natural system as this region was extensively logged in the late 1800 and early 1900s and then with large agriculture areas through the 1960s. Today most of the land is reverting back to forests as farms are abandoned. I also learned that earthworms are not native to America, but are actually imported from Europe and are a prime example of an invasive species. Finally, I learned about how global warming will change the forest environment from a predominant maple/ash to a predominant oak/hickory forest.
2) The paths around the center are easy to moderate and provide a nice hike through the lush New York forests. There are areas of red pine, hemlock, and maple along different parts of the trails. We did see a couple of deer along the trail and the noise from the highway detracted from the experience until you got far enough into the woods to escape it.