Tern Island, a 50-acre refuge in Peconic Bay for three

protected bird species, will be preserved forever under the terms of a gift

announced last week by the Nature Conservancy.

Landowner Louis Bacon has donated a conservation easement for the entire

island to the South Fork-Shelter Island chapter of the conservancy, a

preservation group.

Under the terms of the easement, Tern Island will remain Bacon's property

but development will be permanently prohibited there and the conservancy will

manage the island for wildlife habitat preservation.

Bacon executed similar agreements in 1997 for nearby 435-acre Robins Island

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and in 2000 for the 540-acre Cow Neck peninsula, adjacent to Tern Island.

Tern Island is home to three protected birds: the piping plover, least tern

and osprey. It is situated between Sebonac Neck and Cow Neck, in Bullhead Bay

in the Town of Southampton.

"Tern Island has been on the Nature Conservancy's preservation wish list

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for more than two decades, given its value as a coastal breeding bird habitat

for threatened species and its key location in the Peconic Estuary," said Nancy

Kelley, director of the conservancy's South Fork-Shelter Island

chapter.