The 576-acre Seneca Meadows Wetland Preserve is a mixture of diverse wetlands and lush prairies, both of which are dwindling habitats in New York. The seven miles of trails at Seneca Meadows Wetlands Preserve are a series of interconnected loops that provide multiple options for routes and differing trail lengths.
The trail surfaces vary from stone-dust to gravel to wood chip. The trails are broad and essentially level so hiking, running, skiing, snowshoeing, or bicycling (all of which are permitted) are easy for outdoor enthusiasts with any level of experience.
Cyclists should note that the Main and Blue Heron Loops are the only gravel routes and other routes are not conducive to riding. The majority of the trails are entirely in the open so don’t expect shade and plan attire and/or sunscreen accordingly. Unlike some other preserves, pets are allowed at the site so long as you pick up after them and they remain on a leash at all times.
The preserve encompasses several open ponds, vast fields of grassland, and a variety of wetland habitats. There is an abundance of birding and other wildlife viewing opportunities and several endangered or “vulnerable” species have been seen or are known to live in the preserve. During the establishment of the preserve, the endangered Indiana bat was discovered roosting on site, necessitating changes to the plan for the site’s habitat creation. What is most surprising about this site is that much of the habitat preserved here is also habitat that has been created.
During the establishment of the preserve, the endangered Indiana bat was discovered roosting on site, necessitating changes to the plan for the site’s habitat creation.
The preserve was created in 2007 when Seneca Meadows, Inc., began the process of wetland mitigation to counter a 181-acre expansion, 70 acres of which were wetlands. Typically, when wetlands are destroyed, new wetland habitats need to be created in a ratio of 3 to 1; here, the ratio is closer to 8 to 1. In all, roughly 1100 acres were preserved, of which 157 acres were existing wetlands, 419 acres were newly created wetlands, and an additional 500 acres of floodwater conveyance wetlands that are connected to the preserve were protected.
The process of enhancing and creating the habitat was extensive and took more than 3 years and 8 million dollars. Seneca Meadows, Inc., currently owns and operates the site, but the site will be managed by the National Audubon Society so that future generations can enjoy the created wetlands long after the landfill closes, scheduled for 2024.