The Butternut Valley holds some of the region's best opportunities for landscape-scale conservation of natural areas, working lands and historic sites. Running from Burlington in the north to Unadilla in the south, the Butternut Valley encompasses one of the largest collections of historic sites, as well as the highest densities of large, intact parcels of land.
Increased threats to undeveloped lands make this an important place to focus our conservation activities. Over 60 percent of the Butternut Valley is currently forested, but the housing density in almost half of these areas may increase fourfold from up to 15 houses per square mile to over 60 houses per square mile by 2030.
Fortunately, conservation-minded families are having a major impact in the Butternut Valley by partnering with the Otsego Land Trust. Together we have protected over 1,100 acres spanning a ridge between the Butternut Valley and Upper Otsego Creek adjacent to Hartwick State Forest, in addition to more than 700 acres of working farms and forests adjacent to the recently created General Jacob Morris State Forest.
This land also contains high-quality trout streams, nearly half of which contain sensitive spawning habitat. These together with the many wetlands that dot the valley also support two species of native freshwater mussels (yellow lamp and green floater) as well as hellbender salamanders, which grow up to two-feet in length and live in only three watersheds in the world. Birds found here include the iconic bald eagle, as well as pied-billed grebes and northern harriers.
The working farms and historic villages of the Butternut Valley further strengthen the case for the area's preservation. Over 30,000 acres under agricultural here make use of the rich bottomland found its valleys, and eight historic sites listed on state or national registers confirm the region as a place that is central to both the Otsego Region's cultural significance and to our landscape-scale conservation efforts.