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Preservation chairman: Preserved lands must be open to public use

The Community Preservation Committee Advisory Board plans an aggressive effort to ensure the 360 acres of land preserved on Shelter Island is maintained in a way that truly opens it to public use.

While the committee lacked a quorum at Monday morning’s meeting, those members in attendance discussed what they hope will define their mission in the new year.

Chairman Gordon Gooding called on members to join him in inspecting sites on a regular basis to see that stewardship plans not only are in place, but are appropriate. There are cases where original stewardship plans were set, but may not be meeting current needs, he said.

He cited the Crab Creek Preserve, where a small trailer is parked on land that belongs to the town and Suffolk County and is meant for public hiking, not private business. The public land is strewn with masonry blocks and debris.

Mr. Gooding wants to inform those encroaching on public property in the hope they will comply willingly.

In other cases, some cleared trails have become grown over and need to be re-cleared. 

Mr. Gooding wants to ensure, he said, that each site is visited at least once every year by two committee members who can take photos and report back on what is needed at each site. He also is welcoming community members who hike any of the trails to report on issues they encounter.

Toward the end of the meeting, the committee heard from resident Nick Hamblet, who is a bird-watching aficionado. Mr. Hamblet wants to create signs at each preserved site listing birds he has seen and offering information about them and when they are most likely to be spotted.

Mr. Hamblet noted that he works for Cliff Clark at South Ferry and Mr. Clark would be willing to become involved in assisting efforts, offering equipment that could be borrowed to help clear trails, and perhaps more. Member Joe Denny, who leads the Shelter Island Trail Club, which has helped to clear miles of trails on the Island, promised to contact Mr. Clark.

Some preserved parcels need better markers to identify where trails are, Mr. Gooding said, since it’s important that property owners don’t find hikers walking through on their land.