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The Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex

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Long Island, New York

Welcome to the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Complex is comprised of eight National Wildlife Refuges and one Wildlife Management Area. These nine units represent many of the habitat types found on Long Island which are important to migratory birds and other wildlife. Long Island's strategic location in the Atlantic Flyway provides important nesting, wintering, and migratory stop-over area for hundreds of bird species, particularly those dependent on aquatic habitats. Each area of the Complex is unique and offers a diversity of habitats and wildlife.

Public access to the refuges is limited. Wildlife-dependent activities such as environmental education, hiking, wildlife observation, photography, painting, fishing, and canoeing are encouraged on those refuges which permit it. The accessibility of each refuge is listed within. Inquiries regarding access by Special use Permits may be made to the refuge manager.

As part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex is committed to the primary goal of managing the nation's wildlife. We provide for visitor use when it does not interfere with our primary goal. We need your support in accomplishing this critical goal. Take pride in America and YOUR nation's wildlife.

Visitors can expect to see wildlife at any time, but viewing is best during early morning and evening hours while taking a quiet, observant walk or boat trip. Remember, these animals are wild and shy. For the best chance to see them, bring binoculars and have patience.

General Visitor Regulations

You are responsible for knowing the Complex regulations. Inquire at the Complex Headquarters (Wertheim Refuge) for activities not listed that you are considering, or for general information concerning the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

CAUTION: Deer ticks carrying Lyme disease are found on the refuges. Proper precautions are suggested. Wear light-colored clothing, use insect repellent, and puck pant legs in your socks.

To protect you and the environment, the following are prohibited:

Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge
Shirley, New York

DESCRIPTION: Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge consists of 2,400 acres on the south shore of Long Island, including the Carmans River, one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on Long Island. The refuge has a wide diversity of habitats, including oak-pine woodland, fields, ponds, a river, streams, bay, and fresh, brackish, and saltwater wetlands. These habitats attract and support a remarkable diversity and abundance of wildlife. The refuge is a haven for most species of wildlife found on Long Island, including waterfowl, deer, muskrats, fox, weasels, other small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, shorebirds, raptors, songbirds, and aquatic wildlife, including game fish.

HISTORY: The first inhabitants were the Unkechaug Indian tribe. They utilized the river for fishing, shellfishing, and for access to Fire Island and the Atlantic Ocean for fishing and whaling. Europeans later utilized the area to harvest firewood and salt hay. After acquisition by Cecile and Maurice Wertheim, much of the property was maintained in a natural state, but portions were managed to improve wildlife production and waterfowl hunting. The Wertheims donated 1800 acres in 1947 to begin what is today the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge size has been increased with additional donations and a purchase with duck stamp funds.

MANAGEMENT: The refuge is managed to protect the Carmans River estuary for use by migratory waterfowl (particularly black ducks, mallard, wood ducks, and gadwalls) and other waterbirds. Other parts of the refuge are managed to increase habitat diversity and wildlife productivity. Impoundments are managed to enhance wetland habitat, and forest openings are maintained to increase the variety of plant species utilized as wildlife goods. Grassland areas are improved to provide nesting cover for waterfowl and other wildlife. Nest boxes are maintained for a sizable population of wood ducks.

VISITOR USE ACTIVITIES: Visitors may park at the office and walk along the entrance road (open Monday-Friday, 8 A.M. - 4:30 P.M.). The one mile Indian Landing Nature Trail is accessible from the river only and provides access through the interior of the forest.

Wheelchair Accessible Symbol Access for wheelchair visitors is available from the parking lot to the office and interpretive kiosk.

Canoes and boats may be carried in and launched into the Carmans River at Beaver Dam Road and at the Fishing Access Site off Montauk Highway, which is cooperatively maintained with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Boats are permitted to land only a Indian Landing, the Fishing Access Site, and Beaver Dam Road (except for emergencies).

Fishing from the shore is permitted between the Sunrise and Montauk Highways and at the end of Beaver Dam Road. Wading while fishing is permitted from Sunrise Highway to the railroad bridge. Fishing from a boat is permitted anywhere except on the Big Fish Creek Impoundment. State regulations apply. Fishing from the refuge bridge is prohibited.

DIRECTIONS: From Route 27A (Montauk Highway), turn south onto Smith Road, just east of the Carmans River. Go 1/3 mile and the entrance is on the right.

Go to: Wertheim NWR Species Checklist

Morton National Wildlife Refuge
Sag Harbor, New York

DESCRIPTION: This 187-acre refuge includes Jessups Neck and contains exceptionally diverse habitats. Sandy, gravel, and rocky beaches fringe the peninsula, and the wooded bluffs of Jessups Neck overlook the Peconic and Noyack Bays. The remainder of the refuge is upland forest, brackish and freshwater ponds, saltmarsh, a lagoon and open fields. After years of agriculture and occasional fires, the land is reverting to a natural state. These habitats provide for a diversity of wildlife including deer, fox and other common mammals, reptiles, songbirds, waterbirds and raptors. Bay and sea ducks are common during winter and wading birds and shorebirds are easily observed in the warmer months. The adjacent bays are used by marine turtles.

HISTORY: Of the 13 principal Indian tribes on Long Island, the Montauks and the Shinnecocks once occupied what is now the Morton National Wildlife Refuge. In 1640, John Farrington, John Jessup, and other settlers from Lynn, Massachusetts founded the colony of South Hampton. The peninsula was named Jessups Neck when the land was deeded to John Jessup in 1679. Ownership of the area passed through two other families until it was donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1954 by Elizabeth Morton.

MANAGEMENT: The refuge is managed to protect a unique natural area for migratory birds. Endangered and threatened species such as piping plovers, least terns, roseate terns, and osprey use the refuge for nesting, brood rearing, feeding and/or resting. Loss of habitat and human disturbance have caused their populations to decline. All receive protection under law. During the breeding season (April through August), public access to the peninsula is prohibited to protect the nesting and brood rearing habitat of these species. Avian nesting structures, including platforms, exclosures and nest boxes, are used to increase the productivity of these species. The ponds are managed for waterfowl use. Fields are mowed to maintain habitat diversity.


Wildlife-dependent activities such as environmental education, nature study, bird watching, hiking and photography are encouraged on the refuge. A nature trail passes through upland forest, adjacent to wetlands, through a field, and onto a bay beach. The peninsula is 1¾ miles long and contains upland trails and a brackish pond. An information kiosk and public restrooms are located at the headquarters area. Fishing from the beach is permitted. Watercraft are not permitted to land on the refuge.

Wheelchair Accessible Symbol Access for wheelchair visitors is moderately difficult from the parking lot to the beginning of the nature trail. The interpretive kiosk is wheelchair accessible.

DIRECTIONS: From Route 27, north at Exit 8 onto North Sea Road (Route 38), to North Sea/Noyack. Continue onto Noyack Road (Route 38); refuge is 5 miles on the left.

Address inquiries to refuge manager at Wertheim Refuge; Morton Refuge office: (516) 725-2270 (summers only).

Go to: Morton NWR Species Checklist

Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge
Lloyd Harbor, New York

ENTRANCE FEE: An entrance fee is required and is payable at the refuge on the day of your visit. Annual passes are available by purchasing a Duck Stamp or a Golden Eagle Passport. Organized groups conducting wildlife-oriented environmental education programs may be exempt. Visitors who are 62 years of age and older may acquire a Golden Age Passport, and visitors with a disability may acquire a free Golden Access Passport. These passes are only distributed in person at either Target Rock or Wertheim Refuges. For further information, consult the refuge manager at Wertheim NWR, P.O. Box 21, Shirley, NY 11967, or call Monday - Friday, 8:00 A.M. - 4:30 A.M., (516) 286-0485.

Revenue generated from the sale of Duck Stamps is designated for the purchase of wetland habitat. Also, 30% of the revenue from daily entrance fees is designated for refuge operations and maintenance. The remaining 70% is put into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund.

DESCRIPTION: Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge consists of 80 acres on the Lloyd Neck peninsula on Long Island's north shore. The refuge is comprised of mature forest and a half mile of rocky beach. The refuge supports a variety of songbirds, mammals, shorebirds, game fish, and reptiles. During the colder months, diving ducks are common offshore and harbor seals are occasionally observed. A plantation of Norway spruce, white pine, and eastern red cedar are interspersed with the mature mixed oak forest on the refuge. Many flowering plants are also found.

HISTORY: The refuge was originally used by the Mantiecock Indian tribe. They used this area for hunting, gathering, fishing, shellfishing, and farming. The area was donated by Ferdinand Eberstadt is 1967. The area was the family's summer estate. A point of interest is the large rock in the bay for which the refuge is named. The British Royal Navy reportedly used it for target practice during the War for Independence. At that time the rock was imbedded in the bluff, long since eroded away.

MANAGEMENT: The refuge is managed to provide habitat for migratory birds. During the spring breeding season, a segment of the beach is closed to public use to provide undisturbed nesting habitat for bank swallows that utilize the bluffs. Hopefully, this undisturbed habitat will entice threatened piping plovers to also nest there.

PUBLIC USE ACTIVITIES: Wildlife-oriented activities such as environmental education, nature study, photography, walking, and fishing are encouraged. A nature trail passes through hardwood forest, past seasonal ponds, and along the shore of Huntington Bay. Fishing in the Bay from shore is permitted. An information kiosk and public restrooms are available.

Wheelchair Accessible Symbol Access for wheelchair visitors is moderately difficult from the parking lot to a segment of accessible trail.

DIRECTIONS: From Huntington, Route 25A (Main Street) west one-quarter mile, then north on West Neck Road for 5 miles. Follow onto Lloyd Harbor Road past Caumsett State Park. Entrance is at the end of the road on the right.

Go to: Target Rock NWR Species Checklist

Other Refuges

The Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex includes six other units. Visitor access to these areas is restricted; contact the refuge manager for additional information.

Seatuck National Wildlife Refuge

DESCRIPTION: The refuge was established in 1968 through a private donation from Charles and Natalie Webster. This 196-acre refuge consists of grasslands, woodlands, and salt and freshwater wetlands bordering Champlin Creek and Great South Bay. Over 200 species of birds have been documented at the refuge. White-tailed deer and red fox are conspicuous here.

MANAGEMENT: The refuge is actively managed for migratory birds, particularly for nesting osprey, and to maintain habitat diversity.

VISITOR USE ACTIVITIES: The refuge is available for environmental education activities by reservation.

Go to: Seatuck NWR Species Checklist

Conscience Point National Wildlife Refuge

DESCRIPTION: Established in 1971, the 60-acre refuge is primarily a mix of woodlands, grasslands, and salt marsh. This refuge contains a maritime grassland community; one of the few on Long Island. Wading birds and osprey are commonly observed in spring and summer; waterfowl, particularly black ducks, are abundant in winter. Entrance is by Special Use Permit only.

MANAGEMENT: The refuge is managed for migratory birds and wintering waterfowl and to maintain habitat diversity.

Go to: Conscience Point NWR Species Checklist

Amagansett National Wildlife Refuge

DESCRIPTION: The refuge was established in 1968 and is one of the few undeveloped coastal barrier beaches remaining on the Island. It provides habitat for shorebirds, songbirds (including the Ipswich sparrow), and raptors (including peregrine falcons) during migration. The 36-acre refuge is primarily a double dune system containing hollows, swales, and beach. Several small bogs also are present. The flora is representative of a natural dune/beach environment.

MANAGEMENT: The refuge is managed to protect beach and dune habitat in a natural state and the wildlife it supports.

VISITOR USE ACTIVITIES: Entrance is by Special Use Permit only, except for the ocean beach, which is open to the general public.

DIRECTIONS: The refuge is adjacent to Atlantic Avenue, off Route 27 in Amagansett.

Go to: Amagansett NWR Species Checklist

Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge

DESCRIPTION: The 3,117-acre refuge was established in 1968 and consists principally of marine habitats and includes tidal bottom up to mean high tide (bay), salt marsh, and a fresh water pond. Most species of Long Island's waterbirds have been documented on this refuge. During winter months, numerous waterfowl species can be observed at this refuge. Over twenty thousand ducks have been reported for one survey during peak use. The most common waterfowl species include black duck, scaup, Canada goose, canvasback, bufflehead, mallard, goldeneye and merganser.

MANAGEMENT: The refuge is managed for use by migratory waterfowl and other waterbirds.

VISITOR USE ACTIVITIES: The bay is used for wildlife observation, fishing, boating, swimming and shellfishing. Mill Pond is also open for fishing.

DIRECTIONS: Access to the refuge is limited to private boats or rentals. Residents outside of Oyster Bay may enter the refuge by boat from Long Island Sound. Visitors in vehicles may travel local roads adjacent to the refuge. The refuge does not provide parking.

Mill Pond is located off W. Main Street. Onsite parking is not available.

Go to: Oyster Bay NWR Species Checklist

Sayville National Wildlife Refuge

DESCRIPTION: The refuge was established in 1992 and consists of oak-pitch pine uplands and grasslands. The site supports native vegetation of Long Island's south shore and is an important migratory stop for many songbirds.

MANAGEMENT: The refuge is maintained and managed for rare flora, particularly the federally endangered plant sandplain gerardia.

VISITOR USE ACTIVITIES: Entrance is by Special Use Permit only.

Go to: Sayville NWR Species Checklist

Lido Beach Wildlife Management Area

DESCRIPTION: The area was established in 1969 and is almost exclusively a salt marsh that harbors waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds.

MANAGEMENT: The area is maintained in a natural state to preserve wetlands and bay areas for migratory birds, especially waterfowl. It is managed cooperatively with the town of Hempstead.

VISITOR USE ACTIVITIES: The area is used for environmental education by the Long Beach School District.

Go to: Lido Beach WMA Species Checklist

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Long Island Refuge Complex includes 9 of the more than 500 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The National Wildlife Refuge System is a network of lands and water managed specifically for the protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat and represents the most comprehensive wildlife management program in the world. Units of the system stretch across the United States from northern Alaska to the Florida Keys and include small islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific. The character of the refuges is as diverse as the nation itself.

The Service also manages national fish hatcheries, and provides federal leadership in habitat protection, technical assistance, and the conservation and protection of migratory birds, certain marine mammals and threatened and endangered species.

For further information, please contact:

                     Refuge Manager
                     Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge
                     P.O. Box 21
                     Shirley, NY  11967
                     Telephone: (516) 286-0485
Hearing impaired visitors may call the New York Relay Center at 1-800-662-1220 TDD/1-800-421-1220 voice.

This resource is based on the following source:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  2000.  The Long Island National Wildlife
     Refuge Complex.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  2000.  The Long Island National Wildlife
     Refuge Complex.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
     Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     (Version 30DEC2002).

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