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 Connecticut, twenty-one grants totaling $886,107 will be awarded and leveraged by $826,697 contributed by recipients themselves towards the projects resulting in $1.7 million for community-based conservation in the state. Grant recipients include Yale University, Audubon Connecticut and the Maritime Aquarium. The Aquarium will receive almost $35,000 for its live animal series “Creature Encounters,” which teaches visitors about the effects of pollution on Long Island Sound.
The grant program pools funds from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and USDA 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 for New England 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.”
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, the program 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, woodlands, meadows, wetlands, beaches, dunes and river and park frontage. With grantee match of $20 million, the Long Island Sound Futures Fund has generated a total of almost $29 million for locally-based conservation in both states. Since 2005, groups in Connecticut have received 121 grants totaling $4.5 million. With grantee match of $13 million dedicated to projects in Connecticut the grants have resulted in $17.5 million for conservation in the state.
With the funding announced today, grant recipients, in both states, will restore 176 acres of tidal marsh, 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.
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.
“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.”
Jay Mar, State Conservationist, NRCS added, “NRCS and many other organizations have shown a long-term commitment to protecting and restoring Long Island Sound. This year’s funding of projects to engage farmers and land managers throughout communities in the watershed will help accomplish important advances in our work to improve ecological and economic health of the Sound.”
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said, “Long Island Sound is one of Connecticut’s most important natural resources and is critical to our quality of life and economic well-being. The $886,107 in Long Island Sound Futures Funds grants being awarded for twenty-one Connecticut projects will support programs that ensure protection and preservation of this unique estuary.
The Long Island Sound Study (LISS), 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 o 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 about the LISS: 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.
Twenty-One LISFF Grant Awards 2011 in Connecticut