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Stony Brook Harbor


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 mudflats 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.
  • Birdlife 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 an 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.
  • Explore various tidal wetland areas if you like to fish, hike, canoe, or hunt both small and big game.
Dive Deeper
  • 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.
  • Diamondback Terrapin Videos
    Watch a diamondback terrapin laying its eggs and digging its nest at West Mead Beach, a place to visit near the Stewardship sites.
  • Flax Pond Marine Laboratory
    This is an active research and instructional facility dedicated to examining core issues that affect both regional and national marine fisheries. They strive to provide necessary infrastructure for faculty and scientists to conduct marine science investigations, enroll students in marine science training programs, and raise public knowledge of marine
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.
  • The Avalon Nature Preserve offers 140 acres of fields, forest, and wetlands open to the public. The core principals of this preserve are protection, restoration, and inspiration.
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 its 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.

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