Every five years (or as new data becomes available), the Land Alliance updates its Community Open Space Plan. We have generally included the 12 to 14 Villages in our designated area where the most viable land conservation opportunities remain. The timing of this update turned out to be serendipitous this year in light of the recent “30×30” challenge that is gaining strength across the country and the world. In addition to identifying parcel location, the objective of our expanded plan will be to tell the story of open space preservation in our North Shore community. We will be asking questions like how much land is currently preserved in each village, how much opportunity for future conservation exists in each village, and what are the best methods for conservation. This plan will provide the baseline we need to measure our quest for protecting 30% of our communities’ lands and waters by 2030.
The Land Alliance utilizes a program called geographic information system (GIS). GIS allows the user to input multiple layers of information into geographically rooted analysis. In short, this is a fantastic tool to identify conservation opportunities based on many factors such as parcel size, location, wetlands, slope, and the list goes on. As helpful as the program is, every few years a portion of the information becomes out of date, often in the case of parcel subdivision or change in landowner. The updated maps offer the most up-to-date information provided by Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
The map above represents the Land Alliance catchment area and offers detailed color coding of land cover. Scattered among the pockets of red (which represent highly developed areas) remains a considerable amount of green space where we will focus our primary conservation efforts.
While we have completed an analysis of only twelve villages to date, some interesting trends are emerging. Golf courses account for most of the large swaths of open space, totaling 1,150 acres. Unfortunately, golf courses are vulnerable to large-scale development and many on the North Shore are in questionable financial condition or others, such as Cedar Brook Club in Old Brookville, have already been sold to developers.
These twelve villages include Brookville, Old Brookville, Upper Brookville, Centre Island, Cove Neck, Lattingtown, Laurel Hollow, Matinecock, Mill Neck, Oyster Bay Cove, Muttontown, and Old Westbury and comprise 27,759 acres. With a total of 2,544 acres already protected (or 9%), the Land Alliance has identified the potential to protect an additional 6,503 acres (21%). The potential protection area amounts to more than the total village area of Laurel Hollow and Matinecock combined! Each village, regardless of size, has extensive conservation opportunities. Lots of interest are based on 2x the minimum zoning required by code for each village. These maps are for illustrative use by the Land Alliance and are very useful in the nuanced approach to identify conservation opportunities. Here are a few examples of what we have found.
The numbers behind the Village of Cove Neck offer some interesting perspective. Although it is the second smallest village by area at 819 acres, 361 acres have been identified to offer conservation potential. That amounts to 44% of the total Village area.
In stark contrast, neighboring Laurel Hollow offers the least conservation potential of the villages mapped thus far. Out of the Village’s 1,894 acres, 6% or 131 acres of conservation opportunity exist. Additionally, Laurel Hollow also has the smallest percentage of already protected land at 85 acres (or 5%) of Village total acreage.
Old Brookville mapping reveals interesting information. While the Village acreage is the third largest at 2,550 acres, only slightly over 2% or 63 acres are protected. Based on mapping information the Village offers one of the largest conservation opportunities, around 864 acres (which is 33% of the total Village area).
In terms of total conservation potential, Old Westbury has the most, by nearly 300 acres. Old Westbury is full of conservation potential, with 30+ properties that lend themselves to conservation. These properties total 1,149 acres (or 20%) of the total village area.
We are proud to shed light on the detailed approach we take to advance conservation efforts in our community. Our members and friends invest in our work to keep our towns and villages beautiful and to steward the land in a sustainable manner for future generations. We have a 6,503- acre path forward (so far) and are up to the challenge! ARE YOU?
Many thanks to Meghan Leverock, Associate Director of Stewardship and GIS, for putting these wonderful and informative maps together. To be continued….