Fishers Island Conservancy Fishers Island


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45 Minutes, Yet a World Away: The History and Natural Beauty That is Fishers Island

By Carolyn Battista / Photos by Vincent Scarano

Walking along the Fishers Island shore, we saw the natural tidal wrack lines of washed-up eel grass and kelp. Heading inland, we spotted big signs about invaders, like the awful black swallow wort. We - photographer and writer - were here to look around and learn a bit about this quiet, mostly private little island.

We focused especially on the history of the island and on the work to protect its land and wildlife, today and forever. The U.S. Army once operated Fort H. G. Wright here to deal with our nation's enemies. Now the Fishers Island Conservancy works here to vanquish environmental enemies" - black swallow wort and other invasive plants - and to replace them with native species. The Conservancy, which has long looked after island land and waters, hopes that islanders will get behind the effort and that others can learn from it.

The island, about a mile wide and nine miles long, is a "hamlet" of Southold, New York, although it's much closer to Connecticut. In summer, its population is a few thousand; the yacht clubs and golf course are busy. Offseason, the population is about 230. The island's long "east end" is a gated neighborhood; the "west end" has a small village area, tree-lined streets, the ferry dock, a museum, a few year-round businesses, and a few more seasonal ones. There are churches, a health center, a volunteer fire department, and the school, pre-K-grade 12, where about half the 70-some students come from the mainland. (Commuting kids on the ferry said they love the school. "I'm intellectually challenged," one said, noting science programs. "I know everyone's name," another said).

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JUSTINE KIBBE, Fishers Island Naturalist

Justine monitors 12 key sites on Fishers Island, where she records observations and trends of the environment and its unique ecosystems. With the support and efforts of our Island community she bridges local traditional knowledge with Science; helping to preserve natural history while nurturing stewardship for all generations.

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Meet Justine Kibbe, Fishers Island Naturalist
Happy & Healthy Seagrass
"Happy and healthy seagrass meadow" displays oxygen bubbling in 4 ft. waters; northeast Fishers Island. Snorkeling & Video: Soren Dahl, NYS Seagrass Coordinator, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Specialist

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