Oct. 14, 2011, NEW HAVEN, CT – Top federal and state environmental officials today announced that 39 grants totaling $1.6 million were awarded to state and local government and community groups under the Long Island Sound Futures Fund.
When leveraged by $1.7 million contributed by the recipients themselves, a total of $3.3 million will support on-the-ground conservation in Connecticut and New York.
In New York, eighteen grants were awarded to groups totaling $763,352. The grants will be leveraged by $918,430 in matching funds from recipient themselves resulting in $1.6 million for community conservation in the state. Grants will be used for projects at the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center, Saxon Woods Park in Westchester County, and the Crab Meadow Watershed in the Town of Huntington. At the Roosevelt Sanctuary, the government and matching funds will help restore a rare, 14-acre coastal forest.
The grant program pools funds from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) 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 A. Enck. “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.”
The Long Island Sound Study through EPA’s Long Island Sound Office and NFWF, initiated the Long Island Sound Futures Fund in 2005. To date, has invested $8.8 million in 227 projects in communities surrounding the Sound. The projects in both states will open up 78 river miles for fish passage, and restore or acquire more than 569 acres of critical fish and wildlife habitat. This habitat includes lakes, underwater grasses, forests meadows, wetlands, beaches, and river and park frontage. Since 2005, groups in New York have received 102 grants totaling $3.8 million. With grantee match of $7.1 million in New York, the Long Island Sound Futures Fund has generated a total of almost $11 million for local conservation.
With the funding announced today, grant recipients in both New York and Connecticut will restore 176 acres of tidal marsh, early grassland, coastal forest, barrier beach and salt marsh benefitting native fish and wildlife; reach 285,000 citizens; and engage 6,300 volunteers. Some examples of the types of projects funded by the grants announced today are:
“One of the greatest environmental challenges facing our communities is the protection and restoration of estuaries,” said David O’Neill, Director, Eastern Partnership Office, 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.
“Communities, fish and wildlife are the real winners of the Long Island Sound Futures Fund grants,” said Regional Director Wendi Weber of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northeast Region. “The health of this estuary of national significance depends on our work with landowners and partners. These grants go directly to protecting our shared natural resources—from restoring salt marsh for fish and protecting nests for piping plovers and other shorebirds to educating children who may be the future stewards of the Sound.”
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.
“Engaging farmers and comminutes is vital for long-term success that protects and restores Long Island Sound,” said Dennis DeWeese, Acting State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). This agency and many other conservation organizations work directly with farms and agriculture operations in the watershed to advance and improve the ecological and economic health of the Sound.”
“The grants announced today are part of a successful and sustained partnership to enhance the Long Island Sound,” said Joe Martens, Commissioner for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. “New York has taken several measures to protect the sound including upgrading waste water treatment plants to reduce nitrogen pollution, instituting a marine vessel no discharge zone and limiting polluted runoff. The recent adoption of the Long Island Sound Action Agenda will ensure efforts to protect this important water body will continue.”
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. To learn more, visit: www.longislandsoundstudy.net.
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.