Abandoned Cranberry Bogs

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Once long ago, there were commercial cranberry bogs operating in the Suffolk Couty Boglands. They have since been abandoned, as they were no longer profitable, and nature has reclaimed this land for herself. Beginning from a spring that flows forth from the ground water, a little creek flows and converges with others, into a pond that drains out to a tributary of the Peconic River. Along the edges of the pond are Atlantic White Cedar stands (Chamaecyparis thyoides), surrounded by hummocks of Sphagnum moss floating upon the water. The sluice gate mechanisms and channels remain at the pond, their crumbling blocks of concrete and rusted pieces of discarded machinery are all that are left of this industry here.

A shaft of light descends through the canopy of Atlantic White Cedar to illuminate the purple pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea), growing in the Sphagnum moss below. It is this location, where the most beautiful and healthy of the remaining populations of pitcher plants on Long Island persist. The yellow flowers of the rush bladderwort (Utricularia juncea), ascend from the wet muck of the bog. Not reported on Long Island since 1992, the little bladderwort flowers later in the season, towards the end of Summer. And, of course, the American Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), still grow wild, its developing fruits ripening in the late summer sun.

Towards the end of Spring, the Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta picta) comes to shore to lay her eggs in the sandy soil at the edge of the pond. Unfortunately for the reptiles, Racoons (Procyon lotor) often dig up their nests to feast upon the eggs. Racoon populations have rapidly increased on Long Island, due to our removal of all their natural predators. Their population densities have risen from an estimated level of between 20-40 per square mile, to current levels of over 100 per square mile. It is not the nuisance of them pillaging our garbage cans that we should concern ourselves with, but the effect of the over-population of these animals on the other creatures in the ecosystems that are now thrown out of balance. A balance that has been disturbed, by the impact of our influence.

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