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Nurturing nature: Mildred Flower Hird Nature Preserve opens Friday

The Mildred Flower Hird Nature Preserve will be open for public enjoyment beginning with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, Nov. 22, at 1 p.m. on Manhanset Road.

Rain date is Sunday, Nov. 24.

Ms. Hird’s daughter, Esther Hunt, will cut the ribbon.

“This day is really all about Esther Hunt and her gracious giving to Shelter Island,” said Gordon Gooding, chair of the Shelter Island Community Preservation Advisory Board. “Without her commitment and desire to protect the family property from further development this acquisition would not have taken place.”

Two parcels of land, dubbed the East and West preserves, total over 30 acres of undeveloped old growth woodland in Dering Harbor. It extends from Manhanset Road on the west to Gardiner’s Bay Country Club on the north and Island Way on the east.

According to the stewardship management plan adopted in 2012, the estimated cost of maintaining the property for walking is $500. The plan stated that the parcel “will be left in its current state, to act as open space, habitat for animals and for storm water recharge.”

The properties had been in Ms. Hunt’s family for decades until she gave them to the town in 2001 and 2005.

“I named it for my mother,” Ms. Hunt said in an Island Profile earlier this year. “Not that she was a great naturalist and she certainly wasn’t a hiker. But she did care about nature.”

According to Mr. Gooding, the property will remain natural with paths cleared for hiking or for the public to take a stroll. No biking or building of any kind will be permitted. Action will also be taken to eliminate any invasive plants that are not native to the Island.

The preserve is a portion of over 300 acres on Shelter Island that the Community Preservation Fund is responsible for preserving.

Properties that lend themselves for public enjoyment are currently being identified with proper signage.

All residents are welcome to attend Friday’s opening, Mr. Gooding said. Representatives from The Village of Dering Harbor, Town of Shelter Island and Suffolk County Parks will also be in attendance.