OLD FIELD, NY (Nov. 3, 2017) — A key piece of Long Island Sound coastal property saved from development by the Open Space Institute is now permanently protected and under the management of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). A priority acquisition under the state’s Open Space Conservation Plan, the property helps protect vulnerable coastal areas and rich ecosystems.
Permanent protection of the property was made possible through New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund which is an important source of funding for projects that protect the environment and enhance communities.
Previously slated to be developed into two large residences, the six-acre wooded property has 300 feet of frontage along the southeasterly shore of Flax Pond, opposite the pond’s outlet to the Long Island Sound. In January 2016, OSI purchased the property and began restoring the land — including the abatement and demolition of the asbestos-containing residence, and the removal and remediation of two underground oil tanks and an on-site septic system — to allow DEC to, ultimately, acquire the land.
“The permanent protection of this critical Long Island Sound coastal property shows the value of effective public-private partnerships in successful land conservation. This project not only preserves a fragile coastline in a high population area, but will also provide important recreational and learning opportunities for the community,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “OSI thanks Governor Cuomo and the state Legislature for their continuing support of land conservation through the Environmental Protection Fund; and DEC for its partnership in working to protect this critical shoreline property.”
“The use of funds from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund to purchase this valuable parcel is an example of New York’s continued commitment to protect our waterfront resources,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “While other government organizations are cutting back on their funding efforts to protect our environment, New York State is maintaining its status as an environmental leader.”
“The preservation of Long Island’s waterways is vital to protecting the way of life in this region and this collaborative effort between OSI and the DEC is a great step forward in those efforts,” said New York State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. “This year’s budget highlights our state’s record commitment to the protection of natural resources with $300 million for the EPF, and this land conservation deal clearly shows how important it is that we remain committed to that goal. I thank OSI and DEC for their efforts in bringing this important project to reality.”
“This acquisition of six acres of maritime forest fronting on Flax Pond is a strong statement of our state’s strong commitment to environmental protection,” said New York State Assemblyman and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright. “Added to the significant assemblage of state ownership in the Flax Pond State Tidal Wetland, this parcel will enhance efforts to protect the coastal salt marsh and uplands for water quality, wildlife habitats, scientific research and education, and nature enjoyment. Special thanks to the Open Space Institute for their assistance with both acquisition and restoration of this property.”
The property is an example of a mature maritime forest, a rare ecosystem in New York State. It includes several specimen-sized hickory, sassafras, and American holly trees. There is plentiful native wildlife such as deer, red fox, rabbits, and hawks. In the salt marsh and on the mud flats egrets and herons forage among an abundance of fish and shellfish.
The parcel will be added to the state’s adjacent Flax Pond State Tidal Wetland, a 146-acre facility which includes the majority of Flax Pond, the surrounding wetlands (128.2 acres), the adjacent upland (18 acres), and includes Childs Mansion and Flax Pond Marine Lab. DEC manages the acreage for habitat protection and enjoyment by the public while the university manages primarily for research and education.