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State: Improvements at two recreational areas on North Shore

Flax Pond in Old Field will see improvements

Flax Pond in Old Field will see improvements courtesy of a $350,000 project, state officials say. Credit: James Carbone

Improvements at two state recreational areas on the North Shore will speed kayakers, canoeists, fishermen and hikers on their way.

At Flax Pond in Old Field, a 700-foot boardwalk, a parking lot big enough for six cars, and a hiking trail that will be accessible should be finished this summer, the Department of Environmental Conservation said by email.

The DEC said it began the $350,000 upgrade in the spring of 2016.

At Southold’s Hashamomuck Pond, the DEC said it will spend $2 million building a launch for canoes and kayaks, a platform for fishing or viewing wildlife, a nature trail and a floating dock for a boat ramp.

Construction should start this fall and finish one year later. All of the upgrades will be accessible, the agency said.

Both projects are part of the statewide Adventure NY program that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced last year.

“No matter where you are in New York, an outdoor adventure awaits you,” he said at the time.

In the new budget due April 1, Cuomo proposed $40 million to fund the initiative.

Long Island already has benefited from earlier DEC upgrades.

Manorville’s Otis Pike Preserve got an accessible duck blind, boardwalk and trail; that $30,000 project was completed in the winter of 2015, the DEC said.

At the Rocky Point Trail Hub, located in a Brookhaven community, a horse trail and accessible hiking trail were built.

Six buildings were torn down to make way for a car- and horse-trailer parking area, as well as parking and a mounting platform that both are accessible, the DEC said. Those upgrades, which cost $380,000, were finished in 2016.

Flax Pond formerly was called Fresh Pond; after the Setalcott tribe sold it to settlers they used it to water cattle and “rett” flax, which means soaking it to make it usable, historians said.

After flax became less lucrative, the shellfish industry took over, linking the freshwater pond to the Long Island Sound, according to “The Friends of Flax Pond” website.

The DEC owns both the pond and the Flax Pond Research Laboratory that is run by Stony Brook University, according to the university’s website.

Stony Brook calls Flax Pond “a complete salt marsh system in miniature that is well protected from stresses caused by man.”

At Hashamomuck Pond, which leads to Shelter Island Sound, visitors might see endangered or threatened species such as piping plovers and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

But canoeists will not be able to repeat Meig’s raid of 1777, when 170 Continental Army soldiers captured 90 British soldiers in Sag Harbor, according to “Exploring East End Waters: A Natural History and Paddling Guide.”

The British were caught off-guard because the raiding party set forth from Guilford, Connecticut, and landed at Hashamomuck Pond.

They hauled their whale boats across the narrow stretch of land — called a tombolo — that divides the pond from Long Island Sound, a portage now blocked by private homes, the guide says.

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