Photos of the Long Island Sound

Issues & Actions

Stony Brook Harbor

Location: Stony Brook, NY

Anchor Site(s): Flax Pond State Tidal Wetlands and Laboratory and Long Beach

About the Site: This Stewardship Area is made up of two anchor sites, the Flax Pond State Tidal Wetlands and Laboratory and Long Beach. These sites provide over 1,000 acres of diverse wetland habitat for colonial waterbirds, fish, and horseshoe crabs. Visitors can swim, boat, and fish at Long Beach and other public access points in this Stewardship Area.

Ecological Importance

  • Flax Pond is designated as a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation area of “Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat.”
  • The extensive mud flats of Flax Pond that are visible at low tide are rich with marine invertebrates, including ribbed mussels and fiddler crabs.
  • The deep channels and wetland habitat of Flax Pond provide a home for many fish species, including American eel, Atlantic menhaden, and winter flounder.
  • Bird life is abundant in and around Flax Pond. Endangered bird species such as the short-eared owl and the pied-billed grebe and state threatened species such as the least tern, common tern, piping plover, and the red-shouldered hawk have been spotted at this Stewardship site.
  • This Stewardship Area provides and important spawning area for horseshoe crabs. Cornell University Cooperative Extension Marine Program and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation monitor horseshoe crabs at Flax Pond.

Recreational Opportunities

  • Swim at the beach, enjoy a day in the sunshine, or fish at Long Beach.  Bathing beaches, benches, a pavilion and refreshment stand, restrooms, and showers are all available.
  • Launch your boat or kayak at the Long Beach Town Marina or Otto Schubert Boat Ramp.
  • Catch fish, depending on the season,or view wildlife at Flax Pond. Note: A valid DEC managed lands access permit is required for all public users.

Dive Deeper

  • Virtual tour of Flax Pond
    This tour allows you to browse through photos that were taken at Flax Pond, courtesy of Sandy and Glenn Richard. Visit their photo albums for more images.
  • Management Plan for Flax Pond
    This 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.
  • Friends of Flax Pond
    This nonprofit group’s mission is to educate, promote stewardship and preserve the natural beauty, ecological significance and distinctive resources of Flax Pond and the surrounding coastal areas.
  • Diamondback Terrapin Videos                                                                                               Watch a diamondback terrapin laying its egg and digging its nest at West Mead Beach, a place to visit near the Stewardship sites.

Places to Visit

  • West Meadow Beach offers a walking trail, beach, and playground for visitors. Volunteer opportunities and educational programs for students and the community are also available.
  • Short beach  and Schubert’s Beach are located in the Town of Smithtown and offer opportunities to swim, camp, picnic, fish, and, play.
  • The Ward Melville Heritage Organization offers cultural and educational events about historic Stony Brook Village. Educational programs are also offered at their Marine Conservation Center at West Meadow Beach and during their Discovery Cruise boat tour which takes place from May to October each year, in and around Stony Brook’s wetlands.
  • The Stony Brook Grist Mill is a part of the National Register of Historic Places and was in regular use up until the 1940s. Ward Melville acquired the mill in 1947 and deeded it to his eponymous heritage organization that continues to operate it. The mill is open for guided tours on weekends from May to October, weather permitting.
  • The Long Island Museum is Long Island’s largest privately supported museum, and is accredited by the American Association of Museums for excellence in exhibitions and programs.

Get Involved/Events

  • Friends of Flax Pond always is looking for help with their beach cleanups, horseshoe crab spawning survey, and diamondback terrapin monitoring.

Field Notes

  • Flax Pond 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. A Village of Old Field permit is necessary to park in the Crane Neck Association parking lot on the west side of the property where one has access to the beach. The parking lot adjacent to the laboratory is open to the public, but is mainly used by SBU personnel stationed or working at the laboratory. A valid DEC managed lands access permit is required for all public users parking in this lot.
  • Flax Pond is closed to shellfishing.

Return to the main Stewardship page

Did You Know?

  • Originally Flax Pond was a fresh water pond and marsh, formed 20,000 years ago when the Wisconsinian glacier laid down the huge accumulation of soil, sand, and boulders that shape the North Shore of Long Island and the Harbor Hill Moraine.
  • Historical records indicate that Flax Pond, then called Fresh Pond, was used in the 18th Century as a commons for watering cattle and for retting flax.
  • In 1803, an inlet was dug connecting the freshwater pond to Long Island Sound because the flax production was no longer lucrative, creating a salt marsh and profitable shellfishing area.

Flax Pond Tidal Wetlands and Laboratory

Success Stories

West Meadow Plan to Remove Invasive
The West Meadow Beach peninsula located in Stony Brook, NY is one of the largest and most diverse coastal ecosystems on the north shore of Long Island. In 2006, an ecological resources survey was conducted that resulted in the identification of perennial pepperweed (Lapidium latifolium) growing at the site.

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