McKeown sisters at Beaver Dam Creek and South Country road

Brookhaven & South Haven Hamlets

Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York

Brookhaven/South Haven Hamlets Study

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Chapter Il: Overview of the Community

1. The Natural Resources of Brookhaven/South Haven

by Dennis Puleston

Brookhaven Hamlet is unusually blessed with natural resources within its boundaries. The three most important reasons for this condition are as follows:

1. The diversity of habitats, including the lower Carmans River and its banks, and several other bodies of salt, brackish and fresh water. A portion of the southern limits of the Hamlet form a front to the Great South Bay, with its salt marshes. Habitats also include extensive areas of deciduous woodlands, old fields and abandoned farmlands.

2. The Hamlet’s boundaries enclose several wildlife preserves, including the 2,400 acres of the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge. There are several other smaller but important protected lands.

3. The determination and dedication of most of the residents of the Hamlet to retain the rural atmosphere of their surroundings. The retention of open space has been a major factor in the preservation of the natural resources. Many landowners have resisted the monetary temptations of developers to make property available for housing, commerce, etc. The preservation of open space is also due to the activities of such organizations as the Brookhaven Village Association, the Open Space Council and, formerly, the Brookhaven Town Natural Resources Committee.

These three factors are described in more detail below.

Habitat Diversity

The Carmans River which runs roughly north from the Great South Bay, is navigable for small boats as far north as Route 27, It supports much wildlife both breeding and wintering waterfowl and migrating shorebirds. It also supports many species of fish, several species of’ aquatic turtles, blueclaw crabs and smaller mammals of several species.

At its lower reaches, the river is bounded by extensive salt marshes, spawning grounds and nurseries for many fish and other marine organisms. Many diamondback turtles nest in these marshes. Crabbing from the eastern end of Beaver Dam Road and the southern end of Bellhaven Road are major sources of recreation during late spring, all summer and early fall. Fishing is also practiced there. Menhaden (mossbunker), perch, carp and sea-run trout are also resources, providing much recreational activity.

In addition to those within the Wertheim Refuge, many strands of deciduous woodlands lie within the Hamlet, as do extensive old fields. White-tailed deer are abundant and require occasional controlled culling, since their natural predators (wolf, panther, etc.) no longer occur locally. Blueberry, beach plum, wild Concord grapes and other wild fruits are abundant. Edible mushrooms of several species can be gathered, usually in late summer.