Ecosystem Targets and Supporting Indicators
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This interim target tracked the progress in completing land-based habitat restoration projects (including tidal wetlands) in LISS’s priority coastal habitats. It excluded eelgrass extent and river miles restored. The target was reached in 2018.
This final target tracks the progress in completing land-based habitat restoration projects (including tidal wetlands) in LISS’s priority coastal habitats. It excludes eelgrass extent and river miles restored.
This final target combines the acreage restored in land-based habitat restoration projects with the extent of eelgrass, also measured in acres. Eelgrass is an underwater grass that grows near the shore and is monitored by an aerial survey conducted every three-five years.
In 2018, the program met the interim target of restoring 350 acres of coastal habitat by the beginning of 2020 (2015-2019). The LISS Habitat Restoration Initiative is now pursuing two more Coastal Habitat targets through 2035:
In addition to the Coastal Habitat extent targets, LISS has established specific ecosystem targets for three priority habitats: tidal wetlands, eelgrass, and river miles restored.
Habitat restoration projects conducted within the Long Island Sound coastal watershed can be very expensive, limiting the scope and scale of projects. In addition, funding for restoration is limited and competitive, which can reduce the chances of completing projects.
To date, habitat restoration projects around Long Island Sound have been dominated by a few habitat types (tidal wetland, coastal forest). In order to meet the Coastal Habitat Extent targets, it is imperative that other habitat types are funded for habitat restoration.
Tracking habitat restoration projects is dependent on reporting by our Long Island Sound partners and it is imperative that LISS contact all possible partners annually to collect restoration data.
The Long Island Sound Study Habitat Restoration Coordinators from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) track coastal habitat restoration projects that are in progress within the watershed by various partners and report the total acres restored annually.
Coastal habitats provide a unique and highly productive ecosystem that supports an array of living resources.
Long Island Sound Study’s Habitat Restoration Initiative has identified 12 important coastal habitats (see ArcGIS storymap) to restore. The 12 coastal habitats are tidal wetlands, eelgrass, estuarine embayments, coastal grasslands, coastal and island forests, freshwater wetlands, intertidal flats, rocky intertidal zones, submerged aquatic vegetation, shellfish reefs, beaches and dunes, and riverine migratory corridors*.
Over the years the abundance and diversity of the Sound’s coastal habitats have been diminished, primarily due to development activities that have destroyed or degraded these important areas. Tidal marshes have been ditched or filled, dams have blocked fish from migrating upstream to spawn, and poor water quality has negatively impacted the Sound’s eelgrass beds. The Long Island Sound Study has identified the loss and degradation of coastal habitat as a priority management issue.
Prior to the establishment of ecosystem targets in 2014, LISS had established a target of restoring 2,000 acres of coastal habitats, excluding eelgrass and river miles, by 2020. Between 1998 and 2018, LISS partners restored 2,001 acres of coastal habitat, restoring that target ahead of schedule.
The Long Island Sound Study has a database to track and describe every restoration project in the Connecticut and New York portions of the Long Island Sound watershed since 1998.
Victoria O’Neill, NYSDEC[email protected]
Harry Yamalis, CT DEEP[email protected]
CT DEEP, NYSDEC, and Long Island Sound Study Partners