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Scallop Pond Preserve

Long Island, New York: Nature Preserve


Scallop Pond Preserve is one of the most pristine salt marshes left on eastern Long Island and part of the Sebonac Creek estuary.  The marshes and tidal flats are flooded twice daily by the tide and serve as a major spawning ground for shellfish and finfish, including scallops, winter flounder, summer flounder, menhaden, weakfish and scup. The preserve is also an important stopover point for migratory birds. In fact, it’s an important habitat for birds year round—144 different bird species have been recorded here.

Scallop Pond Preserve is an assemblage of six tracts donated by the Salm, Ramos, Johnson, and Greenfield families in the mid 1970s. Although Scallop Pond is one of Long Island’s least developed coastal wetlands, it has a long history of human use. The Sebonac Creek estuary was an important source of food for Native Americans and European colonists. By the 1790s, much of the forest in this area had been cut for houses and shipbuilding, and by the 1830s the estuary was being fished for menhaden.

By the 1880s, records show an annual harvest of oysters, scallops, quahogs, soft shell clams and eels. Sport hunting become widespread by 1900, and it wasn’t uncommon for a hunter to kill upwards of 300 scaup in a single day. These practices led to the quick extinction of birds such as the passenger pigeon, health hen, Eskimo curlew and Labrador duck.

 

The 3-plus miles of trails are open for hiking and observing nature from dawn to dusk.  Visitors are reminded not to walk in the fragile marsh habitat.

If you live locally and are interested in becoming a Preserve Monitor or Steward, please email Derek Rogers, at drogers@tnc.org.

Prepare for your visit by looking over our preserve guidelines

This preserve provides valuable nesting and feeding areas for a variety of birds, from American black duck and other waterfowl, to shorebirds such as least and common terns and piping plover. The pond is rich in wading birds, including American bittern, green heron, snowy egret and black-crowned night heron. Spring and fall brings neotropical migrants stopping to rest on their marathon journeys. The best place to observe birds is at the end of the dirt road off Scott Road (see the directions below).

From this vantage point it is also possible to look back on the tranquil wetlands and the labyrinth of tributaries that flood during each high tides. The vegetation that thrives here must be uniquely adapted to this cycle, and is comprised predominantly of salt marsh cordgrass, salt hay and salt grass. At the back of the marsh, saltwort, sea lavender, and salt marsh fleabane grow. Groundsel bush and marsh elder dominate the drier edges of the habitat, giving way to species such as bayberry and beach plum in the upland areas. No more than five of the preserve’s 55 acres can be categorized as upland woods. Several rare and threatened plant species are found in this coastal wetland complex, including salt marsh aster, marsh pink and the best example of slender blue flag in New York State.

This 55-acre preserve is located in North Sea, New York.

Directions
  • From Route 27 in Southampton, turn onto North Sea Road (County Road 39) heading north.
  • Turn left onto Millstone Brook Road.
  • Take a right onto Scott Road. 
  • Continue past Harris Road and Jennings Road on the right and take the next left.
  • Follow this dirt road to the end.
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