June 4, 2012; Stratford, CT – During a ceremony today along Long Island Sound, the Long Beach West Restoration Team received national accolades for outstanding efforts to restore and protect the coastal environment. The team received the Coastal America Partnership Award, the only award of its kind presented by the Obama Administration for on-the-ground environmental restoration partnership projects.
Federal, state, town and non-profit officials toured the restored barrier beach at Long Beach West in Stratford, Conn., one of Connecticut’s longest stretches of barrier beach. The project, supported by nearly $1 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funding, demolished the dilapidated remnants of a former summer community, removed debris and contaminants, and ultimately reestablished 35 acres of beach to its natural state for the benefit of people and wildlife.
The award was presented by Eileen Sobeck, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior. Sobeck noted that the Long Beach West Restoration Team worked for more than two years to remove 37 derelict cottages, 25 outbuildings, 4 docks, numerous retaining walls, debris, and trash.
“The project partners created jobs, enhanced recreation, and provided habitat for
wildlife – a win-win for people and nature,” said Sobeck. “This is an excellent example of the significant benefits to local communities from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”
This ambitious and complex project represents a unique collaboration of nonprofit conservation organizations, for-profit firms, and local, state and federal agencies. U. S. Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro as well as officials from the Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), Town of Stratford, the Trust for Public Land, Audubon Connecticut, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Land-Tech Consultants, Inc., and Ducks Unlimited were present at the event.
“The restoration of Long Beach West is a striking example of an opportunity that resulted from the identification of critical community needs and the development of key partnerships,” said Virginia Tippie, Coastal America Director.
“We are proud to stand with all of these partners, and to be a part of the success here at Long Beach West,” said Dr. Deborah Rocque, Deputy Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northeast Region. “This team’s efforts will pay dividends for the people and wildlife along the Connecticut coast for decades to come.”
The Service received $909,000 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to fund the Long Beach West restoration project. Additional funding totaling $233,000 was provided by the EPA’s Long Island Sound Futures Fund, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Dissolved Oxygen Environmental Benefit Fund, DEEP’s Long Island Sound Fund, and the Fairfield County Community Foundation Grant.
“It is so exciting to see the culmination of the Long Beach West restoration and that the 35-acre section of barrier beach can now begin returning to its original natural beauty,” said U.S. Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro. “This area will be a blessing for the families of Stratford and a place for the whole community to enjoy. I am proud to have fought for the Recovery Act funding that helped make this restoration a reality. Our cities and towns are working their hardest to make our communities more livable and beautiful and this investment will pay dividends for decades to come.”
For more information on this restoration project, visit theDepartment of Interior’s Long Beach West barrier restoration web page.