Monday, May 30, 2016

Summer planning for Sandy Point

By Beth Sullivan
Summer is just around the corner. For many, Memorial Day weekend signals the beginning of the season, and the weather has finally seemed to settle into a more summer-like mode as well.
Happy Memorial Day, It time to remember we need to share Sandy Point with many species.

A Sandy Point Summer

It only seems right to think about Sandy Point at this time, though the birds and Horseshoe Crabs and USFWS have been thinking about it for quite a while! More than a month ago the shorebirds arrived, and already the American Oystercatchers have established nests. Piping Plovers have also arrived, and we are waiting to get reports of numbers this year.
Oystercatchers have already nested successfully this season. Photograph by Rick Newton.

The Full moon in May also signals the real beginning of the Horseshoe Crab migration to the island for nesting-a trek that has gone on for thousands if not millions of years. Avalonia Stewards are gearing up to do our kayak excursions out to the island to count and tag the returning crabs. Later we will paddle out to look for the nests and hatching young and juvenile crabs that take refuge in the calm waters on the north side of the island.
The Horseshoe crabs have returned to nest.

As we have reported over the last year, Avalonia Land Conservancy has entered into a very supportive relationship with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to manage the island. It had become impossible to juggle the needs of the wildlife for the special habitat to survive, and the wishes of the island-loving public that has enjoyed the island’s sandy shores and inviting waters for generations.
Dogs are not allowed on the island at all. Please leave them home.

The Service will provide wildlife biologists as experienced stewards who will study the protected species, will note where they nest, and provide protection for them. They will also be available to educate the public, answer questions and explain the rules. An informed visitor is far more likely to be compliant and actually help with the effort to preserve and protect the place we all love. They will also have the ability to see that the rules are followed.
US Fish and Wildlife Service will educate the public and protect the wildlife.

Passes are still needed to visit

All of this effort comes at a cost and, as in the past, there will be a fee for usage of Sandy Point, which will help offset this expense. The USFWS has developed a fee scale that is very fair and is actually less expensive than in past years. Also, they have decided to continue the relationship with the Stonington COMO to assist with the management of the process and procedures to obtain passes and their distribution. You can go directly to the COMO if you choose, or very easily go to the COMO website and link to Summer Beach Passes. The direct link to purchase a Sandy Point Pass is below:
It will be important to keep the pass with you and a personal ID while visiting the island, as stewards will check for them. They will be required from Memorial Day and through Labor Day.
It truly is a small price to pay to be able to enjoy the beautiful island beaches and waters, but also know that your purchase actually goes to support the stewardship of the island to protect and preserve it for all who visit or call it home.
When done for the day, pick up your litter. It can be deadly for birds and other wildlife.

We will keep you posted on the seasonal changes out there. In the meantime, get your passes and enjoy the early summer pleasures of Avalonia’s gem- Sandy Point Island.

Photographs by Beth Sullivan unless otherwise indicated.

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