The efforts of a Broome County environmentalist to prevent the state from building Route 17 through a wetland area in Apalachin are being remembered decades later.

Harriet Marsi is recognized for playing a vital role in saving the marsh in the town of Owego from being destroyed by the proposed expressway.

Visitors can access the Apalachin Marsh by walking through a tunnel under the Route 17 Expressway. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
Visitors can access the Apalachin Marsh by walking through a tunnel under the Route 17 Expressway. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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Marsi and a friend, Florence Linaberry, were successful in persuading the state Department of Transportation in the mid-1960s to adjust the highway plans to preserve what is now known as the Apalachin Marsh.

While birdwatching in the wetland area, Marsi spotted red construction flags that tipped her off to the planned path of Route 17. She launched a campaign to save the marsh and the DOT eventually changed its highway design to protect wildlife living there.

A trail in the Apalachin Marsh wetland area has been named in honor of the late Harriet Marsi. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
A trail in the Apalachin Marsh wetland area has been named in honor of the late Harriet Marsi. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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The Waterman Conservation Education Center, which now oversees the nature preserve, has named a section of the site "Harriet's Crossing Trail."

Marsi, who lived in Vestal, died in June 2008 at the age of 95.

Waterman Center executive director Christopher Audette said Marsi's actions demonstrate how "one person or a couple of people can make a substantial difference about things they care about."

Audette noted that Route 17 is a highway that "has life going through it in the form of the Apalachin Marsh."

A brilliant scene in the Apalachin Marsh on June 4, 2023. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
A brilliant scene in the Apalachin Marsh on June 4, 2023. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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The state Department of Environmental Conservation has recognized the site as a protected wetland area.

Every year, hawks, herons, egrets, wood ducks, mallards, warblers, and other wildlife species visit the marsh.

Visitors on one trail in the Apalachin Marsh step over a fallen tree. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
Visitors on one trail in the Apalachin Marsh step over a fallen tree. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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The property between the eastbound and westbound lanes of Route 17 is owned by the Department of Transportation and maintained by Waterman volunteers.

People may visit the Apalachin Marsh by walking through a short tunnel under the expressway. There's a small parking area off Route 434 about a half mile west of Marshland Road.

WATCH: A stroll into the Apalachin Marsh in the middle of the Southern Tier Expressway.

HARRIET MARSI'S STORY: Raw interview footage of her conversation with WSKG-TV in 1997.

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Contact WNBF News reporter Bob Joseph: bob@wnbf.com or (607) 545-2250. For breaking news and updates on developing stories, follow @BinghamtonNow on Twitter.

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