Greetings. I've just read Barbara Michelin's memorial
to Mr. Brinckerhoff, the former owner of Lake Walton
Park in Hopewell Junction. Her statements brought a tear
to my eye as I recalled Mr. Brinckerhoff's love of the
wildlife of Lake Walton.
I have lived here on the lake for 10 years and have
spent many hours observing the birds on and around the
lake. I believe that over time it has become truly part
of my soul. Last year there was a swan injured by a gunshot
inflicted by trespassers in the campground. Several neighbors
worked together and we were able to retrieve the swan
and bring it to a local veterinarian for treatment. With
the advice of a rehabber we attempted to rehabilitate
the swan on my property using an inflatable pool.
Unfortunately, after 10 days he took a turn for the
worse and passed from this earth. We buried him near
my property while his mate and cygnets observed just
off shore. I was very concerned that the female and cygnets
would abandon the lake. However, they remained, although
uneasy, until the winter. This spring, the female has
returned to the lake with her new mate. Life goes on.
We have also had a new addition to the lake this year.
There are now several Hooded Mergansers in residence
here. Other birds that I have observed are:
a pair of Great Blue Herons, Red-winged Blackbirds,
nesting Broad-winged Hawks, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Belted
Kingfisher, Common Grackle, families of Pileated Woodpeckers,
Dark-eyed Junco, Red-bellied Woodpecker, American Goldfinch,
Downy Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee, Tree Swallow,
Tufted Titmouse, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Cardinal,
Eastern Bluebird, Mourning Dove, Hummingbird, Blue Jays,
and of course Mallards and an abundance of Canadian Geese.
Sadly, I fear that this will be the last year that Lake
Walton will be home to many of these birds. A development
has been planned for the property consisting of 94 upscale
homes. While the proposal calls for open space (mostly
the lake and wetlands), there will be no more unbroken
stands of woodland. The developer proposes to remove
47 acres of vegetation for this project. Also the new
roads for the development are planned for within a few
feet of the lake and Federal Wetlands. I fear that the
stormwater runoff from these roads will destroy the lake
and the extensive wetlands that it flows into. There
has been no mention of continuing public access to the
lake, therefore creating a private community. This will
be a huge loss to those who have enjoyed Lake Walton
for so many years.
I must apologize for rambling on and on. Please understand
that this is an issue that is very near and dear to my
heart. This development will not only
destroy the wild inhabitants but the human residents
as well. The existing residents have been told that we
must leave in order to make way for the upscale homes.
We have considered ourselves caretakers of this lake
for years and are devastated that we must go.
Should you have any questions or comments please feel
free to contact me at (845) 227-5122. Also via
e-mail at LakeWaltonPark@aol.com.
Thank you for your time.
Barbara Butler added this note:
The history of birding at Lake Walton is a long one.
In 1925, Maunsell Crosby wrote a paper published in The
Wilson Bulletin called "Ten All-day Censuses
from Dutchess County, NY." He described the
beginnings of the May Census that we still conduct each
the county. One of the places shown on the map of places
visited was Jackson Pond. It was added to the census
route in 1920. When Stan DeOrsey found this paper, we
didn't know of a "Jackson Pond" in the area
indicated on the map. After talking with Mr. Brinckerhoff
in the fall of 2001, we learned that Jackson Pond is
now known as Lake Walton.