Sixth Annual Long Island Natural History Conference











Long Island's Coastal Plain Ponds: A Unique Ecosystem Under Threat
Steve Young, Chief Botanist, New York Natural Heritage Program

As the glaciers melted back 20,000 years ago large blocks of ice remained that eventually formed the coastal plain ponds we see today. Located mostly in groups on eastern Long Island, they support a unique assemblage of rare plants and animals found nowhere else in New York. They rely on fluctuating groundwater levels to maintain their unique ecology but face mounting threats from climate change, pollution, and neglect that has allowed invasive species to gain a foothold. We need to expand our efforts to protect these natural treasures before it is too late.

Steve received his B.S. in Environmental and Resource Management from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and his M.S. in Taxonomic Botany from the University of Florida. He is in his 28th year as chief botanist for the New York Natural Heritage Program, a program of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry but based in Albany. He has visited over 1000 sites across the state inventorying and studying its rare plants with a large portion of that time on Long Island where the most rare plants grow. He is an author of the online New York Rare Plant Conservation Guides and the New York Rare Plant Status Lists. He is also the founder of the Adirondack Botanical Society, past coordinator of the Long Island Invasive Species Management Area, and secretary of the New York Flora Association. He resides in Niskayuna, NY, outside of Schenectady.