• Land Alliance and Adelphi CALIBER Students Team Up

    North Shore Land Alliance and Adelphi University’s largest community service organization, C.A.L.I.B.E.R. (Cause to Achieve Leadership Intelligence Brotherhood Excellence and Respect), are teaming up to raise $1,000 for tools for the Land Alliance’s Volunteers for Open Space Program. The Volunteers Program was established in 2008 to help advance our local conservation work and educational activities. Since then, we have engaged more than 2000 individuals to help protect and preserve our environment and steward hundreds of acres of land while providing meaningful, hands-on educational experiences.  C.A.L.I.B.E.R.’s donation will enhance our volunteers’ stewardship efforts, community outreach and education programs. C.A.L.I.B.E.R. has participated in several community service opportunities throughout Long Island, with partners as diverse as the Ronald McDonald House, Holly Patterson Nursing Home and Relay for Life. Established at Adelphi in 1985, C.A.L.I.B.E.R. provides its members with opportunities to grow as individuals and leaders, working with communities as a unified group, unlocking the full potential of both members and those they serve. North Shore Land Alliance volunteers participate in a diverse array of opportunities to match their varied interests. We welcome volunteers of all ages, skill levels and backgrounds and offer a wide range of conservation-focused activities at our nature preserves, in the office and at events. Volunteering with North Shore Land Alliance allows you to connect to your environment and community, making it a better place. Partnerships with organizations like C.A.L.I.B.E.R. continue to advance our mission, while connecting volunteers to nature.


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  • Coming Soon – Humes Preserve, Mill Neck

    The North Shore Land Alliance purchased the Humes Estate (28 acres) from the Humes Family for conservation purposes on July 10, 2015. Two years later we purchased the adjoining Humes Japanese Stroll Garden (7-acres) and Smithers connector parcel (7 acres). The Estate property had been severely neglected for many years prior to our acquisition. It included eight structures in various stages of disrepair, a central meadow which had been used as a public dump (for a decade) and eight underground oil storage tanks that required removal! The purchase price was $5.2 Million, and the Land Alliance needed to borrow $4 Million to close the deal. At this point, some might have questioned why we took on this challenge. Five years later, thanks to the help of many (and a few complicated transactions), the Land Alliance retired its Humes debt in January 2020. With that behind us, we have begun to make the long-awaited improvements necessary to open the Humes property to the public. In this instance, foresight has paid off and things are coming together beautifully. The Land Alliance hopes the Humes Preserve will become an integral part of our community – a place where people can watch birds, observe native plants, hike woodland trails or sit on a bench by the meadow watching the grasses bend in the wind. We see this as a place where a growing family can push a stroller, a young child can safely learn to ride a bike or climb on a log and feel joy when a chipmunk pops out to say hello. We hope this will be a place where people can connect with the wonders of nature while appreciating the richness of the past and working together to build a better future. The Humes Preserve is not intended to have the manicured perfection of Planting Fields or Old Westbury Gardens, nor will it have the undisturbed nature present in Shu Swamp. It is more of an in-between place – a place where people meet nature! On one end of the preserve, one can experience the culture and formality of the Humes Japanese Stroll Garden. From there you can connect to a trail which will take you through the woods to the wonders of Shu Swamp and extends all the way to Upper Francis Pond. If you veer right, you will pass the outdoor exercise area, cross the child-friendly interior road and end up in the newly restored meadow. The possibilities are endless! While we will have to get back to you as to an exact date for opening (pending Mill Neck Village approval), we hope to welcome you later this summer. Only then will you understand why it was so important to protect this wonderful place. While taking on the debt took some courage, the conservation value of the land, then and now, was just too great to risk losing it to development. Those values included: Connectivity: With its location between Shu Swamp, Upper and Lower Francis Ponds and adjoining 15-acre Nassau County property, the Estate created an important open space corridor on the North Shore of Long Island, totaling nearly 150 contiguous acres. Water Quality: The Humes property is referenced as a priority parcel in the 2009 and 2014 New York State Open Space Conservation Plans. It is a Class I freshwater wetland area and falls within the Town of Oyster Bay’s Special Groundwater Protection Area. It also is a United States Geological Service designated watershed and in FEMA’s 100-year flood zone. Scenic and Habitat Value: The Humes property is comprised of beautiful sloping land, specimen trees, historic buildings and garden remnants. It has the potential for a series of scenic hiking trails. It will provide community access (including disability access) to a valuable natural area that has not been previously available to the public. It also is home to noteworthy flora and fauna, including regionally rare plant species. In addition, it provides an area for species adaptation as sea level rises. Historic Significance: The Humes Estate is part of a historic 1650 border treaty, which created the boundary between the Dutch to the west and the English to the east. The evolution of the property paralleled the development of the North Shore from its earliest days as a home to the Matinecock tribe, followed by farmers and finally, the country estate of former U.S. Ambassador to Austria, John P. Humes, Sr. and his prominent wife Dr. Jean Schmidlapp-Humes.


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  • 10 Land Alliance Preserves to Visit

    During these uncertain times, nature can help us slow down and recharge. In fact, the latest research suggests that spending time in nature reduces stress and anxiety.  The Land Alliance currently owns or helps maintain ten preserves open to the public. These properties boast intricate trail systems, diverse ecological communities like salt marshes, wetlands and meadows, and are home to an array of native animal and plant species (some of which are estimated to be over 1,000 years old). Cushman Woods – 28 acres, South end of Still Road, Matinecock (south of Duck Pond Road) Beautiful yellow trout lilies are among the many native plant species that are blooming at the 28-acre Cushman Woods. According to the latest research, the average age of a trout lily colony can be up to 150 years old. They potentially can be over 1,000 years old in undisturbed forests. The trail system at Cushman Woods is the largest of all the North Shore Land Alliance preserves. It boasts several restored carriage trails that were once used for fox hunting. In the 1920s, the property was part of the estate of Paul Cravath, a prominent Manhattan lawyer and partner of the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore. It was purchased by the Land Alliance with the invaluable support of Verena and Roderick H. Cushman in 2016.  There is a small parking area at the entrance to the preserve. Hope Goddard Iselin Preserve – 42 acres, Chicken Valley Road, Upper Brookville The Hope Goddard Iselin Preserve is home to beautiful sugar maples (the New York State tree), a colorful meadow and white pine forest. Red fox, box turtles, Eastern screech owls and red-tailed hawks are just a sampling of the animals that inhabit there. The preserve used to contain two fields, a portion of which remains, that were farmed by the Youngs family. Farming there was discontinued in the 1960s due to lack of irrigation. Who is Hope Goddard Iselin? Mrs. Iselin was an American heiress, sportswoman and conservationist who, in 1931, gave the Village of Upper Brookville its name. The 42-acre preserve was named after Mrs. Iselin as it used to be part of her exquisite 160-acre estate, Wolver Hollow, which was built by her and her husband in 1914.  The preserve contains a one-mile interpretive trail and parking for four to five cars. Cordelia H. Cushman Preserve – 15 acres, Southside of Route 25A across from Yellow Cote Road, Oyster Bay Cove A dozen native plant species protected by New York State make their home at the 15-acre Cordelia H. Cushman Preserve. There you may spot lovely pink lady’s slipper, spotted wintergreen or dwarf rattlesnake plantain (a low-growing wildflower). Protecting native plants is crucial because they are the foundation of healthy wild ecosystems. Over 100 years ago, part of the Cushman property was used to raise racing horses. The land was acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Cushman in the 1930s. In 1973, their son Roderick Cushman donated 15 acres to The Nature Conservancy (TNC). TNC has since donated the property to the Land Alliance. The woodland there has not been forested for generations. Trails follow a nice short loop, with moderate elevation. There is a tiny parking area, which can be accessed off Route 25A. Shore Road Sanctuary – 8 acres 95 Shore Road, Cold Spring Harbor A thriving grassland, saltwater marsh, beach and wet meadow comprise the eight acres that is Shore Road Sanctuary. These diverse ecological communities attract and support countless wildlife and native plants, including a variety of birds, butterflies, horseshoe crabs, warm-season grasses, sea lavender and more. The preserve did not always look this way. It was operated as a petroleum fuel distribution terminal from 1924-2003! ExxonMobil completed the removal of the storage tanks and buildings from the harbor-front property in 2010 and soil remediation followed. The property was donated to the Land Alliance in 2012. The preserve, which contains a small parking area, lies within a New York State-designated Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat and National Audubon Society-designated Important Bird Area. The loop trail that winds through the grassland is enhanced by educational signage. John P. Humes Japanese Stroll Garden – 7 acres, Dogwood Lane, Mill Neck This unique and historic 7-acre gem of landscape design and woodland is home to an impressive collection of North American and Asian plants that constitute a beautiful Japanese landscape. They impart a meditative experience. Take a stroll down the stepping-stone path and you’ll see bamboo groves, Japanese cedars, Yakushima rhododendron, a koi pond and an authentic Japanese teahouse. The Garden was created by Ambassador and Mrs. John P. Humes following a visit to Japan in 1960. They hired Japanese-American landscape designer Douglas DeFay and his wife, Joni, to design the garden on their Mill Neck estate. The Land Alliance purchased the property in 2017 for conservation purposes. The acquisition of this parcel completes a conservation corridor that stretches over 150 acres in the middle of the Beaver Brook watershed. It effectively links the Stroll Garden and larger Humes property (also owned by the Land Alliance) to Shu Swamp and the two Francis ponds. Corridors like these are crucial for movement of wildlife, as they prevent inbreeding or reduced genetic diversity. The garden opened in May this year for the season. For more information, please visit our website at www.northshorelandalliance.org. Red Cote Preserve – 30 acres, Yellow Cote Road off Route 25A, Oyster Bay Cove This 30-acre property contains a spacious parking area. It boasts woodlands, scenic trails and two large wildflower meadows that seasonally burst with color and the hum of insects like the Monarch butterfly, (a species whose numbers have declined over 80 percent since 1990 and is now at risk of extinction). Meadows can be biodiversity hotspots, hosting scores of different species of wild flowers and/or grasses that support a myriad of insects, which in turn support many birds and other small animals. In addition, they capture vast amounts of carbon and help mitigate flooding by holding onto rainwater. Three Eastern red cedar trees that are estimated to have grown to nearly 70 feet in height can be found in the western meadow. These trees are native to Long Island and can live for over 1,500 years. Red Cote Preserve was used for farming for many decades. Aerial photographs from the 1920s show farm fields with narrow hedgerows of trees between them.   The North Shore Land Alliance manages this preserve under a stewardship agreement with Nassau County. Tiffany Creek Preserve – 200 acres, Sandy Hill Road at Berry Hill Road, Oyster Bay Cove A mix of ecological communities can be found on this spectacular 200-acre preserve, such as old growth woodlands and oak forest, extensive fields, freshwater wetlands and a large pond. The last of which was acquired by Nassau County with Environmental Bond Act funding. The preserve lies within the Oyster Bay Special Groundwater Protection Area, Nassau County’s largest SGPA. Protecting undeveloped land, whether at this preserve or at any of the Land Alliance preserves, is critical to protecting Long Island’s sole source aquifer. This large piece of property is surrounded by an additional 250 acres of privately protected lands, which enhance the conservation values found there. Nassau County acquired the parcels of land that makeup Tiffany Creek Preserve from the John M. Schiff family in 1992 with help from The Nature Conservancy.  The Land Alliance stewards 14 meadow acres of the preserve. Fox Hollow Preserve – 26 acres, Route 25A near White Oak Tree Road, Laurel Hollow This beautiful 26-acre preserve contains an unusual variety of distinct forest types that feature a diversity of oak, beech and other hardwoods; white pine woodland and shrub layers dominated by mountain laurel and maple-leaved viburnum. The diversity of trees and other plants attracts many different bird and other wildlife species to the preserve. Take a stroll there down the hilly trails, which contain some of the steepest sections of trail in Nassau County. Depending on the time of year, you could easily spot or hear great horned owls, red-bellied woodpeckers, a diversity of warblers and red-tailed hawks. Fox Hollow used to be part of a 1,000-acre farm. In the 1920s the field was planted with white pine trees and in the 1930s the site was turned into an equestrian center. Fox Hollow is part of the Route 25A Heritage Area and also located in a state-designated Special Groundwater Protection Area. Groundwater recharge occurs on Long Island when precipitation seeps into permeable ground and replenishes the underground aquifer, the sole source of Long Island’s drinking water. Protecting open space is critical for protecting drinking water. In 2012 The Nature Conservancy donated the preserve to the Land Alliance. Fox Hollow welcomes visitors arriving by foot. No designated parking is available at this preserve. You can walk or bike or park at the nearby Cushman Preserve. Wawapek – 32 acres, 3 Mowbray Lane, Cold Spring Harbor A thriving grassland, saltwater marsh, beach and wet meadow comprise the eight acres that is Shore Road Sanctuary. These diverse ecological communities attract and support countless wildlife and native plants, including a variety of birds, butterflies, horseshoe crabs, warm-season grasses, sea lavender and more. The preserve did not always look this way. It was operated as a petroleum fuel distribution terminal from 1924-2003! ExxonMobil completed the removal of the storage tanks and buildings from the harbor-front property in 2010 and soil remediation followed. The property was donated to the Land Alliance in 2012. The preserve, which contains a small parking area, lies within a New York State-designated Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat and National Audubon Society-designated Important Bird Area. The loop trail that winds through the grassland is enhanced by educational signage. Louis C. Clark Sanctuary – 8 acres, Valentines Lane near Longridge Lane, Old Brookville This eight-acre preserve is one of the Land Alliance’s most ecologically diverse preserves. It contains a mix of upland forest and freshwater wetlands, with trails traversing the narrow strip of woodland separating Valentines Lane from the wetland in the northern parcel. Over the past 130 years, the Long Island Sound area has lost 31 percent of its tidal wetlands (according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Despite tidal wetland legislation passed in the 1970s, wetland decline in Long Island Sound continues. Over 100 bird species make their home at this preserve and nearby James Preserve. According to the latest research, there are three billion fewer birds in North America than there were 50 years ago; protecting open spaces like these helps protect critical bird habitat. There are also several species of fish, frogs and turtles that inhabit the property. Prior to its protection, this land belonged to a larger parcel known as Valentines Farm. Louis C. Clark Sanctuary was donated by Frances S. Weeks to The Nature Conservancy in 1965 in memory of her son Louis Crawford Clark. TNC donated the property to the Land Alliance in 2012. Louis C. Clark Sanctuary has a tiny parking area and welcomes visitors arriving by foot.


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    Biodiversity in the Beaver Brook Watershed

    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.


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  • Benefits of Native Plants

    With warmer months finally settling in and more time spent at home, many of us have been planting. Have you considered native plants when making your choices? In the past, beautiful and hearty native plant options, especially Long Island species, were not readily available but that has changed. There are numerous benefits to having these species in your garden. : Native plant species attract and support native birds, pollinators and other wildlife. Douglas Tallamy, University of Delaware Professor, points out in his now infamous Bringing Nature Home, that a native oak tree can support 500 species of butterflies and moths. The caterpillars of these insects in turn provide a large volume of food for hungry chicks. Just think about it: a single nest of recently hatched chickadees will gobble up 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars while under their parents’ care. The juicy caterpillars (and many of the insects native plants support) are easy for adults to shove into nestlings mouths. It’s no wonder nearly all (call it 96%) terrestrial bird species depend on caterpillars as a major food source while nesting. And speaking of food for wildlife, an important part of garden maintenance is not removing seed heads on plants in fall/winter. They provide further sustenance for wildlife throughout the colder months until spring arrives. In addition to food, native plant species provide many more of the shelter resources our wildlife requires than non-natives. Long Island’s warm-season grasses, for example, often grow in bunches, leaving open areas among them so that ground-nesting birds can escape from predators. Conversely, non-native species can cause harm. Note the heartbreaking effect of invasive black swallow-wort and pale swallow-wort on the Monarch butterfly. It is well known that Monarch butterfly eggs will hatch only from milkweed plants. When these butterflies instead lay eggs on swallow-wort, which are in the milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae) but native to Europe, the caterpillars will not eat them which results in wasted reproduction attempts that can cause a sink in Monarch populations. Swallow-wort can also outcompete the native milkweed. Planting natives in turn supports greater biodiversity and abundance of native wildlife. When buying, look for straight species (non-cultivars – missing the “name in quotes” following the species name). While some cultivars are bred for traits in ways that result in plants almost identical to the straight species (from a pollinator benefit perspective), many do not have the nutritional value non-cultivars do and some are even toxic to wildlife. Native species also tend to require less maintenance than their non-native counterparts. Once established, native plants generally do not need regular (if any) watering. Natives do not rely on use of fertilizers and pesticides to thrive. A reduction in phosphorus and nitrogen found in fertilizers means less algae-producing runoff into our waterbodies. Native plants, in addition, do not require mowing as lawns do. Substituting native plants for part of your lawn, then, will yield more food and shelter for wildlife while decreasing water use and contamination of our water resources. And if it’s only the bottom line that counts (though we know that for readers of Conservation News this is not the case!), keep in mind that maintaining a wetland or native grassland costs a fraction (about 15% over 20 years, according to one study by Applied Ecological Services) of lawn maintenance costs.  


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