In order to preserve the surrounding fields and meadows, renowned architect Edward Larrabee Barnes designed the Purchase College campus as “A city within the country”.

The campus is situated on 500+ acres of land and 80 acres of wetland. 175+ acres of the property remains undeveloped with about 100 acres committed to be maintained at its natural state, protected under Forever Wild. Within these natural areas of campus, there are running trails for the campus community and public use. Purchase College has a unique feel as these natural areas are embedded into and surround the main areas of campus.  This dedication to maintaining natural land helps to preserve our area’s native species and biodiversity and is also effectively practiced by our Grounds Department that use and follow the NYS DEC Trees and Plants guide.

Bee at Native Species Garden

The campus green spaces provide habitat for many native animals. A surprising diversity of mammal species use our campus, including the Eastern gray squirrel, Eastern chipmunk, white-tailed deer, Eastern cottontail, bobcat, coyote, raccoon, and striped skunk. Check out Purchase’s iNaturalist page to discover what other species have been spotted. The green spaces of campus also support a rich diversity of bird species, which is documented and constantly updated on our Purchase College eBird hotspot. The campus has many year-round residents including Northern mockingbird and red-tailed hawk but is also an important migration stopover site for many species of birds that migrate from as far away as South America. Maintaining native biodiversity is an important concept for the College and its green infrastructure endeavors. 

Geologically, the area is one of glacial action, exhibiting features such as drumlins, drumlinoid ridges, till plains, and the like. Soils in the area include Paxton, Ridgebury and Woodbridge loams. These are all glacial-derived soils, most in the B or C hydrologic group indicating fair to poorly draining soils. The average annual rainfall is 44 to 48 inches with prevailing winds from the west-southwest. Purchase College commits to maintaining a healthy, natural environment by utilizing sustainable landscape management techniques and increasing the presence of green infrastructure on campus.