The Massapequa Preserve is an extraordinarily beautiful place that anyone can appreciate. The 423 acre natural preserve, which runs from Merrick Road to Farmingdale, is the home of hundreds of plants and animals. It is made up of woodland, ponds, lakes and freshwater wetlands.
Nassau County bought the Preserve in 1981 from the city of New York, which used it for its water supply. Today, it contains a number of trails including the Greenbelt Trail, the longest hiking trail in Nassau County. The most valuable land is located between Merrick Road and Sunrise Highway and with its freshwater swamps, marshes and streams, you will find many endangered plants growing there.
Although the preserve is managed by the Nassau County Department of Recreation and Parks, a non profit group called the Friends of Massapequa Preserve put their heart and soul into keeping the area natural and sustainable for all creatures who live there.
The Friends have about 350 members who are all dedicated to protecting this natural resource.
They are affiliated with the Long Island Green Belt Trail Conference and work side by side with the Nassau County Parks and Police Department.
Founded over 10 years ago by Richard Schary and his wife Lisa, the organization's goals are to increase awareness, promote education and encourage people to appreciate our natural surroundings.
Richard Schary, who originally came from Bellmore, moved back to the area in the 1970s. After living and working in Brooklyn as an elementary school teacher, he looked forward to visiting the places he once loved.
But there was a big change in how it looked and he was not happy with what he saw. The amount of vandalism and neglect the Scharys saw in the area where the preserve sits spurred them to action.
They started working with the Greenbelt Trail Conference and organized the Friends of Massapequa Preserve.
The preserve has come a long way but there's more work ahead. Two years ago the county started a huge restoration project to help enhance the Preserve even more.
Schary summed up what the preserve should be in a letter he wrote to members recently, "Massapequa Preserve is to remain an area of natural beauty; a place for animals, fish, birds, plants, and trees to thrive; a place where humans are merely visitors - forever wild and forever free for passive recreation."