“Pothole” wetlands have been restored on historic farmland on Grindstone Island. A pothole is a glacial depression in the land that naturally collects water and becomes host to a remarkable variety of species. In particular, they are important nesting habitat for waterfowl. Typically, the pothole will dry up through the summer, which makes it a unique habitat for certain plant and animal life. Farmers would drain these natural “wet spots” in their fields to maximize tillable acreage for hay or other crops.
TILT partnered with Ducks Unlimited and the US Fish & Wildlife Service on the Grindstone restorations and will continue the collaboration to restore potholes on the Zenda Farm Preserve and the Howard-Smith Preserve (Grindstone).
Delaney Bay Marsh
A large wetland complex in Delaney Bay on Grindstone Island has been restored through the installation of a small dike and fish migration ladder at Baseline Road. Cattails threatened to fill in the marsh which is an historically significant spawning ground for Northern pike and other fish.
The dike was installed to retain water in the marsh, making it appealing habitat for muskrat. The muskrat’s primary food is cattail, so a healthy population will help control the cattails, maintaining open channels and pathways for spawning fish. The fish ladder allows fish to enter and exit the marsh for spawning without compromising the water level in the interior.
SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry joined with Ducks Unlimited, US Fish & Wildlife, TILT and a private landowner on this project. SUNY ESF maintains the Thousand Islands Biological Station on Governor’s Island, and monitors the outflow of the marsh regularly to document the health of the pike fishery.
One of the most threatened habitats in the United States is open grassland. Grassland birds, which nest on the ground and thrived in the American prairie, have lost the majority of their native habitat to agriculture and human development. Abandoned farmland is ideal replacement habitat, until and unless the forest reclaims it.
TILT regularly mows abandoned agricultural land on Grindstone and Grenadier Islands to keep it open for grassland species. The mowing is carefully timed to take place after the beginning of August when the young grassland birds have fledged. Earlier mowing would kill the nestlings.
Mowing clears grey-stemmed dogwood and other brush, and in some cases includes the removal of trees. It is funded through the USDA’s Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program.
New York State and the US Government, as well as private organizations, have numerous programs to restore or enhance habitat and manage land. If you are interested in such activity on your land, you can consult agencies like Ducks Unlimited, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Department of Agriculture, and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Please feel free to contact TILT's stewardship staff at 315-686-5345 to discuss what might be available to you.