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Closing the Arboretum to Protect our Trees

Published: 
5 weeks 1 day ago

Pedestrians are welcome to explore the arboretum every day from dawnto dusk. Vehicle access resumes in spring.
Rhoda Maurer, director of horticulture for Cornell Botanic Gardens, explains why the F. R. Newman Arboretum is closed to traffic during the winter months:

Why is the F. R. Newman Arboretum closed to vehicles during the winter? 
Cornell Botanic Gardens and Cornell University do not plow or treat the roads in the arboretum.  We have chosen to practice environmental stewardship by not using salts to treat slippery surfaces. Road salts carry a high environmental cost, as they contaminate water supplies and burn the roots of nearby plants. Our collections are a living museum, and safekeeping them is part of our responsibility to future generations. 

Can’t you find a way to keep the roads clear that won’t damage the trees? 
Keeping the roads clear without using salts limits us to physical labor and resources not available to us.

What about winter days when there’s no snow on the roads—can’t you open the gates then? 
Seasonal closure of the Arboretum is necessary to ensure the safety of our guests.  And while some roads may seem clear of frozen precipitation, others in the shaded hills often are not.

How do you decide when to close the gates and open them again in the spring? 
Opening and closing of the Arboretum for the winter is based on current weather trends and the probability for below-freezing temperatures and precipitation patterns.  Given the complexity of changing climate and weather events, we strive to keep the Arboretum open for as much of the year as possible, while also providing for the safety of our visitors.