- By John Confer
The Goetchius Preserve is owned by the Finger Lakes Land Trust and consists of several habitats acquired at different times. The original purchase acquired a small woodland and a large marsh. A hay field was purchased by the Finger Lakes Land Trust from Bev Armitage. This field was in the shape of a rectangle with the narrow end touching Flatiron Rd. Additional acreage was purchased by the Upper Susquehanna Coalition for restoration of vernal wetlands using funds from the federal wetland mitigation. This site has been transferred to the Finger Lakes Land Trust. Another hay field, adjacent to Flatiron Rd., was purchased recently by the New York Department of Transportation for wetland restoration also using funds from the wetland mitigation act. The topography of this new wetland was shaped by bulldozing in the late fall of 2010 and created extensive mudflats.
Extensive plantings and volunteer plants have colonized most of the mud flats by September 2011. The DOT site is bordered on one side by Flatiron Rd. and surrounded on the other three sides by land that is part of the Goetchius Preserve. Collectively, these parts form a diversified natural site that stretches from north to south for about 800 m along Flatiron Rd and extends westward from Flatiron Rd for about 300 m. The Upper Susquehanne Coalition bought additional land from B. Armitage in 2011, protecting the land from development and restoring new wetlands.
Goetchius Grasslands The presence of a large number of area-sensitive species of open fields is remarkable. The Goetchius Preserve is unusual for Tompkins County in that it has nesting Eastern Meadowlark and a high number of Savannah Sparrows and Bobolinks.
The DOT Wetlands appear to have nesting Sora and Virginia Rails, Wilson's Snipe, and Spotted Sandpiper and may have nesting Northern Harrier, Cooper's Hawk, and American Kestrel on the Preserve or in neighboring area.
Mary's Woods is at the south end of the preserve. A nice loop trail goes through the woods and provides views of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Northern Waterthrush, and Indigo Bunting. A "Leopold Bench" on the north end of the trail provides a view of the largest marsh with Swamp Sparrows at your feet.