Members of Friends of the Great Swamp were joined by elected officials Dec. 9 to dedicate an educational sign on the boardwalk in Patterson Environmental Park.
The sign describes the importance of the Great Swamp, which a unique natural treasure and one of the largest wetlands in New York. The south flow of swamp that runs through Patterson contains more than 3,300 acres of critical wetlands and provides habitat for diverse flora and fauna, clean drinking water, flood control, recharging of aquifers and a wildlife travel corridor, as well as many recreational opportunities.
The sign installation is the culmination of a multi-year, multi-constituent collaboration to build and enhance the boardwalk into the swamp.
In 2019, the town’s park caretaker and FrOGS board member Rick Saracelli, Patterson Environmental Conservation Inspector Ted Kozlowski, Town Councilman Shawn Rogan, FrOGS board member Judy Kelley-Moberg and Putnam County Soil & Water Conservation District Manager Lauri Taylor met to plan the building of a boardwalk in the park.
Taylor’s office obtained an environmental grant and the town contributed monies from the caretaker’s budget to fund the project. After much discussion, changes in materials and design, a pandemic and floods, an initial 350-foot elevated boardwalk was constructed in 2022, thanks to the perseverance of the planners, the leadership of Rogan, and the devoted efforts of volunteers.
The final boardwalk section and the railings on the viewing platform were completed last spring, and a sign donated by Rick and Gail Saracelli that was written by their son Tony about the beauty and wildlife in the swamp was installed at the boardwalk entrance May 9.
At any time of daylight in any season, you may meet families with children, paddlers in kayaks or canoes, plein air artists, dog walkers, bird watchers, duck hunters, fisherman, bicyclists, hikers, cross-country skiers and/or snowshoers enjoying the Patterson Environmental Park, with its completed boardwalk and trails that allow visitors an up-close connection with the Great Swamp.
The newly installed sign was designed and donated by FrOGS while the town fabricated and installed the mount. Its positioning allows a view of Pine Island to the south that matches the overhead photo on the sign of the East Branch Croton River winding around the island.
The sign encourages visitors to pause and look around, to understand the history of the area, to appreciate the value of this wetland to the community and the wildlife that depends on it, and to help protect this critical environmental resource.