Westchester Land Trust (WLT) recently announced the permanent preservation of three properties totaling 4.3 acres on Taylors Lane, in the Village of Mamaroneck, New York. These environmentally sensitive parcels are adjacent to the 35-acre Otter Creek Preserve, a nature preserve owned and managed by WLT. The conservation of this land will buffer the Preserve from further development, thereby protecting vital wildlife habitat and the water quality flowing into Long Island Sound. In the 30 years since the organization’s founding in 1988, Westchester Land Trust has preserved nearly 8,400 acres throughout Westchester and eastern Putnam counties.
The preservation of these parcels followed the Village Planning Board’s granting a subdivision approval to Richard and Caroline Alter for three additional lots at their 1000 Taylors Lane property. As a condition of approval, the Board required that the 3.2-acre lot closest to the Creek be transferred to a conservation organization and WLT accepted the transfer in March. The two other lots, totaling 1.1 acres and each approved for the construction of one residence, were purchased by WLT with funds donated by private individuals. “Westchester Land Trust is deeply thankful for the generosity of those individuals who provided critical financial support to enable this acquisition. We are continually inspired by the community’s passion for Otter Creek and are honored to expand the protection of this environmental gem,” said Westchester Land Trust President, Lori Ensinger. All three parcels will be protected in perpetuity from development and managed by WLT as part of the existing Otter Creek Preserve.
WLT originally acquired Otter Creek Preserve as part of a transfer from The Nature Conservancy in 2015. Otter Creek represents WLT’s largest preserve in southern Westchester, and the most ecologically diverse of its 30 preserves in the region. The largest privately-owned tidal wetland protected as a nature sanctuary in Westchester County, Otter Creek was also designated a Geologic Area of Particular Concern by the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation in 1978, and shortly thereafter, the Village of Mamaroneck declared it a Critical Environmental Area.
Otter Creek Preserve is located along a three-mile stretch of coastline on the Long Island Sound within which are found 90 percent of the remaining productive salt marshes in Westchester County. The vibrant mix of coastal waters, marsh, wooded wetlands, uplands, and vernal pools makes the Preserve an important site for migratory birds, marine life, insects, reptiles and amphibians, fish, and mammals. The Preserve also offers recreation opportunities including a ¾ mile forested trail that runs alongside the wetland. There is a seasonally active Osprey nesting platform, first erected in 1994 by The Nature Conservancy and members of the local community, and recently restored by WLT staff and volunteers in March.
Otter Creek Preserve also plays an important role in mitigating climate change. Tidal marsh ecosystems, such as those found at the Preserve, are one of the most highly effective at sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and transferring it into rich organic soils held by their roots. That carbon can remain in the soil for thousands of years, making wetland protection and restoration a vital natural climate solution.
Over the past several years, Westchester Land Trust has received grants from the Westchester Community Foundation, the Land Trust Alliance, and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (Long Island Sound Futures Fund) in support of its acquisition of the Preserve, as well as several projects to enhance its natural habitat. The most recent and extensive project involved the restoration of the 12-acre coastal forest, through the removal of invasive plants, and the installation of over 600 native trees and shrubs. WLT will be dedicating the next several years to the maintenance of the restoration site and will be seeking summer interns to assist.