PCLT’s vision of preserving a large portion of the Ice Pond Basin originated 20 years ago with then-PCLT President Michael Ciaiola. What began with the donation of the Shawe Preserve in 1976 and the Twin Hill Preserve in 1995 gradually evolved into a plan to acquire the Ice Pond itself and its surrounding edges. In 1999, PCLT was successful in working with the aptly-named Ice Pond Corporation to acquire the waterbody and two additional edge parcels. All these parcels were acquired with the understanding they would remain forever in their natural state. A fourth parcel was donated as an unrestricted donation or possible tradeland, and accepted as such. PCLT has the ability to accepts tradelands, which is a property that the donor has explicitly intended for us to be able to resell or trade to support other conservation efforts. (For more info on tradelands, start at The Nature Conservancy’s website here: www.nature.org/gift-planning/all-giving-options/gifts-of-assets/gifts-of-real-estate/real-estate-gifts-overview.xml.)
The plan was that part or all of that fourth parcel would be used to trade for the more environmentally important ridge line and lands sloping down to the pond and to give PCLT ownership of the road down to the fishing lodge and pond. Now that plan may be coming to fruition.
In exchange for roughly 5 acres of the tradeland parcel, PCLT will be acquiring approximately 70-acres of ecologically sensitive land overlooking the western edge of Ice Pond, which is noted for its scenic views and its historical and natural resources. The Ice Pond basin is a resource for migratory song birds and waterfowl with at least 120 species having been identified. 599 species of vascular plant have been cataloged by NYBG and 20 different ecotones have been listed. The ridgeline serves as a biotic corridor for the larger mammals which need larger tracts of land to move in and through.
These Ice Pond related parcels protect the head waters of Muddy Brook which feeds into the Croton River of the Great Swamp. The Great Swamp filters our drinking water and recharges our aquifers. Additionally it serves to retain storm water and allow for its slow release thus protecting roads and homes from flooding. Every acre of wetland has been estimated to provide upwards of $100,000 every year in services to the communities in which they are located, alleviating the need for costly filtration plants and storm water systems.
In addition to PCLT’s marked trails on PCLT land there are a number of unofficial trails in the Ice Pond Basin that are not on PCLT property that hikers, walkers and bouldering-enthusiasts use. The proposed tradelands exchange will bring those trails under the care and management of PCLT.
Considering PCLT’s recent announcement regarding the new 115-acre Dextra Baldwin McGonagle Preserve on the east side of Ice Pond, the 24-acre Cifu Wetlands Preserve, the 99-acre Burdick Farm Preserve on Bullet Hole Rd, the 104 acre Ice Pond Conservation Area itself and the 33-acre Twin Hill Preserve, PCLT believes this is a significant accomplishment for land conservation in Putnam County.