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Flax Pond

Comment Period Begins for Draft Management Plan

A joint Department of Environmental Conservation and Stony Brook University team has drafted a unit management plan for the tidal wetland property known as Flax Pond on the north shore of Long Island. DEC is seeking public comment on this draft and will hold a public meeting in January to provide an opportunity for public comment.

Background

The Flax Pond tidal wetland property consists of 146.2 acres of tidal pond, marsh, beach and uplands located in the Incorporated Village of Old Field, Town of Brookhaven in Suffolk County. It lies on the north shore of Long Island between two rocky headlands, Crane Neck Point to the west and Old Field Point to the east. A 100-foot wide man-made inlet, stabilized by jetties, allows for tidal exchange of waters between Flax Pond and Long Island Sound. In 1965, the State University of New York (SUNY) and the New York State Conservation Department, predecessor of today's DEC, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly acquire the Flax Pond property for the perpetual use of the property by SUNY and the Conservation Department. Due to this partnership, Flax Pond is among the most heavily studied wetland complexes on Long Island, being utilized for studies relating to estuarine hydrology, nutrient cycling, sedimentation and salt marsh ecology. The property is administered and managed by DEC; SUNY operates a marine research lab on the property. Flax Pond Tidal Wetland is open to the public, however currently access is limited due to it's location in a residential community with street-side no-parking rules. Current uses of Flax Pond include boating, wildlife viewing, commercial and recreational fishing and shellfishing.

The property currently encompassing the Incorporated Village of Old Field was purchased from the Setalcott Indian tribe by a deed of confirmation bearing no date by Wyandanch, chief of the Montauketts, sometime before 1659 (Bayles, 1882). Historical records maintained by the Village of Old Field and the Town of Brookhaven indicate that Flax Pond, then called Fresh Pond, was used in the 18th Century as a commons for watering cattle and for retting flax. When the domestic flax market was no longer lucrative, it was decided to make the pond profitable as a shellfishing area. In 1803, an inlet was dug connecting the freshwater pond to Long Island Sound, creating the necessary conditions for the formation of a salt marsh. Oysters and clams soon colonized the marsh, and a profitable shellfishing industry began. In 1947, two stone jetties were constructed on either side of the inlet to stabilize the opening at its current location.

Draft Unit Management Plan

A draft Flax Pond Tidal Wetland Management Plan was prepared by a joint DEC/SBU (Stony Brook University) plan development team. The document presents an inventory of the natural, historic and cultural resources present at Flax Pond. The plan reviews current patterns of public uses, existing regulations governing public uses; identifies and assesses trends in resources and/or resource uses that might compromise resource values; sets out management goals and objectives for the property and recommended actions to achieve them. A public meeting will be held at the DEC Bureau of Marine Resources Headquarters, located at 205 Belle Mead Road, Suite #1, East Setauket, NY 11733 on Wednesday, January 16 from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Written and oral comments will be accepted both at the meeting, and by mail until January 31, 2008. Individuals who plan to attend the meeting are urged to supply comments in writing, if possible, since individual comments may be limited in order to ensure that all who wish to speak have an opportunity to be heard. Anyone wishing to comment on the draft plan should mail their comments to: NYSDEC Tidal Wetlands, Attn: Christ Arfsten, 50 Circle Road, Stony Brook New York 11790-3409. Comments can also be faxed to 631-444-0272.

DEC and Stony Brook University will evaluate and consider all comments received before finalizing the UMP and submitting it to the Commissioner of DEC and the President of Stony Brook University for approval.

Flax Pond Unit Management Plan (PDF, 917KB)