Officials and Community Groups Call for Expansion of Crucial Water Quality Program: Community Oyster Gardening
Senator Gaughran and Supervisor Saladino joined local oyster gardeners at Laurel Hollow Beach to call for an expansion of a crucial water quality program — community oyster gardening — at a time when Long Island’s water quality is facing unprecedented challenges. The oyster gardening program is an initiative that supports the local bays using oysters’ natural water-filtering qualities, which helps to restore unfarmable water back to its original, healthy state. The program is a collaboration between Friends of the Bay, the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee, academics, shellfish experts, local officials, and area residents. In its third year, the program is seeking approval for an expansion to additional area and calling for volunteers to continue growing this critical water quality project.
Senator Jim Gaughran said “Protecting our beautiful bays is important for our environment and our water quality, but also for our sustainability as a region. Programs like Community Shellfish Gardening support our local waterways, help restore our shellfish population, and improve our local water quality. I encourage local residents to get involved with this excellent and expanding program and I applaud the tireless work of the volunteers who run these critical programs.”
In its third year, Community Shellfish Gardening is a proven outreach tool to connect residents to their local waterways and raise awareness for the condition of local waterways. Shellfish by their nature can enhance the marine habitat, and oysters’ natural water-filtering qualities improve water quality in the Long Island Sound. Gaughran’s support for this program is part of his commitment to address pressing environmental issues, improve local water quality, and restore Long Island’s bays. In acknowledgment to the importance of growing this program, tomorrow the Town of Oyster Bay is slated to approve three bay management areas in Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor which set aside areas that will allow the oysters to thrive. Long Island is at a critical junction time for water quality and community programs like these play a vital role in improving water quality, supporting the environment, and restoring the shellfish population. Local volunteers who organize and run this program support an ecologically, economically and culturally important local resource.
Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino said “Initiatives like the Community Shellfish Gardening Program help bolster the local economy and improve the resiliency of our coastal communities by restoring shellfish populations to our beautiful harbor. This program demonstrates our joined commitment to helping our environment, and working together to protect our most precious resource – our water supply.”
Village of Laurel Hollow Mayor Dan DeVita said “In cooperation with the Oyster Bay Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee and Friends of the Bay, now in its third year Laurel Hollow is proud to have been the first North Shore Village to have an Oyster Garden Program. From the beginning, our residents have been incredibly enthusiastic about this program. Not only do Laurel Hollow residents make up the largest number of participants, but many other of our residents generously sponsor cages for other groups or individuals or simply donate funds for the benefit of the program. The cause of a cleaner Long Island Sound has become a community goal uniting our residents and stretching beyond our Village to other North Shore Communities, such as Bayville and Oyster Bay Cove. We welcome their participation and partnership. We thank Senator James Gaughran and all of our representatives for their bipartisan support for this important project, and we look forward to its continued growth and success.”
Legislator Josh Lafazan said “No generation has more at stake when it comes to protecting our environment than my generation. As a millennial Long Islander, I am so grateful for the efforts of Senator Gaughran, Mayor DeVita, and all of our local elected officials gathered here today. Environmental protection should be at the top of everyone’s agenda, and here on the north shore, we are putting plans into action and actively making a difference for the long term health of our ecosystem and our planet.”
Friends of the Bay Executive Director and Chair of the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee Heather Johnson said “The Community Shellfish Gardening Program is a great example of a project that not only benefits our environment but brings together residents in the community for an educational and fun activity. There are many who have worked hard to make this a successful program, and we are grateful for the support it has received. Thanks to the Village of Laurel Hollow, the Oyster Bay/ Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee and our partners in creating this program. Special thanks to all of our gardeners for their enthusiastic participation in making it the success it is. Speaking for Friends of the Bay, who has been involved from the beginning, we are grateful to be part of this.”
Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee Coordinator Rob Crafa said “The Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection has been blown away by the outpouring of community support for oyster gardening in the last three seasons. This program, designed to connect and engage residents in a meaningful way to their local waters, has exceeded our expectations. It is inspiring to see the enthusiasm from residents to elected officials like Senator Gaughran for protecting and enhancing local water quality. We have not only connected residents to the bays but to each other as we have participants which include families, girl scouts, Huntington and Cold Spring Harbor high school students, yacht clubs and members of St. John’s Church, Three Harbors Garden Club and Cold Spring Harbor Lab. This year we are excited to put thousands of our oysters into spawner sanctuaries being established by the Town of Oyster Bay to enable the oysters to thrive, reproduce and enhance the water quality and marine habitat for years to come.”