The Friends of the Great Swamp
In its twenty-mile length, the Great Swamp traverses the municipalities of Pawling, Patterson, Southeast and Dover. The Great Swamp spans two watersheds, divided at Pawling into a north and south flow. To the north, water travels through the Swamp River and into the Ten Mile River, the Housantonic River, and eventually the Long Island Sound. Meandering south it is the East Branch Croton River flowing into the East Branch to the East Branch Reservoir of New York City's Croton Reservoir System, making the Great Swamp the important headwaters of New York City's drinking water supply.
The Great Swamp occupies the valley between two parallel ridges. Orientated north-south, this primarily forested wetland runs nearly 20 miles between these ridges. The highlands act as a funnel, concentrating the birds towards the lowlands of the Swamp. Here in the Swamp, because the wetlands are of high quality and are for the most part unbroken and undeveloped. migrating species find both food sources and a place to rest before resuming their journeys.
Improved water quality: The Great Swamp filters out sediments and pollution to maintain a clean, dependable source of drinking water for people in Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester Counties; it also supplies water to New York City's Croton Reservoir System.
Habitat for plants and animals: A wide variety of flora and fauna, including nine rare species, are known to make the Great Swamp their home.
Recreation: The Great Swamp provides an outdoor playground for canoeing, fishing, hunting, birding, cross-country skiiing, and hiking.
Reduced flooding: The Great Swamp acts as a giant sponge to absorb rainwater and reduce otherwise destructive flooding.
Open space and scenic views: The Great Swamp is a beautiful natural area that enhances quality of life for people in Putnam and Dutchess Counties.
Although guarded by local, state and federal regulations, the Great Swamp continues to be threatened by:
Pollutants and sediments: Stormwater runoff carries harmful substances into the Great Swamp from roads, construction sites, salt piles, farms, waste water and septic systems, mines, and other sources.
Invasive species: Quick growing non-native plants such as purple loosestrife and phragmites choke out other species, reducing biodiversity and destroying fragile habitat.
Encroachment and loss of public access: By building in the wetland or adjacent areas, the ecological and hydrological functions of the Great Swamp are threatened and the recreation value is reduced. As population and development increases in the region, the potential for destructive pollution and other threats also increases.