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Great Swamp WMA

Overview

Great Swamp WMAThis 444-acre Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is located in northeastern Putnam County in the Town of Patterson and is composed of 10 separate parcels ranging from less than 1 acre to 300 acres in size. The largest parcel is located on Cornwall Hill Road (County Route 64), with parking available on the east side of the road about 1.5 miles south of NYS Route 311. Other large parcels are located on the east side of the East Branch of the Croton River about 0.5 miles south of Route 311 and on the east and west side of NYS Route 22 immediately south of Haviland Hollow Road. Formal access has yet to be developed in these locations.

The protection of the Great Swamp WMA is the culmination of a larger regional effort to protect the Great Swamp, a 19.8-mile long, 4,202-acre wetland of state significance with a 62,343-acre watershed stretching from the Town of Dover in Dutchess County south to the Town of Southeast in Putnam County. Several organizations including the Friends of the Great Swamp (FroGS) and The Nature Conservancy, as well as Putnam County and the Town of Patterson, have worked cooperatively with DEC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (through funding from a North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant) to protect the Great Swamp. The Great Swamp WMA is the product of two acquisitions facilitated by the NAWCA grant, one in 2006 and the other in 2010.

View or download a map of the Great Swamp Conservation Lands (PDF) (8.5 MB) including the Wildlife Management Area.

Habitat/Ecological Communities

The Great Swamp is dominated by red maple swamp, a forested wetland cover type characterized by live standing timber, mainly red maple, American elm, and wetland-adapted oak species, that is seasonally flooded. Of the WMA acreage, over 75% (320 acres) are classified as red maple swamp. Other wetland cover types include emergent marsh and scrub-shrub swamp. Upland vegetative communities include grasslands, wildlife food plots, old fields, shrublands, and oak-hickory and successional hardwood forests.

Wildlife

The Great Swamp provides habitat for a variety of native wildlife species. Because of the wetland's large size and north-south orientation, the Great Swamp is an important stopover for migrating waterfowl. Large numbers of black ducks, mallards, wood ducks, and Canada geese use the Great Swamp during migration. The area also provides significant breeding habitat for wood ducks, mallards, and Canada geese. While the state-owned WMA encompasses less than 10% of the Great Swamp's total wetland acreage, abundant waterfowl can be found there during all times of year except winter when the East Branch Croton River channel is frozen over.

Other common wildlife species in the Great Swamp include game and furbearer species such as white-tailed deer, wild turkey, Eastern cottontail, gray squirrel, red and gray fox, coyote, beaver, muskrat, mink, and bobcat; migratory and resident songbirds; and numerous turtle, snake, frog and salamander species. Black bears and moose are occasionally observed there as well.

Recreational Opportunities

Pheasants at Great Swamp WMAThe Great Swamp WMA is a popular destination for many outdoor recreational activities including hunting, trapping, wildlife observation and photography, hiking, and fishing. Horseback riding and mountain biking are also allowed on the property.
Hunting opportunities at the WMA include native small game species, waterfowl, and white-tailed deer. In addition, the Department stocks pheasants in the upland area off of Cornwall Hill Road to increase hunting opportunities.

Management

Much of the management that has occurred at the Great Swamp WMA has focused on enhancing wildlife habitat, controlling invasive plant species, and improving the experience of recreational users. Recent management activities include boundary posting; construction of a six-car parking area and kiosk off of Cornwall Hill Road; demolition of several derelict buildings; planting of native tree and shrub species including grey, silky, and red osier dogwood and white spruce; reclamation of approximately 10 acres of old field at the WMA through the mechanical removal of autumn olive, a non-native, highly invasive shrub species; and planting of native grass species in fields to benefit meadow-dependent wildlife species. In addition, several volunteer groups and individuals have stewardship (Adopt-a-Natural-Resource) agreements with the Department to collect trash at the WMA parking area, mow the trails at the WMA, place bluebird and wood duck nest boxes at the WMA, and conduct an annual youth pheasant hunting day.