The Town of Hempstead's outstanding Department of Conservation and Waterways oversees 17,000 acres of wetlands and 180 miles of coastal waterways. Comprising much of our South Shore, these waters remain a tremendous and pristine asset to our nature and marine enthusiasts.
Our township has always been a boater's paradise. The four marinas operated by the Department of Conservation and Waterways can accommodate some 600 pleasure craft and a number of party boats. The Guy Lombardo Marina in Freeport, the Inwood Marina in Inwood and the Angie M. Cullin East Marina in Point Lookout provide free pumpout stations for the use of area boats. The Curtis E. Fisher West Marina in Point Lookout and the Inwood Marina on Jamaica Bay provide excellent facilities to the boating public. In addition, the Department maintains more than 300 aids to navigation, while its Bay Constables enforce all applicable navigation and conservation laws, enhancing safety for those who utilize our waterways for recreational boating and fishing.
The town maintains the 50-acre Marine Nature Study Area in Oceanside. This outdoor laboratory provides tours of a tidal salt-marsh conducted by trained biologists and wildlife personnel. Many school groups, naturalist organizations and members of the general public take advantage of this tremendous educational resource.
In 2005, the town completed the first phase of a five-year plan to restore the Lido Beach Passive Nature Area, a 40-acre site located along Lido Boulevard in Lido Beach. Future phases will include interpretive displays, a circular trail through the preserve area, a walkout to the bay and benches for visitors to relax and view nature's bounty. The area supports a wide variety of grasses, vegetation and marine life, including several species of fish and shellfish.
The town's shellfish management program is a shared jurisdiction of the department's law enforcement and science divisions. Town Bay Constables are responsible for ensuring that clams are harvested only by shellfishers possessing special clamming permits and never from uncertified waters. Bay Constables serve as peace officers who patrol our waterways, enforce hunting and fishing regulations, carry out search-and-rescue operations for boaters in distress and teach boater and hunter safety courses. The science division manages the town's highly acclaimed clam growout and seeding program, which adds more than two million clams to the Town of Hempstead bays annually.
In addition, the Conservation and Waterways chemists provide water quality analyses of bay waters sampled from 39 sites in the Town of Hempstead estuary. The findings help to support our biological modeling and thriving clam industry in town waters. To provide these analyses, our chemists are using state-of-the art instrumentation and techniques such as: inductive coupled plasma spectrometry, gas chromatography, atomic absorption spectrometry, etc., in order to keep pace with changes in the required New York State Health Department standards and proficiencies.
The department maintains a biological staff whose disciplines range widely from endangered, injured and stranded species; entomology, botany, geology, ornithology, marsh, estuarine and beach processes, clam growout and seeding, to computer design and applications, including the newly emerging field of geographic information systems. The department also oversees real-time and near-real-time systems and data collections, emergency weather detection and dissemination, tide and meteorological gauging.