Tucked away within a small residential area, Lily Pond can be seen from the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike, just north of the Sag Harbor transfer station. This 6.7 acre, round-shaped, freshwater pond is very shallow. As per its name, Lily Pond is covered with Fragrant Water Lilies (Nymphaea odorata) during the summer. The most developed of the greenbelt’s freshwater ponds, the approximately 2,200 feet of shoreline is rimmed by 17 houses and lacks public access. A small, 1.4 acre preserve owned by The Nature Conservancy is located on the southeast corner of the pond and provides a greenbelt corridor connecting Lily Pond to Little Long Pond. The preserve is named the Williamson Preserve in honor of the owners who sold the property to The Nature Conservancy.
Classified by ecologists as a coastal plain pond, Lily Pond represents an area of exposed water table fed solely by groundwater via precipitation with no inlet or outlet. It’s water level fluctuates both seasonally and annually and can provide a good indicator of the level of our groundwater table. Being a shallow pond, periods of low precipitation can expose a broad expanse of gently sloping beach along the pond’s edges. Seeds in the beach sand that have lain dormant, and underwater, for several years are now stimulated to germinate. Among the interesting species that will colonize the newly exposed shoreline are many rare plants, including rushes, sedges, bladderworts, a number of wildflowers and the insectivorous sundews.
According to Nature Conservancy records, Lily Pond hosts a half dozen species of rare plants and animals, including Crested Fringed Orchid (Platanthera cristata), two species of Bald-Rush, and the Lateral Bluet (Enallagma laterale), a small (1-1.25 inch-long) pale blue and black damselfly with a conspicuous black marking on each side of its 8th abdomen. The Lateral Bluet prefers pond edges that are heavily vegetated with emergent rushes, gentians and pickerelweeds.
Management challenges facing Lily Pond include controlling Common Reed (Phragmites australis) and other invasive plants, and maintaining water quality.