This site includes the easternmost point of land on Long Island,
extending from Lake Montauk in the west to Montauk Point State Park
and including the offshore waters. A large portion of the area is under
public ownership, including Montauk Point State Park and Camp Hero
State Park. The site contains an impressive diversity of maritime upland,
wetland, and shoreline habitats. According to the NY GAP land cover
data, over 35% of this site is shrub habitat, which includes pitch pine
oak, shrub swamp, and successional hardwoods. The waters off of the
point contain extensive mussel and kelp beds and are an important
feeding area for juvenile Atlantic ridley turtles (Lepidochelys kempii), loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta), and leatherback turtles (Dermochelys
coriacea). Marine mammals including gray seals (Halichoerus grypus),
harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), northern right whales (Eubalaena glacialis),
finback whales (Balaenoptera physalus), humpback whales (Megaptera
novaeangliae), and minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) regularly
forage in or migrate through the near-shore waters

Ornithological Summary

The point is a very important waterfowl wintering area, with the largest
winter concentration of sea ducks in the state. A waterfowl count in
January 1997 documented 17,514 Common Eiders, 120 Long-tailed Ducks,
1,900 Surf Scoters, 2,402 White-winged Scoters, 1,000 Black Scoters, and
320 Red-breasted Mergansers. The 1996 NYS DEC mid-winter aerial
waterfowl survey documented 4,300 scoters and 250 Long-tailed Ducks.
The December 1995 Christmas Bird Count (CBC) tallied 1,500 Greater
Scaup, 5,000-plus Common Eiders, 500-plus White-winged Scoters, 600-
plus Common Goldeneyes, and 600-plus Red-breasted Mergansers. King
Eiders and Harlequin Ducks occur here regularly in winter. Montauk
is the southernmost wintering area for Common Eiders and Harlequin
Ducks on the East Coast. Sizable concentrations of pelagic seabirds occur
in the waters off the point. For example, 250 Northern Gannets were counted in the December 1995 CBC. Wetland areas around Big and
Little Reed Ponds support confirmed or probable breeding at-risk species,
including the American Black Duck, Least Bittern, Northern Harrier, and
Red-shouldered Hawk. Upland areas host characteristic shrub breeding
species including the Northern Bobwhite, American Woodcock, Eastern
Kingbird, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Blue-winged Warbler, Prairie
Warbler, Eastern Towhee, and Field Sparrow.

Conservation Issues

This site is listed in the 2002 Open Space Conservation Plan as a priority
site under the project name Peconic Pinelands Maritime Reserve Project.
Much of the area is under public ownership, but significant portions are
under private ownership. Poorly planned development could destroy or
degrade sensitive habitats, and could lead to increases in non-point source
water pollution problems. Further attention needs to be given to protect
the offshore waters and associated aquatic habitats around Montauk Point.
The area is extremely vulnerable to oil or contaminants spills, which could
have devastating impacts on waterfowl and seabirds. Procedures for rapid
response and containment in the event of such a spill should be developed
and equipment should be readied. The extensively planted black pines are
dying and should be replaced with native, salt-tolerant species that provide
food and shelter for migrant songbirds. Standardized annual monitoring
of migrant and wintering waterfowl and seabirds is encouraged.

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