Friday, 09 July 2010 00:00
Walk a short distance up Sandy Hill Road from Oyster Bay High School to experience a taste of Oyster Bay’s past and present, complete with glamorous estates, horses, and natural treasures. Nassau County’s Tiffany Creek Preserve, long loved for its peaceful forested trails on 45 acres west of Sandy Hill Road, contains another 155 acres across the street. These parcels were acquired by the County, with help from The Nature Conservancy, in 1992, and are made up of old growth woodlands, extensive fields, a large freshwater pond, and freshwater wetlands. The Preserve, open to the public, is crisscrossed by winding paths that can carry a walker through and around all of these habitats and over hilly terrain, from the Preserve parking area just north of Berry Hill Road to Held Pond near Cove Road. Trails are maintained by Sagamore Farms and the Telephone Pioneers and denoted by round silver and blue hiker markers.
Strolling through some parts of the Preserve transports visitors back to the days of Long Island’s Gold Coast Era – they can still get a glimpse of majestic mansions, rambling paddocks, and grazing horses on neighboring estate parcels, Northwood and Cassini among them.
The site’s multitude of natural resource values provides enormous benefit to Oyster Bay’s human and non-human residents. It lies within Nassau County’s largest special groundwater protection area. Because Long Island residents rely on its sole source aquifer for their drinking water, preserving the open space that sits on top of it is critical to sustaining the first-rate water supply we enjoy. The Tiffany Creek Preserve, in addition, provides high-quality habitat for a diversity of plants and wildlife, including a number of imperiled species. Protection of open space here also helps preserve the quality of Oyster Bay Harbor, into which Tiffany Creek flows at Cove Neck, two miles from its source near Yellow Cote Road.
North Shore Land Alliance (NSLA) has been working for many years with partner organizations and private landowners to protect land in and around Tiffany Creek Preserve. Its Walks in the Woods have drawn numerous visitors to the site. On a recent Saturday morning, a couple dozen walkers experienced a portion of the Preserve many of them had not previously known was accessible to them. Led by local botanist and soil expert Richard Weir, they explored Held Pond, recently acquired by the County with funds from its 2006 Environmental Bond, and the northernmost part of the Preserve through an investigation of its plants. Participants were introduced to several native spring ephemerals, whose lovely flowers, they learned, are on display for only a fleeting period and whose numbers are jeopardized by aggressive exotic species. The walk was capped off by a guided tour of the house of Carol and Caroline DuBois, whose handsome home is next to the Preserve and whose property is preserved through a conservation easement NSLA holds. Keep your eyes open for future Walks in the Woods, which occur about 10 times per year, in lovely open spaces throughout the North Shore.
Contact NSLA at (516) 626-0908 or www.northshorelandalliance.org for information about the next one: at Upper Francis Pond in Mill Neck on Thursday, July 29, at 6:30 p.m.