Long Island Sound Comprehensive
Conservation and Management Plan

Thriving Habitats and Abundant Wildlife


Restore and protect the Sound’s ecological balance in a healthy, productive, and resilient state to benefit both people and the natural environment.

The natural and cultural heritage of Long Island Sound is inextricably connected to its living resources. For hundreds of years humans living along Long Island Sound have relied on the land and wildlife for food, shelter, and other day-to-day necessities. To this day, we still rely on fish and shellfish populations to contribute to the economy and ecosystem, benefiting the residents of all watershed communities. Moreover, the protection and restoration of ecologically significant shorelines and habitats of Long Island Sound will serve to protect the diversity and richness of native species, enhance the public’s enjoyment of active and passive recreational opportunities such as hunting, boating, and wildlife viewing, and increase resiliency of communities to storms and flooding.

The LISS has targeted 12 types of coastal habitats for restoration to sustain living resources and ecosystem services: Beaches and Dunes, Cliffs and Bluffs, Estuarine Embayments, Coastal and Island Forests, Freshwater Wetlands, Coastal Grasslands, Intertidal Flats, Rocky Intertidal Zones, Riverine Migratory Corridors, Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Beds, Shellfish Reefs and Tidal Wetlands. Program partners have restored and/or protected thousands of acres of habitat, opened hundreds of river miles to migratory fish and other wildlife species, implemented ecosystem management plans, and funded multiple research and monitoring projects to provide insight into wildlife and ecosystem function.

Despite these successes, much still needs to be done to improve and protect the species and habitats found within and around the Long Island Sound. In addition, warming waters and sea level rise pose new threats to habitats and wildlife, and there is improved understanding of the impacts of previously reported threats such as nitrogen pollution and invasive species. So while the Thriving Habitats and Abundant Wildlife theme continues to emphasize monitoring, research, restoration, and protection, it includes new approaches, such as developing resilient coastal habitats through the creation of living shorelines and green infrastructure, to address current and future threats to habitats and wildlife. The natural habitats of Long Island Sound and its coastal areas support diverse populations of wildlife and living resources, provide recreational opportunities, and function as an environmental infrastructure that provides services and benefits to the region. The Thriving Habitats and Abundant Wildlife theme addresses the balance between people and the natural environment and the need to continue restoration and protection of priority habitats and wildlife to sustain a healthy, productive, and resilient Long Island Sound benefiting all inhabitants. All of the goals and actions outlined in this theme should provide multiple benefits to both wildlife and humans alike.

Ecosystem Targets

The following ambitious, but achievable, ecosystem targets have been developed to drive progress toward attaining the Thriving Habitats and Abundant Wildlife (HW) goal.

Coastal Habitat Extent

Restore an additional 350 acres of coastal habitat by 2020 from a 2014 baseline.

View Coastal Habitat Extent Environmental Indicator »

Eelgrass Extent

Restore and maintain an additional 2,000 acres of eelgrass by 2035 from a 2012 baseline of 2,061.

View Eelgrass Extent Environmental Indicator »

Tidal Wetland Extent

Restore an additional 515 acres of tidal wetlands by 2035 from a 2014 baseline.

View Tidal Wetland Extent Environmental Indicator »

River Miles Restored for Fish Passage

Open 200 additional miles of fish riverine migratory corridors in the Connecticut and New York portions of the watershed by 2035 from a 2014 baseline of 307.76 miles.

View River Miles Restored for Fish Passage Environmental Indicator »

Shellfish Harvested

Increase the harvest of oysters, clams, and scallops in the Sound through a combination of habitat management and shellfish aquaculture.

View Shellfish Harvested Environmental Indicator »

Habitat Connectivity

Increase connectivity of coastal habitat by 2035 by restoring and/or protecting habitat patches that increase biodiversity and support migratory pathways.

View Habitat Connectivity Environmental Indicator »

Protected Open Space

Conserve an additional 4,000 acres of Connecticut land and 3,000 acres of New York land within the Long Island Sound coastal boundary by 2035, while maintaining or increasing the total area of protected land.

View Protected Open Space Environmental Indicator »


  • Tidal marshes and other coastal habitats are threatened with drowning from rising seas if they cannot build upward or migrate inland because of natural or man-made barriers.
  • The balance among coastal habitats such as marshes, beaches, dunes, grasslands, and forests has been altered due to development, decreasing the resiliency of Long Island Sound.
  • Remaining open spaces along the coast are under development pressure. · Invasive/nonnative species threaten ecosystem diversity and compete with native animals & plants.
  • Development and use of the coastal zone conflicts with the needs of some wildlife species (e.g., roseate terns) for forage and nursery areas.


  • Identify and conserve open space landward of coastal habitats to allow for natural transition upland.
  • Enhance the resiliency of coastal habitats by strengthening living shorelines such as marshes, beaches, and dunes.
  • Understand the historic balance of natural habitats and work to restore desired values and functions of the ecosystem.
  • Prioritize open space protection to save the last remaining high-value undeveloped lands.
  • Develop site management plans for eliminating invasive/nonnative species, involving community organizations and volunteers.
  • Involve communities in the stewardship of wildlife.
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