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New York

Rome Sand Plains

Encompassing more than 16,000 acres within Oneida County, Rome Sand Plains is one of only a handful of inland pine barrens left in the Northeast.

The unique geology of the area has created a mosaic of high sand dunes and low-lying peat bogs, along with pine barrens and hardwood forests, meadows, and wetlands. This unusual mix of habitats makes for a truly unique natural phenomenon and an interesting and varied trail experience.

Why We Work Here

Due to the rich variety of plants and animals that inhabit the pine barrens, Rome Sand Plains is a favorite spot for students, bird-watching groups, hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts. Here, you can find carnivorous plants such as the sundew and pitcher plant, and rare animals such as the fisher and red-shouldered hawk.

In addition, the Sand Plains is a restoration site for the New York threatened frosted elfin butterfly and its sole food source, wild blue lupine.


Development threatens to fragment native habitats within the Sand Plains.

Conservation Strategy
  • Acquire important lands and waters to consolidate conservation ownership of sensitive habitats
  • Restore wild blue lupines to maintain frosted elfin butterflies and prepare for the potential reintroduction of New York-endangered Karner blue butterflies
  • Build public awareness of the importance of the Sand Plains and the threats to this fragile ecosystem
Conservation Actions

The Nature Conservancy has partnered with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Oneida County to complete a comprehensive management plan for the sand plains. The result is guiding land-use management on protected lands at Rome Sand Plains.

The Rome Sand Plains Resource Management Team is a coalition of nearly 20 public and private partners who work together to protect and manage conservation lands at the sand plains.

The Nature Conservancy continues to acquire sensitive lands and waters at the sand plains, and recently acquired the largest remaining privately held tract, a 470-acre property of sand flats, pine forests and wetlands. Without the Conservancy's action, the property was destined to become a landfill.

We are now working with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and Rome Sand Plains Management Team to restore sensitive habitats on the property.


Our partners in conservation include: Rome Sand Plains Resource Management Team, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, City of Rome, Oneida County, Isaak Walton League of America, Hamilton College, Old Erie Audubon Society, West Rome Riders snowmobile club, U.S. EPA, Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, New York Rivers United, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Lowe's Companies, Inc., SUNY Morrisville.


Frosted Elfin Butterfly

The Rome Sand Plains is a restoration site for the New York-threatened frosted elfin butterfly.

The Nature Conservancy owns and manages the Rome Sand Plains nature preserve. Our key partner at Rome Sand Plains, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, manages another 3,000 acres of important lands and waters. Though there are no trails on our property, there are three public trails on lands owned by other conservation partners.

At 16,000 acres, this preserve is located in Rome, NY, within Oneida County.


Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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