Guest blog post by writer and environmentalist Tom Andersen
Has Long Island Sound fallen out of the public consciousness? To some extent, yes. At least that was the impression of the folks at Save the Sound (a program of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment) and the Long Island Sound Study’s Citizens Advisory Committee.
They spent part of the last couple of years asking questions about the Sound and listening to the answers, and what they decided was that the Sound — not just its problems but its qualities, its beauties — has become less of a concern for the people who live near it.
That’s bad news because along with the qualities and beauties, there are serious problems. Hypoxia still turns dozens if not scores of square miles of Westchester, Nassau and Fairfield counties into a near-dead zone in July and August. Contaminated stormwater forces the closure of beaches with every heavy rain. Storm drains, streams and rivers carry tons of trash from the watershed into the Sound, sullying marshes and tide flats and beaches.
To change consciousness and to push for solutions, Save the Sound and the Citizens Advisory Committee came up with SoundVision, a two-year action plan to restore and protect Long Island Sound. They unveiled it for the first time on Monday, August 1, at Mamaroneck’s Harbor Island Park.
The action plan has four major components:
- Protecting Clean Water to Achieve a Healthy Sound
- Creating Safe and Thriving Places for All Sound Creatures
- Building Long Island Sound Communities that Work
- Investing in an Economically Vibrant Long Island Sound
Each has three to seven action steps. For example, two of the steps under Protecting Clean Water to Achieve a Healthy Sound are:
- Promote green infrastructure projects in neighborhoods and in large city sites
- Ensure that new construction in the Long Island Sound region uses low impact development to avoid stormwater pollution
You can read the others in the full report, at www.lisoundvision.org//full-report.cfm
At Monday’s event, the CAC co-chairs — Curt Johnson of Save the Sound and Nancy Seligson, a member of the Mamaroneck Town Board — summarized the details. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer, County Legislator Judy Meyers, and Mamaroneck Village Trustee Toni Pergola Ryan each expressed support for the plan, as did Jennifer Herring of the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium and Dianne Selditch, the center director of SoundWaters.
The plan for the day was to follow the press announcement with a two-hour sail on the Schooner SoundWaters, which was docked in Mamaroneck Harbor’s East Basin. But the presence of thunderstorms throughout the region — and in particular a pall of heavy blue-gray clouds hanging over the Sound outside the harbor entrance — forced the cancellation of the boat ride.
Although the weather was a disappointment it did not discourage anyone or distract from the longer-range action plan.
“We’ve made a lot of progress,” Curt Johnson said, “but we have a long way to go.”
Tom Andersen is the author is This Fine Piece of Water: An Environmental History of Long Island Sound (Yale University Press). A Pound Ridge resident, he writes about the Sound and other environmental issues on his blog, ThisSphere.blogspot.com