More of the Great Swamp is now available for the enjoyment and benefit of future generations. In November, Putnam County Land Trust (PCLT) and Friends of the Great Swamp (FrOGS) closed on a 38-acre parcel formerly owned by the See family in the Ice Pond basin in Patterson. Mostly wetland, the parcel includes an acre and a half easement that will allow a trail above the flooded zone.
In the wetland, breeding wood ducks and mallards share the alder, vibernum and buttonbush habitat with hard-to-find warblers, green herons, and stealthy Virginia rails. About four acres of the property are upland woods, part of a rim sheltering it from east and northeast winds, and making the wetlands a perfect roosting area for migrating ducks including wood, black, mallard and teal. Visitors can observe plenty of beaver evidence in the flooded area.
“The Ice Pond basin’s entire wetland habitat is 300 acres including the glacial lake called Ice Pond. With the new purchase, 80 percent of the wetland is now forever protected,” said Dr. Jim Utter, Chairman of FrOGS. “The Metro-North rail line runs along the edge of Ice Pond and through some of its watershed, offering riders one of the most impressive landscapes seen on the train ride to and from Manhattan,” he continued.
Because of its unique features, stated Utter, FrOGS has suggested that the Ice Pond system be included in New York’s Open Space Plan. Scientific studies completed by experts from the New York Botanical Gardens (Daniel Atha, Robert Naczi and Bill Buck) found over 599 species of vascular plants, mosses and lichens, some of them rare, growing in 20 different ecological communities around Ice Pond. A checklist with maps and photographs is available on the PCLT website. A newly-discovered species of frog, the Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog (Rana kauffeldi), was identified in the Ice Pond wetlands just a few years ago, and tracking teams have found evidence of bobcat, otter, and mink as well as beaver and black bear.
Other protected properties in the Ice Pond basin include Patterson-owned Clough Preserve; PCLT-owned Twin Hill Preserve, Ice Pond Conservation Area, Burdick Farm, and Dextra Baldwin McGonagle Preserve. Trails in the Clough Preserve, Twin Hill Preserve and the Ice Pond Conservation Area already give the people of Patterson and Putnam County access to this scenic area for passive recreation.
The acquisition was funded by a 2013 North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant awarded to FrOGS and 16 partners including PCLT. With this further protection from the encroachment of buildings and developmental pollutants, the Ice Pond basin can continue to evolve as a unique ecosystem to be enjoyed by all.
For more information on Friends of the Great Swamp, please visit www.frogs-ny.org or FB: FrOGS-NY. For more information on Putnam County Land Trust, please visit www.pclt.net.