In 2019, the Land Trust added a key 20-acre parcel to its Goetchius Wetland Preserve—an area with rich bird and wildlife habitat. The preserve features 3,000 feet of frontage along the West Branch of Owego Creek, recognized as one of the region’s premiere trout streams.
Much of this land was previously used as a pasture for livestock by the former owner. To reestablish a streamside forest and restore wetlands, the Land Trust partnered with the Upper Susquehanna Coalition (USC) to control non-native invasive species like Japanese knotweed and to plant more than 2,000 native tree and shrub seedlings.
More than a dozen different species were planted, including trees such as sycamore, basswood, and red maple and shrubs such as arrowwood, buttonbush, and spicebush. To enhance their survival and to reduce deer browse, each seedling was planted in an individual tree tube that will be removed after several years of growth. Funding for USC’s Buffer Program was provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
When complete, the newly planted trees and shrubs will act as a buffer, reducing runoff while also creating new habitat for birds and other wildlife. “This project is a huge win for water and habitat quality here,” says Lydia Brinkley, Buffer Coordinator for the Upper Susquehanna Coalition. “Livestock is out of the wetland and stream, and the enhanced riparian and wetland areas will provide complexity for aquatic and terrestrial organisms that will be protected in perpetuity!”
During the next few years, Land Trust staff and volunteers will monitor the plantings on a periodic basis. They are easily visible from Flatiron Road, a local byway in the town of Caroline that borders the preserve and runs north from State Route 79 toward Hammond Hill State Forest.