The blog of the Long Island Sound Study
Fifty years. That’s right. The Environmental Protection Agency was established on December 2, 1970, consolidating in one agency federal responsibilities for research, monitoring, and setting and enforcing environmental standards. EPA’s formation was preceded by the first Earth Day on April 22 of that year, itself preceded by the prior decade’s rising tide of public support for strengthened environmental protection.
Curious to know more about the origins of EPA and its 50-year history of accomplishments? See https://www.epa.gov/history/origins-epa. Want ideas for recognizing and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day? See https://www.epa.gov/earthday.
But also worth recognizing and celebrating are the 35 years of action to protect and restore Long Island Sound, which began in 1985 when Congress provided funds to investigate its environmental condition. That year, the Long Island Sound Study (LISS) began as a partnership among the EPA, New York State, Connecticut, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Interstate Environmental Commission, the State University of New York, and the University of Connecticut.
Researchers investigated the Sound for toxic contamination, pathogens, hypoxia (the condition of low levels of oxygen in waters that impair underwater habitats and harm aquatic life), and floatable debris. They quickly focused on hypoxia after three consecutive summers of severely hypoxic waters were observed in the western Sound from 1987 to 1989. In 1987 Congress amended the Clean Water Act, formally creating the National Estuary Program (NEP) and Long Island Sound was designated an Estuary of National Significance.
Unlike traditional regulatory approaches to environmental protection, the LISS targets a broad range of issues and works with stakeholders to develop coordinated solutions. The issues LISS identified in its early years led to the creation in 1994 of a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan with a goal to restore and protect the Sound. Revised in 2015, the CCMP will update its five-year action plan in 2020.
A thirty-five-year anniversary is time to celebrate past accomplishments and become inspired to tackle remaining challenges. Fifteen years ago, the Long Island Sound Study commemorated the 20th anniversary of its formation with a special edition of the Sound Update newsletter highlighting 20 topics over 20 years. Now we add another 15 to celebrate our 35th anniversary (and even add one more for good luck). I hope you feel inspired to continue our progress and make Long Island Sound a great place to work, live, and recreate now and for future generations.
Mark Tedesco is the director of the United State EPA Long Island Sound Office. The office coordinates the Long Island Sound Study, administered by EPA as part of the National Estuary Program under the Clean Water Act. Tedesco received his MS in marine environmental science in 1986 and a BS in biology in 1982 from Stony Brook University.