Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

preserving, protecting and enhancing
our nature and recreation trails


David A. Sarnoff Preserve

Spring in the Sarnoff Preserve
(Spring 2007)



John Virgilio and I have been leading many hikes in The Sarnoff Preserve.  The first couple weeks of spring were cold and damp.  The buds on the trees refused to open, and the ground was moist and soft underfoot.  Then, suddenly, the temperature shot up, rain stopped falling, buds burst open, and the ground dried up.  Last week, it hadn’t rained for a week and it was 25 degrees warmer; John and I found ourselves in a much changed woods.  It was normal to see some plants with brand new leaves already wilting when it had rained heavily only a week ago; the thin layer of Pine Barrens soil atop sand doesn’t hold moisture well.  What was odd was that many of the oak trees had failed to sprout leaves, and in many places, where the brush layer should be thriving, because of the missing canopy, it had not leafed-out.

We parked at the Spinney Road Parking area off Route 24 in Flanders, and followed the faded yellow blazes from behind the kiosk, to Owl Pond.  At the Pond, the yellow trail forms a T intersection with the Paumanok Path. We turned to the right, east, towards Maple Swamp and Pleasure Drive.  We were refreshing the much-faded white rectangular PP blazes with paint. As we moved away from the wetlands near Owl Pond, we began to notice that many of the trees with the faded blazes were dead.  This is strange; normally you don’t paint blazes on dead trees because won’t be there long. Looking up at the canopy, the few trees that had recently leafed-out bore mute testimony to the surrounding devastation.  Perhaps several years of heavy gypsy moth and oak worm infestation have caused the die-off.  The pitch pine trees are thriving; in fact many of the oak trees that survived are surrounded by pine trees.  The trail crackles underfoot and in many places, there was no canopy to protect us from the sun.  During the early spring John and I had discovered that the brush hadn’t grown into this segment of trail, so we started preparing it for summer hikes when ticks would become an issue further west in the Sarnoff Preserve.  This trail needs only a little trimming and blazing. However, the brush has closed in on long segments of the DEC trails by CR104.  The PP and yellow access trail are closed in and the red and blue loops have long segments of trail where the sides of the trail are touching. This has happened despite several large volunteer trail trimming initiatives facilitated in this area by the Pine Barrens Society last year. 

Now, you can’t even tell that 35 energetic volunteers had worked to clear the trails on two separate occasions.  Until we figure out how to open up these trails again, I would suggest that, unless you are knowledgeable about tick protection, stay off them.


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Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition

Ken Kindler
Open Space & Trails Advocate
Post Office Box 1466
Sayville NY 11782

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