Posted by Admin on November 18, 2022
Our first order of business at the charming Williams Preserve in Lattingtown, donated by Mary and Tim Williams, was to mow the areas along the driveway to facilitate access for maintenance. We then conducted an initial clearing of what will become a tiny parking area, to be installed once we have secured local approval. Since our last newsletter we began the long process of tackling extensive growth of undesirable vegetation throughout the property. A large volume of vines and invasive shrubs has been cleared mechanically, rescuing a number of native trees and shrubs (including a statuesque oak leaf hydrangea) in the process. In addition, a wall that was part of a formal garden designed by Ferruccio Vitale was uncovered. Much of the remaining clearing needs to be done by hand to protect the native vegetation that remains and access hard to reach areas along sensitive slopes and pond and stream edges. Coincidentally, Ferrucio Vitale also designed the formal garden at the Rumpus House at the Humes property. Umberto Innocenti began his work as a landscape architect at the firm of Ferruccio Vitale and Alfred Geiffert, Jr. He left it in 1931 to start the firm of Innocenti & Webel which, over the following decades, became the preferred landscape architects for the Humes Estate. Since the initial clearing was completed, our dedicated volunteers have removed vines by hand from the countless mature, majestic trees that are found throughout the property. They are beginning to remove invasive shrubs and vines from along the creek that goes from the property boundary and under the driveway into the pond. The spring ephemeral trout lily was observed on the bank of the creek in the spring; we hope to find more of this and perhaps other spring ephemeral’s as the property’s restoration continues. The creek is also lined with native jewel weed, which supports hummingbirds, so we are excited to learn more about the wildlife here. A highlight of the work our workers and volunteers has done was the uncovering of a stone staircase installed decades ago to connect the future meadow at the top of the property to the pond below. While it will require a little “engineering” to fully make the connection and become safely navigable, it is a discovery we are very happy about! We are working to develop a phased habitat restoration plan that will map out several natural communities – meadow, grassland, freshwater pond, stream and woodland – with implementation to begin next spring. We welcome volunteers and look forward to the time when St. John’s Church parishioners and summer camp attendees can take a quiet stroll or eat a sandwich by the pond. With many thanks to the Williams family for their generous gift.
Posted by Admin on November 18, 2022
Last year Land Alliance stewardship staff began documenting a worrying condition at our preserves. We witnessed a distinctive striping pattern along the leaves of American beech trees. When standing under a tree and looking up at the leaves, we observed dark bands across them between leaf veins, sometimes alternating with the green leaf color. We had heard about Beech Leaf Disease (BLD); now we were finding it in our preserves – first in the Humes Stroll Garden, then in the Humes Preserve, Cushman Woods, Fox Hollow, Wawapek. And everywhere. Eventually those leaves curled up and dried out. What is Beech Leaf Disease and Its Impact BLD first documented in New York in 2018 and in Suffolk County in 2020, is caused by an exotic nematode (Litylenchus crenatae ssp.mccannii), a worm that feeds on beech leaves. The condition can cause tree mortality over time. Many of us are aware of the devastating impacts of American chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease on native tree populations, but few of us may have lived through the early stages of ravaging such majestic trees. To be experiencing a new disease whose impacts may wipe out entire populations of our cherished beeches – a dominant canopy species in so many of our Long Island woodlands – is sobering. The disease is a serious threat to imperiled community types found on the north shore of Long Island. There is no known treatment for it, but thankfully, research is underway to find one. Search for a Treatment The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) – Suffolk County and the Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center (LIHREC) recently submitted a new project proposal for a Forest Service Pesticide Impact Assessment Program (FSPIAP) grant. It would provide funding to conduct trials and evaluation of the effectiveness of several pesticides and a fertilizer over a three-year period. As one of three land trust cooperators (in addition to Peconic Land Trust and Henry L. Ferguson Land Trust) the Land Alliance would provide access to American beech populations at one or more of our nature preserves. Some promising results of trials of a phosphonate fertilizer have been documented. The trials were conducted on saplings by researchers in Ohio, where BLD symptoms were documented in 2018, and by Bartlett Research Labs of the fungicide Broadform to reduce nematode levels. There also have been successful trials. While Long Island is one of the worst hit areas of the State, given the disease’s recent appearance there has been little time to find a treatment here. CCE – Suffolk County and LIHREC set up monitoring stations in eastern Long Island in 2019 and in 2020 began trials of experimental pesticide treatments. Peconic Land Trust, with a grant through the New York State Conservation Partnership Program, began working with CCE to conduct trials of a fungicide and two insecticides earlier this year. The FSPIAP funding would be used to continue these research trials and launch additional trials of Broadform and the fertilizer used in Ohio at Henry L. Ferguson Land Trust and Land Alliance preserves. Data collection will be carried out according to the USDA Forest Service BLD long-term monitoring protocol. Visual observational data will be done in May and early September. Leaf samples from each of the treated trees will be collected in early fall for nematode extraction to gauge effectiveness of the pesticide treatments under the guidance of Margery Daughtrey of the LIHREC. Time is of the essence to find effective treatment of Beech Leaf Disease. The Land Alliance is cautiously hopeful that this important research will contribute to preserving beech trees, whether in New York or beyond our region. Many thanks to the DEC’s Jessica Cancilliere and CCE-Suffolk County’s Mina Vescera for submitting and sharing their grant application and to Margery Daughtrey for project coordination.
Posted by Admin on June 17, 2022
Mary and Tim Williams have donated their family’s beautiful 4.5-acre property located at 357 Lattingtown Road to the Land Alliance for use as a public preserve. This lovely place once hosted a grand house called the Dormer House. The house was designed by Theodate Pope Riddle, one of the first female architects in America. It was built in 1906 by Mrs. Charles Otis Gates, of the Royal Baking Powder fortune, and tragically was destroyed by fire in 2014. The landscape, which remains today, was designed by the famous landscape architect Ferruccio Vitale (who was also working on the Humes Estate at the time). The meadow is perched above a pond and overlooks the vicinity of St. John’s Church of Lattingtown. Deer paths can be found across the sloped woodland that separates the pond from the meadow. It is easy to envision a loop path that crosses the meadow, then enters the woodland with its diversity of majestic trees and leads to a bench offering a serene view of the pond. Another approach to the pond may be from the driveway, which feels like an old carriage road, in the lower part of the property. Such a path would make its way over a bridge crossing the stream and leading into the pond. A pondside bench or perhaps a bird blind would be welcome in this spot. A deliberately tiny and rustic but functional parking area will be installed at an open grassy area just west of the driveway as one enters the property. The Williams property is in the Frost Creek watershed, which is classified as a wetland suitable for fish, shellfish and wildlife propagation and survival. It is also part of a corridor of undeveloped land that includes the Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge, The Order of St Josaphat, Kate Trubee Davison Preserve and an adjoining 2-acre parcel donated to the Land Alliance by Miani Johnson in 2016. The conservation values of the property include Long Island Sound protection, groundwater protection, habitat for wildlife and pollinators as well as a recreational opportunity. Among the more noteworthy flora and fauna observations are a diversity of mature trees, including white oak, red oak, American sycamore, tulip and white pine. A spring ephemeral trout lily was observed by the stream this spring along with a variety of native plants such as azure bluet and great laurel. A number of warbler species (both breeding locally and spring migrants) were documented, as was a wood duck on the pond. We expect fox, opossum, bats and other mammals will also call this property home. We are grateful to the Williams family for this wonderful gift and look forward to inviting you to visit later this summer.
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