A place in nature can be special in many different ways. It might be the secret place under the protective branches of a weeping willow in a child's back yard or the favorite swimming hole of an entire community during hot summer days; a much visited hilltop that provides an exceptionally beautiful view of our hills and valleys or the hidden vernal pool visited each spring by only a few people who enjoy welcoming the frogs and salamanders back to their breeding pond. These are special places for people and a part of the socio-cultural research for the Living Land Project is dedicated to documenting these culturally special places by asking people to tell us about them.
However, we try to balance people's perspectives and preferences with the preferences and needs of the wild creatures that share the land with us. Ecological inventories conducted as part of the Living Land Project and during other projects help us find the ecologically special places where rare and unusual native plants and animals find a home in our landscape. The cool rocky creeks tumbling out of the Taconics which seem to be the only place where Spring Salamanders live in our County; the dry meadows where the caterpillars of the rare Indian Skipper butterfly feed on the native Little Bluestem grass and where the adults can be observed for a couple of weeks each spring; the calcium rich fens which harbor the federally endangered Bog Turtle; and, yes, the vernal pools which are crucial breeding habitat for certain amphibians such as Spotted Salamanders and Wood Frogs.
Living Land Project: Learn more about our ongoing project to document ecological habitats throughout the County, alongside people's perceptions of these places.
Culturally Special Places: Learn more about our Special Places Mapping Project (and share your special places!) Also, stay tuned for updates from our Children's Special Places Project and interviews with elders about their childhood special places.
Ecologically Special Places: A slide presentation that gives an overview of the native plants and animals that share the land with us and the ecologically special places where rare and uncommon wild species live in our County.