PORT JEFFERSON, NY, Nov. 12, 2010— Congressman Tim Bishop joined top federal and state environmental officials today to announce that 38 grants totaling $2.4 million were awarded to state and local government and community groups under the Long Island Sound Futures Fund. When leveraged by $4.4 million contributed by the recipients themselves, a total of $6.8 million will support on-the-ground conservation in Connecticut and New York. The grant program pools funds from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), US Fish and Wildlife Service and FedEx for projects to restore the health and living resources of Long Island Sound.
“Protecting and restoring Long Island Sound have long been priorities for EPA,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “These grants will fund vital projects to improve water quality and remove pollution from the Long Island Sound watershed, and involve the public in the protection of one of our most important natural treasures.”
Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office added, “EPA and many other organizations have shown a long-term commitment to protecting and restoring Long Island Sound. This year’s funding of projects throughout communities in the watershed will help accomplish important advances in our work to improve ecological health of the Sound.”
“I have advocated strongly for a robust federal role in restoring and protecting Long Island Sound, which is an Estuary of National Significance,” said Congressman Tim Bishop. “I thank the members of the public-private partnership behind the Long Island Sound Futures Fund for their leadership and applaud this year’s grant recipients for their commitment to preserving and enhancing this national treasure for the future.”
The Long Island Sound Study through EPA’s Long Island Sound Office and NFWF, initiated the Sound Futures Fund in 2005. To date, the program has provided $6.9 million in funding. When combined with $16 million in grantee matching funds, more than $22 million has been invested in 176 locally based conservation projects in communities surrounding the Sound. Thanks to projects supported by the Fund, 68 river miles are being opened up for fish passage, and more than 400 acres of critical fish and wildlife habitat have been restored and acquired. This habitat includes lakes, underwater grasses, woodlands, meadows, wetlands, beaches, dunes and park frontage.
With the funding announced today, grant recipients will restore nearly 100 acres of submerged aquatic grass, as well as stream corridors and coastal forest, and acquire 17.4 acres of tidal wetlands, grasslands and coastal forest benefiting fish and wildlife. Some other examples of the types of projects funded by the grants announced today are:
“Our success in wildlife conservation is directly tied to our work with partners,” said Northeast Regional Director Marvin Moriarty of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. “For one of this year’s projects, Audubon New York will work with landowners to protect beach-nesting birds like the least tern and the threatened piping plover. This partnership with landowners increases our ability to work effectively on the ground in the Long Island Sound area, just as our work with the Long Island Sound Futures Fund increases our ability to leverage our resources for the benefit of fish and wildlife.”
Long Island Sound is an estuary that provides economic and recreational benefits to millions of people, while also providing natural habitats to more than 1,200 invertebrates, 170 species of fish, and dozens of species of migratory birds.
“One of the greatest environmental challenges facing our communities is the protection and restoration of estuaries,” said Thomas Kelsch, Director, Conservation Programs, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “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 the Long Island Sound.
“From restoring habitat to reducing pollution to promoting public awareness, these grants will help make tangible improvements in the health of Long Island Sound. In addition, the grants ensure the continued involvement of all the community groups and local governments that are so crucial to the state and federal governments’ efforts here. Congratulations and continued success to all of the applicants,” stated Peter A. Scully, Regional Director, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Region 1.
“From restoring habitat to reducing pollution to promoting public awareness, these grants will help make tangible improvements in the estuary. In addition, the grants ensure the continued involvement of all the community groups and local governments that are so crucial to the state and federal governments’ efforts here. Congratulations and continued success to all of the applicants.”
“Connecticut DEP is excited to be a partner in the Long Island Sound Study, and to work with our neighbors in New York as well as the EPA, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA to preserve and protect Long Island Sound,” said Connecticut DEP Commissioner Amey Marrella. “This year, nearly $1.6 million in Long Island Sound Futures Funds grants are being awarded to 21 important Connecticut projects. These projects will build on our efforts to protect and improve the health of Long Island Sound by fostering improved water quality, habitat restoration, coastal stewardship and open space preservation, and also watershed-based planning, public awareness and education.”
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. In 1994, it created a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan to guide federal, state and local governments to improve water quality, restore and protect habitats, and reach out to the public to foster environmental stewardship.
A nonprofit established by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation sustains, restores and enhances the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Through leadership conservation investments with public and private partners, NFWF is dedicated to achieving maximum conservation impact The Foundation has awarded over 10,800 grants to more than 3,700 organizations in the United States and abroad and leveraged – with its partners – more than $490 million in federal funds into more than $1.6 billion for on-the-ground conservation. To learn more, visit www.nfwf.org.
To see a list of projects with descriptions visit the [intlink id=”lis-futures-fund” type=”page”]LIS Futures Fund[/intlink] in the Long Island Study website.