The natural and cultural heritage of Long Island Sound is inextricably connected to its living resources. For hundreds of years, humans living along Long Island Sound have relied on the land and wildlife for food, shelter, and other day-to-day necessities. To this day, we still rely on fish and shellfish populations to contribute to the economy and ecosystem, benefiting the residents of all watershed communities. Moreover, the protection and restoration of ecologically significant shorelines and habitats of Long Island Sound will serve to protect the diversity and richness of native species, enhance the public’s enjoyment of active and passive recreational opportunities such as hunting, boating, and wildlife viewing, and increase the resiliency of communities to storms and flooding.
The Long Island Sound Study has targeted 12 types of coastal habitats for restoration to sustain living resources and ecosystem services: Beaches and Dunes, Cliffs and Bluffs, Estuarine Embayments, Coastal and Island Forests, Freshwater Wetlands, Coastal Grasslands, Intertidal Flats, Rocky Intertidal Zones, Riverine Migratory Corridors, Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Beds, Shellfish Reefs and Tidal Wetlands. Program partners have restored and/or protected thousands of acres of habitat, opened hundreds of river miles to migratory fish and other wildlife species, implemented ecosystem management plans, and funded multiple research and monitoring projects to provide insight into wildlife and ecosystem function.
Despite these successes, much still needs to be done to improve and protect the species and habitats found within and around the Long Island Sound. In addition, warming waters and sea-level rise pose new threats to habitats and wildlife, and there is an improved understanding of the impacts of previously reported threats such as nitrogen pollution and invasive species. So while the Thriving Habitats and Abundant Wildlife theme continues to emphasize monitoring, research, restoration, and protection, it includes new approaches, such as developing resilient coastal habitats through the creation of living shorelines and green infrastructure, to address current and future threats to habitats and wildlife. The natural habitats of Long Island Sound and its coastal areas support diverse populations of wildlife and living resources, provide recreational opportunities, and function as an environmental infrastructure that provides services and benefits to the region. The Thriving Habitats and Abundant Wildlife theme addresses the balance between people and the natural environment and the need to continue restoration and protection of priority habitats and wildlife to sustain a healthy, productive, and resilient Long Island Sound benefiting all inhabitants. All of the goals and actions outlined in this theme should provide multiple benefits to both wildlife and humans alike.*
The following ambitious, but achievable, ecosystem targets have been developed to drive progress toward attaining the Thriving Habitats and Abundant Wildlife (HW) goal.
Restore an additional 350 acres of coastal habitat by 2020 from a 2014 baseline.
View Coastal Habitat Extent Environmental Indicator
Restore and maintain an additional 2,000 acres of eelgrass by 2035 from a 2012 baseline of 2,061.
View Eelgrass Extent Environmental Indicator
Restore an additional 515 acres of tidal wetlands by 2035 from a 2014 baseline.
View Tidal Wetland Extent Environmental Indicator
Open 200 additional miles of fish riverine migratory corridors in the Connecticut and New York portions of the watershed by 2035 from a 2014 baseline of 307.76 miles.
View River Miles Restored for Fish Passage Environmental Indicator
Increase the harvest of oysters, clams, and scallops in the Sound through a combination of habitat management and shellfish aquaculture.
View Shellfish Harvested Environmental Indicator
Increase connectivity of coastal habitat by 2035 by restoring and/or protecting habitat patches that increase biodiversity and support migratory pathways.
View Habitat Connectivity Environmental Indicator
Conserve an additional 4,000 acres of Connecticut land and 3,000 acres of New York land within the Long Island Sound coastal boundary by 2035, while maintaining or increasing the total area of protected land.
View Protected Open Space Environmental Indicator
Find examples below of actions being undertaken by LISS and its partners to achieve outcomes that will help meet the ecosystem targets and achieve the CCMP goals for restoring and protecting habitats and wildlife.
For More Information
The full description of the actions, strategies, objective and outcomes for Long Island Sound Study can be found in the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan.
Estuaries, such as Long Island Sound, are semi-enclosed bodies of water that mix salt water from the open sea with fresh water from streams and rivers. They are considered some of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth. The tidal, sheltered waters of estuaries support unique communities of plants and animals especially adapted for life at the margin of the sea. The Sound, for example, is home to more than 1,300 species of invertebrates and finfish and dozens of migratory bird species. Watch this video, funded by EPA, to learn more about the value of estuaries.
A new educational tool focusing on Long Island Sound habitats was launched this summer to help bring the Sound to the classroom through a Virtual Tour StoryMap. The tool was presented by interns Charlotte Burger (New York Sea Grant) and Nicole Govert (Connecticut Sea Grant) on August 19, 2021 in a teacher webinar that included a walk-thru of the StoryMap and a Q&A panel with contributing experts around the watershed.
Check out the StoryMap and the webinar here!