Seeing More of Long Island’s Shore
The waters of Nassau County are more accessible to the paddling public thanks to the recently completed South Shore Blueway Trail. The trail, which extends 18 miles from the western border of the Town of Hempstead to the border of Nassau and Suffolk counties along the south shore, provides a 21,100-acre recreation area for paddle- and rowing-powered watercraft.
“The South Shore Blueway Trail will shine a light on the precious wetlands of Nassau County and provide kayak access never before seen in this region,” says Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. “I am a proud partner with our local environmental organizations and municipalities to create a new jewel for Long Island.”
The South Shore Blueway Trail Advisory Committee, made up of local paddlers, recreational-based business owners, non-profit organizations with interests in conservation, and local government representatives, has been working on the trail development since 2012. They gathered input from over 1,000 residents as the committee worked out the factors that arise on a waterside project of this size, such as designating permissible launch sites for residents and non-residents, providing opportunities for paddlers to use restrooms and get refreshments, protecting wildlife, preserving wetlands, and noting hazards such as rocks, jetties and other shoreline structures. Local paddlers and rowers contributed their knowledge of tidal conditions, access points, currents, hazards, and interesting local sites.
As trail visitors may explore both the area’s natural environment (including two inlets and four bays) they pass cultural sites along the trail. Therefore, extensive research was necessary as the committee amassed an inventory of near-shore cultural and historic sites.
“What better way to enjoy our scenic south shore bays… whether touring the largest undeveloped coastal wetlands, or passing by historic bay houses, or even catching a glimpse of diverse bird species or seals that use these bays during migration, the South Shore Blueway Trail has opportunities for everyone,” says Maureen Dolan Murphy, executive programs manager, Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “The new Blueway Trail plan provides guidance to kayakers and a plan to develop new access points and infrastructure. A lot of work goes into protection of our waters and we should all enjoy them.”
Boaters (non-motorized vessels only) must proceed carefully and mindfully as the trail stretches through the shallow waters of the South Shore Estuary Reserve. It’s an officially protected area that is fragile and brimming with natural wonders, such as nearly 50 species of fish and 40 species of bird. Launching and landing must be done only at designated spots along the trail; never step out on an area such as a mudflat or marsh island, and obey all warning signs, such as at a piping plover area.
For more information including Phase I map, trip options and planning, trail resources, and more, visit http://southshoreblueway.com/.
By Kara Jackson