Long Island Sound environmental projects receive $1.6 million in grants

By Judy Benson
The New London Day • 10/14/2011

Thirty-nine grants totaling $1.6 million were awarded to state and local government and to community groups under the Long Island Sound Futures Fund, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced Friday.

When leveraged by $1.7 million contributed by the recipients themselves, a total of $3.3 million will support conservation projects in Connecticut and New York.

In Connecticut, 21 grants totaling $886,107 will be awarded and leveraged by $826,697 contributed by recipients themselves toward the projects. Among the recipients were four specific to southeastern Connecticut.

“Long Island Sound is one of Connecticut’s most important natural resources and is critical to our quality of life and economic well-being,” Daniel Esty, DEEP commissioner, said in a news release. “The $886,107 in Long Island Sound Futures Funds grants being awarded for 21 Connecticut projects will support programs that ensure protection and preservation of this unique estuary.”

The grant program pools funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service for projects to restore the health and living resources of Long Island Sound.

“Protecting and restoring Long Island Sound have long been priorities for EPA,” said Curt Spalding, EPA’s regional administrator for New England. “These grants will support vital and diverse projects throughout the region to improve water quality and remove pollution from the Long Island Sound watershed, and involve the public in the protection of one of the nation’s most important natural treasures.”

The grants program began in 2005, and thus far has invested $8.8 million in 227 projects. The new projects will restore 176 acres of tidal marsh, grassland, coastal forest, barrier beach and salt marsh benefiting native fish and wildlife; reach 285,000 citizens; and engage 6,300 volunteers, according to DEEP.

“Communities, fish and wildlife are the real winners of the Long Island Sound Futures Fund grants,” said Wendi Weber, regional director of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northeast Region. “The health of this estuary of national significance depends on our work with landowners and partners. These grants go directly to protecting our shared natural resources — from restoring salt marsh for fish and protecting nests for piping plovers and other shorebirds to educating children who may be the future stewards of the Sound.”

Southeastern Connecticut projects receiving grants are:

• Guilford, $49,250, for restoration of the Long Cove tidal marsh.

• Eastern Connecticut Conservation District, $60,000 for creation of action plan for Poquetanuck Cove in Ledyard and Preston.

• Clean Up Stonington Harbors, $24,481 for water quality project.

• Sea Research Foundation, Mystic, $7,165 for estuary health program.

Statewide projects receiving grants include:

• Audubon Connecticut, $117,707, for Connecticut coast and coastal islands stewardship.

• Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, $150,000 for improving equine operation nutrient management.

• SoundWaters, $34,486 for public engagement sails from ports on Long Island and Connecticut.

• Save the Sound, a program of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, $10,000 for coastal cleanup program.

— Judy Benson