The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies is located west of the Village of Millbrook in New York State. Millbrook is located on the eastern border of the State of New York. The Institute is located at 2801 Sharon Turnpike (Route 44). The Institute is located at the Mary Flagler Cary Arboretum, which is a 2,000 acre property originally owned by Mary Flagler Cary. Cary died in 1967 and the New York Botanical Garden took control of the property. Dr. Gene Likens founded the Institute at the Arboretum in 1983. In 1993, the Institute became a separate entity with Likens as its president.
Currently, the Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to scientific knowledge about the world's ecosystems. The Institute seeks to research, assess, and disseminate information about ecological systems in order to solve environmental problems. The Institute accomplishes these goals in three ways. There is strong emphasis on scientific research which is related to all facets of environmental concerns. Secondly, the Institute is dedicated to making their research findings and data available to the public and government. In doing so, the Institute holds workshops, presents findings to commissions, and leads field trips. Finally, the Institute pursues educating students from the elementary level through the undergraduate level. They seek to raise scientific awareness and literacy in the hopes that a good scientific foundation can solve environmental problems that humans face.
The property has a number of hiking trails with public access. There are several different ecosystems which the trails run through such as wetlands and upland forest. The trails are ideal for nature/habitat observation. The Cary Pines Trail is a 1.3 mile trail which leads through several meadows and a glade of pines. Accordingly, this trail is the best for bird watching. The Wappinger Creek Trail is a 1.3 mile trail through a forested area alongside a creek. Connecting trails like the EdVenture Trail and the Sedge Meadow Trail are small trails designed for school groups and workshops. The Institute also can provide visitors with a butterfly checklist which hikers can use to identify and catalog butterflies they may see along the trails. The hiking trails and roadways are closed from November 1 - March 31.
Just off of the trails is an area designated Fern Glen. This area is a 2 acre ecosystem bordering Wappinger's Creek. Fern Glen contains chairs, bulletin boards, and trail guides to assist the student or enthusiast. There is a small pond nearby. In Fern Glen, it is possible to observe a variety of wildlife including frogs, turtles, dragonflies, moths, and hummingbirds.
Each year the Institute hosts a summer ecology camp. Each year the theme is different. Registration for the 2010 camp begins in February. In the summertime, children are exposed to scientific ecological topics in a fun and engaging manner. Campers may attend more than one year in a row. Previous camp themes have included soil, water cycle, and wetlands. Interested parties can call Kim Notin at 845-677-7600, extension 303.
Visitors may tour the trails from April 1 to October 31, sunrise to dusk. Roadway gates open at 8:30 am and are locked at 7 pm. Smoking, swimming, pets, littering, and removal of natural flora is prohibited.
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