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The original item was published from 5/20/2021 11:30:00 AM to 5/20/2021 11:32:38 AM.

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LD 05 - Legislator Kara Hahn

Posted on: May 1, 2021

[ARCHIVED] Deputy Presiding Officer Kara Hahn's "A Park A Day in May"

A Park a Day in May Icon Image

Every year as April Showers give way to May Flowers and the mercury begins to climb, we awaken from our winter hibernation eager to get outside again. This year the annual rebirth of Spring has new meaning. This has been an incredibly difficult time for all of us, friends, family, and neighbors are still struggling with mental health issues related to fear, confusion, exhaustion, boredom, anger, sorrow, loneliness, grief, or loss. It is not just the winter blues that we need to recover from. The sight of flowers and the warmth of sun on our faces bring a promise and hope for what is to come.

With May being Mental Health Awareness month, I wanted to focus my A Park A Day in May series on meditation, reducing the stigma of mental health, and providing opportunities and outlets for people to connect with themselves, with others and with nature. Parks are places of calm and comfort. Parks provide beauty and are a diversion from these challenging times. Parks offer relief, refreshment, peace and tranquility.

Every day during the month of May, I will describe and post photos of a different Park.  My challenge to you is to visit each of the parks highlighted sometime this spring or summer. When you get to the park at some point during your visit I challenge you to stop, close your eyes and take a deep breathe in and exhale it out. Notice the smell of the forest, the way the ground feels beneath your feet, any sounds like the grass blowing or birds chirping or the squirrels chittering.  Can you feel the sunshine on your face? Is the breeze blowing?  Now open your eyes and take a look around.  Notice 5 things around you that you might have passed without seeing if you had not stopped. The bird on the branch above you, the buds on the trees, the ant making its way down the path.  Maybe you take your shoes off like when you were a child and explore your senses by feeling the grass between your toes. Be here now, in this moment.  Explore the feelings of being one with the forest. It only takes a moment but taking that moment to appreciate being in nature can help alleviate stress, help you think more clearly, and boost your mood.

This year, the 6th year of my annual challenge, I am focusing specifically on “Forest Bathing” and Mental Health Awareness, using parks to provide a respite from the stressors of everyday life. Being outside in nature allows you to spot local wildlife, inhale fresh air, witness spectacular scenic views and even exercise.  Parks are least likely to be crowded at dawn and just before dusk. If a parking lot appears full or nearby roadways are lined with cars, please be considerate and come back another time.

Stay safe, stay healthy and remember to watch out for ticks and leave no trace while hiking these parks.  #APADIM #aparkaday #tools2thrive http://mhamonth.org/.

Thur. May 20, 2021

A Park a Day in May - May 19th - Dwarf Pines Image 1Dwarf Pines Plains Preserve, East Quogue


Dwarf Pine Planes Preserve is a 788-acre undeveloped property consisting of the globally rare dwarf pine barrens habitat. Due to the rarity of this ecosystem, Dwarf Pine Plains supports some uncommon wildlife including an array of nocturnal birds. Visitors can come experience this location by touring the recently opened trail. Only about 6/10 of a mile long, this is a great quick stop for those already in the surrounding towns of Westhampton, Quogue, and Hampton Bays!


Wed. May 19, 2021

A Park a Day in May - May 19th - Connetquot River State Park Image 1Connetquot River State Park, Oakdale


The Connetquot River State Park Preserve is a 3,473-acre state park and conservation area for the protection and propagation of game birds, fish, and animals. This park offers a variety of amenities such as equestrian trails, hiking trails, and fishing. Additionally, Connetquot River State Park offers youth programs, nature programs for adults, children, and families, and hosts I Love My Park days where visitors can register to volunteer in different clean-up projects. Home to the Long Island Environmental Interpretive Center, schools, youth organizations and special interest groups can plan with the Regional Environmental Education Team to participate in interpretive programs and hikes.
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Tues. May 18, 2021

A Park a Day in May - May 18th - Cedar Point County Park Image 1Cedar Point County Park, East Hampton


Cedar Point County Park is a 607-acre park located in East Hampton with astounding views of Gardiner’s Bay. Settled in 1651, Cedar Point was once a busy port for shipping farm goods, fish, and timber from Sag Harbor. Now, it is well-known for its decommissioned lighthouse built in 1860. Its beacon served to guide whaling ships in and out of Sag Harbor during its heyday as a major port. Visitors can enjoy a variety of amenities such as fishing, hiking, picnicking, camping, playground, rowboat rentals, bicycling, saltwater fishing, scuba diving, hunting, and outer beach access.

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A Park a Day in May - May 18th - Cedar Point County Park Image 1


Mon. May 17, 2021

Brookhaven State Park, Wading River


Brookhaven State Park located in Wading River, once home to property of Brookhaven National Laboratory and former military installation called Camp Upton, is 1,638-acres and part of the central core of the Long Island Pine Barrens. This park features the Brookhaven Trail, a 3.9 mile loop trail ideal for moderately skilled hikers. Visitors can take a nature walk through the park and enjoy the scenic views of oak-pine habitats, scattered wetlands, coastal plain ponds, and foliage such as flowering dogwood, wild geranium, Christmas fern and pitch pine.


Sun. May 16, 2021

Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest, Rocky Point


The Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest is home to nearly 6,000 acres of Pine Barrens and open lands. Featuring five distinct hiking trails ranging from 0.5 miles to 5.4 miles, this state forest offers an excellent variety of hiking opportunities for people of varied abilities and skills. Also included in its amenities are beginner, intermediate and advanced biking trails in addition to equestrian trails for horseback riders. Take your loved ones on a walk and go wildlife watching for woodpeckers, painted turtles, and white-tailed deer! Access by seasonal permit Jan. 2 - Oct. 31. Permits are free.


Sat. May 15, 2021

A Park a Day in May - May 15th - Sunken Meadow State Park Image 1Sunken Meadow State Park, Kings Park


Sunken Meadow State Park is home to the Sunken Meadow Trail, a 3.7 mile looped trail that is good for people of varied abilities and skill levels. Open to the public year-round, this park has hosted millions of visitors every year. With stunning views of the Long Island Sound, three bridges stretching over Sunken Meadow Creek, and a golf course, this park offers a multitude of experiences that cater to your perfect trip. During the months of May and June, Sunken Meadow State Park will be hosting a variety of nature programs such as nature strolls, educational presentations on wildlife, and tours for adults, children, and families!

To find out more about the May/June nature programs and to register, click on the link: https://parks.ny.gov/documents/regions/MayJuneNaturePrograms.pdf.
A Park a Day in May - May 15th - Sunken Meadow State Park Image 2Photos from Wikimedia Commons


Fri. May 14, 2021

Manorville Hills County Park, Manorville


Manorville Hills County Park located in Manorville features a 7.7 mile looped walking trail ideal for moderately skilled hikers. Consisting of large and hilly woodlands, this location boasts the longest expanse of roadless land on Long Island. This park is situated at the core of the Long Island Central Pine Barrens and offers a handful of marked trails for people with varied interests such as hiking, biking, or horseback riding. This is a great place for visitors to enjoy a day of solitude in nature and take the opportunity to practice mindfulness in the woods.
A Park a Day in May - May 14th - Manorville Hills County Park


Thur. May 13, 2021

A Park a Day in May - May 13th - Terrell River County Park - Image 1Terrell River County Park, Center Moriches


Terrell River County Park is a passive park and preserve located south of Montauk Highway in Center Moriches. Formerly known as the Havens Estate, this 263-acre preserve was purchased by Suffolk County in 1986. In 2001, the Moriches Bay Audubon Society was designated as the park steward. This location is home to the 2.6-mile Terrell River Trail and is a great place for visitors to enjoy scenic views, observe the diverse species of plants and trees, and visit the local beach. Trails are moderately trafficked, good for all skill levels, and leashed dogs are welcome!
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Wed. May 12, 2021
A Park a Day in May - May 12th - Lakeland County Park - Image 1A Park a Day in May - May 12th - Lakeland County Park - Image 2

Lakeland County Park, Islandia


Lakeland County Park located in Islandia is a 70-acre piece of land fully accessible park. This park includes a nature trail-boardwalk over the head-waters of the Connetquot River, affording unique views of wetlands, vegetation, waterfowl and wildlife. Miles of improved and unimproved trails including two sensory trails. Follow the signs to Honeysuckle Pond and the boardwalk leads to an observation deck with vistas of the water. Lakeland Park offers a variety of amenities such as a picnic area with a gazebo, boardwalks, an accessible playground, shuffleboard, & basketball courts. Families can take nature walks an enjoy the unique views of wetlands, vegetation, waterfowl, and wildlife!


Tues. May 11, 2021
A Park a Day in May - May 11th - Arthur Kunz County Park Image 1

Arthur Kunz County Park, Smithtown


Arthur H Kunz County Park located in Smithtown is a 93-acre forested property great for hiking. This park features tidal creeks, a lush, mixed deciduous forest, rolling hills and valleys, and quaint hidden ponds for all visitors to enjoy. Situated on the western bank of the Nissequogue River, the trail system in the park provides a scenic link in a section of the Long Island Greenbelt Trail. This section stretches for about 3.1 miles and is an out-and-back trail good for varied abilities and skills.
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Mon. May 10, 2021
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Alexander G. McKay Preserve at Cranberry Hill Fuchs Pond County Park, Fort Salonga


The Alexander McKay Preserve, at Cranberry Hill Fuchs Pond, in Fort Salonga is a 21-acre park home to a spring-fed freshwater pond, freshwater marsh, upland slope forest, and a high plateau area. This land was acquired by the Town and County in 2003, and renamed in honor of Alexander G. McKay, who served as the town's representative for the Suffolk County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation's Board of Trustees for more than 40 years. This hidden oasis offers a brief 0.5-mile trail for visitors to observe and enjoy wildlife such as the American Black Duck, Great Horned Owl, and the Eastern Box Turtle!
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Sun. May 9, 2021

Hubbard County Park, Hampton Bays


Hubbard County Park located in Hampton Bays is an 1,815-acre park includes an easy, 5.75 mile hike, a 2.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail, and other trails which will take visitors on a tour of salt flats, marshes, beach, and woods to enjoy many species of migratory birds, as well as unique flowers and plants. The flat nature of the trail makes it accessible to people of varied skill levels and abilities and ends at the shoreland of Flanders Bay. Take your loved ones or your pet on a walk through beach grass extending under pine tree canopy and prairie grasses abutting salt marsh. Home to the "Ghost Forest," along the shoreline at Flanders Bay there are a series of sunken tree stumps that once stood as full Atlantic White Cedar trees before sea level rise. Go wildlife watching and catch sights of clams, scallops, blue heron, osprey, and a variety of turtles and reptiles, or go freshwater fishing at Penny Pond!


Sat. May 8, 2021

West Hills County Park, Melville


Picturesque, well-groomed nature trails, including the historic Walt Whitman Trail to Jayne's Hill (Long Island's highest peak, at an elevation of 400 feet), wind through this highly popular, mixed-deciduous forested park. West Hills flora and fauna include wild Mountain Laurel, Moccasin Flower, several fern species, salamanders, turtles, chipmunk, squirrel and red fox. Hiking, youth group camping, picnicking, playground, equestrian Center and stables, bridle paths (horseback riding permit is required) and a dog run are available. Camping at West Hills is offered to organized youth groups only. Campsites, lean-tos, and primitive shelters are available year-round. Reservations are required. Sweet Hollow Road Entrance has the large dog park and there is a small dog park located at the Round Swamp Road Entrance.


Fri. May 7, 2021
A Park a Day in May - May 7th - North Fork Preserve County Park Image 1

North Fork Preserve County Park, Riverhead


As soon as your step off the dirt parking lot and onto the trail at North Fork Preserve County Park the cacophony of bird songs surrounds you. This 300 acre preserve was acquired in 2011 with the northern 126 acres of the park preserved for passive recreation such as hiking and birdwatching. The network of trails contains vernal or seasonal wetlands, which can serve as breeding grounds for a variety of amphibians such as frogs and salamanders. The preserve is great for hiking and birdwatching. While walking through this park I spotted a flock of Turkeys, two Osprey, and a Red-Bellied Woodpecker. The trails in this park are wide, grassy, and unmarked so remember to check for ticks after hiking. The park's entrance is located on the north side of Sound Avenue just east of Church Lane, with a long road leading to the heart of the park. This is a great park I even took a moment to stop and smell the wild honeysuckles while being serenaded by the chorus of bird overhead.
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Thur. May 6, 2021
A Park a Day in May - May 6th - Mashomack Image 2

Mashomack Preserve, Shelter Island


Mashomack Preserve located on Shelter Island is a 2,039-acre preserve once inhabited by the Native Manhansets. Today, this land dubbed the “Jewel of the Peconic” is considered one of the richest habitats in the Northeast. Extending over 1/3rdof Shelter Island, this land is covered with tidal creeks, oak woodlands, fields, and freshwater marshes. Visitors of varied abilities can come to Mashomack and hike through the extensive selection of trails covering 11 miles, walk along the coast of Gardiner’s Bay, and go wildlife viewing in the meadows and by the ponds. Open to the public 7 days a week, this is a great way for everyone to go and enjoy a day out in nature! Please note, the Visitor Center and Restrooms are temporarily closed.
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Wed. May, 5, 2021
A Park a Day in May - May 5th - Rassapeague County Park Image 2A Park a Day in May - May 5th - Rassapeague County Park Image 3

Rassapeague County Park, Nissequogue


Rassapeague County Park located in Nissequogue is a hidden gem, located along Long Beach Road this park offers a half mile, marked out-and-back trail. The trail is hilly but well-marked with hiking logos. The trail leads visitors through the forest, around multiple vernal pools, and end with a small boardwalk area by Stony Brook Harbor. While hiking this trail take a moment to enjoy the views of the forest floor while traversing up and down the hills. The vibrant greens of the trees budding and the plants blooming was just magnificent today. While walking keep your eyes to the ground, you may even find a geocache if you are diligent. Boy Scout Troop 888 of Smithtown adopted this park and helped install a small parking lot, marked the trail, and cleaned up more than 1,000 pounds of debris from the site.
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Tues. May 4, 2021

A Park a Day in May - May 4th Cordwood Landing - Image 1Cordwood Landing County Park, Miller Place


Located in the historic district of Miller Place, this former Girl Scout Camp is now home to extensive walking trails and alluring views of the Long Island Sound! A beautiful nature hike through heavily wooded forests leading to a breathtaking bluff overlooking the sound, there is plenty of scenic landscape for visitors to enjoy. Venture further down and engage in a guided meditation to clear your head of bothersome thoughts and bask in the sounds, sights, and smells of the beach!
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Mon. May 3, 2021
A Park a Day in May - May 3rd - Blydenburgh County Park - Image 1

Blydenburgh County Park, Smithtown


Take a casual stroll through rich forests and valleys, go rowing on Stump Pond, or go freshwater fishing for local fish. Blydenburgh County Park offers a diverse array of experiences that caters to all seeking a day out in nature. Open year-round to all Suffolk County residents, this location is a great place to work on one’s mental wellbeing by connecting with the extensive wildlife present on the property. Bring your loved ones and take a walk through the Blydenburgh Farm and New Mill Historic District, which features a grist mill; or visit the Blydenburgh Dog Park and spend the day with your furry friend!
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Sun. May 2, 2021

A Park a Day in May - May 2nd - Southaven County Park Image 1Southaven County Park, Yaphank


Southaven County Park includes over 1,356 acres of pine-oak forest; the forest is split by the Carmans River. At Southaven visitors can rent a canoe or rowboat, camp at one of over 100 campsites, or enjoy a family picnic in its popular picnic area. There are many recreational activities offered within the many acres of this park including freshwater fishing, hunting and Cross-country skiing (weather permitting). In the ‘60s, Southaven became one of the first County Park’s opened to the public. Located off of Sunrise Highway (Route 27) and west of William Floyd Parkway, visitors to the park can find the entrance off of Victory Avenue (Suffolk CR 56/North Sunrise Service Road). Today in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month the Association for Mental Health and Wellness hosted a mindful walk through Southaven park with Deputy Director Anne Marie Montijo. For more Mental Health Awareness Month events go to http://mhamonth.org/.
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Sat. May 1, 2021

A Park a Day in May-Day 1 - Avalon Park Image 1Avalon Nature Preserve, Stony Brook


Today I visited Avalon Nature Preserve which includes newly renovated boardwalk along the Stony Brook Duck Pond and 140 acres of woodlands, forests, meadows and ponds located at 200 Harbor Road in Stony Brook Village. In celebration of Arbor Day the Preserve in collaboration with the Village of Head of the Harbor hosted an event to honor trees. Attendees were given native tree saplings to plant and learned of the importance of native trees for our community including all species such as insects, birds and wildlife. Avalon Nature Preserve is a perfect location for visitors to get in touch with nature. With six distinct trails situated between freshwater ponds, lush meadows, large glacial boulders, and an abundance of flora and fauna, Avalon Preserve offers opportunities for individuals of varied abilities to unplug from everyday challenges and practice much needed self-care. Avalon is closed on Mondays and has restricted hours, find out more or register for yoga and mindfulness programs at https://avalonnaturepreserve.org/Consistent with this month’s theme of forest bathing, Avalon inspires everyone to embrace their ties to the environment and practice mindfulness when exploring this sanctuary!
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