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As you travel the pathways at this preserve, you will see field and forest ecology in action. Two former farm fields separated by a tangled hedgerow of trees and shrubs cover about half of the acreage.
The southern field is mowed periodically to maintain a perennial grassland ecosystem, while the other is being allowed to revert slowly back to forest. The rest of the land is richly wooded with white pines and a small area of beech trees in the southern portion of the preserve and oak forest north of the fields.
The peserve is dedicated to Hope Goddard Iselin, who devoted her 100 years to nature. The land was a gift to the Conservancy from Sidney A. Mitchell, Jr. and his sisters, Mary Dodderidge and Ann Payne. The North Shore Land Alliance has been a partner in helping with the mowing and tree removal.
The preserve is a wonderful place for hiking, birdwatching and observing the natural process of forest succession at work. The trails are open for hiking and observing nature from dawn to dusk.
If you live locally and are interested in becoming a preserve monitor or steward, please email Derek Rogers, at email@example.com.
In most of the Northeast, forests eventually reappear on land cleared for farming or by storms or other natural events in a process known as succession.
Young meadows are full of early annual wildflowers. In a few years, perennial grasses and wildflowers appear, then shrubby plants such as sumacs and red cedar begin to grow.
Many birds inhabit this “old field” environment and play an important role in dispersing seeds. Eventually, forest saplings begin to dot the field. You can see this stage of forest succession in the preserve’s northern field.The deciduous woodlands at Hope Goddard Iselin Preserve have been undisturbed for the past century and are now mature second-growth forest. Most of the shrubs in this forest belong to the health family, including blueberries, huckleberries and mountain laurels. Lady’s slipper orchids, spotted wintergreen and trailing arbutus are among the few plants that can grow in the acidic soil.
The preserve’s rich diversity of habitat supports a diverse assortment of small mammals and birds. Many birds relish the berries growing in the old field and hedgerows, including the wild grapes, which are also commonly sought by foxes. The oak woodland is full of migrating songbirds in spring and fall. The pine forest attracts a unique variety of birds, including black-capped chickadees year round and white-winged crossbills in winter.
This 42-acre preserve is located in Upper Brookville, Long Island, New York