The Caumsett Foundation

Trail Access, Safety and Erosion Mitigation Study

fieldIn an effort to maintain an enhanced visitor experience, the Foundation is addressing the erosion on the steep hill between the Main House and the 14-acre freshwater pond in order to restore two paths that lead down the 800’ slope and establish an educational viewing site at the pond. A feasibility study will address serious safety issues as well as restoring native ecological communities.

Until August 2022 visitors reached Fresh Pond from the Main House overlook by walking down an 800' steep hillside. The Covid epidemic has been a mixed blessing for the Park as annual visitation has doubled over 2 1/2 years to over 900,000. The heavy foot traffic has further compacted the soil creating severe erosion conditions washing soil downhill toward Fresh Pond and eliminating the native grasslands that thrived along this part of the hillside. Recent erosion has accelerated to the point where gullies have formed resulting in additional environmental degradation and safety concerns. The existing historic slate pathway on the west side of the Main House and the pathway on the east side have been similarly degraded and are unsafe. Due to these conditions NYS Parks has closed off this access by erecting two parallel snow fences that stretch across the entire top of the hillside. The Park also posted a sign that warns visitors of the dangerous conditions. Despite these deterrents visitors persist in finding ways to walk around or over the fencing, creating new compacted paths which have already begun to erode.

Providing safe and aesthetically appealing pathways from the Main House to Fresh Pond would create reliable access for visitors, improve the Park experience both visually and physically, remediate severe ongoing erosion, prevent further degradation of the surrounding natural ecosystems caused by the erosion, and restore native flora thereby increasing biodiversity and allow for environmental educational opportunities at this site.