It’s not a pond, it’s a brook, it’s a creek, it’s a dreen! It’s Ligonee.

Much in the news these days because of the smelly stranding and death of scores of alewives thwarted in their spawning migration (see links to newspaper articles below), Ligonee Brook (a.k.a. Ligonee Creek, Long Pond Drain, Long Pond Creek, Alewive Dreen or Drain) flows from the north end of Long Pond into Upper Sag Harbor Cove and forms the southwestern boundary of the corporate limits of the Village of Sag Harbor. If you’re entering Sag Harbor on the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike, you pass over Ligonee just past Reid Brother’s garage, where there’s a below-road culvert allowing passage of its waters.

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation applies two different classifications for Ligonee’s waters: from the cove to Brick Kiln Road, it’s a class SC, saline surface waters, and from Brick Kiln to its source at Long Pond, it’s a Class C, fresh surface waters. No surprise, since it connects these two distinct marine ecologies, but interesting to note the change in the official classification.

Ligonee skirts or intersects three of the Long Pond Greenbelt Trails. From Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor, you enter the Old Sag Harbor Railroad Spur Trail and come upon the brook in a short distance, where it runs through a culvert under the railroad spur and switches from one side of the path to the other. From Round Pond Trail you also link up with Ligonee where there’s a small bridge over the brook. And Sprig Tree Path will take you to the northern edge of Long Pond, where the stream begins.
Though at one time the outlet at Long Pond was blocked, today Ligonee’s water levels fluctuate from swift-flowing to mere dribble with changes in rainfall and groundwater levels. In spring 2010, levels were high and the flow strong; this year, as well noted, they are not high enough to permit the alewives their passage to Long Pond.

Last year the Peconic Estuary Program (PEP) received federal funds for the evaluation and design phase for several habitat restoration projects, among them the Ligonee Brook Diadromous Fish Passage Restoration, the purpose of which would be to restore drainage water flow, freshwater wetlands, and a historic alewife and American eel run at the site. Though a contractor has been selected – Land Use Ecological Services, Inc. – the contract itself has not been signed, so the work is stalled for the moment. Once begun, the project will take up to seven or eight months before a final report is submitted.


Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt fully support the PEP restoration process and will monitor developments closely and work to collaborate in the development of the final report to whatever degree is possible.

Focusing on Ligonee’s historic and well-documented role as alewife and American eel run, FLPG conducted a thoroughgoing clean-up of Ligonee and its immediate surroundings last year and we also have participated for two years in the Seatuck Environmental Association’s alewife watch. Going forward, we’ll keep working hard to keep it healthy and productive.
Links to recent Sag Harbor Express articles on alewives at Ligonee:

  1. Click here for Something Fishy: Hundreds of Alewives High and Dry article.
  2. Click here for Helping the Alewives article.

Also see Southampton Press, April 28, 2011, C4 – “Restoring Alewife Runs” by Mike Bottini.

-Sandra Ferguson, FLPG VP