Feature Friday GBNP_1

Published on November 15th, 2013 | by growwny

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Feature Friday: The Great Baehre Swamp Wildlife Management Area

BY BROOKE AYOUB, GROWWNY TEAM 

Our Western New York region is enriched with many places that showcase the changing of seasons and create great opportunities to get outdoors. GrowWNY’s Feature Friday aims to share them with you in hopes that you too will celebrate the gifts of nature. This week takes us to the 270 acres of The Great Baehre Swamp Wildlife Management Area and offers a great place to connect with the changes of the land.  This silver maple-ash, forested wetland is located off of Hopkins Road in Amherst, NY and is a wonderful place for hiking and biking along the 1,300 foot boardwalk connecting the state land to the town’s Margaret Louise Park. The boardwalk is wheelchair accessible allowing access to wildlife observation for all. In addition to the boardwalk, there is a nice loop to hike set back behind the picnic area of the park.  There is also ample parking available near the  picnic shelters and restrooms. This important wetland serves to provide a habitat for a variety of resident and migratory species and maintains flood and erosion control for the surrounding area.

So what changes of nature can we enjoy at The Great Baehre Swamp?  Besides savoring the beautiful colors of Fall, the early signs of Spring can be witnessed by large-leafed flora pushing its way through the snow. Skunk cabbage is one of the first plants to bloom in Spring;  as early as February. Although we hold our noses to its odor, the plant’s bright shade of green is a welcoming sight against the patches of snow, which grows abundantly at Great Baehre.  Another seasonal event that we are able to observe at this refuge is the presences of vernal pools. Vernal pools are temporary breeding grounds for amphibians that flood in the spring from melting snow and fall from rain, but dry up during the hot summer months.  The drying and flooding cycles prevent any fish from inhabiting the pools; hence the amphibian’s offspring are protected. These offspring will then return to the same pool to hatch their eggs.

As the days of summer come forth, much more flora and fauna are available to appreciate. Summer begins the joy of counting the abundance of painted turtles basking on logs with appearances from herons, muskrats, and fish. While winter always brings the pleasure of silence, rest, and peace… but you might catch a hint of wood smoke in the air or the faint sound of children laughing from the sledding hill in Margaret Louise Park. These are the things and happenings that bring me back each season, not just to The Great Baehre Swamp Wildlife Management Area, but to all the great places in Western New York.

Note: On behalf of the GrowWNY community, it is our great pleasure to highlight the wonderful places in WNY for our Feature Friday topic for you to enjoy. We would like to remind everyone to practice safety on their outdoor adventures and walk with a buddy. Click here for more safe hiking tips.

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