Featured Story
06/07/19 2:00pm

COURTESY PHOTO A team member of the Eco-Photo Explorers geared up for deep-sea diving to search for a sunken ship in local waters.

The wreck of the USS Ohio sits on the bottom off Conklin’s Point in Southold, right where the North Ferry used to cross many years ago. (more…)

04/25/13 12:00pm

COURTESY PHOTO

The Piping Plover is a small sand-colored shorebird that nests and feeds along coastal sand and pebble beaches in North America.  Its size is only about 6 inches, has a mass of less than 3 ounces, and is listed as an endangered species by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

So what does this beautiful little bird have to do with the Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce?  A lot!  Due to its endangered status, this pint-sized critter generally alters our desired schedule for the annual fireworks display.

For decades, the fireworks were launched from the east end shore of Crescent Beach.  In more recent years, however, our local officials and police department became increasingly concerned about the risk of personal injury and property damage since the attendance at the event grew and everyone became more “liability” conscious and risk adverse.

In addition, the permit process was easier.  There were fewer logistical considerations and agencies required to approve the event.   Now the fireworks are launched from a barge, which must be carefully positioned on Shelter Island Sound off  Crescent Beach. Permits must be obtained from the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Homeland Security/United States Coast Guard, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, who checks in with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. And finally the Shelter Island Town Board must give its blessing.  We also notify the Village of North Haven, which wants to know the time and date when the fireworks will be transported through their village to get to the attending barge at the South Ferry.

For a little organization like the Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce, these logistical hurdles are daunting and involve many moving parts at significant annual expense.

We are fortunate to have a generous and supportive community behind our efforts to sponsor this great Shelter Island tradition.  The annual cost to hold this event is north of $35,000.  While stressful, it is amazing that we fundraise nearly enough each year to cover the cost, not including the significant amount of volunteerism, governmental support and in-kind donations.

What became clear after last year’s disappointment is that many of our citizens expressed that they would like the display to be closer to July 4th.  We too recognize the patriotic merit of having the event as near to the Fourth as possible. But that’s where our fine feathered friend, the Piping Plover, re-enters the storyline.

The birds’ habitat is on Conklin’s Point, and the vicinity must be surveyed prior to the event to locate nests of adults, chicks and fledglings. Historically, around the beginning of July and for a period of up to several weeks thereafter, the nests are occupied, and generally result in final permit approval from the NYSDEC and USFWS within a week of the actual event.

The date for this year’s display is tentatively scheduled for July 6th subject to the vagaries of the approval process to which we must adhere. We simply wish for you to understand these planning complexities.  Whatever date the Piping Plovers dictate this year, we plan to have a grand show, and greatly appreciate your ongoing support.

Art Williams

President, Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce