WALTER G. MERRITT CONSERVATION AREA
Haviland Hollow Road, Putnam County, New York
400 acres


Directions:

From NY 22, turn east onto East Haviland Hollow Road/Putnam County 68 and drive 2.3 miles. Parking is on the left just before a small bridge as you enter a valley.


History:

Billionaire William Ziff Jr., a renowned conservationist, is one of the world's most successful publishers.  The Ziff family has property that borders Walter G. Merritt Park.  The family has been working on a 180-acre arboretum on their $19 million estate that sprawls over much of Pawling's prestigious Quaker Hill.  The family has by now amassed more than 1,300 acres of land in Pawling.

1998  --  the Ziff family requests permission from Putnam County to take rocks from Merritt park.

1998 and 1999  --  While the request was under consideration, rocks were removed, trees felled and roads put up in the Patterson park. The damage to the park was estimated at $6 million to $10 million dollars.  

1999 (January) --  a Ziff family member apologized in a letter and offered Putnam County a measly $15,000 dollars.

2002 (March)  --  In order to avoid civil litigation, the Ziff family settled the dispute with a $1 million payment and a gift of $8.25 million dollars from the Ziff sons, Dirk, Robert and Daniel. The family admitted no wrongdoing in the payoff.  County Executive Robert Bondi said the money would be used for health-care initiatives, forming a county parks department and restoring Merritt park.

(Source: The Journal News. "Pursue criminal action in Putnam." April 03, 2002. Cara Matthews. Taken from: http://www.planputnam.org/patterson/merritt/jn_040302_editorial.htm)

2002 (May 11)  --  County Executive Bondi suggested that the county rename the Walter G Merritt Conservation Area, to the Michael Ciaiola Conservation Area. The area was one of Mike's favorite places.  He led the Land Trust for a number of years.  He died of cancer in 1999.

2002 (May 18)  --  the NY Journal News reports that the Putnam County Sheriff's Department is considering locating a new outdoor shooting range in the Conservation Area.  Contact:

Save Merritt Park
PO Box 675
Patterson, NY 12563
Voice: 845 878 7580
Fax: 845 878 7605

www.taconicarts.com/projects/merritt/


Trails:

The trail takes you in a rectangle circuit route.  It begins along an old road. The trail leads to a waterfall. This is the waterfall on Tucker's Run, a hemlock ravine.  Tucker's Run flows southeast into Quaker Brook which in turn flows into Haviland Hollow Brook.  

The trail goes left uphill alongside the stone walls of an old farmstead.  The trail heads along the ridge slope through a mixed deciduous forest.

The trail leads to the hemlock and striped maple gorge of  Tucker's Run.  When I was there it was really running fast.  

At the intersection, turn left along an old road and go upstream. Just above the foundation of an old stone bridge with a retaining wall on either side of the stream, Tucker's Run flows into a deep pool.

The trails goes upstream along the bank.  The path becomes obscure. Turn left at Stage Coach Road. This is an old stage route that connected Danbury to Boston.  There was an overnight stop at the Quaker Hill Church and stables.

Keep heading somewhat southeast and the road will take you back to Haviland Hollow Road (Putnam County 68).

10/01/03.  Had planned to go to Cranberry Mountain, but all the parking areas were full because today is the first day of pheasant hunting season.  So I just continued heading down Stage Coach Road.  Parked on the left side of Stage Coach Road in the northwestern section of Merritt park.  The hemlock ravine is here.  Walked down the closed off Stage Coach Road and then onto the now abandoned part of Stage Coach Road (a sign says: Haviland Road 1/2 mile).

The area is home to the “Firefighter George C. Cain Memorial Trail”. George Cain was a member of Ladder Company 7 in New York City who lost his life in the collapse of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.


PLANT LIST:
Dr. Patrick Louis Cooney


Trees:
Acer pensylvanicum (goosefoot maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carya glabra (pignut hickory)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Castanea dentata (American chestnut)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Gleditsia triacanthos (honey locust)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree) 6/7/01
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Pyrus malus (apple tree)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust) 6/7/01 just finishing
Salix sp. (willow)
Sorbus sp. (mountain ash) lflts pointed
Tilia americana (American basswood) 7/18/96
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus americana (American elm)

Shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) a potential threat
Chimaphila maculata (striped wintergreen)
Corylus americana (hazel)
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Ilex verticillata (winterberry holly)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Ligustrum sp. (privet)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Mitchella repens (partridge berry)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose) 6/7/01
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus odoratus (flowering raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus flagellaris (northern dewberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry) 6/7/01
Sambucus canadensis (common elderberry)
Spiraea alba (meadowsweet)
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum) 6/7/01 soon
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum)

Vines:
Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Calystegia sepium (hedge bindweed)
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asian bittersweet)
Hedera helix (English ivy)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)
Vitis labrusca (fox grape)
Wisteria sp. (wisteria)

Herbs:
Acalypha sp. (three-seeded mercury)
Achillea millefolium (yarrow) 7/18/96
Actaea alba (white baneberry)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) 6/7/01
Allium tricoccum (wild leek) 7/18/96
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Ambrosia trifida (giant ragweed)
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp)
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Arisaema triphyllum (jack in the pulpit)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Aster cordifolius (heart-leaved aster) 10/01/03
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster) 10/01/03
Aster prenanthoides (zig-zag aster)
Aster sp. (heath aster type) 10/01/03
Bidens frondosa (beggar ticks)
Cardamine diphylla (broad-leaved toothwort)
Caulophyllum thalictroides (blue cohosh)
Cerastium vulgatum (mouse-ear chickweed) 6/7/01
Chenopodium album (pigweed)
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy)
Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's nightshade) 7/18/96
Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle)
Collinsonia canadensis (horsebalm)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace) 7/18/96
Epipactis helleborine (helleborine orchid)
Erechtites hieraciifolia (pileweed)
Erigeron philadelphicus (common fleabane) 6/7/01
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot) 10/01/03
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod)
Galium sp. (bedstraw) 7/18/96
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium) 6/7/01
Geranium sp. (cranesbill)
Geum sp. (avens) 7/18/96
Hesperis matronalis (dame's rocket) 6/7/01
Hieracium paniculatum (panicled hawkweed)
Hosta sp. (hosta)
Hydrocotyle americana (water pennywort)
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed) 7/18/96
Iris versicolor (blue flag) 6/7/01
Lilium philadelphicum (wood lily) 7/18/96
Lotus corniculatus (birdfoot trefoil) 7/18/96
Lysimachia ciliata (fringed loosestrife)
Lysimachia nummularia (moneywort)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Medeola virginica (Indian cucumberroot)
Melilotus alba (sweet white clover) 7/18/96
Mitella diphylla (two-leaved mitrewort)
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Osmorhiza claytonii (sweet cicely)
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel)
Pilea pumila (clearweed)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) 7/18/96
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonatum biflorum (smooth true Solomon's seal)
Polygonatum pubescens (hairy true Solomon's seal)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose smartweed) 10/01/03
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil) 6/7/01
Prenanthes altissima (tall lettuce)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal) 7/18/96 10/01/03
Pyrola elliptica (shinleaf pyrola)
Rorripa sp.?
Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaf buttercup)
Ranunculus bulbosus (bulbous buttercup) 6/7/01
Rumex obtusifolium (broad leaved dock)
Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot)
Saponaria officinalis (bouncing bet) 7/18/96
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal)
Solidago caesia (blue-stem goldenrod) 10/01/03
Solidago gigantea (late goldenrod) 10/01/03
Solidago rugosa (rough-leaved goldenrod) 10/01/03
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Taraxacum officinale (dandelion)
Thalictrum dioicum (early meadow rue)
Trientalis borealis (star flower)
Trifolium pratense (red clover) 6/7/01
Trillium erectum (red trillium)
Tussilago farfara (colts foot)
Urtica dioica (stinging nettle) lf bases not heart-shaped
Veratrum viridis (swamp hellebore)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein) 7/18/96
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell) 6/7/01
Vicia cracca (cow vetch) 7/18/96
Viola cucullata (marsh blue violet)
Viola spp. (violets)
Zizia aptera (golden alexanders)

Sedges:
Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered sedge type)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Carex vulpinoidea (sedge)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)
Scirpus atrovirens (dark green bulrush)

Grasses:
Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass)
Bromus inermis (smooth brome grass)
Cinna arundinacea (wood reedgrass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer tongue grass)
Phleum pratense (timothy grass)
Poa annua (annual blue grass)
Poa pratensis (Kentucky blue grass) 6/7/01
Setaria glauca (ywllow foxgtail grass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Lycopodium complanatum (northern ground cedar)
Lycopodium lucidulum (shining club moss)
Lycopodium obscurum (pine tree club moss)
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Athyrium thelypteroides (silvery gladefern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal wood fern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)
Polypodium sp. (rock cap fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Thelypteris hexagonoptera (broad beech fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)