In a unique public-private partnership, Putnam County Land Trust (PCLT), Westchester Land Trust (WLT) and Friends of the Great Swamp (FrOGS) announced today that together the organizations have permanently protected a critical landholding in the Ice Pond Conservation Area of the Great Swamp — a region of statewide ecological significance — in Town of Patterson, New York. The organizations worked together to acquire three contiguous parcels on Abbeyfield Lane that total 115-acres. The parcels will be renamed the Dextra Baldwin McGonagle Preserve in honor of the Foundation of the same name which was a lead donor to the project. PCLT will maintain sole ownership of the Preserve, while WLT will hold the conservation easement on the land, thus ensuring the continued stewardship and protection of this acreage forever.
PCLT President, Judy Terlizzi, said, “Protecting these parcels of land, which are a part of a significant ecological system in the Ice Pond Conservation Area, has been a major priority for our three organizations for several years now.” The Ice Pond Conservation Area is an exceptional habitat, and is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species. “In addition to a newly discovered species of leopard frog and more than 120 species of birds, there are as many as 600 species of vascular plants, mosses, and lichens in the area. It is also a major stopover roost for migrating waterfowl with as many as 5,000 ducks spending the night,” said Dr. Jim Utter, Chairman of FrOGS.
In addition to funding from the Dextra Baldwin McGonagle Foundation, WLT and PCLT utilized internal funds earmarked for land acquisition, and FrOGS leverage federal funding through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) for the project. Additionally, WLT also received a generous contribution from an anonymous private donor. “We are honored to have partnered with such an impressive group of conservation partners and contributors to permanently protect this land. Truly, without the generosity of so many different partners, we would never have been able to protect this vital wetland system,” said Lori J. Ensinger, WLT President.
The organizations will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the community to celebrate the creation of the preserve later this spring.
About the Dextra Baldwin McGonagle Preserve:
The Great Swamp & The Ice Pond Conservation Area
Located less than 60 miles from New York City, the Great Swamp is a vital 6,000-acre watershed in the Croton Reservoir system and supplies drinking water to millions of residents in southeastern New York. It is also one of the largest freshwater wetlands in the state stretching nearly 20-miles across the five municipalities of Southeast, Patterson, Pawling Town, Pawling Village, and Dover. The Great Swamp improves water quality, recharges the aquifer, reduces flooding, provides critical habitat for plants and animals and creates open space for recreation and scenic views.
The Ice Pond Conservation Area is a 52 acre oligotrophic glacial lake with drainage flowing north supporting a broad peat-based wetland. This wetland is a mix of shrub-scrub habitat, herbaceous marsh, and open pools inhabited by beaver. The surrounding ridges shelter the broad central wetland, reducing wind velocity through the corridor, retaining humidity, moderating the local climate, and thus fostering a diverse biota. This wetland is one of the four original sites from which a newly discovered species of leopard frog was first described. Some 120 species of birds have also been spotted in the area — some of which are extremely rare and threatened in New York State – and it is a major stopover roost for migrating waterfowl with as many as 5,000 ducks spending the night. Additionally, the area is a habitat for as many as 600 species of vascular plants, mosses, and lichens.
Despite the value of these ecosystems, they are located at the edge of swiftly advancing suburban development expanding north from Westchester County and New York City. Indeed, the area’s rural character and easy access to major commercial centers makes it an attractive place to live and do business. The transformation of the property from developable land into protected open space will yield a significant public benefit and furthers both established local and State governmental conservation policy. As stated in the 2009 New York Open Space Plan, one of the urgent priorities is the protection of drinking water-supply watersheds and water quality. In this regard, the preservation of land proximate to the Ice Pond Preserve and Great Swamp and containing uplands, wetlands and stream corridors that drain into the Croton Reservoir system is a “Priority Project” because such land preservation helps protect the drinking water of more than 10 million people living in New York City and surrounding areas.
About the Conservation Partners
Putnam County Land Trust
Established in 1969, Putnam County Land Trust is one of the oldest land trusts in New York State. Working with various governmental agencies, conservation organizations, and the public, PCLT has protected natural resources through ownership of sensitive lands, easements, planning strategies, and environmental education. To date, 1,044 acres of diverse habitat have been protected. In addition, PCLT has spearheaded the creation and adoption of legislation — Resolution R-555. The measure has, in turn, preserved over 2,000-acres as Putnam County Conservation Areas. To learn more, visit: pclt.net.
Westchester Land Trust
Founded in 1988, WLT recently celebrated 25 years of working with public and private partners to preserve land in perpetuity, and to protect and enhance the natural resources in Westchester and eastern Putnam County. The WLT’s conservation efforts impact the long term health of these communities through protection of watershed areas, air quality, and food supply. In total, the WLT has preserved more than 7,800 acres of open space including 640 acres of preserves owned by the organization. To learn more, visit: westchesterlandtrust.org.
Friends of the Great Swamp
FrOGS is a volunteer-driven organization working to preserve the Great Swamp since 1990 through activities that preserve, protect and promote the functions and integrity of the wetland and its upland watersheds in Putnam and Dutchess Counties. Volunteers and citizen scientists associated with FrOGS organize educational activities and events, conduct research, and encourage community action and partnerships to preserve and protect the Swamp. To learn more, visit: frogs-ny.org