• Long Island Water Quality Update

    The summer of 2022 felt like a long string of bad news. Scientists from SUNY Stony Brook published their 2022 assessment of water quality in Long Island’s estuaries in 2022. The news is not good. During the months of June through September, every major bay and estuary across Long Island experienced fish kills, algal blooms and oxygen-starved dead zones. Last year, Nassau County and the U.S. Geological Survey completed a Subwatershed study that analyzed surface and groundwater pollution with updated watersheds maps. The study found that excess nitrogen from outdated septic tanks and cesspools is the main cause of harmful algal blooms and fish kills in our bays and harbors. Nitrogen in household sewage seeps into groundwater and ultimately into bays, harbors and estuaries (or, in some cases, is directly discharged into surface waters). We are extremely concerned by septic system pollution, as we all sit on top of underground aquifers where fresh water replenishes into a deep recharge aquifer. Any untreated water that flows into the aquifer will eventually make its way into our drinking water. Based on the study, select subwatersheds on the north shore of Nassau County will need to reduce nitrogen by 60% to hit water quality goals. These much-needed nitrogen reductions can be achieved by upgrading 20,000 existing septic systems with clean water technology. Clean water septic systems convert nitrogen in wastewater into a harmless gas by harnessing natural processes. These systems are so effective they can remove up to 95% of nitrogen from wastewater when compared to conventional septic tanks. Removing excess nitrogen from the environment will help restore our commercial fishing, boating and recreation industries and improve drinking water for generations to come. If you would like to see clean water technology at work, stop by the Land Alliance’s new HQ where a Wastewater Works, Inc. system will be installed before year end. Upgrading your current septic system may be easier than you thought. In Nassau County, grants are available to cover up to 95% of the costs needed to upgrade septic tanks and cesspools with clean water septic systems. Through the Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District S.E.P.T.I.C. program, you may be eligible for as much as $20,000 to upgrade. For more information on eligibility requirements and how to apply, visit nassaucountyny.gov/SepticReplace. Community members who have already installed new clean water septic systems have good things to say. Liz Stanton of Bayville reports “Our system is better than we could have hoped, and we have peace of mind knowing we are doing our part in keeping Bayville’s water clean”. New 2022 map shows record number of fish kills, dead zones and toxic tides that intensified with the heat of summer

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  • Walks in the Woods

    Preview our 2023 Walks in the Woods

    2023 Walk in the Woods Preview Saturday, January 21st, 1:00 am – Sisters of St. Joseph Brentwood Led by Abby Bezrutczyk, Bill Jacobs and Melody Penny Join the Long Island Invasive Species Management area to learn about winter tree and shrub identification as we explore the diversity of both native and invasive plants along the property’s cosmic trail. Sunday, February 19th, 2:30 pm – Shore Road Sanctuary, Cold Spring Harbor Led by Gwen Ugan Don your citizen scientist hat and join Gwen the weekend of the Great Backyard Bird Count to survey winter waterfowl in Cold Spring Harbor. Saturday, March 25th, 11:00 am – Matheson Meadows, Lloyd Neck Led by Richard Weir and Lisa de Guzman Visit Matheson Meadows with a dynamic duo when you will find egg cases – first discovered here by Lisa – for an insect unusual in these parts. Richard, a marvelous teacher and expert horticulturist, will enlighten you about the Meadows’ diverse plant community. Saturday, April 29th, 9:30 am – Williams Preserve, Lattingtown Led by Peter Meleady and Jane Jackson Peter and Jane will lead a tour of our newest preserve – a charming 4.5-acre property consisting of mature native trees, emerging meadow and freshwater pond – and discussion of habitat restoration underway. Saturday, May 12th, 9:00 am – Sound View Dunes Park, Southold Led by John Turner Explore Sound View Dunes Park’s 57 acres of beach, dune, wetland and forest habitats with one of Long Island’s most loved and respected naturalists. The focus will be on birds during their spring migration. Friday, June 16th, 6:00 pm – Hofstra Arboretum, Hempstead Led by Mike Runkel Explore Hofstra University’s plant communities as Mike discusses how a warming climate plays into decisions about shifts in heat hardiness zones and what species to plant here on Long Island. Thursday, June 29th, 6:00 pm – Youngs Farm, Old Brookville Led by Tim Dooley As harvest time approaches, Tim will lead us on a tour of one of Nassau County’s most treasured family farms. Saturday, July 15th, 10:00 am – Quogue Wildlife Refuge, Quogue Led by Matt Kaelin Quogue Wildlife Refuge is home to all three types of carnivorous plants found on Long Island. Matt will introduce us to these and other curious species with a presentation on carnivorous plants and their habitats and a tour of the bog at the Refuge. Saturday, August 5th, 10:00 am – Hallock State Park, Riverhead Led by MaryLaura Lamont in partnership with Long Island Botanical Society MaryLaura will introduce us to the 18 species, some now rare, of native Long Island wildflowers planted in Hallock’s garden. They all attract a huge variety of pollinating bees, butterflies and other insects. We will then stroll to the Sound for a look at beach and cliff plants. $8.00 parking fee Tuesday, August 29th, 7:00 pm – Humes Preserve, Mill Neck Led by Peter Martin When the full moon is nigh, Peter will lead an exploration across Humes’s meadow when we may find migrating birds, crepuscular and nocturnal mammals and who knows what else? Saturday, September 23rd, 6:00 pm – Wawapek, Cold Spring Harbor Led by Meghan Leverock Meghan who manages the property, will tour its habitat restoration and formal garden and then lead us through the preserve’s woodland. The tour will end at our newly installed Ralf Lange Garden and restored greenhouse. Saturday, October 7th, 9:00 am – Laurel Hill Farms, Cove Neck Led by Enrico Nardone, in partnership with Seatuck Environmental Association Join Seatuck’s Enrico (and friends!) for a walk at Laurel Hill Farms, which includes some of the best North Shore deciduous forest in Nassau County. The changing foliage of early autumn and the fall bird migration should provide plenty of interest, and the topography will ensure some exercise! Saturday, November 18th, 11:00 am – Muttontown Preserve, East Norwich Led by Glen Malings Afraid you’re relying too much on GPS? Want to practice your map reading skills? Orienteering is like a treasure hunt in the woods using a map to find controls (box shaped flags) hanging from trees. We’ll give instruction and then you can go out alone or with friends. The course should take about an hour, if you don’t get lost. Events are subject to change.  Please check our website (www.northshorelandalliance.org/events) for updates.

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  • Williams Preserve, Lattingtown

    Williams Preserve Progress

    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.

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  • Beech Leaf Disease

    Beech Leaf Disease: Search For a Treatment

    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.

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  • Seed Collecting at Humes Preserve with North Country Garden Club

    by special guest authors Sealy Hopkinson and Melissa Worth, Chairs of the NCGC Horticulture and Conservation Committees Members of the Conservation and Horticulture Committees of the North Country Garden Club met with the Land Alliance’s Jane Jackson and Charlotte Brennan on October 11th to collect seeds. This was part of the ongoing, multi-year project for NCGC’s Partners for Plants (P4P) project funded by The Garden Club of America (GCA). NCGC was awarded this grant in late spring of 2020 to support the revitalization of the Humes meadow in Mill Neck. The Land Alliance, in partnership with the Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District and the local community, is in the process of restoring the meadow, (which was at one time farm fields). It is a central piece of the Humes Preserve, a critical part of the Beaver Brook corridor of 150 contiguous acres of protected open space. The particular focus of the P4P project was to remove invasives, closely monitor the effectiveness of the removal and restore native plants throughout the meadow’s four acres. The GCA’s P4P grant funded the hiring of a trained horticulturist, Penn Marchael, of Pennington Grey, who served as project manager of the restoration process. The project is now in its third year. Penn, together with accomplished Land Alliance staff and the help and support of NCGC, has succeeded in controlling invasives and transforming the property into a meadow filled with native grasses and wildflowers. It supports a broad variety of insects, together with migrating and local birds that rely on natives for their survival. As you can see from the photos, the wonderful collaboration between NCGC and the Land Alliance continues. Under Jane and Charlotte’s guidance on this beautiful October afternoon, NCGC members collected seeds from little bluestem, big bluestem, Indian Grass and purpletop grasses, along with several goldenrod species. The seeds will be dried and kept in cold storage by participating NCGC members in preparation for future propagation and reseeding. That will be in the spring of 2023, at the Nassau County Museum of Art William Cullen Bryant Preserve in Roslyn, which is developing its own meadow! It is a wonderful, ongoing project for North Country Garden Club.

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