CONTACT: Mike Smith, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, 703-623-3834
Norwalk, CT, Oct. 24 —Top federal and state environmental officials today announced 23 grants totaling $1,295,972 to local government and community groups in Connecticut and New York to improve the health of Long Island Sound. The projects, which are funded through the Long Island Sound Futures Fund, will open up 12.2 river miles for passage of native fish and restore 50 acres of critical fish and wildlife habitat including intertidal marsh, coastal forest, grasslands and freshwater wetlands. More than 989,000 citizens will be reached by environmental and conservation programs supported by the grants. Nearly 600,000 gallons of stormwater will be treated through the development of water pollution control projects.
This public-private grant program pools funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Long Island Sound Funders Collaborative.
“Protecting and restoring Long Island Sound have long been priorities for EPA,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator Curt Spalding. “These grants will support vital and diverse projects throughout the region to improve water quality and remove pollution from the Long Island Sound watershed, and involve the public in the protection of one of the nation’s most important natural treasures.”
“This funding represents a sustained commitment to restoration and preservation of the Long Island Sound-one of our region’s most precious natural resources. I will continue to fight to ensure Connecticut receives the funding and support it needs to ensure all of our ecosystems remain vibrant and healthy, not only for the health of our environment, but for the enjoyment of future generations to come,” stated Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT).
“One of the greatest environmental challenges facing our communities is the protection and restoration of estuaries,” said Amanda Bassow, director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s eastern partnership office. “The funding awarded today represents the Foundation’s continuing commitment, as well as the commitment of our federal and state partners, to further restoration efforts aimed at improving the overall health of Long Island Sound.”
The Long Island Sound Study initiated the Long Island Sound Futures Fund in 2005 through the EPA’s Long Island Sound Office and NFWF. To date, the program has invested $11.7 million in 285 projects in communities surrounding the Sound. With grantee match of $24 million, the Long Island Sound Futures Fund has generated a total of almost $36 million for projects in both states.
“The conservation of local fish and wildlife depends on the communities that share these lands and waters,” said Wendi Weber, director of the northeast regional office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We’re pleased to see funding support partnerships with schools, conservation groups and others that will protect our shared natural resources through projects such as restoring waterways used by migratory fish like American eel and shad, improving habitat for the New England cottontail and other young forest wildlife, and teaching students about endangered shorebirds.”
“We appreciate the continued support of the Long Island Sound Future’s Fund and all of its partners in helping to protect and enhance Long Island Sound because the Sound is so important to Connecticut’s ecology, scenic beauty, the economy, and outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Daniel C. Esty, commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “We also appreciate the thoughtfulness and ingenuity behind the grants we are announcing today, as these projects will address many issues critical to the health of Long Island Sound in new and innovative ways.”
“As a longtime clam fisherman, rower, and overall outdoor enthusiast, I understand first-hand the need to preserve and protect the precious natural resource that is the Long Island Sound,” said Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4). “These grants will help make tangible improvements to the health of the Sound, and I look forward to working with our partners at the state and federal level to ensure the continued success of our efforts in the region.”
“The Long Island Sound Funders Collaborative is delighted to provide joint funds towards the ecosystem report card project an innovative tool to be used by communities to foster management and sustainability of the health and living resources of the Sound,” said Jeff Yates, program director for Environment, Fairfield County Community Foundation.
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. For full descriptions of the Long Island Sound Futures Fund Grants, visit http://longislandsoundstudy.net/about/grants/lis-futures-fund/.
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) sustains, restores and enhances the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 4,000 organizations and committed more than $2.1 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.
Descriptons of the project are on the Long Island Sound Futures Fund grants page.