Captain Kidd's lost buried treasure will be protected from treasure hunters this summer... as will some of Connecticut's endangered birds -- and Milfordites are not burying their heads in the sand about it.
“Growing up in Milford, it was always a sign of summer when people walked across the sandbar to the island, so it is kind of sad that we can’t do that in the beginning of this summer,“ said Milfordite Amy Montalbano.
Other residents support the closure.
Deborah Kaufmann, who has lived in Milford for 20 years and has been to Charles Island, said, “I support the ban. The birds need somewhere to nest.”
According to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Charles Island -- a 14-acre island located roughly 0.5 mile off the coast of Milford, Connecticut, in Long Island Sound, and part of Silver Sands State Park -- will be closed this summer to protect nesting birds, including the snowy egret and great egrets. Charles Island, which can be reached by foot at low tide, or by boat, has been closed to boaters and pedestrians during the summer, major nesting season other years.
One reason why Charles Island, a.k.a. Thrice Cursed Island, has attracted Milford residents in the past is due to its legendary history. The island is purported to be the site of Captain Kidd’s buried treasure.
According to historian Michael C. Dooling, author of the book, An Historical Account of Charles Island, Kidd is known to have visited Milford and to have buried part of his treasure along Long Island Sound.
Dooling, who first visited the island in 1969, told MilfordPatch, “Charles Island has always had a special place in the hearts of Milford residents and many of them have revealed to me their memories of the island.
"Many have searched for Captain Kidd's treasure they believe to be buried on the island, a legend dating back to 1699 when Kidd is known to have stopped in Milford.
"Others fondly remember their first kiss under the bell tower (a structure remaining from the island's days as a Dominican retreat house in the 1930s), getting stranded on the island having miscalculated the tides (sometimes intentionally), and driving a vehicle across the tombolo that connects the island to shore only to get stuck in the sand.”
Before becoming a nesting area for egrets and herons, Charles Island was home to a resort in the 1850’s and 1860’s. It was in the 1930’s when the island was briefly used as the Dominican religious retreat. Later, Charles Island was considered for use as a summer home for a yacht club, an amusement park, a submarine-chaser base during World War I, a reformatory and a nuclear power plant.
But all this is in the past. Since 1999, Charles Island has been designated as a Natural Area Preserve, and it is for this reason – to protect the nesting colonies of herons and egrets – that island is now closed from May through Sept. 9.
The Milford Marine Institute supports the temporary ban of pedestrians from the island, according to director and founder Tim Chaucer.
“It is true,” he said, “that the long-legged wading birds can fall from their nests if disturbed by humans, and they can die.”
“In order to enjoy the wildlife [which nests on the island], it’s important to support the ban,” he added.
The public can help to protect nesting birds by following the closure and reporting any observed violations to the DEP at 1-800-842-4357.