Since colonial times, humans have altered the Sound’s coastal habitats by concentrating housing, commerce, and recreation near the water. While there is still healthy habitat in and around the Sound, the overall abundance and diversity of natural areas have been diminished. Development and increased population have resulted in the loss of coastal and inland wetlands, and eelgrass beds in the shallow, near-shore areas. These habitats provide a unique and highly productive ecosystem that supports an array of living resources.
- In 1996, LISS established a Habitat Restoration Initiative, a bi-state effort to restore and protect 12 priority Long Island Sound habitat types that have been degraded, or are under threat, from development and pollution. The Initiative uses partnerships to accomplish the restoration objectives and leverage limited, state, local, and federal funds.
- As of 2015, LISS partners have restored 1750 acres of coastal habitat and opened more than 350 river miles for migratory fish to travel between the brackish Long Island Sound waters and upstream freshwater rivers and lakes.
- As of 2015, the Long Island Sound Futures Fund has funded 31 habitat restoration projects and the planning of six projects for future restoration efforts.
- The Initiative has promoted habitat restoration with information products such as a Habitat Restoration Manual, a database documenting local restoration and protection projects, and a guidance document for applying for habitat restoration grants.
- Initiated two Long Island Sound Tidal Wetlands Loss Workshops, in 2003 and 2014, that engaged local managers, researchers, practitioners, and regulators to discuss issues related to wetland loss in the Sound and regionally.
- In 2006, established the LISS Habitat Restoration Work Group in order to convene quarterly meetings of habitat restoration partners to discuss and work on pressing restoration topics. In 2015, the work group was combined with the Stewardship Initiative Work Group.