Good News for Open Spaces

At a time of political change, one thing is clear and consistent: Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love. Since 1990, the Oblong Land Conservancy, has been doing just that for the people of Southeastern Dutchess County in New York.

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OLC Receives the Land Trust Alliance National Land Trust Excellence Award

The Oblong Land Conservancy (OLC) is excited to announce that the Land Trust Alliance (LTA) has selected OLC and the Putnam County Land Trust to receive the Alliance’s National Land Trust Excellence Award for all-volunteer land trusts.  It is the first time this award will recognize all-volunteer trusts in New York State.

This award is presented in honor of the collaborative conservation work in The Great Swamp watershed, one of the three largest wetlands in New York State.  The wetlands cover some 6,700 acres and the uplands surrounding the swamp provide a watershed of approximately 62,500 upland acres.

Conservation of this natural resource is vital for a number of reasons:

  • It provides the sole recharge facility for the aquifer that serves more than 40,000 people in the Watershed,
  • It forms the headwaters of the Croton Reservoir System that provides New York City with some of its drinking water, and 
  •  It provides critical habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna, some of which are endangered.

This collaboration is an important initiative since it recognizes that conservation goes beyond the efforts of a single land trust, and has led to a collaboration with Friends of the Great Swamp (FrOGS) to implement strategies for awareness of, and land stewardship in, the Great Swamp Watershed.  It is one of 13 inter-state and inter-town partnerships happening in New York and Connecticut.  These land trusts and environmental groups recognize that together we can achieve much more than we can as individual organizations.

"Oblong Land Conservancy and Putnam County Land Trust epitomizes all we recognize in Excellence Award recipients," says Land Trust Alliance President Andrew Bowman.  "Through the highest caliber work, Oblong Land Conservancy and Putnam County Land Trust has broadened support for land conservation, built understanding and grown the conservation community."

We are honored to be receiving this award at the Alliance's Rally 2016: The National Land Conservation Conference on the evening of October 28, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis.

For additional details please contact Theresa Ryan, Chair Oblong Land Conservancy (845) 855 5993.







OLC Accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.

OLC is pleased and proud to announce it joins the ranks of the largest land trusts in the country, receiving accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.

Dutchess County, NY-- Oblong Land Conservancy, the local land trust for southern Dutchess County, today announces it has achieved accreditation - a mark of honor in land conservation. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission has awarded accreditation, signifying its confidence that Oblong Land Conservancy lands will be protected forever.

Accredited land trusts across the country have permanently conserved more than 15 million acres of farms, forests and natural areas that are vital to healthy, vibrant communities.
"Accreditation demonstrates Oblong Land Conservancy's commitment to permanent land conservation in Southeastern Dutchess County," said Chris Wood, Co-Chair. "We're a stronger organization for having gone through the rigorous accreditation program and this strength will help make this an even better place to live, for us and future generations."

Oblong Land Conservancy was among 37 land trusts across the United States to achieve accreditation or to have accreditation renewed in February. Oblong Land Conservancy joins the 342 land trusts that demonstrate their commitment to professional excellence through accreditation, helping to maintain the public's trust in their work.

"It is exciting to recognize Oblong Land Conservancy with this distinction," said Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the Commission. "Together, accredited land trusts stand united behind strong national standards ensuring the places people love will be conserved forever. In all, over 75 percent of private lands conserved by land trusts are now held by an accredited land trust."

Each accredited land trust meets extensive documentation requirements and undergoes a comprehensive review as part of its accreditation application. The process is rigorous and strengthens land trusts with systems that help landowners and communities achieve their goals. More information about land trust accreditation can be found at

The Commission is an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization working to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. More information about the many benefits of land conservation is available at

About the Land Trust Accreditation Commission
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts. For more, visit

About the Land Trust Alliance
Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents more than 1,100 member land trusts supported by more than 100,000 volunteers and 5 million members nationwide. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C. and operates several regional offices. More information about the Alliance is available at
Click here to make a donation and help OLC continue its work to protect our future!

Restoring The Butterfly Meadow at the Slocum-Mostachetti Preserve in Wingdale

A few cooler days and a break in the weather opened up the opportunity for some volunteers to help advance Oblong's Butterfly Project - the restoration of the Butterfly Meadow at their Slocum-Mostachetti Preserve in Wingdale.  Located just off County Route 21 the 100 acre Preserve is home to over 47 species of butterfly and the Butterfly Project is an on-going initiative to restore and enhance suitable habitat.

Earlier this year the Butterfly Meadow was cleared of invasive Autumn Olive and Sunday's outing was to plant two species of Milkweed in an effort to attract Monarch butterflies.  A total of nearly 150 Asclepias Incarnata and A. Syriaca (Swamp and Common Milkweed) were planted in the Meadow and elsewhere in the Preserve.  The Milkweed is the sole host plant for the Monarch's larval stage and the dramatic decline in the Monarch's population is due to a number of factors including decimation of habitat and eradication of the Milkweed along the path of the Monarch's eastern migratory pattern.  This butterfly overwinters in Mexico and covers thousands of miles in this annual movement.  A remarkable aspect of this migration is that it takes up to three generations of butterflies to make the trip to the north-eastern US, with each generation living for 2 to 6 weeks.  On the return trip the fourth generation has a life of up to 9 months allowing the trip south to be accomplished in one generation - another of Mother Nature's miracles.

The planting provided the opportunity for some students of the Pawling Central School District to work with the Oblong Land Conservancy in their efforts to engage with the PCSD on environmental science issues.  Our thanks to the team of planters Peggy Maasz and son Ryan, and to Preeti Govindarajan and daughter Ananya who made themselves available at short notice.

The plants were made available through a grant from the Natural Resources Defense Council administered by Monarch Watch.

Local Conservation Groups promote the Great Swamp Initiative

Friends of the Great Swamp (FrOGS), the Oblong Land Conservancy (OLC) and the Putnam County Land Trust (PCLT) are pleased to announce that they have formed a collaboration and jointly entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will lead to increased focus on conservation efforts in the Great Swamp Watershed.

The Great Swamp, one of the largest wetlands in New York State covers some 6,678 acres and drains a watershed of approximately 62,343 upland acres.  The 20-mile long Watershed lies in the Harlem Valley that extends from Brewster to Dover and occupies parts of Putnam and Dutchess Counties in New York and Fairfield County in Connecticut.

Conservation of this natural resource is vital for a number of reasons:

  • It provides the sole recharge facility for the aquifer that serves over 40,000 people in the Watershed
  • It forms the headwaters of the Croton Reservoir System that provides New York City with some of its drinking water, and
  • It provides critical habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna, some of which are endangered.

The MOU identifies two specific initiatives that will raise public awareness of the importance of the Watershed.  The first involves the creation and placement of signage at the points of entry on the principal roads to the Watershed so that everyone can become familiar with the Great Swamp’s existence and boundaries.  The second initiative involves the development of an educational program called Swamp Smart.  This will inform watershed residents about the importance of the Great Swamp and what each individual can do to protect its quality.

Financial support for this collaboration was provided by a grant from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP) a unique program of the Land Trust Alliance and the New York State DEC .Funding for priority conservation projects and land trust initiatives around the State help communities protect water quality, wildlife habitat, community gardens, working forests and farmland.

OLC and PCLT jointly applied for a Catalyst Grant to initiate local and regional partnerships and community initiatives that will lead to greater engagement in, and increased public support for, the protection and stewardship of environmentally significant lands. Conservation Catalyst projects for land trusts should engage multiple partners and stakeholders, have clearly defined outcomes, and advance the land trusts’ missions, strategic goals, and programs. Funded projects typically involve collaboration with local municipalities, other land trusts, or other conservation partners and to that end FrOGS has joined the collaboration to build on the work they have undertaken in conserving large areas of the Great Swamp.

FrOGS is an all-volunteer conservation organization dedicated to protecting and promoting stewardship of New York’s Great Swamp. FrOGS pursues this mission through Education, Scientific Research, and direct Conservation Action.  They provide science based information for local issues and focus on protecting habitat and species of conservation concern through collaborative coalitions with other organizations.   

OLC is an all-volunteer organization based in Pawling that undertakes conservation in the greater Harlem Valley.  It was founded in 1990 and now has approximately 1,100 acres under stewardship.

PCLT is an all-volunteer organization based in eastern Putnam County.  Its mission is to preserve and maintain for the public, open spaces and the natural resources within, for the purpose of conservation, education and recreation.  PCLT's fee properties total 1,058 acres and it holds easements on another 138 acres.

For further information please contact:

FrOGS at (845) 878 0081

OLC at (845) 855 5993

PCLT at (845) 278 2808

Great Swamp, A Conservation Strategy

The Great Swamp, stretching nearly 20 miles across five municipalities from Southeast to Dover is one of New York’s largest wetlands and lies at the heart of a 62,500 watershed in the Harlem Valley and extends over parts of Dutchess and Putnam Counties in New York and Fairfield County in Connecticut.  This ecological treasure was the subject of an extensive collaborative conservation strategy that culminated in 1999 with the publication of a report by The Nature Conservancy.

 The conservation of the Great Swamp is a key objective of the Oblong Land Conservancy and we, including Sibyll Gilbert, were one of the many participants in this collaborative effort.  The report "The Great Swamp - A Watershed Conservation Strategy" is available here.  You can also learn more on The Nature Conservancy Website here.

All The World’s A Stage

Shakespeare, in his pastoral comedy As You Like It, has Jaques recite one of The Bard’s best known monologues:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players. . . .

Those who are familiar with this will know that it goes on to speak of the seven ages of man from the mewling and puking infant through to second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans teeth, sans everything.

In 1600 or thereabouts when the play was believed to have been written the world’s population was estimated to have been between 500 and 580 millions.  We are now at some 7 billions and anticipated to be around 9 billions by 2050.  Understandably some 400 years ago nobody was paying much attention to the stage even though it was recognized that we, mankind, are just the players.
As time has moved on so the number of players has dramatically increased although the stage, from a certain perspective, has remained unchanged. Moreover, we still take it for granted.  Planet Earth, for all practical purposes, is essentially the same size and occupies the same planetary location.  What has changed, of course, is the surface of the planet and how it is used (and abused).  With a population of 500 odd millions climate change, resource depletion and a host of other issues had yet to raise their heads in any comprehensive way.  That is not to say that all was fine and dandy in 1600, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were certainly making their presence felt.

What was different, however, was that then we were not bumping up against planetary limits.  Indeed, that there might be such things as constraints on growth, food insecurity or tipping points probably never came up as topics of polite conversation.  Contrast that with today, barely a day goes by without some reference in the media to climate change, pollution, recycling and a host of other environmental issues.  Not to mention all the related economic and social implications of a burgeoning world population on a finite planet.  Whether we think about this or not the choices that we, and the 7 billion others, exercise daily are having their impact upon our environment.

For most of us, and by that is meant all of us - East and West, North and South, our concern is with earning a living, providing shelter and putting food on the table.  This preoccupation inevitably leaves little time for reflecting upon the larger issues of life.  Understandable as that may be the fact is that whether we appreciate it or not we are all stewards of Mother Earth.  As the old Native American adage would have it ‘We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors but borrow it from our Children’.

For this to become a practical proposition some things have to change.  We have to think differently about ourselves and our relationship with the environment.  We, the players, are an integral part of that environment and the web of life it supports.  Without a stage upon which we, and the generations to come, can properly act out our parts there will be, at best, the prospect of a greatly diminished performance.

OLC Cleans up Route 22

The Oblong Land Conservancy is part of a Nationwide effort to beautify our highways.  Thousands of communities in all 50 states have signaled their commitment to keeping America beautiful by adopting stretches of highway and pledging to keep them litter-free.  Two years ago the Oblong Land Conservancy (OLC) obtained a Highway Work Permit from the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and entered into a formal agreement to adopt a 2-mile segment of Route 22 in the Town of Pawling as part of the NYSDOT’s Adopt-A-Highway Program.  Currently there are approximately 2,400 such agreements in place for this program that cover about 5,000 miles of roadsides in New York State alone.

On Saturday, April 25th, the OLC conducted their first cleanup of 2015 with the help of 5 volunteers, and collected over 20 bags of trash along 1/2 mile of highway.  The OLC conducts 4 cleanups a year, and is a volunteer-based non-profit land trust.  As such, we value and rely on the help of other volunteers.  Please contact our office if you are interested in helping with future cleanups.  The more help we have, the better our chances of maintaining a litter-free highway that everyone can enjoy.