Weekly Update: Frogmen and Ninjas

Save the Sound looks forward to continuing the Future Frogmen mission: deepening the connection between people and nature.

Future Frogmen mission to continue through Save the Sound 

On a Thursday night in July 2019, Save the Sound co-hosted a screening of Blue Heart, a documentary produced by the Patagonia company about the battle to protect Europe’s last wild rivers from hydropower dams and developers. At that event, Alex Krofta, our ecological restoration project manager, met Richard E. Hyman, a Connecticut educator/conservationist/businessman who had been mentoring local students about marine conservation—a lifelong passion for Richard, who grew up tooling around Long Island Sound in his Boston Whaler and who later went on to crew three voyages aboard Jacques Cousteau’s research vessel, Calypso. 

A year after that initial meeting, Hyman hosted Alex and Gwen Macdonald, our then-restoration director, for a discussion about—what else?—dam removal as part of a video conversation series for his new initiative, Future Frogmen. The mission of Future Frogmen was and remains to inspire and empower a new generation of environmental leaders, and to empower high school and college students to generate public awareness about the ocean and deepen the connection between people and nature. Or, as expressed in a 2018 blog post explaining the origins of its cool and curious name: “We strive to make our mark, to carry on the good name, and to usher in an age of positive practices, informed thought, and unity for the good of humanity and the sea.” 

Thanks to recent developments, that mission will continue through our engagement of Future Frogmen’s following and its archive of original environmental content, including videos, a blog, and the “Blue Earth” podcast. (Here’s the episode with Alex and Gwen.) 

“I am pleased that my Future Frogmen efforts have found a new home with Save the Sound, an organization which shares our values and our sense of responsibility toward the health of Long Island Sound and the communities around it,” said Hyman, who over the years partnered with 54 high schools and colleges to introduce more than 200 student interns to environmental action. 

Save the Sound is excited to embrace the existing Future Frogmen network and welcome its 1,000-people-strong community to our ongoing projects, events, and action opportunities. And we will continue to make the Future Frogmen content catalogue available to the public.  

We’ll also expand our own content creation efforts, building on Future Frogmen’s podcasting legacy by launching an original podcast series via a community partnership with Verso Studios at The Westport Library. Planning is underway for a six-episode season, which will explore various environmental issues challenging the Long Island Sound watershed. The season is expected to debut in mid-2023.  

“We are thrilled to have added the legacy of Future Frogmen to our public engagement portfolio,” said Save the Sound president Leah Lopez Schmalz. “And we are excited to be working with Verso Studios at The Westport Library, creative partners who share our commitment to conservation, education, and involving young people in the ongoing work to protect, restore, and transform the Long Island Sound region. We hope these offering expansions provide newcomers opportunities to join our Save the Sound community.” 

Our feedback: green solutions over gray obstructions 

As far as acronyms go, it’s one of our favorites: NYNJHATS. As in, “ninja hats.” It stands for “New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries,” the waterbodies at the core of a coastal storm risk management feasibility study released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers back in September.  

As for the plan… We have our concerns, which we’re sharing with USACE as part of the NY and NJ Urban Tributaries Working Group. The collection of 10 environmental organizations considers the proposed $52 billion plan to be over-reliant on in-water barriers and underutilizing nature-based solutions, such as living shorelines, coastal marshes, and shellfish reefs. We also find that it focuses solely on storm surge and overlooks other factors that contribute to the heightened threat of flooding (rising sea levels, rising groundwater levels, increased precipitation), and creates sacrifice zones (such as the Bronx River, Hutchinson River, and communities in northern Queens that border Long Island Sound) that would be left unprotected. 

You can read the full comments from the Working Group, and greater New York City residents can use our simple form to submit comments to USACE prior to the deadline tomorrow, March 7. 

Catch “Clean Water Ways” on YouTube

In case you missed it, the Town of Groton with Save the Sound has launched a 25-minute program called “Clean Water Ways,” and its third installment is now in production. Catch Bill Lucey, our Soundkeeper, and Nicole Davis, our watershed coordinator, talking about the importance of a healthy Long Island Sound and how to improve stormwater runoff in the state of Connecticut in the first two episodes. All episodes are available now on Groton Municipal Television’s YouTube channel here

Let’s keep fighting together!

Save the Sound is fighting for you right now—for clean rivers and bays, a healthier Long Island Sound, protected lands, living shorelines, and cleaner air. We are engaged in multiple legal battles. Consider just one example: land conservation. We’re working to protect one of the largest blocks of contiguous forest in the region—6,370  acres of water source protection lands surrounding Colebrook Reservoir (one of CT’s last few remaining untapped surface drinking water supplies). We’re also fighting to preserve Plum Island in NY and the Oswegatchie Hills on the Niantic River in CT. We cannot continue these actions without your support. Help us win these legal battles and more! Send your gift to Save the Sound today.

Quick Links

  • Front-line physicians Dr. Ben Cherry and Dr. Anthony Yoder called for CT to strengthen its proposed environmental justice legislation in a letter to the editors of Greenwich Time.
  • Save the Sound is growing! See details for the following positions in our Larchmont and New Haven offices on our website: Director of Land Protection & Resilience, Member Engagement Manager, Major Gifts Manager, Staff Attorney, Laboratory Technician 

Upcoming Events 

  • CT Land Conservation Council’s annual conference is coming Saturday, March 25, at Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT. The largest land conservation gathering in CT offers a full slate of workshops, a keynote on “Green Angst” by Dr. Anne-Sophie Pagé, and networking with all of you! Register here.
  • Register now to participate in the 2023 Long Island Sound Summit: Funding and Strategies for Tackling Local Water Pollution, to be hosted by the Long Island Sound Coastal Watershed Network on Thursday, March 30, in Port Jefferson, NY. Check out the lineup of speakers and roundtable topics and moderators from around the LI Sound region.
  • Learn about metal pollution and its effects on the human body and brain with Save the Sound Board member and professor Johan Varekamp in a Wesleyan University seminar this April that’s open to the public. Get details here about the course, cost, and registration.

Find details on these, and all our events, on our Stay Engaged page.

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