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Grants Awarded To Improve The Health Of Long Island Sound

Last month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and elected federal officials from New England and New York joined together to announce 22 grants totaling $2.8 million to state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and community groups to improve the health and ecosystem of Long Island Sound in the States of Connecticut and Vermont. The grants are matched by $2.4 million from the grantees themselves, resulting in $5.2 million in combined total funding for conservation projects in New England.

The announcement is part of a broader announcement in which 39 grants are being awarded, totaling $5.4 million, to state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and community groups in three of the Long Island Sound Watershed States of Connecticut, New York, and Vermont. The grants are matched by $4.8 million from the grantees themselves, resulting in a combined total of $10.2 million in funding for conservation projects around the Long Island Sound watershed.

In all, the Long Island Sound Futures Fund (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 LISFF 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.”

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).

“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 the Foundation’s and the 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 LISFF in 2005 through the EPA’s Long Island Sound Office and NFWF. Since its inception, the LISFF has invested $32 million in 529 projects. With grantee match of $49 million, the program has generated $81 million for local and regional conservation. The projects opened 115 river miles for fish, restored 805 acres of coastal habitat; treated 201 million gallons of stormwater 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.”

To see a list of grants made this year in New England please click here.

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