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 The Friends Of The Sterling Nature Center.

The Friends of the Sterling Nature Center is a devoted volunteer group that strives to uphold and advance the Sterling Nature Center's conservation efforts. Established in 1997, our non-profit 501c(3) organization played a crucial role in the transformation of the Sterling Nature Center into a valuable community resource. Our primary mission is to foster educational and recreational opportunities that promote a harmonious relationship between individuals and the natural environment that encompasses them. 

The Center's history can be traced back to 1994 when Cayuga County acquired this historically significant land with the intention of preserving its natural essence. Following years of meticulous planning and development, the land was officially designated as a County Park in 2000.


Our unwavering dedication to the growth of the Sterling Nature Center has been evident in our tireless efforts. We have played a critical role in shaping the Center's offerings, from developing a unique trail system to providing support for various programs and events. Thanks to the Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative Grants we secured, the Center is now equipped with a state-of-the-art visitor center, an outdoor classroom, an improved trail system, and resilient infrastructure. We are excited to continue our work and witness the Sterling Nature Center thrive under our guidance.

As a group of passionate nature lovers committed to sustainable development, the Friends of Sterling Nature Center extend a warm invitation for you to join us in nurturing a more profound respect for our natural world. Let us explore, learn, and safeguard together.

A little more about our history

The history of the Sterling Nature Center dates back to the late 1700s when the land of Town lots 4, 5, and 6 was subdivided and passed on to numerous owners. By the 1860s, Moses Bridges owned the area where the visitor center stands today, and he subsequently sold it to his son, Edmund Bridges. For over a century, this land was a thriving agricultural community.

In 1933, Christopher and Anne Jensvold purchased the homestead, ushering in a new era. Christopher, a Spanish-American War veteran and successful businessman, resided here until his passing in 1959. From the late 1950s to the early 1970s, the land, including the Jensvold property, underwent several transfers and management changes. Rochester Gas and Electric (RG&E) acquired a significant part of the land in 1972 with the intention of building power plants, but their plans were eventually abandoned. Public opposition prevented subsequent proposals for waste storage and a landfill, leading to the formation of the Sterling Task Force.

In 1994, Cayuga County took ownership of the land, and in 1998, they partnered with the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation to establish conservation easements. These efforts safeguarded Lake Ontario's shoreline, wetlands, and other sensitive areas and paved the way for the formation of The Friends of Sterling Nature Center in 1997.

Today, the Sterling Nature Center, officially designated a County Park in 2000, boasts an improved trail system and a range of enriching programs. Despite COVID-related delays, we began site upgrades in 2022, thanks to funding from the Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative Grants and community support. We expect to complete the new visitor center, pavilion, outdoor classroom, and an improved trail system by fall 2023.

Our journey, which is steeped in history and natural significance, demonstrates the power of community cooperation and conservation initiatives. We encourage you to explore the Sterling Nature Center, which is a testament to our shared heritage and resolute commitment to preserving nature.

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