Danner Family Preserve
Indian Hill Road, Jefferson Valley
Park along the road near the preserve entrance
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The Danner Family Preserve gives hikers a chance to wander along a trail that loops through a habitat that seems at first to be nothing special but which turns out to be relatively uncommon and ideal for locally-dwindling bird species.
The preserve spans the Yorktown-Putnam Valley town line and the border of Westchester and Putnam counties. More than half the preserve consists of old field habitat, thick with grey dogwood other successional shrubs.
It's a habitat that has become rare as our area's woods have grown older, and the result is that birds that rely on it, including indigo bunting, prairie warbler and rufous-sided towhee, have also become rarer.
An old farm that is now overgrown, the property features a wide farm road that loops from the preserve entrance, on Indian Hill Road, to the edge of the woods at the crest of the hill, and back.
Eugene and Josephine Danner, who had owned the land for several decades, donated the property to Westchester Land Trust in late 2007, after donating a conservation easement on it to the Yorktown Land Trust and the Putnam County Land Trust. They were inspired by Donald J. Trump's donation of 436 acres for the state park now named after him (the state park is in two sections, one of which is across the road).
Here's what Wetland Scientist, Damon Oscarson, said about the property in his assessmen:
"This Danner property has very significant conservation values and has important wildlife habitat value. ... It has a mix of young to moderate aged deciduous forest, old post-agricultural fields, and numerous old stone walls.
"The fields are presently thick shrubs, which is ideal habitat for declining shrub-dependent bird species. It creates a unique opportunity to manage for field and shrubland species ...."
The Danner Family Preserve is the third preserve we own in Yorktown - the Hunter Brook Preserve (45 acres) and the Hemlock Brook Preserve (14 acres) are the others.
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