The Importance of Private Conservation: Celebrating Local Conservation Heroes
Another golf course sold for development. Another hillside cleared of forest for a better view. We are losing our natural areas at a rapid pace. This troubling trend runs counter to calls from scientists to protect more natural areas to mitigate the effects of climate change and better protect plants and animals from extinction. According to the Center for American Progress, more than 75% of the natural areas lost to development between 2001 to 2017 were privately owned. Currently, 23% of US ocean waters are protected and only 12% of US lands. Moreover, 80% of the land east of the Mississippi River is privately owned. Accordingly, private landowners are integral to the fight to save the planet and, in turn, ourselves. Private lands contain habitat that is essential to the extremely biodiverse species living on them. 95% of endangered species rely on private land for at least part of their habitat. Nearly 75% of US wetlands are located on private and tribal lands, providing important habitat for birds and aquatic life. Over half of US forests are privately owned, and these lands provide 30% of our drinking water. Our 2021 Local Conservation Heroes Today, we would like to celebrate our North Shore conservation champions – the local leaders who have been first to step up to donate their land or permanently protect it with a conservation easement. Their gifts will continue to improve the health of our community for generations to come! The Mayrock Family The Mayrock family donated a six-acre vacant and wooded lot in the Village of Matinecock, which they retained after the sale of their family home on a separate adjacent lot. The property was a special place for the family, who enjoyed walking the trails among vibrant laurel, beech trees and rhododendron clusters. Having raised their three children in Matinecock, Mr. and Mrs. Mayrock often strolled the trails of Shu Swamp with their kids. The Mayrocks envision their property as a complementary parcel to existing preserves. Indeed, it provides an important piece of the puzzle in connecting Cushman Woods, Humes and Shu Swamp, enhancing habitat for plants and animals. This generous donation builds on what has been a successful conservation effort in Matinecock, securing its natural beauty for future generations. The Schiff Family The Schiff Family The family donated 5.62 acres of predominantly forested land surrounded on three sides by Tiffany Creek Preserve. The 200-acre Preserve, which had originally been part of the Schiff Estate, abuts the property and is owned and administered by Nassau County. It consists of woodland, freshwater wetlands and critical wildlife habitat. The Preserve provides public access to nature in a County that is rapidly losing precious open space to development. This donation increases protected habitat and connectivity to adjoining preserved lands totaling 450 acres and delivers groundwater recharge services. The von Bothmer Family Donation When the Centre Island Land Trust (a founding member of the Land Alliance) was formed in 1999, its leaders approached Mrs. von Bothmer about placing a conservation easement on her waterfront property. Mrs. von Bothmer preferred not to encumber her land with an easement at that time, but she promised to leave instructions in her will for the easement to be placed upon her death. As we have learned more than 20 years later, she kept her word. Soon after her death we heard from her attorneys, who confirmed her intent to place a postmortem easement on portions of her 9.544-acre property located on Centre Island Road, Centre Island. This beautiful waterfront site will be protected in perpetuity and continue its work in keeping the water in our Oyster Bay Harbor clean. We are most grateful to the von Bothmer family for supporting their mother’s wishes. The Williams Family Donation The Williams family donated a 4.5-acre property adjoining St. John’s Church in Lattingtown to the Land Alliance for conservation purposes. Several years ago, they lost their home (located on the property) in a fire and chose not to rebuild. This gently sloping property in the Frost Creek watershed is filled with beautiful old trees, small streams and a pond that empties into the Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the Long Island Sound. This property provides important habitat for plants and animals and will be a wonderful place to enjoy the benefits of nature. In our most 2021 Spring issue of Conservation News, we highlighted 30×30, a global goal of protecting 30% of Earth’s land and water by 2030. 30×30 has been discussed in scientific circles for quite some time. It acknowledges the multiple crises we face — the extinction crisis and the climate crisis — both of which are magnified by the rate of habitat loss. Our North Shore community has the potential to reach this global goal, but we must act now. Based on the Land Alliance’s Community Conservation Plan (which covers our catchment area, from the Queens/Nassau border to the Town of Huntington’s eastern border and from the Long Island Sound to the Long Island Expressway), we have protected 15% of our natural areas, 7% of which is public land and 8% privately owned. We have identified another 2,108 acres (or 21%) of public and private land that could be eligible for future conservation. It’s exciting to think our community has the potential to achieve the crucial 30×30 goal! If you are interested in exploring conservation on your land, please give us a call at 516-922-1028 or [email protected] We are most grateful to all the members of our community who have chosen to protect their land through donations of fee title or conservation easements the Bacon family the Braunstein family the de Roulet family the Diamond family the D’Loren family the DuBois family the Friedlander family the Fuschetto family the Grace family the Krasnoff family the Macy family the Marker family the Marsiello family the Mayrock family the Morgan family Nassau County Robert Sabin the Schiff family the Stallings family the Taglich family The Nature Conservancy Long Island Chapter Town of Huntington Town of Oyster Bay the von Bothmer family the Wallace family the Webel family the Williams family
Happenings at Humes – From Gardens to the Garage
We were kept busy with mowing the phase two area of the meadow this year but unfortunately that was more due to controlling weed growth than keeping winter rye from going to seed, (as had been the case with phase one). Last fall’s seeding of the phase two area was less productive than phase one’s. For this reason, the area will be overseeded shortly. We will follow with adding wildflowers generously provided through a Garden Club of America Partners for Plants grant secured by the North Country Garden Club of Long Island. The phase one area of the meadow is thriving. It benefited from the addition of bluebird boxes, which yielded chicks in the spring. Much of this activity was monitored by Barbara Garriel and Jan Guga. We were also graced with daily visits by Judy Rasin, whose photographs document the meadow’s use by butterflies and other pollinators throughout the 2021 growing season. The fall was planting time for the native woodland demonstration area next to the nature play area. Designed and installed by Spadefoot Design and Construction, the project occupies a 4,000 sq. ft. area that not long ago was a dumping ground for Humes Estate weeds and rubbish. Now a short path will enable visitors to explore a suite of native trees, shrubs, ferns and wildflowers typical of the understory of a local woodland. This past summer, new Land Alliance Board Member Oliver Grace launched a $100 Thousand matching grant challenge for improvements at Land Alliance properties. Excitingly, the grant was quickly matched and seeded multiple projects in need of funding. With the Humes Preserve fitness area heavily trafficked, the Land Alliance felt the adjacent garage needed an overhaul to beautify the visitor experience and provide us with much needed storage for tools and equipment. We hired Tim Lyons of LMW Group to do the work and his generosity exceeded our expectations. Unfortunately, no treasure was found during the demolition, only empty wine bottles in the rafters dating back to the 1960’s. The restoration included a new roof, updated electrical, new garage doors, paint, shelving and rotted wood replacement among other things. The refurbishment not only looks great but promises to keep people and things dry for years to come. We would like to thank Oliver Grace and those who took part in his matching grant challenge for their generous support and Tim Lyons for his craftsmanship. Thanks to the generosity of the the Annunziato, Driscoll, Hoyt, Kalenderian and McGlone families a beautiful new flagpole has been installed next to the meadow. These families thought of everything! The new pole has a solar light so the Stars and Stripes can fly over Humes 24 hours a day. Excitement grows as construction of the new Land Alliance headquarters begins. In mid-November, the retaining wall behind the Tavern House was raised and a sturdy new one was installed. This process required several months of engineering, bidding and permitting. The new retaining wall will solve slope and drainage issues as we get one step closer to the actual restoration of the Tavern House. Simultaneously, the nearby swimming pool was removed to make room for public access to the new Tavern House headquarters. This process began with the removal of all the bluestone around the pool (which will later be used for pathways). Next, the pool had to be pumped of roughly 30,000 gallons of murky pool water. While monitoring the pumping, volunteers noticed the frogs that had called the pool home for so long, were chasing the retreating water. Volunteers sprang into action and grabbed buckets to dutifully rescue the frogs and relocate them to the a nearby pond. Later that week the heavy machinery moved in for demolition and removal of the pool. One thing is certain, there is never a dull moment at the Humes Preserve! We have more exciting things to come in 2022 as we begin the work to restore the Tavern House and surrounds as the Land Alliance’s first ever HQ! Click here if you would like to help us maintain this preserve.
Invasive Plant Species Proliferation on Long Island
As noted in a recent New York Times article, over the past 120 years, voracious insects and other pathogens have swept across North America with frightening regularity. They have devastated the American chestnut, the American elm and the Eastern hemlock as well as with ash and beech trees. These trees have anchored ecosystems, human economies and cultures. Invasive plant species have long been a problem. This year’s accelerated growth, caused by factors associated with climate change, is a stark reminder of their threat to biodiversity and forest health. Invasive plants like porcelain-berry, mile-a-minute and multiflora rose are blanketing our landscape, overtaking native plants and trees and choking them to death. Not all non-native species are invasive. The definition of a non-native or exotic species is one occurring outside its natural range as a result of actions by humans. According to the New York State Invasive Species Task Force (final report, fall 2005), an invasive species is a plant or animal that is (1) non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and (2) whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. The 12% or so of non-native species that are invasive wreak havoc on our land and water, devastating wildlife habitat and ecosystems. Over the last 50 years, invasive species have cost the world $1.4 Trillion in social and economic impacts (property values, agriculture, utility interruptions, fisheries, etc.) According to a 2013 National Invasive Species Awareness Week economic report: The estimated damage from invasive species worldwide totals more than $1.4 trillion, or five percent of the global economy. The annual U.S. cost from invasives is estimated to be $120 Billion, with more than 100 Million acres affected (i.e., about the size of California). A NASA report, heralding a novel effort to monitor the progress of alien species via satellite, placed the economic cost of invasive species in the United States between $100 Billion and $200 Billion. Unfortunately, with many populations the spread has been so severe that eradication is no longer an option. To grapple with management, in 2007 Nassau and Suffolk Counties – the first areas in New York State to do so – finalized Do Not Sell Lists, establishing legislation prohibiting the distribution of about 60 invasive plant species. The State followed a few years later with a comparable list. A number of strategies help discourage the spread of invasives plant species on Long Island: * Prevention of new invasions. * Rapid detection and eradication of new invaders and outliers. * Management of established infestations to prevent spread (contain, suppress, restore). * Monitoring using established protocols. * Public education. * Research (species attributes, impacts, control, etc.) What You Can Do to Help Stop the Spread of Invasive Plant Species on Long Island: * Watch the NYS Department of Environment Conservation’s documentary Uninvited: The Spread of Invasive Species on YouTube (See video below or copy and paste this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKh8Lc31rm8) * Promote native alternatives to invasive plants. * Do NOT purchase, plant or transplant any invasives (even if they’re legal). * Expand your selection of native plant stock and grow species native to Long Island.20 * Monitor your property and eliminate invasives from your yard and garden when possible. * If removal is not feasible, carefully remove fruits and berries to help minimize spread/reduce the seed source of invasive plants. * Do NOT dump unwanted aquarium plants or animals or landscaping debris in natural areas and waterways. * When visiting garden centers, find out if they’re in compliance with Do Not Sell legislation – notify County Consumer Affairs if they are not. * Participate in Invasive Species Awareness Week. * Visit the Long Island Invasive Species Management Area website for guidance in species identification and removal as well as how to document locations of invasives on mapping tool iMapInvasives (imapinvasives.org) * Volunteer with North Shore Land Alliance!
The Value of Coastal Areas: What is Shore Road Doing for You?
Shore Road Sanctuary is an eight-acre nature preserve. It features a salt marsh, grassland and wet meadow that is very often partially submerged by water. As you walk there, you may notice birds hidden amongst the grasses and fiddler crabs scuttling along the beach. You might even get lucky and spot a horseshoe crab pulling itself along the sand in shallow waters. A community of prickly pear cactus nursery grows alongside the trail and milkweed plants in the pollinator garden offer a home to the larvae of monarch butterfly. But this preserve does a lot more than provide a habitat for these organisms. Firstly, one of the most important aspects of coastal settings such as this is their role in keeping the water clean. Shore Road Sanctuary is located alongside Cold Spring Harbor, which, in addition to being the home and feeding area of numerous fish, birds and mammals, is a popular boating and water recreation site. All of these species, humans included, depend on the water in the harbor being clean. Natural settings like Shore Road act as buffers between the harbor and sources of pollution like streets and lawns. When it rains, the stormwater will fall in areas like a suburban neighborhood and drain out, eventually to the ocean. As the water drains, it picks up pollutants and carries them along its journey. However, as the water makes its way through Shore Road, the plants in the grassland act to soak up the water and filter out some of those pollutants, preventing them from reaching the nearby harbor. One of the pollutants removed by the grassland plants and the salt marsh is nitrogen. Nitrogen is commonly found in fertilizers used on lawns, as well as in car exhaust. Though it is the most common element in the atmosphere, nitrogen when found in the water can cause harmful algal blooms that destroy aquatic ecosystems. High concentrations of nitrogen in our water supply can also cause birth defects in humans. Plants that are generally submerged in water can actually use nitrogen in the process of respiration in place of oxygen and return the nitrogen to the atmosphere. This process is most pronounced in shallow marshes submerged most of the time. Shore Road is coastal, but if you look at the sands near the low tide line, you’ll notice that they tend to be dark and more like mud. This is an indication that there isn’t much oxygen there and is a good sign that the nearby grasses are helping to remove nitrogen from the area. These dark muddy sands are also indicative of high carbon storage. Marshes and other wetlands actually store more carbon than rainforests. Though it is important to preserve many different types of ecosystems, wetlands like Shore Road have some of the highest potential to help combat climate change. The more coastline that is lost to development, the smaller the world’s carbon storage potential is. Another two-fold impact of Shore Road occurs through the process of chemical weathering. Rocks break up in two ways: physically as wind and water wear away at them, and chemically as acid rain reacts with the rocks it encounters. This process actually helps to deacidify the water in the harbor and contributes to carbon storage. Ions released into the water by chemically weathered rocks bond with loose hydrogen atoms (which are responsible for making things acidic), causing the acidity of the water to decrease. Other ions released by this process contain carbon from acid rain and are used by organisms to build shells and are eventually buried in the sand. In this way, chemical weathering draws carbon from the atmosphere and returns it to the earth over a period of hundreds of thousands of years. Areas such as Shore Road are critically important in providing an array of benefits to mankind. Their preservation is essential to ensuring that we have clean, safe water for ourselves and for other species with whom we share the planet. They also play a major role in effectively responding to and reversing anthropogenic climate change. The next time you visit Shore Road, you may decide to think about it differently.
Water Quality Improvement Program Update
In November, a Sea Cliff resident successfully installed Nassau County’s first ever nitrogen-removing clean water septic system. After Hurricane Ida flooded this homeowner’s basement and collapsed the cesspool, he began research on how to upgrade to a clean water septic system. The homeowner applied for and was awarded grants from both Nassau County and New York State to supplement the acquisition and installation of the new system. When all was said and done, the homeowner paid significantly less for a clean water septic system than he would have paid for a conventional cesspool and septic tank. It was a win-win for the homeowner’s wallet and Nassau’s water quality. For decades, the North Shore of Nassau County has been plagued by harmful algal blooms, dense invasive seaweed, fish kills and beach closures. These problems are the result of nitrogen filled wastewater leaking from septic tanks and cesspools into our waters. To reduce nitrogen levels to comply with EPA guidelines, the North Shore must upgrade more than 20,000 septic systems with clean water technology. In addition to reducing nitrogen in our bays, beaches and harbors, it is critical that we treat septic wastewater before it contaminates our drinking water. Our community sits directly above the Oyster Bay Special Groundwater Protection Area, where fresh water replenishes a deep recharge aquifer. Any untreated wastewater that flows into the aquifer will eventually make its way into our drinking water. But there’s good news! – It’s a fixable problem if we act now. Clean water septic systems, which can remove more than 70% of nitrogen from wastewater, convert toxic liquid wastewater into a harmless gas by harnessing natural processes. As of May 2021, Nassau County homeowners and small business owners became eligible for grant funding from the Soil and Water Conservation District’s SEPTIC program. It can cover up to 90% of the cost to install. Of the 200 available spots, more than 115 applications have been received and 20 clean water septic tanks are on their way to being installed. With support from the Land Alliance’s Water Quality Improvement Program (WQIP), Nassau SEPTIC successfully secured an additional $2 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan, bringing the total SEPTIC grant to $20,000 per applicant. If you are interested in applying for a clean water septic grant, please reach out to our WQIP Coordinator Kat Coughlin. She can assist you with every step of the application and permitting process (free of charge). Our WQIP was designed to improve local water quality. To do so, we need to reduce the source of the nitrogen that is polluting our waters. Thanks to the leadership of The Nature Conservancy and funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation, we have the capacity to help homeowners and small business owners move through the process as quickly and easily as possible. Nitrogen pollution in our waterways is a problem we can fix. Converting conventional septic systems to clean-water models is a critical step. Working together, we can restore and protect Long Island’s waters. Our future depends on it. For more information on how you can get involved Go to www.upgradeyourseptic.org or call the Land Alliance at 516-922-1028.
- Recycling Matters
- Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act Signed Into Law
- Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation Grant for the Historic Tavern House
- North Shore Land Alliance Protects Water with Hydro-Action Clean Water Septic Technology
- Conservation Easements 101
- Long Island Water Quality Update
- Preview our 2023 Walks in the Woods
- Williams Preserve Progress
- Beech Leaf Disease: Search For a Treatment
- Seed Collecting at Humes Preserve with North Country Garden Club