Western Long Island is not a place one would expect to find vast expanses of meadow habitat, so the passage up Fort Hill Drive in Lloyd Neck, which bisects Matheson Meadows, is an unexpected pleasure. In 1968, Mrs. Anna Matheson Wood, founder and an honorary member of the Three Harbors Garden Club, conveyed the meadows to The Nature Conservancy. A bronze plaque is left to show that the property is a gift from Mrs. Wood in memory of her father, William John Matheson, a scientist and conservationist who acquired the estate in 1900. Prior to 1968, the meadows were farmed for hay and agricultural crops. Horses grazed there until the 1970’s.
Perhaps Mrs. J. Hamilton Coulter said it best many decades ago, in recognition of Anna Matheson Wood’s decision to permanently protect a 38-acre tract of her property:
Here, only forty-five miles from one of the largest and most complex cities in the world, is the visible and tangible assurance that meadows may be allowed to exist, filled with tall and tawny grasses, horizoned with oak and elm, and patterned with ancient apple trees. Beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder; this landscape is a rare and lovely sight, but it is also a meaningful expression of a woman’s wise and generous wish to let Nature take its course. It is a permanent sanctuary where birds may come and go and return in confidence of safety and sustenance, where trees may endure for their own allotted time, and where small creatures of the woods and fields may work out their unmolested destinies. Ecologists and ornithologists will have opportunities to study a natural area, untouched by the aggressions of bulldozer and builder.
Mrs. Coulter’s exquisite tribute celebrates not only Matheson Meadows but many of the special places we are recognizing in this issue of Conservation News.
Today, the meadows are filled with a variety of grasses, wildflowers, birds and trees that make this property unique. This year the Land Alliance has taken on their stewardship and is beginning to get to know them a little better by conducting plot surveys to identify vegetation species and connecting with partners to find out what bird species are inhabiting the property these days.
We are continuing to have the meadows mowed annually, in large part thanks to the Friends of Matheson Meadows, led by Paul and Robin Vermylen. They, for many years, have raised funds to cover the notso insignificant cost of mowing such a large parcel. We are very grateful to the Vermylens for taking on this responsibility for so many years and for introducing us to the neighbors so we can carry on this important work.
Already this year, with the support of a generous neighbor, we’ve completed the initial mowing and path clearing. We have begun to remove invasive plants like the highly invasive Chinese silver grass, which will be replaced by a native grass species. We also hope to build a new path that provides better access for viewing bird boxes and expands options for walking.
Lastly, we have scheduled a September 29, 2019 bird walk, to be led by Stella Miller and Marty Wenz, open to the general public by advance registration. To register, visit our website at www.northshorelandalliance.org/events.
Thank you to Matheson Meadow Donors
Mr. and Mrs. Hans Bosch, Mr. and Mrs. Dustin Smith, Mr. and Mrs . Paul Vermylen (list in formation)