This Saturday presents the rare opportunity to land on South Brother Island. Normally closed to the public, this island serves as a bird sanctuary for several species including Black-crowned Night Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, and Double-crested Cormorant. The Brother Islands have a famed history. North Brother Island served as a quarantine for infectious diseases from 1885 through 1938. Its most famous resident was Typhoid Mary. It also served as an adolescent rehabiliation center for roughly a decade starting in 1950. South Brother Island was inhabited for a short time by an early owner of the New York Yankees, Jacob Ruppert, until his residence on the island burned down in 1909. Although the islands ownership has changed several times since the fire, it has been uninhabited by humans since 1909. In November of 2007 New York City purchased South Brother Island and established it as a bird sanctuary. The island is now off-limits to humans for all but a few days a year, when environmental groups obtain special permission to land on and clean the island.

What should you expect on Saturday? An adventurous paddle through Hell Gate to clean the shoreline of South Brother Island. We’ll launch at 11am, arrive at the island around noon to clean and collect (lots of neat stuff on the south and east shores) for two hours. We’ll deliver the trash to Barretto Point Park in the Bronx and enjoy it’s green hillsides. Some vendors might be selling snacks there, and there are bathrooms. Sights include the Queensboro, RFK, and Hell Gate bridges, and several other East River islands with less barbed wire. And you get boasting rights for having run Hell Gate!

Veteran volunteers will accompany public participants, who would be wise to defer to the wisdom of their experience in these waters and vessel traffic. Stay close to the group for safety. Participants gather at 46th Ave. and 5th St. in Long Island City, prepare their equipment, and launch together. Space is limited. Please RSVP to

Walk-ups will not be accepted!

See below for a map of South Brother Island. Please note that we are gathering at 5th Street and 46th Ave., Long Island City, NY, 11101 and then departing to paddle to Brother Island. This map is being provided for informational purposes only.

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