STRATFORD, Conn. — Cheryl Backer, sister of the late Soundkeeper Terry Backer, took a mighty swing, the smell of prosecco wafted through the air and Save the Sound ushered in a new era of its environmental efforts Thursday at Brewer Stratford Marina.
In addition to christening the Terry Backer, the 21-foot 1985 Mako it will use to patrol and protect the Sound waters, the group welcome its new Soundkeeper William Lucey.
Standing before state and national leaders, the Wilton native said he was humbled to be back in Connecticut to preserve the waters he fished and enjoyed as a child.
“This is really quite a quality group of people for change,” he said of those gathered. “Everybody wants clean water. These waters … this is our trust.”
Last month, Save the Sound announced Lucey’s appointment to replace Backer, the longtime soundkeeper who died in late 2015.
In addition to his sister, Backer was well-represented Thursday by his mother, Norwalk resident Kaye Backer, and his son, Luke.
Lucey, a fish and wildlife biologist, former commercial fisherman and environmental advocate, said he’s pleased to come back home to Connecticut.
“This body of water is in my blood,” he said.
Thursday’s event is one step along the path to Save the Sound’s merger with Soundkeeper, Inc., a group founded by Backer in 1987. The 12-term state representative aimed to preserve and protect the Sound through strong and vocal advocacy.
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, asked members of Backer’s family to stand so she could tell them how “beloved” Backer was by his constituents and friends.
“Terry was a fearless warrior and a tireless advocate for Long Island Sound,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director of the Waterkeeper Alliance. “Terry taught us to be bold and to never give up.”
An experienced advocate himself, Lucey led a coalition to successfully contest a timber sale on tribal lands in Alaska, lobbied federal agencies in Washington, D.C., and coordinated the writing and passage of a 2017 invasive species bill in Hawaii.
Most recently, he served as project manager for the Kauai Invasive Species Committee at the Research Corporation University of Hawaii.
After three decades of conservation work across North America, he decided the time was right to bring his expertise back to benefit Long Island Sound.
At Thursday’s event, he said he hopes to foster bipartisan support from both politicians and the community for clean water and a healthier environment along Connecticut’s coast.
“If they can see what the problems are, they are going to come to our aid and help us,” he said.
Learn more about the soundkeeper at www.savethesound.org/soundkeeper .
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