The Arnot Teaching and Research Forest, "the Arnot",
is situated in the hilly, forested Southern Tier region of New York State.
The Arnot (pronounced R-not) is owned by Cornell University and managed
by the Department of Natural Resources in the College of Agriculture and
Life Sciences (CALS). It is the largest actively managed forest owned
by Cornell University. The Arnot provides a place for Cornell faculty
and students to carry out elements of the three-part mission of CALS:
Teaching, Extension, and Research, in service to the citizens of New York.
The current Arnot Forest results from a long history of changing land-use
patterns, and presents an opportunity to study the long-term consequences
of these changes.
did Cornell come to own the Arnot?
In 1910 the Chemung Canal Trust Company, a private bank owned by the
Arnot family, foreclosed on the mortgage, taking ownership from the Rodbourns.
In 1914 the land was sold to the Matthias H. Arnot Estate. Cornell ownership
of the property began in 1927 when the heirs of the estate gave 1,641
acres to the University. An additional 2,090 acres were acquired from
the Federal Resettlement Administration in 1956. With the purchase of
in-holdings and adjoining parcels over the years, the acreage now totals
is the Arnot?
To some it is acres of rural land on which to ski, hike, hunt, or study
nature. To others it is a unique ecosystem to be studied, analyzed, manipulated
and at least partially understood. To still others it is the place they
go to learn how to make maple syrup or manage timber resources. The forest
is an outdoor laboratory where students can learn the principles of forestry,
ecology, and wildlife management and where both students and faculty have
opportunities to conduct original research.
In addition to 2,400 acres of mature forest, the Arnot includes some
100 acres of open land (grass and goldenrod), 1,345 acres of old field,
saplings, brush and pole timber; 170 acres of softwood plantations, 40
acres of sugarbush, 20 acres of field campus, plus 10 ponds and Banfield
The last glaciation to affect the topography of the Arnot was the Wisconsin,
some 10 thousand years ago. As the glacier retreated, eroded material
was dropped to form the major depositional features of the area. The deposition
was of two types: (1) boulders and rocks released directly from the ice
and (2) gravel, sand, and clay carried by glacial melt water. These were
deposited as moraines, outwash plains, and valley trains that form many
of the lower ridges and knolls at the Arnot. Elevation ranges from 1,150
ft. at the main entrance to the forest to approximately 2,035 ft. on the
More than 400 species of vascular plants and 135 species of birds, in
addition to numerous amphibians, reptiles, and mammals inhabit the Arnot.
Approximately 100 contiguous acres of grassland are maintained to provide
habitats for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. The forest also contains
most of the Banfield Creek watershed and headwaters of several others.
There are no natural ponds or lakes on the Arnot forest; farm ponds were
constructed for research between 1944 and 1949.
Timber from the Arnot Forest was first harvested during a 14-year period
beginning in 1873. As a consequence of this past history of logging, fire
and agriculture, most of the Arnot Forest now contains predominately even-aged
second-growth stands of trees.
The physical characteristics of the forest and its current uses are the
result of a history of natural and human events. The Arnot’s latitude
and elevation put it at the transition zone between the northern hardwoods
(beech, maple, birch) and Allegheny hardwoods (oak, cherry, hickory) forest
Like most of the eastern United States, the Arnot is second-growth forest,
with occasional abandoned farm fields in the process of returning to forest.
Virtually all of the area had been cut or burned by the late 1800’s.
The topography, land features, and vegetation support a diverse wildlife