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West Hills County Park , an 800+ acre park located in Melville, Long Island, is a true jewel. Walk the Walt Whitman Trail to Jayne’s Hill, the highest point on Long Island at 400 feet. Gaze out to the north to The Long Island Sound or to the south, the bays and the ocean, or look east as far as the eye can see to the horizon, Long Island stretched out before you.
In addition, the park offers a wide variety of activities. Click here for Suffolk County Parks.
West Hills In Whitman’s Time
Here the young Whitman dreamed of the great country beyond Long Island, inspired by that vista. By “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” or “Starting From Paumanok,” Whitman left the woods and merged with the masses, with the country, an everyman, our National Poet. Arguably, Long Island’s poet, Billy Joel, made the same journey growing up by New York City, the nation’s doorstep, but always of the island.
It would be fair to say that any Long Islander finds this vista inspiring, a Democratic Vista if you will — trains, ferries, ships, a bustling new nation visible from this rare prospect. For any Long Islander, Jayne’s Hill is a miraculous reminder that there was a world behind this flat expanse, this glorified sandbar. Over 11,000 years ago, the ice sheet melted and a lot of larger rocks fell out here along Long Island’s northwest. Here you can see well beyond this island set so far apart. It’s all sand a long ways down along the South Shore with the melt off.
For decades, Rona Fried as walked these woods and trails. She has seen year by year how increasingly invasive plants have been eating away at this and other parks she will visit, mostly with her dog, but always on the lookout for an invasive plant to remove. Seeking to scale her efforts, Rona reached out to The Long Island Conservancy.
West Hills Phase One Spring 2023
The story of our initial encounter with West Hills may be read here:
There you can read what the initial scope of work for West Hill was, what invasive plants were removed, as well as a summary of Rona’s long career as a patron of the environment, as a local steward, and as the Author at Sustainable Business, a service that provides news, community, and listings for those working towards sustainability.
West Hills Returning in November
On November 14th, our crew visited West Hills County Park to photograph it as we headed into winter.
Several weeks later, we found ourselves yet again in West Hills County Park to showcase invasive plant removal as part of our Dirty Dozen Campaign, Long Island’s twelve worst invasive plants. Watch as we take on Wisteria, Oriental Bittersweet, and English Ivy.
West Hills in January: Removing Vines
It is essential that every community work to care for their local parks. People like Rona Fried, people who care about nature, who walk the trails and find daily inspiration here, they are essential to the preservation of our parks and open spaces for future generations. The Long Island Conservancy is dedicated to finding and championing local stewards in every Long Island community. We can bring the both the science and the manpower to help local groups heal their open spaces and rebuild habitat.
The Long Island Conservancy sees our work at West Hills as ongoing. Rona had asked if we could help her establish a “Friends of West Hills” so that this 800 acre park can receive the care it needs. Would you like to volunteer to help restore and preserve nature? Please reach out to us via the contact sheet below. If you are a student, it’s a great way to meet your volunteer requirement. If you want to experience a rare place and help it stay that way, the opportunity it here for you!