Cassadaga Lakes Nature Park

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The Cassadaga Lakes Nature Park protects 1,100 feet of Cassadaga Lakes’ shoreline. The site includes 26 acres of high ecological value lake front wetlands as well as 51 acres of rolling forest covered terrain that is mostly hemlock and white pine, which is ideal habitat for all kinds of birds, frogs, salamanders, snakes and waterfowl.  The site effectively filters 1,800 acres of farm and field runoff on its way through to the lakes. 

Size: 77 acres

Year Conserved by CWC: 2020

Location and Parking:  Located on the south shore of the upper Cassadaga Lakes basin in Chautauqua County, the preserve can be easily accessed off the unmarked spur road across from the south end of Ulrich park road.  Signs indicate the beginning of the park just past the last home on the “old route 60 road”.  Parking accommodates at least six normal vehicles.

Recreational Use:  There are currently two moderately developed trails – an easy loop (0.8 miles) and a center loop (1.8 miles) that overlap each other near the parking area but then separate to provide a shorter, flatter trail on the easy loop and a longer more rolling terrain hike on the center loop.  Easy loop trails are marked with orange markers and center loop trails are marked with blue markers.  When completed, the park will have a bird-blind location on the edge of Mud Lake (orange trail markers) and a welcome kiosk pavilion near the parking area.  No other facilities or amenities are provided on site.  There is no easy access for fishing from the site as most of the shore is dominated by emergent swamp that impenetrable on foot or by boat.  Birdwatching, botanizing and nature walking are all common uses for the trails and forests.

Conservation Values:  This preserve protects approximately 1,100 feet of naturally vegetated lakeshore.  Trees and emergent vegetation along the lake offer natural bank protection and stabilization. Water is filtered as it passes through wetland plant communities en route to Cassadaga Lakes.

Features of Interest:  The preserve is bordered on the west by Upper Cassadaga Lake. The land is currently undeveloped and forested, with a “beaver pond” at the back of the center loop trail.  Seasonal pools along the trail host frogs and salamanders and the park includes a view out across a small glacial kettle lake called Mudlake. 

 

Species of Interest:

Trees: Red Maple (Acer Rubrum), Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), Yellow Birch (Betula allegheniensis), White pine (Pinus strobus), Hemlock (Conium maculatum)

Understory: eastern skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), royal fern (Osmunda regalis)

Shrubs: Spice bush (Lindera benzoin), Witch hazel (Hamemelis virginiana)

Wildflowers:  marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), purple trillium (Trillium erectum), jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), trout lily (Erythronium americanum), false hellebore (Veratrum viride), Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora)

Birds:  common loon (Gavia immer), belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), hairy woodpecker (Picoides villosus), Screech owl (Megascops asio)

Amphibians: red backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus)


 

Wells Bay Lakeshore

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The Wells Bay Lakeshore Forest Preserve protects 200 feet of Chautauqua Lake shoreline. Covered in wetlands, the preserve can be difficult for hiking and adventuring, but it’s a popular spot for botanists and birdwatchers observing the local flora and fauna, and it offers an excellent spot for anglers.

Size: 3.5 acres

Year Conserved by CWC:

Location and Parking:  Located on the south shore of Chautauqua Lake in Chautauqua County.  The preserve can be easily accessed at the end of Wells Bay Road north of Route 394 in the town of North Harmony.  There is a small parking area. There are two main CWC Preserve signs at this preserve: one at the end of Wells Bay Road and one on the lakeshore.

Recreational Use:  There are currently no developed trails or any other facilities within the preserve.  Because the preserve does not have trails and is characterized by wetlands with deep mud, traversing the preserve can be difficult for those not accustomed to walking off-trail. It is primarily used by naturalists, birdwatchers and fishermen.  

Conservation Values:  Protects approximately 200 feet of naturally vegetated lakeshore.  Trees along the lake offer natural bank protection and stabilization.  Water is filtered as it passes through wetland plant communities en route to Chautauqua Lake.

Features of Interest:  The preserve is bordered on the north by Chautauqua Lake.  The land is currently vacant and forested, dimpled with wetlands in the lower-lying areas. There is a small, shallow stream running through the west side of the property and into the lake.

Species of Interest:

Trees: eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), cucumber tree (Magnolia acuminate), Norway spruce (Picea abies), Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris), eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides), American elm (Ulmus americana)

Understory: eastern skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), ginseng (Panax sp.)

Shrubs: black currant (Ribes nigrum), elderberry (Sambucus sp.)

Wildflowers:  marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), purple trillium (Trillium erectum), jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), starflower (Trientalis borealis), trout lily (Erythronium americanum), false hellebore (Veratrum viride), Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora), Lowrie’s aster (Symphyotrichum lowrieanum)

Birds:  common loon (Gavia immer), belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), hairy woodpecker (Picoides villosus)

Amphibians: red backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus)

Salomon Family Nature

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Donated to CWC in memory of Rada Salomon’s family members, this Preserve took almost two decades to conserve. Wing Creek, a tributary of Prendergast Creek, meanders through the property. A wildflower meadow provides pollinator habitat, and the steep ravines along Wing Creek are home to unique and uncommon assemblages of wildflowers.

Size: 51.9 acres

Year Conserved by CWC: 2016

Conservation Values: The preserve’s forests allow rainwater to collect and slowly infiltrate, minimizing erosion and sedimentation downstream.  Trees protect and stabilize the bank of Wing Creek, which ultimately drains into Chautauqua Lake. Water is filtered through riparian vegetation, improving water quality in the watershed.

Recreational Use: A short trail leads from the parking area to a small wooded pond. There are no formal trails on the remainder of the Preserve, although trails are planned in the future. Primary recreation consists of hiking and bird watching. Hunting is permitted, but only temporary deer stands are allowed.  

Location and Parking: Located on Morris Road in the Town of Chautauqua. A pull in parking area is located near the main preserve sign.  

Features of Interest: A blowdown area above the ravine was created in the mid 1980’s. The unstoppable trees didn’t die; they resprouted, creating a “stilted” forest. This is an interesting place to explore, but be careful and work through this section slowly as the fallen trees create a tripping hazard. The ravine along Wing Creek is difficult to traverse, but it is a botanically rich area for those interested in wildflower viewing.  

Species of Interest:

Trees: American basswood (Tilia americana var. americana ), butternut (Juglans cinerea), northern red oak (Quercus rubra), white oak (Quercus alba), American chestnut (Castanea dentate), cucumber magnolia (Magnolia acuminata), black cherry (Prunus serotina), shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), swamp hickory (Carya glabra)

Shrubs: Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), common elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), maple-leaved viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides)

Wildflowers: Canadian lily of the valley (Maianthemum canadense), Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), goldthread (Coptis trifolia), blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), sharp-lobed hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba), false Salomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum ssp racemosum), golden ragwort (Packea aurea), crooked stem aster (Symphyotrichum prenanthoides), meadow bottle gentian (Gentiana clausa), beebalm (Monarda didyma)

Birds: Chestnut-sided warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica), veery (Catharus fuscescens), rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

Sunnyside Marsh

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The Sunnyside Marsh Preserve protects important wetlands in the Chautauqua Lake watershed. The preserve has a key location about 600 feet from the northern edge of the southern basin of Chautauqua Lake, near the lake’s outlet at the Chadakoin River. While the preserve is largely inaccessible for recreation, it plays an important role in filtering runoff from nearby agricultural uses, sports fields, industrial uses and roadways.

Size: 4.5 acres

Year Conserved by CWC: 2011

Conservation Values: During heavy precipitation, the wetlands protected at the Sunnyside March Preserve collect and slowly infiltrate floodwaters to minimize erosion and sedimentation downstream. The plant communities filter precipitation and runoff to improve the water quality in the Chautauqua Lake Watershed. This preserve plays an important role as a buffer from human uses upstream, including athletic and agricultural fields, a scrapyard, highways and roadways.

Recreational Use:  There is currently no trail system at this preserve. The preserve is largely inaccessible, and only roadside parking is available. A biological inventory of the Preserve in 2016 suggested a high number of bird species residing in or passing through these wetlands, so the preserve is a great spot for birdwatching!

Location and Parking: The Sunnyside Marsh Preserve is located east of Sunnyside Road in the town of Ellery. The preserve is accessible from Sunnyside Road, which is also its western boundary.  

Features of Interest: The land is entirely woody wetland habitat, as is most of the surrounding land.

Species of Interest:

Trees: northern red oak (Quercus rubra), black cherry (Prunus serotine), white pine (Pinus strobus)
 
Shrubs: American witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), silky dogwood (Cornus amomum), speckled alder (Alnus incana), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), willow (Salix spp.), highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), elderberry (S. canadensis)

Understory: cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), northern lady fern (Athyrium angustum)

Wildflowers: green-headed coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), water forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides), spotted joe-pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum), red clover (Trifolium pratense), clematis (Clematis spp.), wild sarspirilla (Aralia nudicaulis)

Birds: bald eagle (Haliaetus leucocephalus), red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), cedar waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum), green heron (Butorides virescens), black-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus), American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla), scarlet tanager (Piranga olivacea), northern waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis)

Reptiles & Amphibians: eastern garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis), green frog (Rana clamitans)

Randy Allan Hendrickson

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The Randy Allen Hendrickson Watershed Preserve offers 16 acres of trail-free wilderness for hiking, exploring and geocaching. The property is biodiverse, making it a rewarding spot for birdwatchers, wildlife spotters and botanists.

Size: 18 acres

Year Conserved by CWC: 2008

Conservation Values: The Randy Allen Hendrickson Watershed Preserve protects 1,200 feet of naturally vegetated streambanks along Chautauqua Lake tributaries. The trees along the stream absorb and filter water and offer natural bank stabilization.  

Recreational Use:  There are currently no developed trails or any other facilities within the preserve, and it is used primarily by botanists, birdwatchers and geocachers. Fishing is permitted at this preserve, but off-road vehicle use is prohibited.

Location and Parking: Located southeast of Chautauqua Lake in the town of Ellicott, the Randy Allen Hendrickson Watershed Preserve can be accessed off Elmwood Avenue in West Ellicott, south of Route 394.  

Features of Interest: Tributaries to Chautauqua Lake flow through this forested preserve.

Species of Interest:

Trees: quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), black cherry (Prunus serotine), white ash (Fraxinus americana), shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), butternut (Juglans cinerea), eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides), apple (Malus spp.)

Understory: skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), false hellebore (Veratrum viride), switch grass (Panicum virgatum), white rattlesnake-root (Prenanthes alba), gray-stemmed dogwood (Cornus recemosa), common strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

Wildflowers: lily of the valley (Convallaria mejalis), wild geranium (Geranium maculatum), common violet (Viola sororia), marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis), yellow avens (Geum aleppicum), true forget-me-not (Myosotis scorploides), marsh fern (Thelypteris palustris)

Amphibians: spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), American toad (Bufo americanus)

Birds: tufted titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor), purple finch (Carpodacus purpureus), northern flicker (Colaptes auratus), great crested flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus), Baltimore oriole (Icterus galbula), red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

Prendergast Creek Wetland

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The Prendergast Creek Preserve protects a portion of Chautauqua Lake shoreline, as well as Prendergast Creek streambank, at Whitney Point. The Prendergast Creek Preserve is largely wetland and floodplain, making it difficult to access, but it is a popular spot for anglers.

Size: 8 acres

Year Conserved by CWC: 1997, and expanded in 2013 and 2018 to include wetlands on Whitney Point

Conservation Values:  The Prendergast Creek Preserve permanently protects 930 feet of naturally vegetated Chautauqua Lake shoreline, as well as 1,600 feet of natural stream front on Prendergast Creek. The preserve maintains the natural functions of the wetlands and streams, as well as the floodplain, to slow and filter water on its way to Chautauqua Lake. The preserve also provides important shoreline habitat for birds, waterfowl and wildlife.

Recreational Use: There are no developed trails or any other facilities within the preserve due to the very wet and mucky conditions typically found there. Fishing is allowed on this preserve.

Location and Parking: Located at the mouth of Prendergast Creek in the town of Chautauqua, the Prendergast Creek Preserve can be accessed through Snug Harbor Marina to the north.

Features of Interest: Forested streamline and lakefront wetlands. The preserve includes Whitney Point and is bordered along the northwest by Chautauqua Lake.

Species of Interest:

Trees: elms (Ulmus spp.), hickories (Carya spp.), silver maple (Acer saccharinum), Freeman’s maple (A. x freemanii), speckled alder (Alnus incana rugose), black willow (Salix negra)

Shrubs: red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea), silky dogwood (C. amomum), willows (Salix spp.), highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)

Wildflowers: cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis), joe pye weed (Eupatorium sp.), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), true forget-me-not (Myosotis scorploides), eastern skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), thyme-leaved speedwell (Veronica serpyllifolia), wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca), dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis)

Fish: northern pike (Esox Lucius), walleye (Stizostedion vitreum), blackchin shiner (Notropis heterodon), pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus), smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieui), oligochaetes (Oligochaeta)

Birds: wood duck (Aix sponsa), great blue heron (Ardea Herodias), Baltimore oriole (Icterus galbula), Eastern phoebe (Sayornis phoebe), belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

Reptiles: painted turtle (Chrysemys picta), water snake (Nerodia sipedon)

Insects: eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilo glaucus), six-spotted tiger beetle (Cicindela sexguttata), little yellow butterfly (Eurema lisa)

Rosemary H. Straight

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Water passing through this preserve gets filtered before entering Cassadaga Lake’s middle basin just across from Dale Drive. This ensures that pollutants are removed and keeps the water quality in the Lakes high for all to enjoy. The sanctuary provides a haven for birds, and it provides birdwatchers with ample opportunity for spotting local bird species.

Size: 6 acres

Year Conserved by CWC: 2003

Conservation Values: The preserve’s floodplain wetlands allow floodwater from Cassadaga Creek to collect and slowly infiltrate, minimizing erosion and sedimentation downstream.  Trees protect and stabilize the bank of the creek. Water is filtered through riparian vegetation, improving water quality in the watershed.

Recreational Use: No formal trails have been installed at this site, it is quite wet with standing water and muck several feet deep. It is primarily used by botanists, birdwatchers, and other passive recreationists.

Location and Parking: Located on Dale Drive in Cassadaga. Only roadside parking is available, so please access this site respectfully and safely.

Features of Interest: This is an excellent site to watch birds and wildlife. The old buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) shrub thickets on site are unique in their own right, and support a variety of birds as they pass through the wetlands to the lakes.

Species of Interest:

Trees: quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), cucumbertree (Magnolia acuminata), black cherry (Prunus serotina)

Shrubs: witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), common elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), winterberry (Ilex verticillata), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

Wildflowers: Canadian lily of the valley (Maianthemum canadense), Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), goldthread (Coptis trifolia), skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

Loomis Goose Creek

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The Loomis Goose Creek Preserve is located along the shoreline of Chautauqua Lake and is some of the last undeveloped land along the lake. The preserve is primarily wetlands, with Goose Creek flowing through the site. A short trail on the site connects users to a boat launch, and it’s a popular site for paddlers, anglers, birdwatchers and geocachers.

Size: 30.5 acres

Year Conserved by CWC:  2011

Conservation Values: With less than 1 mile of natural shoreline left on Chautauqua Lake, the Loomis Goose Creek Preserve protects an important 480 feet of naturally vegetated lakeshore and 3,600 feet of natural stream front along Goose Creek. The preserve floodplains allow slow percolation of water into the aquifer and utilization by riparian plant communities, which filter and improve Chautauqua Lake’s water quality.

Recreational Use: The Loomis Goose Creek preserve is popular site for CWC-led tours, as well as a destination for hikers, fishermen, botanists, birdwatchers and geocachers. The site’s wetlands, thick mud and deep brush make hiking off-trail difficult. Paddlers can launch at the end of the primary trail. Hunting and trapping is strictly prohibited at this sanctuary.

Location and Parking: The Loomis Goose Creek Preserve is located at the outlet of Goose Creek on the south shore of Chautauqua Lake at the border between North Harmony and Busti. The Ashville Bay Marina borders the preserve on the southwest. A main sign, parking area and informational kiosk are off the north side of Route 394 across from Fardink Road.  

Features of Interest:  The preserve includes a portion of Goose Creek, which is a major tributary of Chautauqua Lake, and most of the land is forested wetlands. There is a kayak boat launch at the creek and an osprey nest near the parking area.

Species of Interest:  

Trees: shagbark hickory (Carya Ovata), silver maple (Acer saccharinum), apple (Malus sylvestris), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), big-toothed aspen (Populus grandidentata), cottonwood (Populus sp.)

Shrubs: red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea), spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

Wildflowers and berries: calico aster (Aster lateriflorus), common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) choke cherry (Prunus virginiana), raspberries (Rubus spp.), wild onion (Allium sp.), white turtlehead (Chelone glabra), spring beauty (Claytonia virginica), marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca), false Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum), black current (Ribes americanum), Allegheny blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis), narrow-leaed cattail (Typha angustifolia)

Fish: blackchin shiner (Notropis heterodon), walleye (Stizostedion vitreum), pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)

Mammals: bobcat (Lynx rufus)

Amphibians: pickerel frog (Rana palustris), spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)

Birds: spotted sandpiper (Actitis macularius), mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), great blue heron (Ardea Herodias), red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), osprey (Pandoin haliaetus), wood duck (Aix sponsa), tufted titmouse (Baelophus bicolor), belted kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon), black-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus), American kestrel (Falco sparverius), purple martin (Progne subis), American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)

Little-Big Inlet Wetland

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The Little Big Inlet preserve sits at the northern most end of Chautauqua Lake, and it contains some of the largest wetland systems in Chautauqua County. The preserve does not yet feature formal trails, but those who hike through the wetlands can spot birds, waterfowl, wildlife and native fauna.

Size: 4.3 acres

Year Conserved by CWC: 2010

Conservation Values: This preserve protects a portion of the Little Big Inlet watershed, which includes some of the most extensive wetlands in the region and feeds Chautauqua Lake. These wetlands are especially important to the health of Chautauqua Lake, which sits about 650 feet from this preserve.

Recreational Use: With no formal train system, the Little Big Inlet Wetland Preserve is used primarily by botanists and birdwatchers. Bow hunting only is allowed on this preserve.

Location and Parking: Located at the northern edge of Chautauqua Lake in the town of Chautauqua, the preserve extends northwest from it southern border on Sea Lion Drive. There is a roadside sign on Sea Lion Drive, which provides access to the site.

Features of Interest:  Approximately 70 percent of the property is woody wetland, with small areas of deciduous forest and developed open space.

Species of Interest:

Trees:  black cherry (Prunus serotina), American elm (Ulmus americana), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)

Understory: American hornbeam (C. caroliniana), cucumber tree (Magnolia acuminata), witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Wildflowers and shrubs: Canadian lily of the valley (Maianthemum canadense), goldthread (Coptis trifolia), jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), pink wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), sensitive fern (Osmunda sensibilis), cinnamon fern (O. cinnamomea), skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis)

Birds: Baltimore oriole (Icterus galbula), pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheoucticus ludovicianus), eastern wood-pewee (Contopus virens), red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus)

Houston Hollow

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CWC’s Houston Hollow preserve, while small, protects 1.3 acres of wetlands that important to the health of Chautauqua Lake. The site is home to many wetland plants, and it provides habitat to many wildlife and waterfowl species that travel through or make a home on Chautauqua Lake. In 2018, the Village of Celeron denied CWC’s ability to have public access to this property. As such, it is only available for tours when accompanied by a CWC representative.

Size: 1.3 acres

Year Conserved by CWC: 2003

Conservation Values:  Water runs through the riparian plant communities and is filtered on its way to Chautauqua Lake. This undisturbed land provides resting, foraging and breeding habitat for many wildlife species.

Location and Parking:  The Houston Hollow preserve is located southeast of Chautauqua Lake, north of Route 394 near the corner of Houston Avenue and Houston Court in the town of Ellicott. The preserve can be accessed off Houston Court in the town of Celoron.  

Recreational Use: There are currently no developed trails or any other facilities within the preserve due to its wet conditions. Informal paths that lead through dense underbrush and are fragmented and difficult to follow. This preserve is mainly used for CWC-led tours and self-guided visits by recreationists.

Features of Interest: During spring and after heavy rainfall, one small intermittent stream runs east to west 180 feet through the northern section of the property, ending in a shallow emergent marsh.

Species of Interest:

Trees:  apple (Malus spp.), white ash (Fraxinus americana), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)

Wildflowers and other groundstory: cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis), dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis), wild geranium (Geranium maculatum), jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), arrowleaf (Peltandra virginica), skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis), witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Amphibians: American toad (Bufo americanus), red back salamander (Plethodon cinereus)

Birds: chipping sparrow (Spizella passerina), northern flicker (Colaptes auratus), red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus), tufted titmouse (Baeoplophus bicolor), white-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)