• North Shore Land Alliance_2021 Fall Conservation news

    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!

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  • 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.

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  • Water Quality Improvement Program

    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.

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  • Protecting a Treasured Landscape: Seminary of the Immaculate Conception

    The Seminary of the Immaculate Conception is a beautiful and environmentally significant 200+- acre property in Lloyd Harbor. The Land Alliance, working with the Seminary’s Board, the Trust for Public Land, the Village of Lloyd Harbor, the Town of Huntington and New York State (and we hope others who will join later), has begun laying the groundwork for a conservation transaction that would protect the beautiful forests, fields and wetlands contained within the property. The Seminary is listed as a priority project in the New York State Open Space Plan and the Suffolk County Open Space Plan. It also was ranked #1 in priority by the Town of Huntington’s Environment and Open Space & Park Fund Review Advisory Committee. Its 150-acre forest and 40+ acres of open fields are like none other left in our North Shore community. This former estate was owned by Roland Ray Conklin, a descendant of John Conklin (who settled Huntington c. 1640). In 1913, Conklin and his wife Mary MacFadden built their grand home at Rosemary Farm, which was designed by William Eyre. Mary had been an opera singer and wanted to create the perfect place for entertaining their friends, who were leading actors, conductors and singers of the day. The estate grounds also included an Olmsted designed open-air-theater. In 1917, Conklin held the National Red Cross Pageant at the theater, which raised $50K and was considered among the most successful war benefits ever. The pageant consisted of episodes from the history of each of the Allied nations. The presentation of the case of each Ally before the bar of Truth, Justice, and Liberty was organized by actors and actresses of the American stage as their contribution to the American Red Cross. While the silent film is presumed lost, the cast included John, Lionel and Ethel Barrymore and Douglas Wood. In the 1920’s it became apparent that St. John’s Seminary in Brooklyn could no longer train all the Roman Catholic priests needed for parishes in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Brooklyn and Queens. Bishop Thomas E. Malloy decided that a new seminary should be built. In 1924, after Mary’s death, the Diocese of Brooklyn (which at that time served all Long Island) purchased Rosemary Farm. In 1930, amid the lush meadows and thick stands of trees, the Seminary was constructed. The Seminary took the form of a four-story, 320-room Mediterranean-style edifice filled with beautifully adorned chapels as well as a library, classrooms and accommodations for its students. For about 80 years, the Seminary served as the home and educational center of Seminarians pursuing their vocation to the priesthood. In 2012, the Diocese of Rockville Centre joined with the Archdiocese of New York and the Brooklyn Diocese to consolidate the location of priestly formation into one location, St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers. The Seminary, which has been governed by its own Board of Governors, took on its new mission of service to the Catholic Church and to the community. Now, the major retreat house for the Metropolitan area, it also is the scene of formation for the deacons of the diocese, for priestly conferences, interreligious meetings, courses for a master’s degree in theology and for the spiritual and social activities of the Friends of the Seminary. With funds raised from a conservation transaction, the Seminary Board intends to make repairs to the facility and continue its mission to provide theological education and formation through retreats and academic and pastoral conferences. The is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We must all dig deep and make every effort possible to ensure the permanent protection of this extraordinary, historically important property!

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  • What is 30×30? (Recently Renamed America the Beautiful)

    Until recently, the goal of conserving 30% of the world’s lands and oceans by 2030 was a concept circulating mostly within the scientific and conservation communities. In a 2018 article in Science Magazine, “Space for nature,” Jonathan Baillie (chief scientist at the National Geographic Society) and Ya-Ping Zhang (biologist with the Chinese Academy of Scientists) encouraged “governments to set minimum targets of 30% of the oceans and land protected by 2030, with a focus on areas of high biodiversity and/or productivity, and to aim to secure 50% by 2050.” While the international conservation community has promoted the concept of 30×30 for several years, Congress has only recently indicated its support. A 30×30 resolution was introduced in the US Senate in October 2019 by Sen. Tom Udall (NM). As Sen. Udall shared in an opinion piece in the High-Country News, “If we fail to enact the kind of bold conservation framework my father [former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall] envisioned, we will forever lose millions of plant and animal species — the biodiversity critical to our rich natural inheritance and fundamental to our own survival. We will lose not just our way of life, but the planet as we know it.” The language of the resolution he sponsored was simple and clear: “This resolution urges the federal government to establish a goal of conserving at least 30% of the land and 30% of the ocean within its territory by 2030.” A similar House resolution was introduced in February of 2020 sponsored by Rep. Debra Haaland (NM) (currently serving as US Secretary of Interior), but neither passed out of committee. In his first few days of office, President Biden, in an executive order, committed to 30×30 as an official policy of the US federal government. After years of research, scientists recognized that natural ecosystems are key to maintaining human prosperity in a warming world. Sir David Attenborough in his 2020 documentary, “A Life on Our Planet,” noted that “the loss of biodiversity and natural ecosystems and rising global temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions are inextricably intertwined issues.” In the Global Deal for Nature, a science-driven plan to protect biodiversity and address climate change, prominent scientists explained the link: “Intact forests sequester twice as much carbon as planted monocultures. These findings make forest conservation a critical approach to combat global warming. Because about two-thirds of all species on Earth are found in natural forests, maintaining intact forest is vital to prevent mass extinction. However, carbon sequestration and storage extend far beyond rainforests: peatlands, tundra, mangroves, and ancient grasslands are also important carbon storehouses and conserve distinct assemblages of plants and animals. Further, the importance of intact habitats extends to the freshwater and marine realms, with studies pointing to least disturbed wetlands and coastal habitats being superior in their ability to store carbon when compared with more disturbed sites.” Thus, the 30×30 plan offers two enormous benefits to humankind: carbon storage and sequestration to combat climate change and the protection of the planet’s incredible biodiversity. According to a United Nations biodiversity report released in 2019, one million species could face extinction soon unless bold action is taken right away. In an opinion piece in The New York Times, renowned author and biologist E.O. Wilson noted that protecting 30% of Earth’s habitats could save roughly 75% of its remaining species. The synergy is clear: sustaining global diversity can contribute to mitigating climate change. While the path to achieving 30×30 will be challenging, we know we need to get there, and we know that a coordinated effort that includes the following is essential: action at the federal level advancing conservation on private lands in key parts of the US understanding and coordinating state and tribal variations in legal and policy protection measures state involvement, particularly in marine conservation (due to significant gaps in federally managed coastal protections) We hope you will join us in doing our part to achieve this goal locally. 30×30 in Acres Approximately 60% of land in the continental US is in a “natural state,” however, every 30 seconds an amount equivalent to the size of a football field is lost (or 6,000 acres per day). Accomplishing the 30×30 goal will mean nearly tripling the 289 Million acres of US land that is currently protected. It is interesting to note that Alaska represents 150 Million of those already protected acres; if Alaska is excluded, the figure of land already protected drops from 12% to only 7%. 2040 Total Land Area of the 50 United States is 2.4 Billion acres (1.9 Billion acres in the continental US) * 59.9% of the land is owned by private landowners * 28.7% is owned by the federal government (640 Million acres) * 8.6% by state governments, 2.5% tribal authorities and .3% towns and local governments Farm, ranch and forest owners hold close to 95% of all privately held land. 80% of us live on 3% of US lands. In 2017, according to the Land Report, the 100 largest landowners had holdings of 40.2 Million acres, equivalent in area to all of the New England states except Vermont.

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