Florence Shelly Wetlands Preserve
July 21, 2011 —
Well worth the scenic drive through the northwest reaches of rural Wayne County is a 357-acre Nature Conservancy Property known as the Florence Shelly Wetlands Preserve. This unique property boasts fields, woodlands, two wetlands, barrens, riparian forest, vernal pools, rock outcroppings, a stream and a glacial pond surrounded by a floating bog.
Its protection was spearheaded by Florence Shelly, who organized a committee of citizen naturalists and volunteer professors from SUNY Binghamton to inventory the site. They found a rare red alga (batrachorsermum vagum) and an abundance of biologically diverse habitat. The Shelly family donated the land to The Nature Conservancy in the 1980s. The purchase of nearby Plew’s Swamp completed the preserve.
Wild calla lilies, leatherleaf and boreal species such as balsam fir and bunchberry can be seen, along with carnivorous plants such as sundews and pitcher plants. Sphagnum moss mats and summer blooming pink swamp roses reside in the preserve, along with a variety of wildlife such as turtles, dragonflies, tree swallows, coyotes, river otters and black bears. Remnants of human occupation, such as a foundation and stone walls, can be viewed as well.
Many species of warblers, wood ducks, broad-winged hawks, bobolinks and two species of owls live in the preserve. Former evergreen plantations often host winter finches and crossbills.
Access includes a self-guided trail and an observation platform overlooking the swamp. A guided tour led by the volunteers who maintain the preserve’s trails was recently held, with more scheduled.
Coming up on August 7 is a program on stream ecology, led by Stu Slocum. On September 10, mushroom expert Karen Croyle will identify fungi at the preserve and Hank Hartman will talk about the many tree varieties on October 2. The trail can be accessed at the intersection of Route 171 and Stack Road, one mile north of Thompson, PA. For information call 570/727-3362 or 727-4272.