Neighbors, Land Trust, Band Together to Preserve Southold Ecosystem

Pictured Above: Andrew (Andy) Duffy, Louise Harrison, Holly Sanford, Cassie Kanz, Isabelle Kanz, Phoebe Faint and Oliver Faint at the new Soundview Avenue Preserve

Land preservation on the East End often involves vast swaths of farmland undulating as far as the eye can see, with a price tag commiserate with the acreage. But the scale of preservation isn’t the only thing that matters. Magic can happen when a group of neighbors bands together to protect a special place they love.

Such was the case recently in along a stretch of Soundview Avenue in Peconic, where 25 neighbors recently banded together with the Peconic Land Trust to purchase a half-acre lot in the midst of a very special ecosystem, abutting three county parks.

“For several years, I’ve watched a For Sale sign on a piece of land containing freshwater wetlands. I knew I couldn’t protect it by myself. I was overjoyed when the Peconic Land Trust joined in with advice and much hard work, making this a community effort, and fulfilling my dream of preserving this precious wild environment,” said Isabelle Kanz, who served on the steering committee of a group of neighbors who worked with property owner Edith Cosban-Iserman to make the preservation a reality.

The acquisition was made possible not only by Ms. Cosban-Iserman’s interest in seeing a conservation outcome for the land, but by the dedication and financial support of more than 25 neighbors, who saw the opportunity to conserve this land for future generations. This includes a very active steering committee who worked with the Trust to make this project happen: Isabelle Kanz, Cassie Kanz, Louise Harrison, Andy Duffy and Mike Dukmejian.

The woodland property is located along a native forest corridor in Southold that connects three County Parks – Goldsmith’s Inlet, Soundview Dunes Park, and Peconic Dunes Park. The woodlands have a variety of plant species, including native wildflowers and Jack-in-the-pulpit as well as grasses, mosses and shrubs that create a healthy habitat. This property also provides important groundwater recharge for the sole source drinking water aquifer. 

This land is connected by natural plant life to maritime freshwater interdunal swales (a mosaic of wetlands that occur in low areas between dunes along the Atlantic coast). These maritime freshwater interdunal swales are listed as rare habitats by the New York Natural Heritage Program. This is a rare North Fork location to find this kind of ecosystem, which is more likely to be found on the South Fork.

“This parcel isn’t large, but it hosts a small freshwater wetland in a critically important forest corridor,” said community member, donor and conservation biologist Louise Harrison. “The corridor occupies an ancient dune system stretching east from Peconic on both sides of Soundview Avenue, through three protected areas – Goldsmith Inlet, Soundview Dunes, and Peconic Dunes County Parks. Within this system, interdunal blowout areas have become vernal pools, sphagnum bogs, shrub swamps, and red maple swamps, depending on elevation and exposure. The higher elevations host native forest communities and transitional zones anchoring deep, sandy soils. The overall ecosystem of the naturally forested dune crests and troughs is unique in Southold and deserves further protection. Thanks to alert and caring residents and a partnership with Peconic Land Trust, preservation of land in this critically important wildlife resource and groundwater protection area continues. Conservation easements on private property and additional land trust or public acquisitions could help protect the corridor in perpetuity. Residents can all get involved.”

This property was acquired on Tuesday, April 27, and will now be called Soundview Avenue Preserve.

“It was such a pleasure to work with a group of residents willing to collaborate on the hard work of research and fund raising in the shared goal of conservation,” said Peconic Land Trust Project Manager Holly Sanford. “Their community effort enabled the Trust to acquire and protect this land. The result, a beautiful ecologically sensitive woodland conserved in perpetuity for wildlife habitat and water quality.”

“It takes a community to make conservation possible, and this is a wonderful example about how a group of neighbors came together to protect land that provides not only a scenic vista but will contribute to the health of the aquifer. We thank all involved for stepping forward and making a difference!” said Peconic Land Trust President John v.H. Halsey.

East End Beacon

The East End Beacon is your guide to social and environmental issues, arts & culture on the East End of Long Island.

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