About the Greenbelt
Widely acknowledged as one of New York State’s most environmentally significant areas, the Long Pond Greenbelt encompasses a magnificent six-mile-long expanse of interconnected ponds woods, and wetlands in the Town of Southampton, New York, on the South Fork of Long Island’s East End. Spectacular for its wealth of rare plants, animals, and ecological communities, the Greenbelt is widely recognized as one of the most ecologically significant areas in all of New York.
A splendid feature of the Greenbelt is its magnificent collection of thirteen coastal plain pond and pond shore communities, affectionately known as the Greenbelt’s “string of pearls.” Both statewide and globally, these coastal plain pond environments are considered very rare and vulnerable to extinction. They also harbor one of the highest concentrations of rare plants and animals in New York State.
In recognition of the area’s unique and fragile status, Southampton Town has dedicated all its Greenbelt land for inclusion in its Nature Preserve program, thereby affording them the highest degree of protection that town law can provide to a natural area. That portion of the Greenbelt north of the groundwater divide falls within the watershed of the Peconic Estuary, an area designated of national importance and recognized as “one of the last great places in the Western Hemisphere” by the Nature Conservancy. The Ligonee Brook wetland system directly connects the fresh waters of Long Pond with the marine waters of Sag Harbor Cove. At the southern end of the Greenbelt sits 153-acre Sagaponack Pond, which opens to the Atlantic Ocean
The Long Pond Greenbelt management area stretches from Otter Pond in the Village of Sag Harbor southward through the hamlet of Bridgehampton to the Village of Sagaponack and encompasses 1,900 acres. Close to 700 of these have been preserved outright for open space and groundwater protection by Suffolk County, Southampton Town, and the Nature Conservancy. New York State has assisted purchases with funds from the 1986 Environmental Quality Bond Act and long-term, low-interest loans. Greenbelt water bodies, covering a further 360 acres, fall under the aegis of the Board of Trustees of the Freeholders and Commonalty of the Town of Southampton, who regulate all surface waters in the town.