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$1.3 Million Awarded for Community-Based Projects To Improve Health and Ecosystem of Long Island Sound

Release Date: 11/12/2015
Contact Information: Emily Bender, (617) 918-1037, bender.emily@epa.gov

Top federal and state environmental officials today announced 22 grants totaling more than $1.3 million to local government and community groups in New York and Connecticut to improve the health and ecosystem of Long Island Sound.

The projects, which are funded through the Long Island Sound Futures Fund, will open up 7 miles of river for passage of native fish and restore 180 acres of coastal habitat, including lakes, ponds, and grasslands.

Nine grants totaling $600,433 will be awarded to groups in Connecticut, leveraged by $532,130 from the grantees themselves, resulting in $1,132,563 in funding for on-the ground, hands-on conservation projects in the state.

This public-private grant program pools funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“We must take steps to ensure the health of Long Island Sound for future generations, especially because of the increasing environmental stresses caused by climate change. Vibrant, sustainable and resilient communities with clean water and healthy habitats are goals we must strive towards to make sure our children and grandchildren can enjoy Long Island Sound as we do today. The grants announced today represent active efforts to protect and restore the Sound, and therefore the community and economy. In addition, the grants solidify the continued involvement of all the community groups and local governments that are so crucial to the state and federal governments' efforts here,” stated EPA New England, Regional Administrator, H. Curtis Spalding.

“Long Island Sound is an amazing natural resource, which provides recreation and economic opportunities for millions of people,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Region 2 Administrator. “These projects are smart investments that will improve water quality and build resiliency in shoreline communities.”

The Long Island Sound Futures Fund grants will reach more than 130,000 citizens through environmental and conservation programs, allow nearly 1.7 million gallons of water to be treated through water quality improvement projects, and leverage $2.1 million from the grantees themselves, resulting in $3.4 million in funding for on-the-ground, hands-on conservation projects in both states.

“The Long Island Sound and its waterways are among the state and nation’s most precious natural resources. Since 2005, the Futures Fund has provided millions of dollars for hundreds of projects to protect and preserve this critical ecosystem, restoring valuable habitats, treating and cleaning polluted waters, and engaging and educating new generations of advocates and caretakers. These projects will help ensure that we can continue to enjoy the Sound’s unparalleled beauty and benefit from vital role it plays in supporting our state and region’s economy for centuries to come,” stated U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Conn.

“As a kid, I spent my summers on the beaches of Long Island Sound, so I know that Connecticut is defined by the economic and ecological power of the Sound. Today’s $1.3 million Long Island Futures Fund grant, funding that I’m proud to have fought for in the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, will support community projects along the coast that will make a real difference in continuing our progress towards cleaning up the Sound. The public-private partnerships funded by today’s grant show our commitment to the health of the Sound and to ensuring that our children and grandchildren can enjoy it for generations to come,” said U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, Conn.

“The Long Island Sound is a regional and national treasure, as well as a critical economic, recreational and environmental resource. The $3.45 million investment in these 22 programs along the Connecticut and New York shorelines will allow us to continue to improve the health and vitality of the Sound. I am particularly excited about the funds that will be supporting the “Schoolyard Habitats: A Call to Action for Long Island Sound,” “the Advancing Green Infrastructure from Pilot to Comprehensive Program,” and of course, the Stratford Point Living Shoreline: Restoring Coastal Habitats to Maintain Resiliency and Function program.”

“In addition, the new Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan will help us build a more resilient and healthy Sound for future generations. As co-chair of the Congressional Long Island Sound Caucus, I will continue to fight for the funding needed to carry out the plan, and continue the restoration and protection of this ecosystem so Americans can continue to enjoy it for years to come,” stated Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Conn.

“The Sound has always been of special importance to the people and communities Connecticut and Long Island. It’s where we live, work, and play and touches almost every aspect of our lives. Restoring the health of ecosystems, removing pollution, and increasing wildlife habitat are issues we’re not going to be able to achieve in a year, or even five years; it’s going to take dedicated long-term effort. That’s why I am supportive of the NFWF Sound Futures Fund. We need the education and resources it provides to drive community involvement and ensure that the Sound is here for future generations to enjoy and protect. I believe we should all see ourselves as protectors of our wild, natural spaces” said Congressman Jim Himes, Conn.

“One of the greatest environmental challenges facing our nation and its communities is the restoration and protection of highly productive estuaries,” stated National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Vice President, Conservation Programs, Eric Schwaab. “The funding awarded today represents the Foundation’s and U.S. EPA’s continuing commitment, as well as the commitment of other federal and state partners, to restoration efforts that will improve the health and living resources 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 NFWF. To date, the program has invested $14 million in 324 projects in communities surrounding the sound. With grantee match of $28 million, the Long Island Sound Futures Fund has generated a total of $42 million for locally based conservation in both states. The projects have opened up 157 river miles for fish passage, restored 1,024 acres of critical fish and wildlife habitat and open space; treated 100 million gallons of pollution from ground and surface sources, and educated and engaged 1.8 million people from communities surrounding the Sound.

"We are pleased to support our conservation partners through this collaborative effort," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Regional Director, Wendi Weber. "These are diverse projects – from introducing youth to wildlife and the outdoors in their schoolyards and neighborhoods, to restoring the health of our rivers, coastal marshes, forest, and grasslands. But collectively, these projects demonstrate the connection between healthy ecological communities and healthy human communities. These types of local efforts will go a long way to create a more resilient coast.”

“Connecticut DEEP is committed to its partnership with the Long Island Sound Study, and to working with our neighbors in New York as well as the EPA, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to continue to preserve Long Island Sound one of our most valuable natural resources. This year $600,433 will support Connecticut projects to improve water quality, restore rivers, grasslands and coastal habitat for native fish and birds, and educate and engage current and future generations of citizens to create resilient communities that use, appreciate and help protect Long Island Sound,” stated Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Mike Sullivan, Deputy Commissioner.

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 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. For full descriptions of the Long Island Sound Futures Fund Grants, visit http://longislandsoundstudy.net/about/grants/lis-futures-fund/.

Chartered by Congress in 1984, the NFWF protects and restores the nation's fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 4,000 organizations and committed more than $2.9 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.


More Information:
http://www.longislandsoundstudy.net


Project Descriptions:

Clean Water and Healthy Watersheds – Connecticut

Project Title: City-wide Green Infrastructure Siting, Installation and Training (CT)
Recipient: New Haven Urban Resources Initiative
LISFF Grant: $91,232 (EPA)
Matching Funds: $104,690
Project Area: Newhallville Neighborhood and New Haven, CT

Develop a tool to optimize site selection and train community members to install and maintain green infrastructure bioswales to treat 710,000 gallons of polluted stormwater annually to improve water quality in New Haven Harbor and Long Island Sound.

Project Title: Tracking Down Pollution Sources Impacting Water Quality in 4 Connecticut Rivers and Long Island Sound (CT) (#49483)
Recipient: Earthplace - the Nature Discovery Center, Inc.
LISFF Grant: $44,557 (EPA)
Matching Funds: $40,212
Project Area: Mill River, Sasco Brook, Norwalk, and Noroton Rivers, Western Long Island Sound, CT

Conduct water quality monitoring and sewage track down surveys in four watersheds to help identify and support remediation of “point” sources of pollution to improve water quality conditions in rivers that follow into the Long Island Sound in Fairfield County.

Project Title: Developing a Plan to Assess and Reduce Nitrogen in Saugatuck River Watershed Communities (CT) (#49517)
Recipient: The Nature Conservancy, Connecticut
LISFF Grant: $64,980 (EPA)
Matching Funds: $48,235
Project Area: Saugatuck River Watershed: Bethel, Danbury, Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton, Connecticut

Develop a Nitrogen Load Model assessment and reduction plan for the Saugatuck River Watershed. Project will assess the feasibility, cost and effectiveness of techniques that represent the most cost-effective, rapid and greenest approaches to measurably reducing nonpoint source nitrogen loads into the watershed and Long Island Sound.

Thriving Habitats and Abundant Wildlife – Connecticut

Project Title: Stratford Point Living Shoreline: Restoring Coastal Habitats to Maintain Resiliency and Function (CT)
Recipient: Sacred Heart University, Inc.
LISFF Grant: $148,753 (EPA, FWS)
Matching Funds: $80,000
Project Area: Stratford Point, Lordship Peninsula, Town of Stratford, CT

Restore woodland, meadow, and vernal pool at Stratford Point. Project will restore the function and value of the 28 acre coastal ecosystem to add habitat structure for butterflies, resident and migratory birds, and other wildlife to feed, nest and take shelter in habitats of Long Island Sound.

Project Title: Restoring Fish Passage on the Noroton River (CT)
Recipient: Connecticut Fund for the Environment
LISFF Grant: $150,000 (EPA, FWS)
Matching Funds: $156,927
Project Area: Noroton River and Interstate 95 at Town of Darien and City of Stamford, CT

Modify bridge culverts to restore 4.9 miles to fish passage on the Noroton River at I-95 between the Town of Darien and City of Stamford, CT. Project will provide access to a riverine migratory corridor for fish including river herring to critical upstream spawning and nursery habitat of Long Island Sound and its rivers.


Project Title: Fishway Rehabilitation at the Versailles Pond Dam (CT)
Recipient: Thames Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited
LISFF Grant: $22,000 (EPA, FWS)
Matching Funds: $22,402
Project Area: Versailles Pond, Village of Versailles, CT

Replace degraded components of the Versailles Pond Dam Fishway in the Village of Versailles, Connecticut. Project will restore passage for anadromous fish to 1.75 miles and 65 acres of spawning and nursery habitat of Long Island Sound and its rivers.

Educating to Engage Sustainable and Resilient Communities – Connecticut

Project Title: Creating a Network of Schoolyard Habitats to Engage Students in Conservation of Long Island Sound (CT)
Recipient: National Audubon Society, Audubon Connecticut
LISFF Grant: $34,993 (EPA, FWS)
Matching Funds: $46,935
Project Area: Cities of Stamford and New Haven, Connecticut

Create and expand the network of schoolyard native wildlife habitats in New Haven and Stamford, Connecticut. Project will provide critical bird habitat for migratory songbirds in urban areas using school grounds as outdoor living classrooms to engage students in hands-on conservation and to increase knowledge about and connection to Long Island Sound habitats and wildlife.

Project Title: Sound Actions: Celebrate Long Island Sound through Community Stewardship (CT)
Recipient: Sea Research Foundation, Inc.
LISFF Grant: $9,979 (EPA)
Matching Funds: $14,314
Project Area: Mystic Aquarium, Mystic, Connecticut.

Host an event educating visitors about how to be a steward for the Long Island Sound and will conduct a community cleanup. The project will engage 6,500 people to take a pledge to improve the health of the Sound and to pick up 400 pounds of debris.

Project Title: A Student Urban Field-study of Water Quality and Species Diversity along the Long Island Sound Coast (CT)
Recipient: SoundWaters, Inc.
LISFF Grant: $33,935 (EPA, FWS)
Matching Funds: $18,415
Project Area: Cove Island Park and Boccuzzi Park, Stamford, Connecticut

Support a student-driven study and presentations comparing water quality and species diversity between two coastal sites--Cove Island Park, located on a coastal embayment in a residential neighborhood and Boccuzzi Park, located on a commercial harbor in Stamford, Connecticut. Project will increase youth awareness about threats to Long Island Sound and skills to communicate information to increase awareness and participation among peers, public officials and community to maintain the Sound as a healthy ecosystem.


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