Smith Environmental Field Station

The Robert R. Smith Environmental Field Station (Smith EFS) is located at the Pine Lake Environmental Campus (PLEC) of Hartwick College.

The Pine Lake campus is located in Delaware County, roughly eight miles from the College’s main campus in Oneonta, New York.

Situated near the headwaters of the Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers in the western foothills of the Catskill Mountains, the PLEC is a multi-use facility that includes a 5 ha spring-fed, kettlehole lake, alder (Alnus) bog, swamps, mixed coniferous/deciduous forests, open fields, the Charlotte Creek, and a river bottom flood plain. Smith EFS is used by Hartwick College faculty and students as a base of operations for field research and teaching.

The PLEC houses 35 students during the academic year and up to 50 individuals during the summer in an 8-bedroom lodge, a farmhouse, and ten cabins, including two natural buildings, the Strawbale House and the Cob House. All lodging facilities include kitchens and bathrooms. A large multi-use meeting facility is also available. All facilities have high-speed wireless internet access.

During the summer, Smith EFS hosts faculty and student researchers and field-based summer courses.

Current research focuses on:

  • Impacts of an Invasive Crayfish on a Stream Community
  • Revisiting Acid Rain: Nitrate and Sulfate Deposition in the Upper Susquehanna River Basin
  • Organ Regeneration in Red Spotted Newts of Pine Lake
  • Collaborative Research on the Effects of Environmental Stressors on Amphibians
  • Impact of Recreational Use of Public Lands on Biological and Ecological Diversity.

In 2008, the Upper Tract was sold to the State of New York as an addition to Robert V. Riddell State Park (RSP), which is managed by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). Hartwick College continues to operate and manage the Upper Tract by agreement.


Facilities & Instrumentation

Smith EFS was constructed in 1995 with funding from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which recognized its potential in providing valuable scientific information about the biological diversity in the region. Smith EFS is used for teaching and for conducting basic and applied research.

Facilities include a large teaching/research laboratory (5x6m), a smaller dedicated research laboratory, storage/utility room (2.5 x 4m), instrument room (2.5 x 3m), computer room (2 x 3m), and a full bath.

Equipment includes an explosion-proof refrigerator, freezer, microwave, PH meter, top loading balances, six dissecting microscopes, six compound microscopes, drying ovens, computers and printers, and AV equipment.

Field equipment includes small mammal traps, forestry equipment, aquatic sampling equipment, water testing kits, a dissolved oxygen meter, mist nets and traps for bird capture, seines and nets, and other basic limnology and ecology equipment.

The Field Station has wireless internet access and maintains a collection of biology, ecology, and natural history books and literature.


Robert R. Smith Environmental Field Station
Hartwick College’s Pine Lake Environmental Campus
Phone: 607-431-4518