As you follow the trail into the heart of the sanctuary, you will encounter a unique testament to Long Island’s glacial past. Eight to ten thousand years ago, when the last great ice sheet retreated, melted waters and strong winds carried the finest pulverized rock—sand—to this middle region of the Island
Here, the soil beneath your feet is pure, sugar-like sand that extends well below even the deepest tree roots. This sand is nutrient poor and acidic. Because rainfall drains quickly, it is also dry, and over the millennia has been regularly scorched by wildfires.
Although few plants can withstand such challenging conditions, the distinctive pine barrens community of pitch pines, scrubby oaks, blueberries and other acid-loving plants in the heath family flourish here.
The boundary ditches found in the sanctuary were used as surveying lines before the advent of surveying instruments. They were used by 18th-century settlers to mark property lines. Mrs. John G. Erhardt and her brother Charles J.R. David donated the sanctuary’s first 40 acres in 1964. Mrs. Erhardt gave additional land in 1968, 1969, 1975 and 1983. Daniel Davis Erhardt donated an additional parcel in 1988.