8. Udalls Cove Park Preserve is one of the few remaining salt marshes on the metropolitan North Shore
Udalls Cove, located between Little Neck and Douglaston, is one of the few remaining salt marshes on the North Shore of New York City, along with a salt marsh at nearby Alley Pond Park. Plans for the park preserve were put in place in 1960, and the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee (UCPC) was created in 1969 to care for the wildlife of the area. An “Ecological Report on Udalls Cove” was published a year later, outlining the conditions of the marshlands and wetlands. The wetlands measure around 100 acres, serving as a haven for egrets, herons, muskrats, and other marine animals. Many of these animals reside near a ravine and freshwater streams like Gabler’s Creek near homes in Little Neck and Douglaston. The cove is named for Richard Udall, who in 1833 bought a mill on the eastern side, which is now the Saddle Rock Mill in Great Neck.
However, even before the wetland park was approved, reports determined that as much as 50% of the marshlands were destroyed. Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall publicly noted regarding environmental damage, “All too often this is simply because public conscience hasn’t been given the basic ecological understanding so necessary to selection of the right alternative.” There were threats to replace Udalls Cove with a golf course and an extension of a nearby church, and by the 1980s, construction on apartments nearby had posed further threats to the preservation of the wetlands. However, with the efforts of a Douglaston resident named Aurora Gareiss, Udalls Cove still has preserved dozens of animal species with particular assistance from local schools, including snowy egrets, ospreys, wood ducks, and clapper rails. Major restoration was performed on Aurora Pond in 2006, and over $185,000 was invested by the UCPC for restoration projects to the ravine and Virginia Point section.