by Briana Binkerd-Dale

As a child, Bob Glidden spent time during the summers on his great uncle’s farm, which left him with a lifelong love of wildlife and land. Born and raised in North Tonawanda, NY, he worked with the City of N. Tonawanda in the building maintenance field for 33 years, and currently works part time as the Town of Newfane assessor. When he and his wife Pat started thinking about retirement, they knew that they wanted rural land close to their work and family members. At the time, they owned land in Chautauqua County, but that was too far away. When they found 30 acres in northeastern Niagara County in the Town of Somerset, about 3 miles south of Lake Ontario, it was the perfect site to settle down on.

Bob and Pat purchased the Niagara County land in early 1997 with the help of a realtor. They built their retirement home there with the help of Bob’s brother in law, who is a general contractor, and have lived there since November of 1997. Surrounded by active farmland and wooded areas, their parcel is relatively flat agricultural land abandoned in the 1970s, part of which must have been an orchard at one time judging by the abundance of old pear and apple trees. There are 7-10 acres of mixed hardwoods: red and white oak, shagbark hickory, ash, maple and declining elms along with some red and Scotch pine. This complements a six acre section that is aspen, cherry, cottonwood, willow, box elder and the old fruit trees. Grass and brush areas consist of sumac, more old fruit trees, wild grapes, raspberries, multiflora rose and viburnum.

Bob and Pat wasted no time developing their land stewardship plan. Bob had become a certified Master Forest Owner volunteer in 1995 and was impressed by the presentations he had seen forester Bruce Robinson give at several MFO workshops and conferences, so they asked for Bruce’s assistance in developing a stewardship plan focusing on wildlife conservation. That same year, they enrolled in the NYS Tree Farm Program, started a trail system, and hosted a NYFOA woods walk.

Bob knew he wanted to add a fish pond to the property, so after consulting a soil conservationist and digging some test pits, they dug a ¾ acre pond in 1998, and stocked the pond with bass and koi. The following year Bob’s friend Joe dowsed for water; this allowed the Gliddens to drill a well to ensure a supply of water to the pond. A windmill was also installed to pump and oxygenate the pond water—it can pump 500 gallons of water in an hour with 20 mph winds. They have a permit from the DEC for 5-7 grass carp to help manage algae, as well as a permit for the aquatic herbicide Cutrine—but the windmill and the carp keep the filamentous algae in check most of the time.

In 2000, Bob and Pat established a 3 acre duck and goose marsh along with 3 acres of grassland under the USDA’s Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP), now known as EQIP. The cost sharing aspect of the program allowed for improvements to the land sooner and more affordably than would have been possible otherwise—WHIP covered 80% of the cost of installing the pond, and 75% of the cost of installing the marsh and grassland area. There can be a waiting list for EQIP, so Bob recommends that those interested get their land stewardship plan written, sign up as soon as possible, and to be patient. If you don’t already have a stewardship plan, EQIP can assist you in writing one.

Bob has been very active with 4-H, and was Key Leader on their pheasant raising program for 15 years, raising 1500-2000 birds a year and releasing them into the wild in conjunction with the DEC. His appreciation of birds inspired him to cut about three acres of aspen to encourage grouse habitat. Bob also “topped off” 17 box elders, cottonwoods and willows in the cut aspen area; topping off cuts the stem at the lowest fork to leave a living stubby snag. Rotational mowing enhances cover for the song birds, turkeys and pheasants. He also established a 22 house bluebird trail on the property in 2009.

The Gliddens have established a variety of food plots geared towards wildlife, totaling approximately 2 acres. For the birds, Bob annually plants rooster booster, which is a mix of corn, buckwheat and sorghum and has planted flat pea that comes up year after year with no maintenance. Additionally, he cultivates perennial sunflowers, several different types of clover, sorghum and chufa. He will often consult with his neighbors to see what they are planting in surrounding fields that season and plan the food plots accordingly. Bob also takes advantage of the old fruit trees, releasing and fertilizing them to provide additional food for wildlife, and has a bumper crop of apples this year. In addition to the planted food plots, he removed about 80 scotch and red pines that were unstable in windstorms due to the high water table to create openings for hardwoods that are more beneficial to wildlife. Joe, who put up the windmill for the pond, took the lumber from the pines in exchange for his help with projects on the property.

Pat and Bob can clearly see how the transformation from abandoned agricultural land to managed wildlife areas has enhanced the diversity and abundance of wildlife on their property. He loves to see all of the animals living on their land, and knowing that he and his family are making a difference in their lives. Their family uses the land for wildlife observation, bird watching, hiking, fishing, some hunting, winter activities and family get-togethers. Their trail system supports hiking, snowmobiling and cross country skiing…and hay rides!

Bob and Pat have now been NYFOA members for over 20 years—Bob says that the amount of knowledge they have gotten from the Forest Owner magazine, chapter newsletters and meetings, and woods walks is neverending. He is currently the NYFOA Niagara Frontier Chapter (NFC) chairman and a state delegate, while Pat is secretary and newsletter coordinator. Bob’s advice to other forest owners is to have a plan, set a time frame, go at a pace that works for you, but above all to enjoy your land.

Briana Binkerd-Dale is a student in Environmental Biology and Applied Ecology at Cornell University. If you are interested in being featured in a member profile, please email Jeff Joseph at jeffjosephwoodworker@gmail.com


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