Looking for ghosts, bats, and other spooky things this Halloween? Look no further than the Long Island Pine Barrens!
Pay a Visit to Long Island’s Ghost Forest!
Take a trip to the 1815 acre Hubbard County Park in Hampton Bays to visit Long Island’s own “Ghost Forest.” After walking through the woods, you will come out to the shoreline along Flanders Bay. Here, at low tide, you will see tree stumps from Atlantic White Cedars that had thrived centuries ago when sea levels were lower. Not only are these trees an interesting sight to see, they are extremely rare!
Keep an Eye Out for The Ghost Plant!
When walking along in the Pine Barrens, keep an eye out along the forest floor for the “Ghost Plant” or “Indian Pipe.” Because of its white color, the Indian Pipe is often confused as a fungus, but it’s really a flowering plant. The plant is white because it doesn’t have any chlorophyll. Since it doesn’t have any chlorophyll, it doesn’t photosynthesize its own food. Indian Pipes are parasitic and obtain their energy from their host, the mycorrhizal fungus that grows on tree roots.
Watch Your Fingers & Toes!
As covered in a previous blog, the Long Island Pine Barrens is home to its own Little Shop of Horrors! No, you won’t find any Venus Fly Traps that crave human blood, but you will find three other special types of carnivorous plants. They are the Pitcher Plant, Sundew, and Bladderwort. These plants get their nutrients mostly from consuming animals, and are commonly found in habitats with poor soil conditions, where they cannot rely on the ground to obtain their essential nutrients of nitrogen and phosphorus.
There are about seven common bats found on Long Island: Little Brown Bat, Tri-colored Bat, Big Brown Bat, Northern Long-eared Bat, Eastern Red Bat, Hoary Bat and the Silver-haired Bat. Bats are a crucial part of our environment! They play a critical role in controlling insect pests. A single little brown bat can catch more than 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in one hour! They also pollinate plants and disperse seeds. If we lose bats, we lose our natural pest-control – increasing our demand for chemical pesticides that harm our ecosystems even further. Now that’s a scary thought!
The Scariest of All!
Do you know what’s the scariest sight to see in the Pine Barrens? Areas where people have illegally dumped refuse or destroyed our precious ecosystem with illegal ATV use. Illegal dumping and All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) use severely threaten the Pine Barrens! Sadly, there are people that dump household trash, business garbage, yard waste and even junk cars. Dumping yard waste in the woods can introduce threatening non-native species to the Pine Barrens. The use of ATVs scares wildlife, destroy plants and nature trails, ruins the soil and can increase the risk of wildfire. ATVs are NEVER legal on public lands and roads. Be a guardian of the Pine Barrens and report a violation immediately when you see it by calling 1-877-BARRENS.
Happy Halloween! You never know what you will find in the Pine Barrens woods! Enter if you dare.
By: Katie Muether Brown, LI Pine Barrens Society