A Management Plan to Transform the de St. Aubin Property into the Lido Beach Passive Nature Area (rev. 5)

MICHAEL A. FARINA, Conservation Biologist, Town of Hempstead,

             Department of Conservation and Waterways, Point Lookout, NY 11569

WILLIAM OVERTON, Conservation Biologist, Town of Hempstead,

             Department of Conservation and Waterways, Point Lookout, NY 11569

ROBERT WENEGENOFSKY, Environmental Analyst, Town of Hempstead,

             Department of Conservation and Waterways, Point Lookout, NY 11569

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This management plan will discuss and identify prescriptions needed to transform a former illegal dumping ground and dirt bike track into a Passive Nature Area.  This process will take several years, ultimately leading to the return of indigenous plant and animal life.  As such, we feel it will have enormous value as both tidal wetland and as a passive interpretive site.

            To achieve this end result, debris will be removed in and around the upland zone while protecting any existing native plants.  Filled areas that are not presently vegetated will be graded and planted with appropriate wildlife friendly and native plants.  Due to the fact that the property borders Lido Blvd and a row of residential homes a six-foot high chain link fence with two gates will be installed. 

            A rudimentary trail system will be created for immediate public access to the site.  The trail will also lead to the Town of Hempstead West Marina to provide access to the public restrooms.  Signs will also be installed informing the public of the location of a public fishing pier and launching ramp located in the West Marina.

GOAL STATEMENT

Goal of our management program is to establish habitat conditions that will provide for native wildlife as well as a site for passive marine education.

ASSESSMENT

Before designing any management prescriptions, we sampled the de St. Aubin Property to determine the habitat suitability that presently exists.  We did an on site observation and accessed satellite images to determine ground cover and identify major habitat types within the de St. Aubin Property.  Approximately 29 acres of the property is tidal wetland and 10 acres of either fill or upland zone.  The construction on this property will be limited to fill areas and upland zone according to Title 6 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York 6 NYCRR PART 661.

The northern border of the fill zone, Appendix A, (K11-17) is composed of three primary species of plants: Bayberry Myrica pennsylvanica, Groundsel Baccharis halimifolia, and Poison Ivy Rhus radicans.  Throughout this border, the Common Reed Phragmites australis adds to the hedge, but is not a major factor.  Scattered within the vegetation are blackberry Rubus spp., pokeweed Phytolacca americana, and goldenrods Solidago spp.  This constitutes an ideal zone for resident birds and seasonal migrants providing both nesting cover and feeding areas. 

On the east side of the fill zone (K17, L17, K17) the primary plant species is Common reed, with poison ivy, Japanese bamboo Polygonum cuspidatum, Sumac Rhus spp., Black locust Robinia pseudoacacia, and Autumn Olive Elaeagnus umbellata.

The lower area west of the proposed parking area (L12, M12, L13, M13) is composed of Autumn Olive, Groundsel and Bayberry.  The low depressed paths crossing through the area feature dense blocks of Common reed and Japanese Bamboo.  The area has approximately a 600ft perimeter.

Blocks including trail 2 are made up of: Common reed, Groundsel, poison ivy and Bayberry averaging between 5 and 13 ft tall.  The packed down trail is primarily composed of sands.  In walking this path, it was determined that most the work that will be required will be the removal of debris, for example oil tanks, sinks, car tires, and heavy lumber from floating docks.  Chest high brush in blocks (M5, M4, M3) is made up of Marsh Elder Iva frutescens and common reed.  Evidence of active muskrat behavior was also observed.

Observations collected on 7 Nov 2001, includes birds observed and vegetation inventory.  This information can be seen in appendices E and F.

OBJECTIVES

            The follow are objectives set for a five-year plan for the monitoring and proper completion of this management plan.

At Year One

·        Install six-foot high chain link fence (black fabric) with two gates along Lido Boulevard. One gate for the entrance at the existing curb cut on the east side of the property to access a proposed parking area and one further to the west at an existing traffic signal to provide safe exit for the public heading to the east.

·        Remove all trash and debris from the upland fill area and the wrack line where the filled area meets the wetland area.

·        Remove all large debris from the proposed entrance road and parking area while protecting existing plants.

·        Level and grade all non-vegetated areas in the filled area. The area should then be seeded with upland grasses and enhanced with group plantings of native shrubs and trees.

·        Construct an entrance road and parking area from a natural stone mix or crushed shells.

·        There are presently two high areas of fill located at the east and west portions of the filled area. These areas will be increased in size to provide elevated overlooks for viewing the wetlands to the north and west and an existing pond to the east.  Level and grade exiting mogul field along north side of fill area and wood chip to provide a walking path between the two elevated overlooks and the parking field.  Selected areas of Common reed will be cleared along this path to provide additional vistas over the wetland area.

·        Low spots will be filled in the vegetated area on west side of the spoil area and enhanced with additional planting of native shrubs and trees.

·        Creation of a earth berm along Lido Boulevard. Berm will be seeded with native grasses and enhanced with trees and shrubs. The berm would provide additional buffer to the site and help eliminate road noise.

·        Clear and widen, in selected places, the existing trail west of the filled area. Remove all debris along this trail and fill low spots, which are presently mosquito-breeding locations.

·        Since installation of restrooms at the site would be extremely costly at this time, we will clear a trail along the fence line with signs directing visitors to the location of the public restrooms at the West Marina.

·        Install signs indicating the location of the public fishing pier and launch ramp at the West Marina.

At Year Three

·        The widening of an existing second trail extending west from the parking lot.

·        The placement of four interpretive boards depicting: general layout of preserve, common birds found in the pond at different seasons, plants of the salt marsh, and common birds and animals native to the salt marsh.

·        The placement of an osprey nest box at the North West corner of the property.

·        Distributions of 12 Tree swallow boxes throughout the property.

At Year Five

·        Construction of a third path, placed in the center raised upland portion of the area.  Along this path, three cutouts will allow viewing access of surrounding areas.

·        At the northern end of third path, and elevated platform will be constructed with two-mounted all-weather Mark II Automatic Focus Binoculars for increased viewing of tidal creeks, pools, osprey nest box and Renyolds Channel.

·        Installation of an interpretive board on the elevated platform explaining osprey nest boxes, tree swallow boxes, and greenhead fly boxes.

PRESCRIPTIONS

To accomplish each objective by their proposed completion dates, we need to undertake a series of activities.  Each activity will be categorized by the year.

 At Year One (Appendix B)

  1. Town personnel, upon purchase and delivery of supplies, will install the chain link fence.  The six-foot high fence will be place six inches back from the establish sidewalk.    Installation of a 534ft six-foot high chain link fence (black fabric) with two gates along Lido Boulevard.
    1. Main gateway (M13) will be created at the existing traffic signal, in front of the Malibu Town Park, to provide a safe entry and exit. The gate will have 2 lanes and be 60ft long. Roadway from gate to lot will be 247ft long. (Lat: 40.5921255009 Long: -73.5966255196)
    2. An entrance only gate (M17) will be placed at the existing curb cut on the east side of the property.  A second 60ft gate with a 129ft roadway will lead to the lot. (Lat: 40.5921347325 Long: -73.5951080600)
  2. The two roadways and parking lot will be graded with the use of town operated heavy equipment.  The soil compaction will be restricted to the historically filled zone to limit the ill effects to the surrounding fringe zone.  The construction of a porous 20 car parking lot with two connecting driveways leading to and for Lido Blvd.  107 ft x 64ft, 28 ft from sidewalk and 180ft from tidal wetland. (Lat: 40.5923058894 Long: -73.5957223941).  The two roadways and the parking lot will be finished either with natural stone and/or stone – shell blend. 
  3. The construction of a berm (M13, M14, M15) will extend from the south side of the parking lot to the fence line.  The berm will be 3 feet off the fence line to provide a mowing strip and 335ft x 17ft x 6ft, between the to gates.  The berm will be developed from the spoils from the parking lot and additional outside fill.  The berm will then be planted with native upland shrubs such as Bayberry, Myrica pennsylvanica, Seaside Rose, Rosa rugosa, Beach Plum, Prunus maritima.  The northern edge, between the berm and the parking lot, Pitch Pine, Pinus rigida will be planted roughly 8 ft apart.
  4. The rudimentary trail system (M13, L12, L11, K12, K13, K14, K15, K16) of approximately 900 feet will be constructed by the grading of the existing mogals from past dirt bike usage.  This operation will be carefully done with light tractors to minimize damage to the neighboring high marsh zone.  The spoils from this activity will be used to increase and define two overlooks at opposite ends of the trail. 
    1. Western earthen platform (L12) will be placed at the NW corner of the upland zone.  The structure will be a graduated to 8ft high taking up a 32ft x 97ft area. (Lat: 40.5927615797 Long: -73.5952227477).
    2. Eastern earthen platform (K16, 17)  will be placed at the NE corner of the upland zone.  The structure will be a graduated to 8ft high taking up an 88ft x 77ft area. (Lat: 40.5925816091 Long: -73.5970737841). 

The restroom trail (K17, J18, J19, J20, J21) will be created just east of the East Overlook.  A wooden stair structure will lead down from the overlook and connect to a trail of approximately 400 feet in length that will lead to the restrooms at the West Marina facility (I21).

  1. Poor draining area, 108ft x 60ft will be raised 3ft. (Lat: 40.5925213919 Long: -73.5965199288) with the spoils from the construction of the roadways and parking lot (L12, L13). This is a confirmed fresh water mosquito breeding area.  If more clean fill is needed, it will be trucked in from an authorized dealer.  The area will then be supplemented with Pitch Pine Pinus rigida to enhance the current native plant species.   
  2. Upland to fringe access graded slope of 15ft x 20ft (Lat: 40.5928353087 Long: -73.5954745670).  This will allow easy access to the fringe zone for cleaning and maintaining of the tidal wetland by authorized personnel.

At Year Three (Appendix C)

  1. The reconditioning of a second already existing trail (L11, L10, L9, L8, K7, K6, L5,M5, M4, M3, L3) located off the west side of the existing trail.  The trail will be widened to eight feet and approximately 900 feet long.  At the end of the path, an elevated platform 18ft wide x 12ft long x 5ft high complete with two benches.  This location provides an excellent vista. 
  2. Once the trail has been groomed to eight feet wide an effort will be initiated to clean debris from in and around the trail and adjoining tidal creeks; for example, tires, washed up lumber, drift debris, etc.  The process will be limited to the use of town Marsh Cat equipped with trailers along with light duty pickups.  This will limit any additionally disturbance of existing wildlife friendly plant species.
  3. Four interpretive boards will be developed and placed around trail 1.  The board topics are as followed:
    1. Descriptive location map, with the ability to be updated as the existing trails are added, 1 (L15).
    2. Plants of the zones of the salt marsh ecosystem, 4 (K17).
    3. Common Birds of the salt marsh, divided up into seasons showing common birds per season, 2 (L11).
    4. Animals of the salt marsh, describing animals that are easily visible from the main trail,3 (K15).
  4. Twelve tree swallow boxes will constructed from specified plans of existing successful swallow boxes within the town of Hempstead.  The boxes will be scattered throughout the property at random.
  5. Erection of an Osprey platform.

At Year Five (Appendix D)

  1. The third proposed trail (K7-C7) would be constructed along the central upland zone of the property.  The process will include the minimal use of heavy equipment to create an 8 ft wide trail.  The three cutouts before the end will approximately be 10x10 feet and spread 150 feet apart.  In these areas, benches made of recycled plastic will be used as rest areas. 
  2. As you continue down the trail you will end up in another 20x10 foot clearing with an elevated platform (C6, C7).  The platform will be 12 feet high and 10x10 ft in dimension.  When the platform is completed two all-weather Mark II Automatic Focus Binoculars will be acquired either with town funds or donations from local conservation groups.  They will then be mounted to the floor of the platform along with two benches.
  3. A fifth interpretive board will be added to the existing four.  It will be located on the elevated platform (C6, C7).  The information will include the following:
    1. Description and explanation of osprey platforms.
    2. Description and explanation tree swallows boxes.
    3. Description and explanation green head flytraps.

FEASIBILITY

With the full cooperation of the state of New York, the Town of Hempstead should realistically have no problem with funding and executing this management plan.

There are always questions concerning whether a plan can realistically accomplish the goals within the limits of land, funding and time. Plans always have uncertainties (assumptions) built into them. Plans also create conflicts of values because they define a desired endpoint, explicitly.

We are likely to be challenged on the values and the assumptions. Certainly we can claim some prerogative regarding values, but necessary public involvement dictates that we consider the interests of others.  The involvement of local conservation groups is vital to the overall community acceptance.  For example, the South Shore Audubon Society and the Long Island Chapter of the Sierra Club have in the past voiced their opinion regarding the town’s management of preserves and refuges.  To get them involved may in fact reduce some of the backlash from such groups.  Possible results from these “Roundtable” talks may elicit donations and contributions from these groups in order to sponsor certain projects within the plan in exchange for recognition on the property signage.  Involvement with the state by establishing a liaison, this will promote the ease of receiving the proper permits needed to complete this plan in the proposed time limit.

Ecologically, this will only benefit the habitat.  The initial removal of debris on the property will increase the productivity of this tidal wetland.  By increasing productivity, you’ll attract increased numbers of wildlife species.  The control of invasive plants such as common reed and Japanese bamboo will allow native plants to flourish thereby improving the habitat.

MONITORING

Some method is needed to keep track of whether our efforts are moving us toward the desired goal.  To do this, a yearly progress report will be issued to all participating parties involved.  Also during this time, an annual “Roundtable” meeting will be held to outline our progress and to address any concerns individuals may have.

INVOLVED AGENCIES  

 

Appendix

Site Grid

A

Year One Plan Map

B

Year Three Plan Map

C

Year Five Plan Map

D

Bird Lists

·        Observed Bird List, 7 Nov 2001

·        Possible Bird Migrants to Site

E

E.1

E.2

Plant Inventory

F

Full Environmental Assessment Form

G

Relative Location Map

H

Wetlands Topographic Map

I

Tidal Wetlands--Land Use Regulations

J

All-weather Mark II Automatic Focus Binoculars

K

___________________________

1 August 2003 rev.5

Michael A. Farina

Conservation Biologist

Town of Hempstead

Department of Conservation and Waterways

Point Lookout, NY 11569

516-766-1580; E-mail michael@farina.com

RH: Management Plan × Farina et al.