Town of Mamaroneck, N.Y. (November 14, 2016) – Today, top federal and state environmental officials from New York and Connecticut announced 25 grants totaling $1.3 million to local government and community groups to improve the health and ecosystem of Long Island Sound.
The projects, which are funded through the Long Island Sound Futures Fund, will restore 27 acres of habitat, including coastal forest, dunes, and salt marshes for fish and wildlife. This grant program combines funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"Protecting Long Island Sound is a top priority for the EPA," said EPA regional administrator Judith A. Enck. "These projects will support vital and diverse initiatives throughout the region. We must all work to improve water quality and reduce pollution in the Long Island Sound watershed, while involving the public in protecting one of our nation's most important natural treasures."
"A healthy Long Island Sound stimulates the economy of the region and these grants will help achieve tangible results on water quality improvements and habitat restoration in the Sound," said EPA regional administrator Curt Spalding. "By showcasing local solutions, these grants also help strengthen and expand partnerships working towards ecosystem restoration throughout the watershed."
The Long Island Sound Futures Fund 2016 grants will reach more than 395,000 residents through environmental and conservation education programs and treat one million gallons of water pollution with water quality improvement projects, including more than 700 pounds of nitrogen reduced, and 6,000 pounds of floating trash collected. The grant funds will be matched by $1.3 million from the grantees, resulting in $2.6 million in funding for on-the-ground conservation projects in both states.
"We are incredibly fortunate here in the Lower Hudson Valley to be home to some of our nation’s most beautiful coastal habitats, including the Long Island Sound. We must continue working to preserve and improve its scenic beauty, and protect the fish and wildlife that rely on the Sound for survival. Maintaining and preserving our estuaries and waterways has always been a top priority of mine as a Member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and one of the best ways to do that is through robust funding for local projects aimed at conservation. I am pleased these federal funds from the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be made available to local groups working to keep our Sound beautiful for future generations," said Congressman Eliot Engel, NY.
"Estuaries like the Long Island Sound are among our nation’s most precious natural resources," said Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey, NY. "Since 2005, the Long Island Sound Futures Fund has provided millions of dollars for projects to protect the Sound, restoring valuable habitats, and cleaning polluted waters. I commend the Long Island Sound Futures Fund for their dedicated efforts, and as Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will keep working to increase federal investments that conserve the Sound and other critical aquatic ecosystems."
"One of the greatest environmental challenges facing our nation and its communities is the protection and restoration of highly productive estuaries," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO, NFWF. "The funding awarded today represents the Foundation’s and U.S. EPA’s continuing commitment, as well as the commitment of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal and state partners, to restoration efforts aimed at improving the overall health of Long Island Sound."
The Long Island Sound Study initiated the Long Island Sound Futures Fund in 2005 through the EPA’s Long Island Sound Office and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). To date the Futures Fund has invested $15 million in 352 projects. With grantee match of $30 million, the program has generated $45 million for locally based conservation. The projects have opened up 157 river miles for fish passage, restored 1,051 acres of critical fish and wildlife habitat and open space, treated 101 million gallons of pollution, and educated and engaged 2.1 million people from communities surrounding the sound.
"We are pleased to support our conservation partners through this collaborative funding effort," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, northeast regional director, Wendi Weber. "This year, funded projects will help youth and adults become active stewards of the outdoors and introduce them to wildlife around them. Additionally, work will help restore the health of our rivers, coastal marshes, and forests for the benefit of fish, wildlife and coastal communities."
"Long Island Sound is an essential economic and environmental treasure in need of careful stewardship to protect its integrity," said New York State Department of Environmental conservation commissioner Basil Seggos. "This funding from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund builds on New York’s increased support for restoration of this vital ecosystem by advancing valuable projects to conserve habitats, improve water quality, and promote public awareness. DEC congratulates the successful applicants and looks forward to seeing the success of their projects."
"We appreciate the continued support of the Long Island Sound Future's Fund and all of its partners in helping to protect and enhance Long Island Sound because the Sound is so important to Connecticut's ecology, scenic beauty, the economy, and outdoor recreation opportunities," said Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, director land and water resources division, Brian Thompson. "We also appreciate the thoughtfulness and ingenuity behind the grants we are announcing today, as these projects will address many issues critical to the health of Long Island Sound in new and innovative ways."
Long Island Sound is an estuary that provides economic and recreational benefits to millions of people while also providing habitat for more than 1,200 invertebrates, 170 species of fish, and dozens of species of migratory birds.
Each of the grant projects contribute to a healthier Long Island Sound for everyone, from nearby area residents to those at the furthest reaches of the Sound. All nine million people who live, work and play in the watershed impacting the Sound can benefit from and help build on the progress that has already been made.
For a full list of 2016 grants awarded under the Long Island Sound Futures Fund, please click here.
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. To learn more about the LISS, visit www.longislandsoundstudy.net.
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation protects and restores the nation's fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 4,500 organizations and committed more than $3.5 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.