APALACHIN, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – A hidden marshland off of Route 434 recently dedicated one of its hiking trails in honor of the environmentalist who kept it from becoming a highway.

Over 60 years ago, Harriet Marsi played a crucial role in saving the Apalachin Marsh from the construction of Route 17.

The DOT planned to create a highway directly through the wetlands, and Marsi, who frequently visited the marsh, pestered them until they altered their plans.

Now, the area is a nature preserve operated by the Waterman Conservation Education Center, who named one of the trails Harriet’s Crossing in her honor.

Her son Rick Marsi, also a local naturalist, says that if it wasn’t for his mom, the entire ecosystem may have been wiped out.

Rick Marsi says, “Route 17 was built around the wetlands. So, we have the Eastbound Lane over there, and the Westbound Lane over here, and hundreds of acres or pristine forests and wetland was preserved because one person, one lady, had the nerve and the chutzpah to stand up against the establishment.”

Rick says that the marsh is the perfect mix of forest and wetlands critters, so if you like to watch wildlife, particularly birds, it’s the best of both worlds.

He is hopeful that they will receive funding in the near future to re-do some of the bridges and increase the signage throughout the preserve.