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Hempstead Harbor


Hempstead, NY

Anchor Site(s)

Hempstead Harbor Park, Morgan Park, Tappen Beach, and Sands Point Preserve

About the Site

The Hempstead Harbor Stewardship Area consists of Hempstead Harbor Park, Morgan Memorial Park, Tappen Beach, and Sands Point Preserve. The Stewardship Area once served a massive sand and gravel-mining operation that began in the late 1800s. Glacial sand deposits were shipped to New York City for the construction of the growing urban infrastructure. Now, restoration efforts are taking place around the harbor to remove invasive species, improve water quality, and revive wetlands. Hempstead Harbor supports both commercial and recreational fishing with several boat launching spots around the harbor. Parks and nature preserves that line the harbor allow residents and visitors to explore the local waters, go for a walk on a nearby trail, and even bird-watch. Blueway trails have been designed for those who visit the harbor by kayak or canoe, and will be implemented soon.

Ecological Importance
  • Hempstead Harbor is designated as part of an Important Bird Area by Audubon New York. Depending on the season, hawks, falcons, osprey, sandpipers, plovers, herons, egrets, and waterfowl can be found around the Harbor.
  • Hempstead Harbor has also been designated by New York State as a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat Area. Nesting diamondback terrapins have been spotted in the lower harbor and, twice in recent years, pods of dolphins have visited the harbor.
  • The Sands Point Preserve consists of 216 acres of forest, meadow, beach, cliffs, and a freshwater pond that provide habitat for local flora and fauna.
  • Due to the efforts of many in reducing pollution and monitoring water quality, shellfish harvesting was re-opened in northern Hempstead Harbor in 2011 after being closed for more than 40 years.
  • Garvies Point Preserve includes 62 acres of glacial moraine covered by forests, thickets, and meadows. Wooded areas, which exhibit various stages of succession, contain sixty species of trees as well as numerous shrubs, vines, and wildflowers. High cliffs along the shoreline display erosional features such as alluvial fans, talus slopes, and slumping caused by ancient multicolored clays oozing from the beach.
  • In 1939, a Superfund Site located on Hempstead Harbor was used to store various waste hazardous products. Since 2003 NOAA has worked with the EPA and the Town of North Hempstead on cleaning up this site and restoring the wetlands of Hempstead Harbor. More information can be found here and here.
Recreational Opportunities
  • Swim, boat, or kayak at the public beaches and natural areas in Hempstead Harbor.
  • Visit the many beaches in Sea Cliff, one of the villages on the Harbor.
  • Enjoy North Hempstead Beach Park, a 34-acre park with a sandy beach, fishing pier, boat ramp, picnic area, and basketball courts.
  • Visit Tappen Beach Park, which features a public marina, swimming beach, playgrounds, and picnic areas on 25-acres of land.
  • Explore Sands Point Preserve, which exhibits natural and landscaped areas, with six trails traveling through woods, fields, and beaches around Long Island Sound.
  • Golf at Harbor Links, a publicly-owned championship golf course.
  • Hike or bike along 5-6 miles of trails within Hempstead Harbor woods, created by C.L.I.M.B. and the Town of North Hempstead.
Dive Deeper
  • Nonpoint Source Program Success Story
    Much work is being conducted to restore Hempstead Harbor and reduce nonpoint source pollutants that run into the Bay. The Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee has developed a Water Quality Improvement Plan to guide these efforts. Click here to see the plan.
  • The Blueway Trail
    The Blueway Trail is a proposed water path running from Hempstead Harbor to Manhasset Bay and Little Neck Bay which, once completed, will be ideal for kayakers. A second trail will connect to this and run to Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbors.  These trails will identify safe routes, interesting sights to see along the way as well as places to launch and stop for food or restrooms.
  • Scudder’s Pond
    Research about the water quality at Scudders Pond indicates it is the biggest polluter to Hempstead Harbor. A restoration project is currently underway to restore the pond and its infrastructure, remove invasive species, plant native vegetation and to limit future sediment build-up in the pond.
Places to Visit
  • Garvie’s Point Museum & Preserve sits on 62 acres on the east side of Hempstead Harbor and has five miles of trails that run through forests and meadows. Garvies Point in Glen Cove includes a museum as well as a preserve.  The museum is a center for research on Long Island geology and a valued resource in the study of the Island’s Native American archaeology. The adjoining preserve consists of 62 acres of glacial moraine covered by forests, thickets, and meadows.
  • Gerry Pond Park is located at the southern tip of Hempstead Harbor, next to Roslyn Pond, and features historical buildings.
  • Visit Cedarmere, the historic property of prominent 19th-century poet, newspaper editor, and civic leader William Cullen Bryant. This area includes the Bryant home and several other structures on a beautiful 7-acre property overlooking Roslyn Harbor.
  • Explore the Welwyn Preserve in Glen Cove, a sprawling 204-acre preserve and the former estate of Harold Irving Pratt, heir to an oil fortune. The densely wooded preserve has four marked nature trails that provide access to a magnificent wooded stream valley, freshwater ponds and swamps, a coastal salt marsh, and a stretch of Long Island Sound shoreline.
  • The Sand Miners’ Monument commemorates and recreates part of the important history that Hempstead Harbor and Long Island played in the growth of New York City. Over 200 million tons of sand were dug by strong laborers and transported to Manhattan where it was mixed into concrete to construct the soaring buildings, water tunnels, and sidewalks.
Get Involved/Events
  • The Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee was founded in 1995 as Long Island’s first inter-municipal watershed organization. The Committee works to protect and improve the water quality of Hempstead Harbor and is always looking for volunteers to help with monitoring efforts.
  • The Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor was founded in 1986 as a citizens’ group advocating for water quality improvements in the harbor.  In 1992, the Coalition began a citizens’ water monitoring program that continues to this day under the sponsorship of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee.
  • Eric Swenson, Executive Director, Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee. Site visit and interview in 2012.
  • Kevin Braun, Environmental Control Specialist, Town of North Hempstead. Site visit and interview in 2012.
  • “Visit a Park.” Town of North Hempstead Web site.

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