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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