South Shore Tidal Wetlands BCA Management Guidance Summary
Site Name: South Shore Tidal Wetlands Bird Conservation Area
State Ownership and Managing Agency: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Location: Nassau and Suffolk Counties; State Tidal Wetlands parcels located in the South Shore Estuary area of Long Island. These parcels are: Inwood, Lido, Babylon Islands, Isbrandtsen, Timber Point, Pickman-Remmer, Pepperidge Hall, Ludlow Creek, Benton Bay, Brown's River, Namkee Creek, Stillman Creek, Lyman Marsh, Bellport Bay Marsh, Fireplace Neck, John's Neck, Tuthill Cove, Haven's Point, Moneybogue, Quantuck, and Shinnecock State Tidal Wetlands.
Size of Area: 1377 acres
General Site Information: This BCA is comprised of tidal salt marshes with areas of associated upland habitat as well as open water in the form of creeks, channels and ditches, located on the bays of the south shore of Long Island. The habitat ranges from open water and tidal mud flats to Spartina marsh and dense upland forest. The marshes support a diverse mix of uncommon bird species such as seaside sparrow, saltmarsh sharp-tailed sparrow, clapper rail and northern harrier, while the uplands provide critical migration habitat for birds crossing the ocean and bays. The wetland habitats are threatened by erosion, invasive plant species and loss of tidal flow.
Vision Statement: Continue management activities to conserve the bird species and habitats in the area. Expand management to enhance bird populations where possible by restoring degraded habitats.
Key BCA Criteria: Waterfowl concentration site; Pelagic seabird site; Shorebird concentration site; Wading bird concentration site; Migratory concentration site; Diverse species concentration site; Individual species concentration site; Species at risk site (ECL §11-2001, 3.a,b,c,d,e,f,g and h.). Birds of interest include northern harrier (Threatened), common tern (Threatened), osprey (Special Concern), seaside sparrow (Special Concern), clapper rail and possibly short-eared owl (Endangered).
Critical Habitat Types: High and low saltmarsh with associated upland forest, old fields and tidal mudflat/open-water areas.
- Identify habitat management activities needed to maintain site as a BCA.
These habitats are threatened by increased invasion by Phragmites reed, loss of tidal flow, and rapid succession of old field areas. Restoring tidal flow and reducing encroachment by Phragmites will preserve the open marsh habitats valued by many of the marsh bird species. It is important that these marshes not become Phragmites monocultures. Many of these areas would be best served with a fringe of Phragmites as a buffer from erosion and runoff, while still supporting a solid core area of healthy Spartina marsh habitat.
- Identify seasonal sensitivities; adjust routine operations accordingly.
Habitat management activities should take place outside of the breeding season to reduce risks of disturbing nesting birds.
- Identify state activities or operations which may pose a threat to the critical habitat types identified above; recommend alternatives to existing and future operations which may pose threats to those habitats.
Mosquito ditch maintenance and treatment activities by County Vector Control agencies could threaten the critical marsh habitats and disrupt nesting. See discussion under management and seasonal sensitivities.
- Identify any existing or potential use impacts; recommend new management strategies to address those impacts.
Public use of the areas should be monitored for excessive impacts on the upland and marsh habitats to reduce the risks of erosion. Tidal marsh areas are vulnerable to repeated trampling during the growing season. Public access trails should be limited to upland areas.
- Assess current access; recommend enhanced access, if feasible.
Access appears adequate at this time and increased access may have undesirable effects. The Unit Management Planning process will be addressing this issue.
- Determine education and outreach needs; recommend strategies and materials.
Coordinate education and protection efforts with efforts to protect other animal taxa and rare plants/communities. Develop a checklist of bird and animal species that are likely to be encountered at the sites and have it available to users.
- Identify research needs; prioritize and recommend specific projects or studies.
There is a need to monitor use of the site by breeding birds, wintering birds, and migrating birds; to determine the birds present, and identify proper management. Examine avian population responses to habitat management activities.
DEC Region 1 Biologist, 631-444-0305
DEC Bureau of Marine Habitat Protection, 631-444-0295
Andrle, R.F. and J.R. Carroll, eds. 1988. The Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.
Wells, J. V. 1998. Important Bird Areas in New York State. National Audubon Society, Albany, New York.
Date BCA Designated: 2/6/04
Date MGS Prepared: 12/11/03