- The Museum >
- About the Preserve
Click this link for a trail map of the preserve
If you cannot open the trail map then install Adobe Reader (free)
The Garvies Point Preserve
II. Disturbed Woodland
III. Fire-modified Woodland
IV. Old Growth Hardwoods
GARVIE FAMILY CEMETERY
The preserve consists of 62 acres of glacial moraine covered by forests, thickets, and meadows. There are about five miles of marked
natured trails including trails for the blind. Wooded areas, which exhibit various stages of succession, contain sixty (60) species of trees as well
as numerous shrubs, vines and wildflowers. High cliffs along the shoreline display erossional features such ass alluvial fans, talus slopes, and slumping
caused by ancient multicolored clays oozing from the beach. Life forms typical of the north shore of Long Island are abundant along the rocky
The woods and meadows, with their varied plant life, attract more than 140 species of birds, notably, scarlet tanagers and many varieties of warblers.
Woodchucks, opossums and raccoons can occasionally be seen in the woods or along a meadows edge. A trail guide to the preserve is available at the museum.
The plants of this meadow community illustrate a type of plant succession known as "old-field" succession. Succession is the orderly and predictable
replacement of one plant community by another with which each community preparing or modifying the site for the next. Eventually, a self-perpetuating
assemblage of plants becomes established, and this is called the climax community.
The old-field succession began in this meadow in 1966 when the cleared land was planted with Kentucky bluegrass. This common lawngrass was not maintained
and a variety of wild plants began to invade the meadow. Now several stages of old-field succession are present. The center and southwest edge of the
meadow show the first stage with beardgrass and herbs, such as goldenrod, dandelion, hawkweed, ragweed, sheepsorrel, and wild lettuce outcompeting the
bluegrass for light, nutrients, and growing space. This transitory community is important for it begins to provide abundant food and cover for
wildlife. The pheasant, quail, robins, cardinals, meadowlarks, sparrows, rabbits, mice, foxes, and other birds and mammals attracted by the diversity of
food help bring about the next successional stage.
In this second stage, blueberries, wineberries, dewberries, and occasional small trees like black cherries and black locusts begin to spring up among
the herbs and grasses. Many originate from the seeds transported in animal droppings. These new plants develop rapidly in full sunlight, shading out the
shorter herbs and grasses.
Eventually, the small trees grow above the berry bushes and shade the sun-loving plants causing them to die back. This can be seen at the south end of the meadow
where the small trees have formed a closed canopy to begin the next stage of succession - the pioneer woodland.
This area currently supports a fairly young, uneven-aged stand of mixed hardwoods. The overstory (tall trees) is 40% black cherry and in decreasing
abundance includes oaks, ailanthus, black locust, black birch, hickories, sweet cherry, sassafras, sycamore, and black walnut. The understory (small trees)
is 25% black cherry along with sassafras, dogwood, hickories, hercules-club, oaks and red maple.
The woodland floor contains remnants of prior communitie. These remnants are cut stumps of oaks, chestnut and black locust. The oak and chestnut stumps are the
oldest and indicate an oak-chestnut climax forest prior to 1850. Upon removal of the large oaks and chestnuts, the sun-loving black locust either invaded
the area or was planted. As they grew to tree size, an understory of mixed hardwoods developed in their shade. The mature locust was eventually cut,
allowing the hardwood understory to develop and take the place of the locust. Sassafras, black walnut and ailanthus trees filled in some of the sunlit
openings created by the removal of the locusts.
sight trail for the visually impaired
Currently this area supports a sparce overstory of black locust, no understory, a dense shrub layer of brambles and little ground cover. In the late
1920's, an untended pasture at this site was dotted with young locust and brambles. This pioneer forest grew normally until a fire occurred, killing the
ground cover and thin-barked seedlings and saplings. The heavy bark of the black locust protected it from the fire.
The open understory and lack of a shrub layer allowed the hardy sun-loving brambles to re-establish themselves. The association of brambles and black
locust has been perpetuated by the aid of frequent fires.
Rabbits, woodchucks, red foxes, squirrels, raccoons and mice, along with quail, pheasant, cardinals, orioles, catbirds, blackbirds, flycatchers, warblers,
jays, tanagers, and a host of other migrant and resident birds find food, shelter and protected nesting sites within the bramble patch. It's proximity to
water makes it even more attractive to wildlife.
Old Growth Hardwoods
This stand of uneven-aged trees is a remnant of a once larger woods which was reduced in size by housing development. Along the bluffs of American beech,
normally a tree of more northerly climate dominates the overstory, understory and shrub layer. It is better able to withstand the harsh conditions of this
northwesterly exposure than any of our more common native trees. The oaks, hickories, and birch, which occupy the more sheltered portions of this stand
generally make up the climax woodland community on Long Island's north shore.
The rocky beach and prominent cliffs exhibit many interesting marine and geological features. At low tide, numerous tidal pools abound with marine
organisms, including several varieties algae, small fishes, crabs and numerous snails and smooth mussels. Tall stands of cordgrass (Spartinia alterniflora)
dot the shore, providing cover for other shallow water animals like the ribbed mussel and horseshoe crab.