More than 40 kayakers and one stand-up paddle boarder hit the water on Saturday, August 18, for the first “Paddle for Plum Island,” organized by Save the Sound, a local non-profit dedicated to preserving the Long Island Sound region.
Over $2000 was raised to support STS’s efforts to lead a visioning process for the future use of the 840-acre, federally-owned island. It is home to threatened and endangered birds like the piping plover and roseate tern, as well as other rare species. The non-profit and other Plum Island enthusiasts aim to prevent the island from commercial sale and development once the Plum Island Animal Disease Center moves to Kansas, a transition expected to be completed by 2023.
The event kicked off with brief speeches from Louise Harrison, New York natural areas coordinator for Save the Sound, Orient Beach State Park manager Sue Wuehler, and Steve Berner, president of the Long Island Paddlers. Participants paddled through the park’s northern bays and creeks on a three-hour trip, followed by an after-party in the park with a barbecue and a raffle with donations from local restaurants, farms, and other small businesses.
More than 100 Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island organizations work together as the Preserve Plum Island Coalition, partnering with grassroots activists and those in Congress to halt sale of the island. Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound brought an action in federal court in 2016 claiming that the government’s decision to sell the island violates numerous federal environmental laws. A judge ruled earlier this year that the suit could go forward.