Just off the shore from Stonington and Westerly is a little gem of a Preserve: Sandy Point. It was a gift from the Gildersleeve family a number of years ago to Avalonia Land Conservancy. While it is owned by Avalonia, it is managed by teamwork. The Stonington COMO manages it for the public use. It is a favored beach and boating stop. Good swimming, beautiful beaches and great wildlife watching. Fires and over-night camping are prohibited. Dogs are not allowed on shore at all, to protect the wildlife. The COMO employs stewards during the summer to enforce regulations, check beach passes, interact, and answer questions.
To further protect the nesting shorebirds, the US Fish and Wildlife Service biologists monitor the island, and rope off the areas used by nesting Terns, Piping Plovers, and American Oystercatchers; all of which are species that are endangered, or threatened. It has been established that colonies of these birds can be quite successful, and still leave plenty of room for people to enjoy the island as well. The USFWS biologists are always eager to answer questions and engage the public to help with stewardship when they visit the island.
During May and June, full moon and new moon high tides, the island is also a sanctuary for horseshoe crabs coming to lay their eggs on the shoreline ( Look for the May 23rd post for more about horseshoe crabs.)
For a small island, there is a lot going on. To visit, please obtain your season passes from the Stonington Como. They are available now. There are daily passes available, as well as, discounted rates for COMO and Avalonia members. The COMO is located at 28 Cutler Street, Stonington. Phone 860-535-2476.
Enjoy what makes this a unique and valuable place. We are lucky to have so many people and agencies working together to preserve the habitat, for people and wildlife together.
Written by Beth Sullivan.
All photos by Rick Newton.