Frogs—the horror!

Frog courtesy of Shutterstock
Frog courtesy of Shutterstock

“I’m petrified of the little creatures,” said Marinaccio, 65.

Today’s headline story (online) of the Buffalo News caught my eye. It’s the strangest I’ve seen there for some time.

The basis of a landowner’s suit against a local developer and the town of Clarence, N.Y., where he lives, is that most of his 40-acre property has become a wetland inhabited mainly by frogs. The developer has diverted subdivision water run-off onto Paul Marinaccio’s property for over ten years.  A ditch originally meant for the run-off wasn’t nearly big enough, so the developer kept on diverting water, eventually creating a 30-acre swamp. Frogs are everywhere. Marinaccio says he can’t even get into his own garage unless they are shooed away by someone else, usually his daughter. A less bizarre feature of the case is that he’s also prevented from using the land to build other homes, as he had originally planned.

I know the sound of frogs are generally considered a welcome sign of spring, and that wetlands are supposed to be a good thing, but I can’t really blame this guy for freaking out. And, of course, I have to assume gardening or growing any kind of crop would be out of the question. This is why I don’t live in the country—or exurbs, as this part of Western New York would more accurately be called. Too many strange problems I’d never be able to deal with. The occasional loud/littering drunk I can handle. I’m not afraid of frogs but I don’t know how I’d feel about having them hopping all over the place on a continual basis.

Apparently, Marinaccio plans to install a herd of cows once the land is dry.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I cannot believe the corps of engineers are going to let them drain the wetlands. Not unless they are wetland banking somewhere else.

    • Depends on how long it has been there. If it’s truly new over the last 10 years, they may be able to drain it…but they’d have been better off if they hadn’t waited. Here in Kansas I know that we have to maintain farm ponds that were established before the 1960’s.

  2. How depressing. We’re knee deep in frogs here this time of year, and it’s wonderful! Whenever I feel like I’m not making a difference, I look at the frogs and salamanders that breed in the tiny pond I dug (By hand. In clay. And it was uphill BOTH WAYS. And there were bears.) and think “Well, because of us, there’s at least a couple dozen more frogs in the world. That’s got to be worth something.”

    If I had a 30 acre wetland, I’d be doing cartwheels. In the dry area, anyway.

  3. If I’m reading this right, over the last ten years, this developer and city have effectively used this family’s home as a stormwater run-off ditch.

    The devleoper has appropriated 75% of their property — presumably without compensation — and made it difficult to use and enjoy the rest of it. The water may be breeding mosquitos (unless all the frogs keep the population down), which is a health issue.

    I hope the homeowners win and collect enough damages to drain the artificial swamp, restore their fields and buy as big a herd as their land can support…

    We get frogs to our pond, but not a biblical plague like these folks seem to have. All things in moderation!

    • Yes, this is an artificially created “wetland” and this poor homeowner is definitely the victim. I posted on it NOT because I think he should welcome the frogs, or the run-off. I just felt it was a bizarre story and wanted to share it. I sympathize with him, completely.

  4. The version of this story I saw made a big deal out of the guy’s phobia (citing it as the reason for the suit) rather than focusing on the fact that a developer diverted water & flooded the guy’s land, then fought him for seven years over it. A good reminder to search out many sources for news, since it’s tough to find one that’s not biased or sensationalized.

  5. This isn’t a “wetland.”

    It’s wet land, yes, but it was artificially created, was obviously NOT designed to be a wetland, probably contains none of the sort of plants that would actually belong/thrive in a true wetland, and quite possibly performs none of the natural functions of a wetland.

    The developer stole, if not this man’s actual land, at least his right to enjoyment/use of it. Wrong.

  6. I think it is ridiculous that this poor man might have to maintain this new wetland because of the bad engineering of someone else. And I am amazed that nothing was done earlier in the whole process, especially since it seems nto enough care was taken to handle runoff in the early days.

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