Seneca Meadows: Turning trash into treasure.

January 8, 2011 at 7:00 am 3 comments

Seneca meadows at sunset

A break in the cold: my golden opportunity

Just north of Seneca Falls is the Seneca Meadows Wetland Preserve, a habitat for waterfowl, and all kinds of wildlife as well as 7 miles of well-groomed trails, suitable for hiking, biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Trails are open to the public from dawn to dusk, year round.

Seneca meadows wetlands preserve

View mid-way along the Main Loop Trail

I happened upon the Preserve when I saw a brochure for it at the Hotel Clarence in Seneca Falls. The Preserve sat right between me and my return to the Thruway — an irresistible invitation as it was a sunny, warm late December day, and I had skis and a dog in the back of my car!  It was  unusually calm, but I imagine that many days it could be wickedly windy, as it is a WIDE open expanse and there is little tree cover. The late afternoon sun made the wild grasses look fiery, with dramatic shadows in brilliant blue.

The skiing was sublime, with just enough snow to cover the trails, yet slushy and fast. In many areas the trails were covered with ice. This would probably be a wetlands best hiked with waterproof boots — at least spring and fall. This Audubon New York Partner contains more than 400 acres of created wetlands and uplands.

What do I mean by “created?”  Seneca Meadows is also the largest waste management and recycling facility in New York State! In 2005, it accepted over 6,000 tons of garbage a day from multiple states.

Funding and stewardship for the Preserve is provided by the Landfill, and when the landfill closes permanent stewardship of the preserve will be assumed by Audubon New York.

The landfill produces methane gas, which is sent to a nearby independent facility for producing electricity. Seneca Meadows began producing gas for electricity in 1995. Today it produces 18 Megawatts, enough to power 15,000 to 18,000 homes. Since it’s inception in 1983, Seneca Meadows Landfill has worked hard to earn the support of national environmental organizations.

Seneca meadows main loop

Fiery grasses with dramatic blue shadows

As you might imagine, combining the state’s largest landfill with a nature preserve, right next to farms and homes might pose a conflict of interest, especially as this facility is VERY close to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge to the north, a protected habitat for the bog turtle, the bald eagle, the osprey and other threatened or endangered species.

Seneca Meadows Wetlands

Seneca Meadows:largest landfill in New York State!

Area citizens have been vigilant over the years to voice their concern over possible health risks through the formation of the Seneca Lake Purer Waters Association. (SLPWA) is a group of 300 grassroots property owners and residents of the Seneca Lake Watershed who are concerned with the protection of the water quality of the watershed.

Seneca meadows trails

trail surface perfect for hiking or biking

Seneca Meadows also operates an Educational Center adjacent to the western edge of the trail system on RT 414.

Location: 1786 Salcman Road, Waterloo, NY 13165-9570
(315) 539-5624


Entry filed under: Activities, Audubon, Biking, Cross Country Skiing, Finger Lakes, Hiking, New York, Seneca Lake, Snowshoeing. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. organistsdoitwithpedals  |  August 8, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    In case anyone reads this and doesn’t realize it, this is a piece of pure propaganda for Seneca “Meadows”. I grew up a 1/2 mile from that landfill, and when half your town is evacuated because the landfill caught fire and is spewing toxic gases towards your neighborhood, you quickly realize there’s nothing “beautiful” or “magical” about what they do. They collect trash from people all over the place, trucks come in from NYC from people who can’t be bothered to recycle, but they don’t have to care. Out of sight, out of mind. It’s the upstate-NY-ers who get to deal with the ecological ramifications of having the largest landfill in the state right in their backyard. It’s filthy and disgusting. And don’t even get me started on dirty tactics used by this “wonderful” company to force homeowners out of their homes to make room for the second and third mountains of trash.

    My hometown used to be beautiful and quaint. When I was young, you couldn’t even see the landfill above the tree line. Over just 15 years it has grown into this monstrosity. Now, when the wind blows the wrong way, you grab your noseplugs before you head out to work. Have a good time hiking around the “preserve” if you want, but in my opinion, trash called by any other name still stinks.

    And for God’s sake, recycle.

    • 2. Finger Lakes Summer  |  August 8, 2012 at 6:50 pm

      Thanks for keeping it real.

      • 3. organistsdoitwithpedals  |  August 12, 2012 at 1:19 am

        Hm, sarcasm? 🙂 I wouldn’t blame you– I re-read this and I apologize for being a bit harsh. A coworker was teasing me about the lengths I go to recycle in the office, it’s not easy to do in some parts of Richmond, where I live now. Everyone here treats it as not a big deal… and I was searching for a picture of the dump to show her why it is in fact kindof a big deal, and stumbled across this post.

        And watching Seneca Meadows ruin my hometown has left me a bit jaded about the lengths they will go for any kind of positive publicity. :/ I’m glad you had fun, any sliver of good that can come out of that should be treasured.

        Again, sorry, didn’t mean to rant on your post 😛

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