National Fish and Wildlife Foundation press release
Top federal and state environmental agencies and officials from New England and New York, including the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), announced 41 grants totaling $10.3 million to organizations and local governments to improve the environment of Long Island Sound. The grants are matched by $5.8 million from the grantees themselves, resulting in $16.1 million combined total funding for conservation projects in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.
In all, these Long Island Sound Futures Fund (Futures Fund) 2022 grants will reach 319,000 people through environmental education programs. Water quality improvement projects will prevent 5.3 million gallons of polluted stormwater from flowing into Long Island Sound waters. The projects will also remove 8,000 pounds of marine debris from the sound shorelines and enhance 215 acres of habitat vital for fish and wildlife. Funding for the grant program comes from the EPA as part of the Long Island Sound Study (LISS), from the FWS and NFWF. Salesforce, Zoetis, Avangrid Foundation and Covanta have provided other funding.
"The Long Island Sound is a critical natural resource that supports a diverse ecosystem and provides advantages to millions of people along its coast," said EPA Region 2 Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. "EPA's ongoing investments in community-based programs and water quality improvements immediately benefit the Sound, reducing nitrogen runoff and helping restore miles of river habitat. In addition, the Long Island Sound will benefit from a $106 million investment under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These awards and that financing provide a unique opportunity to make significant environmental improvements that will last generations."
"Long Island Sound is an essential ecosystem that supports communities, economies, and habitats across the region and this year’s recipients showcase the commitment that watershed communities have to restoring the Sound," said EPA New England Regional Administrator David Cash. "We are proud to support locally driven, innovative projects that will protect Long Island Sound. These projects are designed to improve water quality, support environmental justice initiatives, enhance community resilience to storms and floods, and provide public access in an urban coastal community of Long Island 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 tangible 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 $42 million in 570 projects. The program has generated an additional $54 million in grantee match for a total conservation impact of $97 million. Projects have opened 119 river miles for fish, restored 811 acres of wildlife habitat, reduced 206 million gallons of stormwater pollution, and engaged more than 5 million people in the protection and restoration of the sound.
"Estuaries and their surrounding lands and waters represent some of the most productive ecosystems in the world," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "The funding awarded today embodies our continued commitment, together with our public and private partners, to improve the sound by fostering environmental stewardship and public awareness and education, restoring habitat for fish and wildlife, preventing pollution, and enhancing the resilience of coastal communities."
"In this time of climate change, it is more important than ever to empower local communities to increase the resilience of their rivers and coastal habitats for the safety of their citizens and health of fish and wildlife," said Kyla Hastie, acting Northeast regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "The projects funded today will reduce flooding and storm damage, boost water quality, and increase educational and recreational opportunities, particularly for historically disadvantaged communities. At the same time, migratory fish will regain access to spawning grounds, and wildlife at risk from rising seas, like saltmarsh sparrow, will benefit."
"The Long Island Sound is a cherished natural resource in New York State, providing important nursery habitat for marine life, migratory birds, and wildlife, while supporting diverse economic, recreational, and environmental benefits to local residents," said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. "DEC is proud to partner with the Long Island Sound Futures Fund to advance initiatives that support critical habitat restoration, water quality improvement, and community outreach. We congratulate all the awardees and look forward to the continued progress towards the implementation of these projects."
"Long Island Sound is such a valuable resource, and the projects funded by the Long Island Sound Futures Fund will do so much to help the Sound, the communities that live near it, and the rivers that flow into it, thrive," said Katie Dykes, commissioner, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. "We are honored to celebrate the awarding of over $4.3 million in grants to 19 recipients in Connecticut, which also leverages over $1.9 million in local funding. These important and forward-thinking projects range from reducing nitrogen pollution and removing barriers to fish passage to improving the resilience of our coastal communities and providing pathways to conservation careers to young people from environmental justice communities. We are grateful to our federal partners for this impactful funding."
A complete list of the 2022 Long Island Sound Futures Fund grants recipients is available here. See a list of quotes from elected officials and partners about today’s grant announcement here. To learn more, please visit the NFWF Long Island Sound Futures Fund website.
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 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 nine million people 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.