Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex
PO Box 21
340 Smith Road
Shirley, NY 11967
(631) 286-0485

Places Nearby:
Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum
Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery
Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium
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Though this complex consists of eight different refuges, five have limited access and would not likely be suitable for school or even private use, except for the very dedicated and determined naturalist. Individuals or teachers involved in serious nature study can contact the Refuge Manager for details about these places.

Of the three remaining refuges, Target Rock and Morton are the two most frequently used by families and school groups. The Wertheim NWR is also available, but primary access is by canoe. It is a 2,400 acre site on the south shore, and includes the Carmans River. Home to a remarkable diversity and abundance of wildlife, and being less accessible than the others (and more private), the Wertheim NWR is probably worth the extra effort involved to get to it. The entrance is off of Smith Road in Shirley.

The Morton NWR is a 187 acre refuge, including Jessup's Neck peninsula. Sandy, gravel, and rocky beaches fringe the wooded bluffs of Jessup's Neck which overlook the Peconic and Noyack Bays. The remainder of the refuge is upland forest, brackish and freshwater ponds, saltmarsh, a lagoon, and open fields. These habitats provide for a diversity of wildlife including deer and other common mammals, reptiles, songbirds, waterbirds, and raptors. Bay and sea ducks are common during winter. The refuge is managed to protect a unique natural area for migratory birds. The refuge is located in Sag Harbor.

Target Rock NWR consists of 80 acres on the Lloyd Neck peninsula on the north shore. Comprised of mature upland forest and a half mile of rocky beach, the Refuge supports a variety of songbirds, mammals, shorebirds, game fish, and reptiles. During the colder months, diving ducks are common offshore and harbor seals are occasionally observed.

All areas are suitable for nature study, photography, hiking, birding, etc. In fact, it would probably be difficult to find a better place to do such things.

Staff may be available to provide a brief orientation to students, but this should be confirmed beforehand. Due to possible staff shortages it is important that teachers planning to use the Refuge Complex be prepared to present their own environmental education programs. Again, this means planning a trip would take a little extra effort, but may result in the best trip your group has ever had. Interested group leaders should contact the Refuge Manager at least a month in advance.

Hours: Wertheim (Complex Headquarters) is open Monday thru Friday, 8am - 4:30pm. General visiting hours to all areas are daily, from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
Only Target Rock and Morton have a fee, as follows: $4.00 per vehicle; $2.00 per walk-in; Call for bus fees. Organized groups visiting for environmental education purposes may be exempt from fees. Frequent visitors can purchase special passes ($12.00), and to seniors and the handicapped, they are free. Call for details.
Same. Groups of 12 or more can file for an entry fee waiver. See the official website linked above or call for details.
Group Reservations: At least 4 weeks in advance. During the summer, inquiries can also be made at (516) 725-2270 (Morton Office).
Lunch: Bagged lunch can be eaten. Proper disposal of refuse is a must.
Handicapped Access: Offices and interpretive kiosks are wheelchair accessible.
Directions: Directions to Wertheim NWR: I-495 East to exit for William Floyd Pkwy South. South to Rt. 27A (Montauk Hwy). West on 27A a short distance to Smith Road. Turn left. Entrance is 1/3 mile on right. Time: 90 minutes from the Goerge Washington Bridge.

Directions to Morton NWR: I-495 to exit 70 (CR 111). Turn right from exit and go to end. Turn left onto Rt. 27 east (Montauk Hwy). Go north at exit 9, North Sea Road (Rt. 38) to North Sea/Noyack. Continue onto Noyack Road. Refuge is 5 miles on left. Time: 2 hours from the George Washington Bridge.

Directions to Target Rock NWR: I-495 east to Rt. 110 North. Take 110 through Huntington to Rt. 25A (Main St.). West on 25A ¼ mile, then north on West Neck Road for 5 miles. Continue onto Lloyd Harbor Road past Caumsett State Park. Entrance is at end of road on right. Time: 90 minutes from the George Washington Bridge.

Copyright © 1996-2014 by Patrick Tadeushuk. All Rights Reserved.