The extraordinary variety of life on earth – a balance among plants, animals, microorganisms and the ecosystems in which they are found – is known as biodiversity. Protecting land locally helps preserve the biodiversity found right here on the North Shore of Long Island. Protecting land also provides “ecosystem services” such as protection of water resources, pollution breakdown and absorption and contribution to climate stability.
The Beaver Brook watershed’s biodiversity is noteworthy for Long Island –even though it is a mere 20 miles from New York City. Spanning parts of Matinecock, Upper Brookville and other villages and much of Mill Neck, the Beaver Brook watershed is one of Long Island’s most treasured and ecologically valuable natural areas.
The brook starts as a trickle between Piping Rock Club in Locust Valley and Planting Fields Arboretum in Upper Brookville. It flows northward, forming a small pond before it passes under Oyster Bay Road. There it enters Upper Francis Pond, where a pair of Osprey have nested for years. After narrowing to a creek again for a few hundred feet at the spillway at the pond’s northern edge, it forms Lower Francis Pond and then passes through a culvert under Frost Mill Road. North of that it flows into the Humes Preserve, creating a quaint pond behind the historic main house. Continuing northward the brook enters Shu Swamp. Finally, the brook makes its way to Beaver Lake, beyond which the Mill Neck Creek estuary passes into Long Island Sound.
Throughout its journey, Beaver Brook and the lands it winds through support outstanding biodiversity. The brook’s cool, oxygenated waters now provide habitat for brook trout to breed and pools that shelter a diversity of amphibians. River otters move through swamps and forage for fish in ponds. Numerous species of woodpeckers and owls nest in cavities in snags (standing dead trees) that line the brook and fill surrounding woodlands. Skunk cabbage and spring ephemeral flowers delight visitors even before trees leaf out. A few weeks later iridescent ebony jewelwing damselflies can be seen hovering above the brook’s rippling water.
North Shore Land Alliance and its partners North Shore Wildlife Sanctuary and Nassau County have protected a corridor of 150 contiguous acres of largely undeveloped land at the heart of the Beaver Brook watershed. Connecting and preserving these natural areas provides incredible ecological benefit to our community.
Dr Jud Newborn says:July 7, 2021 at 5:33 am
This is a fascinating documentation of a unique slice of Long Island’s natural history, parts of which I have visited as my “secret sacred places” for decades. By tracing the path of Beaver Brook, you’ve given me a new perspective that links the entire region and further demonstrates its ecological value. (As a board member of the NY Old Growth Forest Association, I’d like to mention that Shu Swamp consists of a rare, impressive old growth Tulip tree forest, further documented in the late Bruce Kershner’s “Sierra Club Field Guide to Ancient Forests in the Northeast.”) I can’t thank you enough for your extraordinary work and generosity in preserving and stewarding this invaluable environmental treasure!