Edith G. Read and Marshlands

Location

Rye, NY

Anchor Site(s)

Marshlands Conservancy, Edith G. Read, and Rye Playland Park

About the Sites

Marshlands Conservancy is a 151-acre wildlife sanctuary with both ecological and cultural value. The sanctuary encompasses the largest tidal marsh system in Westchester County. Its five distinct habitat types (meadow, forest, salt marsh, shore, and ponds) are a haven for hundreds of species of birds, which is why it is designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. The setting is also popular as a quiet getaway from the surrounding suburban setting. The Marshlands site is part of the Boston Port Road National Historic Landmark District, which includes the 1838 Peter Augustus Jay House, part of the estate of Founding Father John Jay. Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary is a 179-acre park that supports thousands of migrant and wintering shorebirds and is recognized by the National Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area. Its miles of trails provide excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing and fishing, and the many environmental programs at Read and Marshlands alike are educational for the whole family. Additionally, the adjacent Rye Playland Park is one of the only government-owned amusement parks in the state and is an exciting venue for a family excursion.

Near the sites, the City of Rye and environmental groups have further protected the ecological resources in the area and enhanced recreational opportunities with the acquisition of the one-acre Bird Homestead along the Blind Brook. The Long Island Sound Futures Fund assisted in the acquisition.

Ecological Importance
  • Marshlands Conservancy includes the largest tidal marsh system in Westchester County.
  • The distinct gradient of ecosystems within Marshlands Conservancy supports a variety of wildlife and is a valuable educational tool.
  • Marshlands and Edith G. Read are Audubon-designated Important Bird Areas and support thousands of migrant and wintering birds, including sightings of rare species such as wood sandpiper, black rail, little gull, sedge wren, and yellow-headed blackbird. Read supports eight to 10 percent of the State’s population of greater scaup.
  • Both Edith G. Read and Marshlands are important sites for scientific research
  • Since the Long Island Sound Habitat Restoration Initiative began in 1998, Edith G. Read has been the site of five habitat restoration projects (see Dive Deeper).
Recreational Opportunities
  • Explore three miles of hiking trails through Marshlands Conservancy, weaving through different ecosystems and with views of the Sound and harbor.
  • Take advantage of educational programs for families and students at Marshlands Conservancy and Edith G. Read.
  • Rye Playland Park features year-round entertainment for the whole family, including the famous Dragon Coaster and Ice Casino.
Dive Deeper
  • Westchester County Completed Habitat Restoration Projects
    The webpage features descriptions of 35 restoration projects completed in the Long Island Sound watershed by Westchester County, including five at Edith G. Read. One of the standout projects at Read is at Manursing Lake where the installation of a new tidal gate improved the flow of saltwater, providing an essential ingredient in the restoration of more than 100 acres of tidal wetlands.
  • Friends of Marshlands
    The website for the official Marshlands Conservancy Friends group is the best place to learn about the sanctuary’s program offerings and ecological value. It describes the five distinct habitats that make up the Marshlands (complete with pictures), as well as a far-reaching historical background of the area and various recreational program offerings. [Note: The website seems to be down at the time of this edit, but you can find them in the listing for “Friends Groups” of Westchester County].
  • Friends of Read Wildlife Sanctuary
    Features a one-page trail map, calendar of upcoming events, photo gallery of the area in different seasons, ways to get involved as member and volunteer.
  • Audubon New York: Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary
    Audubon’s official web page for this Important Bird Area includes a site description and ornithological significance.
  • Friends of Rye Nature Center
    This organization provides an array of programs that are suited for participants from various age groups and abilities. They encourage environmental conservation in Rye, engage and educate the public, and offer a connection to nature.
Places to Visit
  • The Jay Heritage Center,  which includes the 1838 Peter Augustus house (son of Founding Father John Jay who grew up on the site) is adjacent to Marshlands.
  • Two historic 19th-century buildings near Marshlands, the Quaker Meeting House and the Bird Homestead, are owned by the city of Rye. Their protected status also helps to conserve an important salt marsh along the Blind Brook.
Get Involved/Events
  • The website for the Friends of Marshlands features fun opportunities to get involved as a volunteer as well as in many free and family-friendly programs offered almost every weekend of the year. The section on planning your visit is especially useful for its description of the visitor’s center, hiking trails, and guidelines for an enjoyable visit.
  • Take photos within Marshlands Conservancy and submit them to its annual photo exhibit, featured in the Nature Center every fall. Or take pictures within the Read Sanctuary and submit them to be displayed on the Friends page!
Field Notes
  • Most of the trails in Marshlands Conservancy are accessible by wheelchair and stroller, and all are open year-round from dawn until dusk.
  • Pets, bicycles, swimming, and fishing are not permitted at these sites. Check the Friends of Marshlands website for other restrictions before visiting.

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