Beginning about 75 miles east of Manhattan, the North Fork is the easterly part of the North Shore of Long Island. Along with The Hamptons, the area is also part of Long Island's East End. The North Fork is a 30-mile-long peninsula in the northeast part of Suffolk County, New York, roughly parallel with a longer peninsula known as the South Fork. Although the peninsula begins east of Riverhead hamlet, the term North Fork can also refer collectively to the towns of Riverhead and Southold in their entirety. The town of Southold comprises 9 hamlets, (Cutchogue, East Marion, Fishers Island, Laurel, Mattituck, New Suffolk, Orient, Peconic, Southold), and Greenport West, and the village of Greenport. The Long Island Sound separates the town from Connecticut. The eastern end of the peninsula, near Orient Point, is north of the Town of Shelter Island, but the town is separated from the South Fork of Long Island by the Great Peconic Bay and the Little Peconic Bay. The western end of the town is the border of the Town of Riverhead. Robins Island, a protected open space in Great Peconic Bay, is also part of the Town of Southold. It's an area of great agricultural and horticultural riches, with a long history of fishing, oyster, scallop, and clam harvesting. It also has a multitude of hikes, trails and bird-watching sites, extraordinary clean secluded beaches, and many farms.
In order to protect this fragile area of wetlands, we need to protect the pollinators, the land, the waters, and the air we all share.
The North Fork Pollinator Pathway Project is part of a larger initiative of the Suffolk Alliance for Pollinators (SAP). SAP is a coalition of local groups striving to make Suffolk County a greener pollinator corridor through good gardening practices. The SAP goal is to amplify the efforts of many groups helping residents, towns, and communities become part of the growing regional initiative led by the Pollinator Pathway.
JOIN US! It's simple. You can be part of the Pollinator Pathway of the North Fork: ADD a few more natives – The trees, shrubs, and flowers that are adapted to local conditions are the best food sources for native pollinators. They invite birds, butterflies and other pollinators, and often require less water. Create a native garden, a container garden, a rain garden, or a butterfly garden. More information on New York/Long Island natives can be found on Cornell Cooperative Extension | Pollinator Support (ccesuffolk.org).
ADD your garden to the Pollinator Pathway Map. – Even if it's only a few pots on your porch or patio you can make a difference. Share the good news with your neighbors.
REDUCE the size of your lawn. —Replace it with clover, native ground covers, or pollinator beds, and mow less frequently, setting your mower blades higher than 3 inches.
AVOID chemical fertilizers and pesticides – They’re not healthy for pollinators, your pets, or anyone else. Deal with ticks and mosquitos by spraying yourself and your clothing, not the whole lawn and yard.
LEAVE the leaves – Go easy on the fall clean-up of beds and borders since many pollinators overwinter in leaf matter. Delay spring leaf clean up till native bees, such as bumblebees, have hatched. Talk to your town about banning the blowers.
CREATE COMPOST – You can make your own humus-rich soil, and avoid creating unnecessary garbage and landfill. Almost all your household food scraps, grass clippings, healthy plant matter, leaves, most non-glossy paper, and cardboard can all be turned into free compost inviting earthworms, healthy organisms, and mycorrhizae to your garden.
Downs Farm Preserve
23800 Main Rd, Cutchogue, NY 11935
The Town of Southold acquired a 51 acre parcel on Downs Creek, in Cutchogue in 1997. This National Historic Landmark is a significant natural and historic resource that encompasses a Native American fort site, scenic woodlands, tidal wetlands and new eco-typic native meadows. It features a meandering, mile-long path that leads you through scenic woodlands and tidal wetlands along Downs Creek. The native meadows, newly planted and tended by Taralynn Reynolds of The Group for the East End, show visitors what they can plant in their home gardens to encourage the local wildlife to stop and visit native plants. On most days, the trails will be alive with birdsong, insects buzzing, butterflies and moths fluttering, toads croaking and much more all around the native bee balms, echinacea, witch hazels and more.
The Native Songscape, Inlet Pond County Park
65275 North Road, Greenport, NY 11944
A Project to Restore Native Habitat at Inlet Pond County Park
In December 2020, Suffolk County cleared this quarter-acre of woods after mile-a-minute weed had overwhelmed it. North Fork Audubon Society (NFAS) is now restoring this open land with help from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. Our goal is to create a native-plant habitat for birds, turtles, butterflies, insects, and other wildlife living in the park.
In 2021, NFAS volunteers repeatedly cleared the area of such invasive species as mile-a-minute weed, mugwort, oriental bittersweet, multiflora rose, locust trees, privet, and bitter dock; that autumn, we planted it with winter oats to prevent weed growth. In May 2022, we seeded it with a mix of 24 grasses and perennials native to Long Island. It will take several years for this grassland to mature into a “Native Songscape” that you’ll be able to walk through on mowed paths, past drifts of native grasses and blooming wildflowers.
Once established, this grassland will be sustained by rainfall, occasional mowing, and selective weeding to keep woodland succession at bay. Little Bluestem and Purple Love Grasses, goldenrods and bee balms are among the 24 native species we planted to support hummingbirds, orioles, thrushes, cardinals, woodpeckers, nuthatches, waxwings, wood warblers, among other birds.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffok, Suffolk Alliance for Pollinators (SAP), Southold Peconic Civic Association Environmental Advocacy Committee (SPCA EAC), ReWild Long Island, ChangEHampton, Town of Southold NY, North Fork Audubon Society (NFAS), North Fork Environmental Council (NFEC), The Group for the East End, Peconic Land Trust, Peconic Estuary Partnership (PEP), Long Island Native Plant Initiative (linpi), KMS Native Plants LLC