Long Island Sound Watershed, Conn., Dec. 06, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and elected federal officials from New England and New York joined together to announce 39 grants totaling $5.4 million to state and local government, nonprofit organizations and community groups to improve the health and ecosystem of Long Island Sound. The grants are matched by $4.8 million from the grantees themselves, resulting in $10.2 million in combined total funding for conservation projects around the Long Island Sound watershed of Connecticut, New York, and Vermont.
In all, the LISFF 2021 grants will reach more than 290,000 residents through environmental education programs and conservation projects. Water quality improvement projects will treat 353,000 gallons of stormwater annually and install 43,000-square-feet of green infrastructure. The projects will also remove 97,700 pounds of marine debris from the Sound and restore 25 acres of critical habitat for fish and wildlife. Funding for the Long Island Sound Futures Fund grant program comes from the EPA as part of the Long Island Sound Study (LISS), and from the FWS and NFWF.
“Long Island Sound is an essential ecosystem that supports communities, economies and habitats across the region, and we are proud to support local projects that will protect the environment,” said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro. “This year’s recipients showcase diverse and innovative projects that help to protect and restore Long Island Sound.”
“EPA and its partners enthusiastically support New Yorkers' active engagement and stewardship in protecting the Long Island Sound,” said EPA Region 2 Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “Focusing on climate change and climate justice are key priorities, and these projects help provide real long-term results, including improving water quality, preventing pollution, protecting and restoring habitat, wildlife and wetlands, as well as educating the public.”
This grant program has a strong history of making tangible improvements to water quality in Long Island Sound. Past projects include community-based efforts to restore habitat, reduce polluted runoff, and engage people in stewardship of the Sound’s lands and waters.
The EPA, the LISS and NFWF were pleased to be joined at the virtual event by Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy and three of the co-chairs of the Long Island Sound Congressional Caucus Representative Joe Courtney (CT), Representative Lee Zeldin (NY) and Representative Thomas Suozzi (NY). To see a list of quotes from federal elected officials about today’s grant announcement please click here.
“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 of NFWF. “The funding awarded today represents our continued commitment, together with our public and private partners, to restoration efforts that are improving the overall health of Long Island Sound.”
The Long Island Sound Study initiated the LISFF in 2005 through the EPA’s Long Island Sound Office and NFWF. Since its inception, the LISFF invested $32 million in 529 projects. The program has generated an additional $49 million in grantee match, for a total conservation impact of $81 million for regional and local projects. The projects have added 115 river miles for fish passage, restored 805 acres of critical fish and wildlife habitat, treated 201 million gallons of pollution, and educated and engaged over 4 million people in the protection and restoration of the Sound.
“These investments empower local communities to shape their future by conserving healthy and resilient coastal habitats, creating free-flowing rivers and river systems that reduce flooding and increase fish passage, and helping to develop the next generation of environmental leaders,” said Wendi Weber, North Atlantic-Appalachian Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Funded projects apply nature-based solutions that benefit a wide range of fish and wildlife, such as roseate tern, river herring, shorebirds like American oystercatcher, and the climate-vulnerable saltmarsh sparrow. Equally important, they support public engagement and environmental justice measures that allow Long Island Sound residents to lead positive change in their communities and expand access to nature and its benefits.”
“It is amazing to see the work underway and planned that will preserve and protect the Long Island Sound and the rivers that flow to it for the benefit of all who enjoy and utilize its watershed,” said Katie Dykes, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “We are honored to celebrate the awarding of over $2.1 million in grants to 19 recipients in Connecticut, which also leverages over $1.9 million in local funding. We are thankful for these federal funds that will improve one of our most-cherished resources and so heartened by the efforts of our partners that have developed projects that will help Connecticut DEEP and US EPA protect and improve the health of Long Island Sound.”
“The Long Island Sound is an economic and environmental treasure, benefiting the region’s natural resources and economy, “said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “An example of the power of collaboration among federal and state agencies and officials, the Long Island Sound Futures Fund helps safeguard the health of the Sound and its ecosystems, as well as coastal communities, by investing in projects to improve water quality, conserve habitats, and promote public awareness. DEC congratulates the awardees announced today and looks forward to the successful implementation of projects to protect the Sound.”
To see a list of all grants made this year please click here.
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.
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 9 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.
About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 5,000 organizations and generated a conservation impact of $6.8 billion. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.
About the Long Island Sound Study
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 Long Island Sound Study, visit www.longislandsoundstudy.net.
CONTACT: Rob Blumenthal National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (202) 857-0166 email@example.com Mikayla Rumph U.S. EPA Region 1 (New England) 617-918-1016 firstname.lastname@example.org Stephen McBay U.S. EPA Region 2 212-637-3672 McBay.Stephen@epa.gov