The Mashomack Preserve, located on the “other” side of Shelter Island, is 2039 acres of tidal creeks, mature woodlands, freshwater marshes, and fields, with over 10 miles of coastline. In 1980, after a long and varied history dating back to Native American times, the preserve became part of the Nature Conservancy.
According to the Nature Conservancy’s website: “Shelter Island was originally inhabited by the Manhanset Native American Tribe which was part of the wide-spread Algonquin culture. In 1653, Chief Pogatticut, sachem or ‘chief’ of the Manhansets, deeded all of Shelter Island to Nathaniel Sylvester. Sylvester, a sugar merchant from Barbados, established a Quaker refuge on the island.”
Forty years later, Nathaniel’s son, Giles, sold Mashomack to William Nicoll I, and the Nicoll family held sway over the area for the next two centuries.
“Mashomack means ‘where they go by water,’” states the Nature Conservancy website, “ and the point was probably an island before a narrow neck formed, connecting it to the rest of the peninsula.”
By the time the Conservancy showed up, there were development plans afloat for the area, which luckily collapsed in 1979.
As summer wanes and fall appears, the Mashomack Preserve offers up some programs to enjoy the changing of the leaves, some quality family time outside, and, as always, educational programs for folks of all ages. To find out more, visit www.nature.org/mashomack.
This weekend, on Saturday, September 14, from 7 to 8:30 PM, join a walk through the field and forest, and enjoy the last summer full moon rising with Mashomack’s Harvest Moon Walk. Flashlights are suggested, although they may not be needed.
The following Saturday, September 21, from 9 to 11 AM, it’s Beach Clean Up Day — a chance for people of all ages to make a difference and join in the annual coastal cleanup effort. There will also be a categorization of the debris discovered. Community service hours are available.
Monday, September 23, the park will offer extended hours — 6:30 AM to 7 PM — in honor of the autumnal equinox. Head over in the early morning hours for a quiet hike before work, or enjoy a sunset stroll before bed.
Water babies will rejoice with the Mashomack Point Paddle on Saturday, September 28, from 9 AM to noon. Participants will have a chance to explore the Katherine Ordway Wildlife Refuge, with its winding salt marsh, in kayaks and canoes. Sunday is the rain date, and there’s a fee; $45 or pay what you can, and that includes everything you need to enjoy the paddle.
If you’re an insect aficionado, you might watch the Polyphemus moth caterpillars — large, green creepy-crawlies which migrate this time of year from ground to trees in order to pupate through the winter. Check with Mashomack to find out when you can observe large numbers of these cartoonish caterpillars.
All programs require pre-registration. Unless specifically noted, programs can be enjoyed for a pay-what-you-can donation. Call the Mashomack Visitor Center at 631-749-4219 for further information or e-mail MashomackPreserve@tnc.org.