Comprehensive PlanHousing ChoicesTransportation ChoicesJobs and BusinessRural ResourcesWater ResourcesNatural FeaturesEnergy and ClimateCommunity PlanningPlanning ToolsAdvisory BoardsStaffTourismSustainability


Home>Natural Features

Buttermilk CascadeNatural Features

Tompkins County is known for its resplendent landscapes and natural havens.  Both local residents and visitors enjoy and appreciate Cayuga Lake; the many gorges, streams, and waterfalls; and our rolling farmland, fields, and wooded hillsides.  Tompkins County hosts four state parks, nearly 200 miles of hiking and multi-use trails, and thousands of acres of other preserves and protected lands.

The Tompkins County Planning Department is currently actively involved in several projects addressing natural features.

The Tompkins County Conservation Strategy presents eleven specific strategies to conserve critical identified resources in the County over the next ten years.  This strategy is based on the recommendations of the Tompkins County Conservation Plan, which includes analysis, findings and recommendations for both natural and agricultural resources.  Other agency and community partners’ plans were also considered in the development of this strategy.  The Tompkins County Conservation Strategy recognizes that protection of Tompkins County’s natural and agricultural heritage requires coordination with agency and community partners and collaboration with willing and interested landowners in the County.  The final Conservation Strategy was endorsed by the Tompkins County Legislature October 2, 2012. 

Tompkins County Conservation Plan:  A Strategic Approach to Natural Resource Stewardship
Protection and management of key resources in Tompkins County is a high priority action item identified in the Tompkins County Comprehensive Plan. In support of this action item, and as part of the Tompkins County Natural Features Focus Area Project, the Tompkins County Planning Department (TCPD) has prepared the Tompkins County Conservation Plan to help establish a more coordinated and strategic approach to long-term stewardship of natural, recreational, and working landscape resources in Tompkins County. The Tompkins County Conservation Plan is the result of more than two years of research, extensive public outreach and collaboration with multiple partner agencies.

Each of the fourteen Natural Features Focus Areas that are included in the Tompkins County Conservation Plan has an individual plan that provides detailed information about the unique characteristics of the area and outlines a tailored approach to implementation. These Focus Area Plans are available as separate documents.  Click on the Focus Area name on the Natural Features Focus Area Map to view the individual Focus Area Plans.

Scenic Resources Inventory
Residents and visitors alike treasure the outstanding scenic resources found in Tompkins County. Local plans frequently highlight a desire to preserve the rural character of the community. Tourism and economic development agencies tout the area’s beauty.  The Tompkins County Planning Department has prepared the Scenic Resources Inventory to lay the foundation for local planning to manage scenic resources in the County.  In the fall of 2007, the Tompkins County Scenic Resources Inventory received an award from the New York Upstate Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects for its scope and innovation.

The Planning Department has prepared a companion document to the Scenic Resources Inventory -- Tompkins County: Protecting Our Scenic Resources. This publication provides information on how communities can work to safeguard inportant scenic resources.

Natural Resources Inventory
The Natural Resources Inventory includes maps and descriptions of various resources located in Tompkins County, such as wetlands, flood hazard areas, slopes, soils, bedrock and surficial geology, and protected lands.  The Inventory may be viewed as a printed document or as an interactive map, allowing users to create and print maps, access data, and learn about the natural resources of Tompkins County.

Unique Natural Areas Inventory of Tompkins County
The Unique Natural Areas Inventory includes an extensive database, GIS coverage, and report on nearly 200 sites determined to contain significant ecological, biological, geological, or aesthetic characteristics. The Inventory is available for review at local libraries, municipal halls, and the County Planning Department. The Environmental Management Council has developed several documents related to the Inventory, which are available at the link above.



Tompkins County
Planning Department

121 E. Court Street
Ithaca, New York 14850

Phone: (607) 274-5560  
Fax: (607) 274-5578

E-mail us