Source: Howard Nuernberger
After riding a bus down into Big Hollow, visitors enjoyed a
walking tour that included commentary on plants and birds in
the area (May 2000).
The plan for The Arboretum at Penn State seeks to capitalize
on the diverse qualities of the site by carefully fitting the
Arboretum's functions to the natural characteristics of the land,
and by establishing positive, long-term connections with surrounding
land uses and open space.
The proposed site for the Arboretum comprises approximately
370 acres that extend from the Mitchell Tract on Park Avenue northward
and westward to the Mount Nittany Expressway. The site is divided
into three general areas: Big Hollow (244 acres) running generally
in a north-south direction across the entire site, the Overlook
Heights Upland (68 acres) to the west of Big Hollow, and the Mitchell
Tract (58 acres) to the east of Big Hollow and adjacent to central
campus. Within Big Hollow there are smaller topographic variations,
including small hills, steep ravines, and sloping valley walls.
The Mitchell Tract is subdivided into two areas: 35 acres with
approximately 1,000 feet of frontage on Park Avenue and the East
Upland that forms part of the eastern edge of Big Hollow, 115
feet above the valley floor. The Overlook Heights Upland is approximately
105 feet above the valley floor.
This site possesses a broad range of growing conditions and
microclimates that make it attractive for Arboretum use. There
are several areas of mature woodlands, such as within the East
Upland near Sunset Park, that are well-suited for the study of
ecology and related disciplines. Most of the acres in the Mitchell
Tract and the Overlook Heights Upland are in agricultural use
and lend themselves to conversion to a wide range of Arboretum-related
uses. Other unique natural features, such as limestone rock outcrops
and a variety of soil types and landforms, further enhance educational
opportunities within the Arboretum. The proposed site is also
the location of the University’s primary well field. The development
of an arboretum on the site will help to optimize the University’s
long-term plan for well-head protection.