Plum Island is a gem in eastern Long Island Sound. It is an 840-acre refuge for some of our region's most at-risk wildlife. Hundreds of birds and seals call the island home. Sea turtles, whales, and large numbers of fish live in its surrounding waters. The good news is that we, the people, already own this island. The bad news is a national research center on the island is slated to close and the federal government is trying to auction Plum Island, which could mean that the island's unique habitats, plants, and animals could be lost forever to a developer's bulldozer.
A documentary film focusing on the conservation of Plum Island and featuring Academy Award nominee Sam Waterston is now available for free viewing online. A new website has also launched, SavePlumIslandNY.org, and features extras like extended interviews, action steps to protect the island’s wildlife habitat, and an app that lets visitors create their own videos.
The short documentary, developed by nonprofit producer Visionaries in cooperation with Connecticut Fund for the Environment and its bi-state program Save the Sound, provides an engaging exploration of Plum Island’s natural resources and the continuing efforts of the Preserve Plum Island Coalition to preserve public land threatened by government attempts to sell it to the highest bidder. The film premiered on Connecticut Public Television in January and is expected to air on Long Island public television stations this spring.
“This may be one of the most important shows Visionaries has produced in its 23 years on public television,” said Bill Mosher, founder and executive producer of Visionaries. “It is the ultimate test of the power citizens have to move government in the direction that the people want, not what government wants. This story, in its dissemination over the internet and on public television, can demonstrate to all non-profits what can happen when socially conscious media intersects with a really important environmental cause.”
The film features Chris Cryder, Leah Lopez Schmalz, and Curt Johnson of CFE/Save the Sound and Patrick Comins of Audubon Connecticut, as well historians, birders, elected officials, and other advocates affiliated with the Preserve Plum Island Coalition.
Plum Island is home to threatened and endangered birds like the Piping Plover and Roseate Tern, as well as other rare species. Seventy Connecticut and New York organizations (including Audubon Connecticut) work together as the Preserve Plum Island Coalition, partnering with grassroots activists and champions in Congress to halt the sale of the island.
Since the making of the documentary, CFE/Save the Sound has brought an action in federal court claiming that the government’s decision to sell the island violates numerous federal environmental laws.
“Once people see Plum Island, they want to help protect it,” said Chris Cryder, special projects coordinator for CFE/Save the Sound, who has been showing the documentary to community groups around the Sound region. “We’re excited to bring the beauty and unique history of Plum Island to thousands more people, and to make it easy for them to share their love of the island with their friends!”
Conservation on a Small Island - a short documentary
Want to help to protect Plum Island? Contact Audubon Connecticut Policy Manager Genese Leach by email to learn what you can do and to join our conservation advocacy army.