The Great Swamp

The Great Swamp, stretching nearly 20 miles across five municipalities from Southeast to Dover is set in a 62,343 acre watershed that sprawls into Sherman and New Fairfield, Connecticut.

Its southern flow basin which starts in the center of the Village of Pawling, feeds drinking water to residents in Pawling and Patterson, Westchester County and New York City. The northern flow (Swamp River) joins the Ten Mile River in Dover, which converges with the Housatonic River in Connecticut. Over one million people in the southern drainage alone depend on this vital resource. In the northern drainage, local residents are equally dependent on the protection of the Swamp and its associated aquifer: groundwater wells are the only water resource, and this water is sourced only from local rainwater.

The Swamp is also a critical habitat refuge for wildlife, waterfowl, and a major flyway for neo-tropical birds and is officially recognized as an “Important Bird Area” in NYS.

The Great Swamp is an ecological treasure nestled in the fast-developing Harlem Valley. It is one of New York State’s largest wetlands and the most threatened.

Almost from its conception in 1990, Oblong Land Conservancy has recognized the significance of this resource and its vulnerability. We worked with the U.S. Park service to protect a unique rare plant community in the wetland, south of the Appalachian Trail Corridor, which includes some frontage on Route 22. It will remain forever green.

Pawling Corporation provided the funding for an analysis and a map of the various cover types of vegetation in the North Flow. With help from a grant from The Iroquois Pipeline, we purchased our “Scudiere” Preserve,” our first preserve, a unique marsh in the Village of Pawling and restored its edges; accepted a gift of land from the Carruth Family, (prime turtle nesting habitat on the Swamp River); a donation of the most photographed 10 acres on River road in Pawling from Donald and Anna Zaengle; and donations of conservation easements on 176 acres, consisting of Ray Lake, wetlands and uplands from Gordon Douglas, and an adjacent 157 acres of wetlands and uplands (Cushman Farms) from Peckham Industries, in the southern drainage. Our most recent acquisition, the 106 acre Slocum-Mostachetti Preserve is a rare “marble hill” surrounded by The Great Swamp, located in Wingdale, acquired in partnership with FrOGS.

Oblong currently has ongoing contacts with numerous landowners in Dutchess County, in accord with a conservation plan for The Great Swamp, adopted in collaboration with our partners: FrOGS, the Putnam County Land Trust, and The Nature Conservancy.