Southold Town recreation department introduces park passport

You know all of the local beaches. 

But now, Southold’s recreation department is inviting you to discover local parks and hiking trails as part of a new Park Passport program.

Recreation department supervisor Janet Douglass unveiled the program during a Town Board work session Tuesday.

Community members will be able to print a passport booklet or pick one up from the recreation department that highlights seven parks and preserves across the North Fork. Participants can then visit and hike, collecting a badge sticker from a kiosk along the trail for their booklet. Once completed, the passports can be turned into the department and be entered to win a gift certificate to Magic Fountain.

“I’ve not hiked many of these trails myself,” Ms. Douglass said Tuesday. “We saw this opportunity to introduce these trails to families.”

Parks listed in the passport program include the Ruth Oliva Preserve at Dam Pond, Downs Farm Preserve, Paul Stoutenburgh Preserve, Soundview Dunes County Park, Laurel Lake Preserve, Hummels Pond and the Custer Preserve.

The guide includes trail maps, visitor information and tick prevention tips reminding hikers to apply repellent or permethrin to clothing and conduct full-body tick checks.

Ms. Douglass said her department worked with the town’s youth bureau, GIS and department of public works to coordinate the new program. “It’s a fun way to bring attention to the fact that we have these great trails and parks within the town,” she said.

Youth bureau director Lynn Nyilas said she and Ms. Douglass recently hiked all of the trails to ensure they were passable and will work with local schools and libraries to promote the program.

“It’s a little bit of a scavenger hunt,” Ms. Nyilas said. “We were looking for programs that are Covid-friendly and can get families outside.”

Ms. Douglass said officials are finalizing the details for the program, which is expected to launch this summer.

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