Slocum-Mostachetti Preserve Has Grand Opening

On Sunday afternoon, June 14th, a ribbon cutting and dedication took place at the new Slocum-Mostachetti Preserve, a 106-acre parcel of land set aside for public trails and the protection of a unique upland with many rare species and wetlands of The Great Swamp in Wingdale, New York, about 1 mile west of Route 22.

The sun shone as people gathered for an afternoon event that included guided walks through the grassy trails that wind through the new Preserve. Before the walks began, Chris Wood, head of the Oblong Land Conservancy, the local organization that acquired the land in collaboration with Friends of the Great Swamp (FrOGS), spoke to the crowd about the importance of maintaining open land for the good of the community. At one point he asked the group assembled to stop and listen to the sounds of nature around them. He paused for a minute and suddenly the sounds of birds and insects came alive and it was a dramatic illustration of the natural life teeming in special places such as the new Preserve.

Dr. Jim Utter, head of the popular FrOGS organization, also spoke about the process by which the land came into the public trust, a process which began in 2007 and culminated with the ribbon cutting which was carried out by Leo Mostachetti yesterday. Leo’s wife, the former Helen Slocum, grew up on this land (Leo and Helen continue to live in their home surrounded by the 4 acres that were carved out for them) which was the Slocum Family Farm for many generations. Dr. Utter pointed out that this particular piece of land was prioritized for protection by environmentalists because of its unique characteristics and its critical location in The Great Swamp.

The three Walks through the Preserve were guided by experts in three different areas of interest, and guests could choose which walk they wanted to join. Angela Dimmitt of the Audubon Society, a friend from Sherman CT, led the Birding walk. Billy Wallace, who has identified 47 species of butterflies on this preserve (and has lovely photos of most, photos that he took) led a walk that focused on butterflies of the Preserve; and Chris Mangels, botanist and ecologist, led a walk focused on the flora of the Preserve. He pointed out some of the many rare plants that he has discovered there, during the past year, working as a consultant for The Oblong Land Conservancy.

Following the walks guests enjoyed fresh baked cookies, apples and bottled water, courtesy of Backlajava, McKinney & Doyle and Hannaford’s, local businesses that support the efforts of the Oblong Land Conservancy and FrOGS. Steve Ewing, an Oblong Board Member, donated mowing services and assisted with clean up to prepare the site. Oblong thanks Pete Muroski of Native Landscaping for his donation of the mowing of the trails and the mowing of the area where the group congregated.

The OLC will announce other events at the Slocum-Mostachetti Preserve later in the year to which the public will be invited. For the time being, the trails will be open on a restricted basis. Oblong is an all volunteer organization, and it welcomes public feedback and volunteerism.

Funding for this acquisition came from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) and private funds (Iroquois) administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Additional funds to cover the costs of engineering, surveys and legal costs came from FrOGS NAWCA funds, private funds from FrOGS and from the Oblong Land Conservancy. Funds were also contributed by the New York State Conservation Partnership Program. The Partnership also funded a natural resource study and the production of a professionally drafted management plan. The management plan is in the process of being implemented.