Conservation Partners Work Together to Permanently Protect Five PCLT Properties

The Putnam County Land Trust, in conjunction with its conservation partners Westchester Land Trust (WLT) and Friends of the Great Swamp (FrOGS), is proud to announce the permanent protection of five preserves totaling more than 150 acres in Putnam County. This is the second time in as many years that these organizations have worked together to protect land in the area. Last year, they worked together to protect the 115-acre Dextra Baldwin McGonagle Preserve.

This most recent collaboration focused on five PCLT properties in the Great Swamp Watershed including the 13-acre Doansburg Preserve in the Town of Southeast, as well as four preserves in the Town of Patterson including: Elena Hill (17 acres), Ice Pond (90 acres), Twin Hill (11.5 acres) and Shawe (18.8). PCLT has owned these properties for many years but worked with WLT to create conservation easements. These legal instruments add an extra layer of protection that ensures that these preserves will be protected forever.

Judi Terlizzi, President of PCLT, was appreciative of WLT’s support saying, “WLT brings resources to the table that a volunteer-run organization like Putnam County Land Trust is not able to. Its professional staff has been instrumental in both the acquisition of properties and the work caring for them thereafter.”

The largest of these five properties, the 90-acre Ice Pond Preserve, has significant value on both a local and landscape scale. It is part of an area that is a priority for the State of New York to conserve for its biological diversity, scenic landscapes, and water quality. The Ice Pond is the headwaters of Muddy Brook which flows into the Croton River and is part of the Croton Watershed for the New York City public drinking water supply. The Ice Pond itself was used for ice harvesting by the Knickerbocker Ice Company in the 18th and 19th century before refrigeration. The foundations of the structures can still be seen today by visitors and a brochure that describes the ice harvesting operation is available from PCLT. It also borders the aforementioned Dextra Baldwin McGonagle Preserve. With the permanent protection of this parcel, as well as the others, almost all of the ecosystem in the Ice Pond Valley and Conservation Area will be preserved.

Ethan Winter, NYS Conservation Manager for the Land Trust Alliance, the accrediting body for land trusts nationwide, encouraged the partners to continue working together when he spoke about their collaboration around the Dextra Baldwin McGonagle Preserve during a video interview for WLT. “Conservation really does take a village. No one can do it alone for very long, effectively.”

Lori. J. Ensinger, WLT’s President sees this most recent collaboration and the one around last year’s Dextra Baldwin McGonagle Preserve as necessary steps to sharing resources and expertise to positively impact land conservation in the watershed. “We protect the land because ultimately we are all the beneficiaries of what the land has to offer – clean drinking water, clean air, food supply, and places to recreate in. Together, our conservation organizations are working to identify and protect this landscape’s most critical parcels and to engage the landowners who live in this region in the stewardship of their natural resources.”

FrOGS has been focused on protecting the Great Swamp Watershed and their organization was instrumental in identifying all five parcels as priorities for permanent protection because of their water resources and biological diversity through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). “Westchester Land Trust and Putnam County Land Trust have been partnering with FrOGS in protecting the Great Swamp. Twin Hills and the Shawe support the Ice Pond Preserve and the entire Ice Pond area, while Elena Hill and Doansburg add protections along the East Branch Croton and its tributaries,” said Dr. Jim Utter, Chairman of FrOGS. As owner of the preserves, PCLT oversees the long-term stewardship of the land.

The conservation partners hope to work again soon to continue protecting environmentally important land that benefits the entire community.