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At the foot of Stissing Mountain lies the ancient Thompson Pond Basin, which formed nearly 15,000 years ago when a melting ice chunk created a depression, or kettle. Over time, the kettle divided into three interconnected water bodies, including Thompson Pond, which forms the headwaters of a major tributary of the Hudson River. The basin's pond, cattail marsh, swamp and upland forest support a wondrously diverse array of wildlife.
Thompson Pond was designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1973. It is considered an excellent example of a calcareous (or limy) wetland that abounds with a variety of wildlife. The Nature Conservancy seeks to preserve its 387 plant species, 162 bird species and 27 mammal species.
As development threatens to alter the bucolic character of the region, The Nature Conservancy is working to promote the continued protection of the area's open space and other local natural resources. Ecological researchers and natural history clubs are encouraged to utilize Thompson Pond Preserve for educational and research activities.
The preserve is open dawn to dusk for passive recreational and educational uses, such as cross-country skiing, hiking and bird study. There are several trails around the pond. For stunning views of the area, take the steep trail leading to a historic fire tower on the top of Stissing Mountain.
More than 245 species of land plants and 142 wetland plant species have been identified at the preserve. Around the wetlands, you can find pipewort, round-leaved sundew, marsh St. Johnswort, a cattail community, and ferns and wildflowers that grow in calcareous and acidic soils. Woodlands feature oaks, sugar maples, ash, hemlock and hickory.
Migratory birds, including ducks and warblers, pass through here in great numbers, and this is one of the best spots in the region for observing water birds such as rails. Red-tailed hawks nest in the area and golden eagles soar over open fields and near the peak of Stissing Mountain.
This 530-acre preserve is located in Pine Plains in Dutchess County, New York.