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News Releases from Region 01

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

$520,000 awarded to support 11 projects in Connecticut

Contact Information: 
Mike Smith, NFWF
Emily Bender, U.S. EPA Region New England (bender.emily@epa.gov)

Town of Mamaroneck, N.Y. – Today, top federal and state environmental officials in Connecticut and New York announced 25 grants totaling $1.3 million to local government and community groups to improve the health and ecosystem of Long Island Sound. Eleven projects, totaling $520,000 are in Connecticut.

The projects, which are funded through the Long Island Sound Futures Fund, will restore 27 acres of coastal habitat, dune, coastal forest, and salt marsh for fish and wildlife. This grant program pools funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"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. 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. In CT, the $520,000 in grant funds will be leveraged with $518,000 from the grantees resulting in $1 million in community conservation.

"One of the greatest environmental challenges facing our nation and its communities is the protection and restoration of highly productive estuaries," said National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Executive Director, Jeff Trandahl. "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 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 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."

"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 23 million 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.

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

Long Island Sound Futures Fund (LISFF) 2016 Project Descriptions

Clean Waters and Healthy Watersheds

Title: Green Infrastructure for Beardsley Zoo
Recipient: Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound
LISFF Grant: $149,833.23
Grantee Matching Funds: $75,880.00
Area: Bridgeport, Connecticut
Scope: The project will install green infrastructure including enhancing existing lawn areas with 2,000 square feet of bioretention gardens and tree pits; and replacing 4,000 square feet of impervious pavement with pervious pavers in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The project will capture and treat 1,000,000 gallons of urban stormwater runoff annually.

Title: Stonington Harbor and Coastline Water Quality Monitoring and Education Initiative
Recipient: Sea Research Foundation (Mystic Aquarium)
LISFF Grant: $24,671.86
Grantee Matching Funds: $24,710.16
Area: Stonington, Connecticut coastline
Scope: The project will monitor and identify local pollution sources in near-shore areas and conduct a public education program along the coastline of Stonington, Connecticut. The project will reduce sources of nitrogen pollution into the Stonington coast and Long Island Sound.

Thriving Habitats and Abundant Wildlife

Title: Coastal Dune Restoration at Stratford Point
Recipient: Sacred Heart University
LISFF Grant: $115,198.32
Grantee Matching Funds: $200,000.00
Area: Stratford Point, Stratford, Connecticut
Scope: The project will restore 1.5 acres of coastal dune habitat in Stratford Point, Connecticut. The project will provide breeding habitat for shorebirds and tiger beetle.

Title: Village Creek Salt Marsh Restoration Demonstration
Recipient: Norwalk Land Trust
LISFF Grant: $20,000.00
Grantee Matching Funds:$20,000.00
Area: Norwalk, Connecticut
Scope: The project will develop the planning and design to support restoration of approximately eight acres of degraded intertidal salt meadows in Norwalk, Connecticut. The project will provide the foundation for a salt marsh restoration program with a focused project plan to improve restoration success in an important wildlife area.

Title: Planning for Restoring Fish Passage on the Falls River
Recipient: The Nature Conservancy, Connecticut
LISFF Funds: $59,982.13
Grantee Matching Funds: $40,960.00
Area: Centerbrook, Connecticut
Scope: The project will develop designs for fish passage at two dams on the Falls River a tributary to the lower Connecticut River in Centerbrook, Connecticut. The project will set the stage for access to over 45 acres and a mile and a half of stream habitat for alewife and blueback herring; and raise community awareness of these projects, river health, and the critical connection between freshwater habitats and Long Island Sound.

Educating to Engage Sustainable and Resilient Communities

Title: Coastal Youth Stewards
Recipient: North American Marine Environment Protection Association
LISFF Grant: $6,917.30
Grantee Matching Funds: $5,236.68
Area: Bridgeport, Stamford, Ridgefield and Southport/Fairfield, Connecticut
Scope: The project will educate and engage 150 K-12 youth in 10 beach cleanups and in an educational program about the marine environment and marine debris in the Southwest Coast Watershed, Connecticut. The project will prevent over 1,500 pounds of debris from entering Long Island Sound waters and encourage students to become environmental stewards through hands-on education about the impact of marine debris on the Sound as well as other waterways.

Title: Sound Engagement for Families
Recipient: Sea Research Foundation (Mystic Aquarium)
LISFF Grant: $9,299.59
Grantee Matching Funds: $11,894.97
Area: Mystic Aquarium, Mystic, Barn Island Wildlife Management Area, Pawcatuck, and Bluff Point State Park, Groton, Connecticut
Scope: The project will conduct six hands-on Long Island Sound-based conservation field programs, and a Long Island Sound Day celebration for 4,000 community members and 300 families in Mystic, Connecticut. The project will immerse families in hands-on learning and conservation activities that foster appreciation and stewardship of Long Island Sound.

Title: Audubon WildLife Guards – A Coastal Stewardship and Youth Conservation Training Program
Recipient: National Audubon Society, Audubon Connecticut
LISFF Grant: $35,000.00
Grantee Matching Funds: $35,100.00
Area: Pleasure Beach, Bridgeport, Connecticut
Scope: The project will employ 10 students to encourage 3,000 members of the public to share 9.85 acres of coast with beach-nesting coastal waterbirds; and provide coastal stewardship training to 25 municipal employees to add to student stewardship efforts at Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The project will allow residents to enjoy the beach and allow Piping Plover and Least Terns to nest successfully.

Title: Engaging Student Scientists for Long Island Sound
Recipient: Earthplace - The Nature Discovery Center
LISFF Grant: $32,828.98
Grantee Matching Funds: $34,050.00
Area: Fairfield County, Connecticut
Scope: The project will engage 46 high school and undergraduate citizen scientists in four experiential learning programs about water quality and Long Island Sound ecology using rivers, harbors, and the Sound as the classroom and make public presentations about their research at public events in Fairfield County, Connecticut. The project will train student participants for careers in conservation science and improve public knowledge and understanding of the Sound

Title: River Smart Community Stormwater Education in the Farmington River Watershed for Long Island Sound
Recipient: Farmington River Watershed Association
LISFF Grant: $31.173.10
Grantee Matching Funds: $32,810.40
Area: Towns on the Pequabuck and Still Rivers such as Simsbury, Farmington, Avon, Barkhamsted, Winsted, and Bristol, Connecticut
Scope: The project will deliver River Smart CT an education and outreach program focused on personal actions to reduce polluted stormwater to 4,000 people in the Farmington Valley, Connecticut. The project will increase the number and variety of citizens who understand the value of rivers that feed Long Island Sound and take a local action to protect its water quality.

Educating to Engage Sustainable and Resilient Communities – CT/NY

Title: A Blue "Marine" Plan for Long Island Sound
Recipient: University of Connecticut
LISFF Grant: $34,996.96
Grantee Matching Funds: $29,996.96
Area: Long Island Sound Watershed, Connecticut and New York
Scope: The project will engage scientists, government, industry, and the public in development of maps and natural resource and human use information to become part of an online resource for the Long Island Sound Watershed of Connecticut and New York. The project will support the public process needed for development of a Blue Plan which looks at human activities in the marine environment to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives with an aim of protecting and restoring the Sound.