Federal and state agencies have announced 39 grants, totaling $12 million, to organizations and local governments to improve the health of Long Island Sound, according to a press release form the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).
The grants are matched by $8 million from the grantees themselves, resulting in $20 million in total conservation impact for projects in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.
In all, the Long Island Sound Futures Fund (Futures Fund) 2023 grants will support projects that improve water quality by preventing 2.7 million gallons of stormwater and 101,000 pounds of nitrogen pollution from flowing into Long Island Sound waters. The projects will also remove 120 tons of marine debris from the sound and support planning for restoration of 880 acres of coastal habitat and 102 miles of river corridor vital to fish and wildlife.
The projects will also reach 30,000 people through environmental education programs that increase awareness of how to improve the health and vitality of the Sound. Funding for the grant program comes from the U.S. EPA as part of the Long Island Sound Study (LISS), with additional support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (FWS), NFWF and The Zoetis Foundation.
“EPA’s continued investments in locally based programs in and around Long Island Sound will tackle water quality improvements, reduce nitrogen pollution and restore coastal habitat,” said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia of EPA Region 2. “EPA is proud to support these innovative and impactful projects that will improve the health and resilience of this vital estuary for generations to come and ensure that all communities have a voice and a role in the protection and restoration of the Sound.”
The LISS initiated the Futures Fund in 2005 through EPA’s Long Island Sound Office and NFWF. The grant program has a strong history of making environmental improvements by supporting people and communities who value the sound and take a direct role in its future. Since its inception, the Futures Fund has invested $56 million in 640 projects.
The program has generated an additional $65 million in grantee matching funds toward these projects for a total conservation impact of $121 million. The projects have opened 121 river miles for fish passage, restored 842 acres of fish and wildlife habitat, treated 208 million gallons of stormwater pollution, and engaged 5 million people in protection and restoration of the sound.
“The projects funded today conserve and restore vital habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife like piping plovers and roseate terns, as well as include working directly with communities to create a future landscape more resilient to climate change,” said Wendi Weber, Northeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Removing dams and replacing culverts clears the way for migratory fish while reducing the risk of flooding. Living shorelines support fish and shellfish while buffering destructive storm surge. These grants support a brighter future for the people and wildlife of Long Island Sound.”
A complete list of the 2023 Long Island Sound Futures Fund grants recipients is available here.