The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that it has issued 36 grants totaling $2.57 million for projects to improve the health of the Long Island Sound.
Fourteen of those projects, totaling $586,000, directly benefit New York State.
EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez joinedCongressman Lee Zeldin, Judy Drabicki from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Peter Francis from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) at the Port Jefferson Village Center Dec. 4 to highlight how the grants will benefit communities around the Long Island Sound watershed.
“I know all of us share great excitement with, and are energized by, the depth and breadth of community commitment evidenced by these projects,” said Mr. Lopez. “They give New Yorkers the opportunity to support pollution prevention, stormwater control, wetland and habitat restoration, water monitoring and public education as effective ways to enhance long-term stewardship of Long Island Sound, while promoting its sustainable recreational and economic uses.”
The grants include money for water quality improvement projects that will treat 1.9 million gallons of water and collect 37,000 pounds of floating trash. The projects will open up six miles of river and restore 18 acres of coastal habitat for fish and wildlife. The grants will be matched by $3.09 million from the grantees, resulting in $5.67 million in funding for on-the-ground conservation projects in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.
In New York the $586,000 million in grant funds will be matched with $999,000 from the grantees.
“As Co-Chairman of the Long Island Sound Caucus, I understand that the Long Island Sound is a regional and national treasure, as well as a critical economic, recreational and environmental resource,” said Mr. Zeldin. “The $2.57 million investment in these 36 programs around the Long Island Sound Watershed will allow us to continue to improve the health and vitality of the Sound. These community projects will make a real difference in continuing our progress towards cleaning up Long Island Sound. The partnerships funded by today’s grants show our commitment to the health of the Sound and to ensuring that our children and grandchildren can enjoy it for generations to come.”
The New York projects include $67,542 for Group for the East End to conduct public and partner outreach, education programs and environmental stewardship activities, remove invasive plants, and develop habitat restoration plans for management of the 225 acre Hallock State Park Preserve in Northville. This project is matched by $101,371 from the grantee.
The Nature Conservancy of Connecticut will use a $44,986 grant to finalize the Long Island Sound Blue Plan to protect marine life in both Connecticut and New York.
Audubon New York will use $41,009 in funding for its “Be A Good Egg III” program, which includes many shoreside areas including Stony Brook Harbor, Hallock State Park/Mattituck State Tidal Wetlands, and Plum and Gull Islands, New York.
The program encourages people to share the shore with shorebirds, and engages the public in reducing threats to birds including piping plover, least tern, common tern, and American oystercatcher.
Citizens Campaign Fund for the Environment will use a $45,000 grant for its “Going Strawless for Sea Turtles” public education progran to reduce the use of plastic polluting Long Island Sound beaches, bays, and harbors in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, New York. This project will gather 500 pledges from people to reduce common throw-away plastic use and engage ~200 volunteers in coastal cleanups.
The Maritime Explorium in Port Jefferson will use a $43,626 grant to install native plant rain gardens, with 80 volunteers in high-visibility public sites and provide natural landscaping guidance to 400 community members in Port Jefferson. The project will demonstrate to 800,000+ visitors using the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson ferry how rain gardens improve the water quality and biodiversity of Long Island Sound.
The American Littoral Society has received $10,000 to conduct the Long Island Sound Beach Cleanup along 191 miles of shoreline at 58 sites in the Long Island Sound watershed of New York. This project will engage 5,000 volunteers to collect 35,000 pounds of trash from shorelines, and to teach participants about preventing marine pollution into Long Island Sound.
“By restoring estuaries and conserving habitats, the grants announced today will enhance the resilience of coastal communities,” said Jeff Trandahl, Executive Director and CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “These grants represent NFWF’s continued commitment to improving the health of rivers, coastal marshes, forests and grasslands for the benefit of local communities and fish and wildlife in Long Island Sound.”
The Long Island Sound Study initiated the Long Island Sound Futures Fund in 2005 through EPA’s Long Island Sound Office and NFWF. To date, the LISFF has invested $19.6 million in 416 projects. With a grantee match of $36 million, the program generated $55.6 million for locally-based conservation. The projects have opened up 163 river miles for fish passage, restored 1,109 acres of critical fish and wildlife habitat and open space, treated 204 million gallons of pollution, and educated and engaged 4.7 million people.
“The Long Island Sound is a precious natural resource whose value extends far beyond its many beloved beaches,” said Basil Seggos, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “While the Sound is home to a rich array of wildlife and scenery enjoyed by visitors year-round, it also hosts habitats that provide enormous ecosystem services to the surrounding communities. These ecosystems will continue to protect and inspire us for as long as we work to ensure their health. The Long Island Sound Futures Fund does that by funding projects that promote healthy waterways and habitats, as well as by engaging local communities in their care and protection. The DEC congratulates and thanks all the awardees contributing to this effort.”
Long Island Sound is an estuary that provides economic and recreational benefits to millions of people while also providing habitat for more than 1,200 invertebrates, 170 species of fish, and dozens of species of migratory birds.
The Long Island Sound Study, developed under the EPA’s National Estuary Program, is a cooperative effort between the EPA and the states of Connecticut and New York to protect and restore the Sound and its ecosystem. To learn more about the LISS, visit www.longislandsoundstudy.net.