The Peterson Preserve

The Lodge at RTPI is nested within a 27-acre nature preserve of wildflower gardens, pollinator meadows and mature stands of hemlock trees. The Peterson Preserve is a sanctuary for visitors. A refuge for wildlife. A learning laboratory for us all.

Like most of the surrounding landscape, the Peterson Preserve reflects a long history of human impact. Much of our preserve was timbered. Some of it was farmed then abandoned. (For those who look closely, you can still find a few remnant trees from an apple orchard.) Invasive plant species have crept into the fallow areas. Invasive insects and the impacts of a warming planet are transforming the composition of our wooded areas.

Believing conservation always begins in your own backyard, RTPI has developed a master plan for managing the Peterson Preserve — to restore the ecological health of our land and enhance the overall visitor experience.

Guided by our master land management plan, RTPI has initiated several restoration efforts . In 2020, we removed numerous dead ash trees — victims of the emerald ash border — and established a pollinator meadow. In 2021, with support from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, we initiated removal of a large, dense stand multiflora rose — an aggressive invasive plant species — in order to restore a healthy mix of grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and trees alongside a trickling creek.

Healthier habitat will lead to an even greater diversity of birds and other animal life. RTPI is a magnet for warblers during spring and fall migrations. Our preserve is home to Cooper’s hawks, house wrens and eastern bluebirds — the very same species, painted by Roger Tory Peterson,  that appears on New York state conservation license plates.

Our natural areas are enhanced by two gardens. For many years, the Jamestown Garden Club has maintained Eleanor’s Sanctuary Butterfly Garden. The Transplants Garden Club has recently taken on the responsibility for stewarding the Native Plant Demonstration Garden, sponsored by Royal Fern Nursery.

Winding throughout the Peterson Preserve is the new Art & Nature Trail. In 2021, we commissioned Vince Liuzzo — a local artist and certified arborist — to carve several wooden sculptures, depicting plant and animal species that meant something special to Roger Tory Peterson. A northern flicker, a luna moth and trilliums, to name a few. Trail maps help visitors discover all the sculptures, along with interpretive signage that points out various other plants and animals. The trail map invites visitors to continue to journey of discovery inside the museum, in search of the same species painted by Roger and other world class nature artists. The trail ends in RTPI’s new Art & Nature Lab, where everyone is encouraged to have their own “Roger experience” by drawing what they discovered along the trail on the Art & Nature Lab wall.