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We couldn’t do what we do without you! Take the cleanup this fall at Shepaug Dam, an eagle-watching spot on the Housatonic River. Volunteers collected hundreds of pounds of metal brackets, a rusted-out bench seat from a motorboat, a grill, and other more traditional trash. 

If you want to know what saving the Sound looks like, take a glance in the mirror. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you have done something this year to preserve, restore, and transform the Long Island Sound region. And for that, we thank you.

Saving the Sound happens through so many beneficial acts, and we are grateful for all of your generous contributions in 2023, whether they have consisted of your time, your attention, or financial support. Maybe you became a member this year, or found it possible to give a little more than you did last year. Maybe you urged your elected officials to pass legislation aimed at clean water or clean cars or to preserve Plum Island as a national monument. Maybe you stopped by our table in Mount Vernon on Earth Day or at the Essex Boat Show to ask a question, or visited our exhibit at the Reboli Center in Stony Brook, or you picked up a copy of our Beach Report and asked your local officials why your favorite beach received another C grade.

Our staff always appreciates when community members want to learn more about our work and what they can do to help protect the Long Island Sound region.

You can see our shared commitment in all the efforts made by our growing Save the Sound community. It looks like the member of the Six Lakes Park Coalition who, two days before his 90th birthday, walked the perimeter of the 102-acre property, just as much as it looks like the family with two small boys, riding in a red wagon, who brought up the rear in that recent walk that also included state legislators, local activists, and the mayor of Hamden.

It’s reflected in the persistence of a 72-year-old woman on her kayak – the oldest participant in this year’s Paddle for the Sound fundraiser – who chalked up the longest distance in a single excursion (16.5 miles), and in the smiles on the cold, wet faces of everyone who hopped on their bikes and pedaled through a cold rain on an April morning to complete the 15th annual Rock to Rock ride in New Haven’s East Rock Park.

So much of our work runs on volunteer fuel. We couldn’t do what we do without your help.

Our eelgrass restoration project would have gone impossibly slow without everyone who showed up at Cedar Island Marina in Clinton to glue 20,000 eelgrass seeds to 9,000 clams over three days that Soundkeeper Bill Lucey called “arts and crafts and conservation combined!” And our Soundkeeper team surely couldn’t have disposed properly of the 400+ lobster traps it recovered from the Sound’s floor had two dozen volunteers not showed up to Captain’s Cove in Bridgeport on America Recycles Day to schlep the barnacle-encrusted metal cages into a pair of dumpsters, an event “as much fun as it was work,” according to Scott Redfern, a UConn Encore Fellow who has been working with us this fall.

UConn Encore Fellow Scott Redfern spent America Recycles Day helping our Soundkeeper team dipose of 400+ lobster traps that had been stored at Captain’s Cove in Bridgeport, CT.

Twenty-eight volunteers were responsible for gathering a significant percentage of the record-777 water samples we collected in the western Sound during the 10th season of our Bacteria Monitoring Program. Students, retirees, parents – even one dynamic duo of a teacher and her student –showed up once a week for the 12-week season, dipped sample bottles into rivers, embayments, and shoreline stations, recorded data, and delivered the samples to our lab in Larchmont to be processed. One volunteer even traveled between her assigned sites on her bicycle.

Another 56 or so volunteers brought to life the new 40,000-square foot rain garden at Town Center Park in Hamden, installing more than 400 plants during three events – creating green infrastructure that will filter and absorb around 96 million gallons of stormwater per year.

We’re still tallying the volunteers who participated in the 76 cleanups we coordinated across Connecticut this year from Greenwich Point Park to Meriden’s Union Pond. Thousands of you showed up to pick up literal tons of trash from beaches and parks, removing items that ranged from the usual (cigarette butts, food wrappers and containers, plastic bags, bottles, and utensils) to the unusual (a shovel, a screwdriver, wiffleballs, a Weber grill, even a moped!).

All year long, we’ve put out the call, and you’ve answered.

You’ve attended our water quality webinars and our community conversations on Environmental Justice. You’ve joined us for events on Zoom as part of our Youth Eco Advocacy Corps and in person, pulling on waders and walking the Hutchinson River to hear plans for watershed restoration. You’ve answered the call to support the work of our attorneys, scientists, and organizers experts with generous gifts. You’ve reported pollution in your neighborhood so we could investigate, and you’ve plotted points on a digital map to show us how you use the water in Queens and the Bronx to help us push the Department of Environmental Conservation to set the strongest possible standards for water quality. You’ve walked the halls of Connecticut’s Capitol Building to demand climate accountability and carried signs outside the Suffolk County Legislature in Riverhead calling for the right to vote on your own clean water future.

It takes a village to make a difference, and we are fortunate to have the support of dedicated people like you in villages, towns, and cities around the entire Long Island Sound region, from Orient Point to the Colebrook reservoir, from the Sound Shore of Westchester County to Wequetequock Cove. We are grateful for all that you’ve done, and for all the ways you will continue to serve as stewards of our shared environment.

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Saturday, April 27, at East Rock Park in New Haven
Celebrate Earth Day, cycle or hike with the New Haven community, fundraise for environmental organizations, and enjoy food, music, and more at the Green Fair on April 27. Join our cycling team to support a healthy, clean, and thriving Long Island Sound region.

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