Cheney Road Marsh is privately owned, and the property must be respected as such. There are Federal Conservation Easements on the land, meaning that the wetland is permanently protected. The marsh is traversed by a public road, which makes it practical to view birds and other wildlife using binoculars or a spotting scope from the shoulders.
Natural History Interest
Cheney Road Marsh is one of the largest cattail marshes in the region. Area naturalists now regularly visit the site to view its often unique or greater than usual abundances of certain life. The marsh was created when Beaver activity along Ball Creek flooded the adjacent meadow. The water level in the wetland fluctuates somewhat, depending on the state of repair of the beaver dam that holds back the water. Cattails grow profusely, some on floating mats of vegetation that drift about the marsh. Other plants that may be found there include Swamp Milkweed and Marsh Cinquefoil. Crayfish inhabit the marsh, along with sunfish, Largemouth Bass, and Brown Bullhead.
Who To Contact
It must be emphasized that the Cheney Road Marsh is private property and must not be entered on foot, by canoe or any other means without the express permission of the owners. The property is included in this atlas because it is ecologically significant and can be observed from the public roads nearby.
How To Get There
The Cheney Road Marsh is located just south of I-86 a few miles from Chautauqua Lake. From exit 8 (Mayville, Lakewood) off I-86, take NY 394 east approximately 1.7 miles to Cheney’s Road on your right. Turn right onto Cheney’s Road and continue to the end of the road. The marsh is located along this last stretch of the road.
What To See
Baseline data is periodically gathered by RTPI staff both from public access along Cheney Rd. and by working with the property owners on specific permitted conservation projects. To view the eBird hotspot of the site complete with recent bird sightings click on this link. To view an eBird bar chart page of all recorded sightings click on this link. Notable birds known to breed in and around the marsh include Sora, Virginia Rail, Common Gallinule, Swamp Sparrow, Canada Goose, Mallard, Wood Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, Savannah Sparrow, Pileated Woodpecker, Tree Swallow, and Marsh Wren. You can often see Bald Eagles sitting in the tree line to the south as they nest in the area. Other significant species that have been recorded there include Least Bittern, Nelson’s Sparrow, Blue-winged Teal, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Great Egret, Osprey, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Bank Swallow, and Barn Swallow. Sandhill Cranes have been seen in the area for nearly 15 years and likely nest somewhere nearby.
Reptiles and amphibians that have been recorded include Common Water Snake, Eastern Garter Snake, Spotted Salamander, Bullfrog, Green Frog, Pickerel Frog, Spring Peeper and American Toad. In addition to the Beavers that engineered this exceptional and accessible wetland, Mink, Muskrat, Red Fox, Meadow Voles, and White-tailed Deer have been observed. Basic data is still being collected on dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies and more, but there are clearly high numbers of common species in such a favorable breeding area, especially for odonates.
Why It’s Important To Conservation
Cattail marshes, especially of this terrific size, are much less common in the present day than historically due to human development and land usage. They are also pressured in many areas by invasive and non-native plants such as the Common Reed (Phragmites australis). Preserving these habitats is therefore critically important to the species which are endemic to them. Marshes provide food sources for hundreds of various species, including migratory wildlife. They are home to thousands of organisms that would not be able to reproduce in other conditions, and one of this size is tremendously significant to an abundance of natural life.