The Land Alliance acquired the Humes property in Mill Neck on July 10, 2015. The property completes one of the most significant open space corridors on Long Island’s north shore, totaling 150 contiguous acres in the heart of the Beaver Brook watershed. Protection of corridors like Beaver Brook is critically important in the face of climate change, which, according to a recent Audubon report, is threatening nearly half of North America’s bird species by shrinking their current range.
The centerpiece of the Humes property’s open area is a 4.5-acre meadow that was a scary place a few short years ago. Teeming with porcelain-berry (and many other weeds which revealed themselves later), the “meadow”, with very few exceptions, had not been maintained for decades, instead serving as a dumping ground for logs and rubbish. As a result, invasive vines, shrubs and forbs had proliferated unchecked when, in 2016, we attempted some early steps toward its restoration; we launched more intensive efforts last year. Our long-term objective is to restore the site to a meadow that will support a rich biodiversity of native plants and wildlife. Over 100 bird species have been documented at the property over the last year, but the abundance of invasive vegetation in the meadow is limiting its value to birds and other wildlife. The Humes property has been included for a number of years in the Christmas Bird Count and bird walks led by Audubon, Scott Weidensaul and others due to its reputation as a hidden gem of a birding hotspot. Vegetation surveys have been carried out by our O’Neil Stewards since 2016; this data will serve as a measure of conversion from invasive plants to natives and help inform the success of our efforts to transition it into thriving habitat.
Following our acquisition of the property, we began hand clearing areas where logs and trash had been dumped, mowed a one-acre section, had a small crew of goats graze another section and cut porcelain-berry vines in the grazed area. But we realized we needed to take much more substantial steps and last year mowed 3.5 acres of mostly invasive vegetation and cleared rubbish debris. About half of this area was covered in mile-a-minute weed, which was mowed again in early summer. The balance of the cleared area was mowed in late summer, prior to an onsite consultation with Larry Weaner Associates, with whom we continue to work to shape an adaptive management strategy. We anticipate the project area will be ready for seeding native warm-season grasses in fall 2019. Grasses will provide coverage that will help with combating invasive plants as we move toward enhancing habitat with wildflowers in 2020/21.
In addition to Larry Weaner Associates, we are also grateful for support and guidance from:
Cornell Cooperative Extension, Sue Feustel, Al and Lois Lindberg,
Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District, Polly Weigand, Long Island Native Plant Initiative