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Located at the southern edge of the Bristol Hills, the West Hill Preserve offers visitors an opportunity to view ecological succession in progress. Ecological succession is the gradual change in plant communities that occupy a given area. Succession begins when natural vegetation is disturbed or removed for reasons including fire, farming or severe flooding.
Over time, different kinds of pioneering plants colonize the area, become established, and eventually die off, leaving room for the next community. Ultimately, under natural conditions, succession reaches a relatively stable condition, and this community is said to be a climax community. This usually takes more than a hundred years.
More than 125 years ago, field cultivation was incrementally phased out on this property, allowing the abandoned fields to mature at their own pace. Today, visitors can ramble through many different stages of natural succession and imagine what West Hill will look like when the field and shrublands eventually return to Appalachian oak hickory forest.
The Finger Lakes Community College is an active partner to The Nature Conservancy in managing this preserve. Students in the College’s Natural Resources Conservation program maintain trails and more.
West Hill Preserve is open to the public from dawn to dusk. Please tread lightly and stay on the trails.
Segments of the trails in West Hill also link into the Bristol Hills Branch of the Finger Lakes Trail.
West Hill is alive with migrating birds in the spring. Over 150 bird species have been identified at the preserve. The list includes 10 species of hawks and falcons, 12 species of sparrows and 20 species or warblers. With the diverse mosaic of habitats, West Hill has amazing plant diversity. Over 350 different plant species have been indentified here, including some rare sedges and rush species. You may also spot bluebirds or turkeys. Also keep an eye out for white-tailed deer, weasels, fox, painted turtles, wood and leopard frogs, and ribbon and milk snakes.
This 450-acre preserve is located in Naples, Ontario County, NY.
From From NY State Thruway:
- Take exit 44 and take Route 332 toward Canandaigua.
- Turn right on County Route 41.
- Turn left on Route 444.
- Turn left on Routes 5 & 20.
- Turn right on Route 64.
- Turn left on County route 34.
- Turn left on County Route 33.
- Turn left on Seman Road, preserve will be on the right.