MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Local, county and New York State officials formed a line next to Harbor Island's loading dock Monday to demonstrate how everyday waste pollutes fresh water rivers, during a press conference to announce a new plan to restore and preserve the Long Island Sound.
"This line of people is representing one of our many fresh water entryways into the Long Island Sound," said Dana August, a volunteer at the Maritime Aquarium in Connecticut. "Anything that somehow affects that river will somehow affect the Long Island Sound."
August and Liz Jensen had the officials, starting with Westchester County Legislator Judy Myers and Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino, pass a water bottle, trash, grass croppings and other everyday waste, down the line.
At the end of the line, Village of Mamaroneck Trustee and mayoral candidate Toni Pergola Ryan held a tray that all items were dumped on, signifying the Sound.
"We need to realize what we're doing with our everyday trash and waste and take responsibly for the things we consume so that we can take responsibility for our natural environment," said August, who usually does this demonstration with children.
Mamaroneck Councilwoman Nancy Seligson presented the SoundVision Action Plan, which was drawn up and adopted by the 37-member Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). The committee is a component of the Long Island Sound Study and is made up of organizations and municipalities from Connecticut and New York. Seligson is the New York co-chair, but also represents Mamaroneck as a member.
"It is an exciting mix of policy recommendations, scientific needs, educational opportunities and personal action; all of which combine to restore our regional treasure," Seligson said.
The two-year plan is divided into four categories that look to secure investments from all levels of government, protect clean water, create and preserve eco-friendly habitats for wildlife, and improve shoreline communities.
Monday's press conference was part of a summer tour that will bring a schooner from SoundWaters, a Connecticut-based nonprofit with the mission to protect the Sound through education, to eight ports around the Sound. Harbor Island was the first stop.
Curt Johnson, CAC Conn. co-chair and Save the Sound program director, toured the boat, which had several educational stations set up for people after the press conference.
First mate Josh Mayo taught Johnson about several different species of sea animals at the benthic tank, and had him hold a few, including a horseshoe crab.
"I'm thrilled so many local leaders, but also the state senator and county legislator, were here," Johnson said. "You could hear the level of attachment they have to the Sound."
Seligson asked Ryan to close the press conference with her memories of the Sound.
"I've never belonged to a club," she said. "Harbor Island was my club growing up. Let's not take this for granted."
Justin Cathcart, captain of the schooner, was supposed to take those who signed up in advance out on the harbor from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., but rain forced them to re-schedule.
There is no make-up date scheduled yet, said Rebecca Kaplan, spokeswoman for the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, which Save the Sound is a component of.
"A vibrant and clean Sound not only enhances the beauty and enjoyment of our costal communities, but also plays a critical role in the economic prosperity of Westchester County and the state," said State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D - Mamaroneck).
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