On Monday, federal and state environmental officials announced 36 grants totaling $2.57 million to local government and community groups aimed at improving the health and ecosystem of the Long Island Sound. The 14 projects receiving funding through the Long Island Sound Futures Fund (LISFF)include a program sponsored by Group for the East End habitat restoration in Riverhead, plans for shorebird protection across Long Island including the East End and a campaign to encourage residents to stop using plastic straws in support of marine life.
“As Co-Chairman of the Long Island Sound Caucus, I understand that the Long Island Sound is a regional and national treasure, as well as a critical economic, recreational and environmental resource,” said Representative Lee Zeldin at a press conference announcing the funding in Port Jefferson. “The $2.57 million investment in these 36 programs around the Long Island Sound Watershed will allow us to continue to improve the health and vitality of the Sound. These community projects will make a real difference in continuing our progress towards cleaning up Long Island Sound. The partnerships funded by today’s grants show our commitment to the health of the Sound and to ensuring that our children and grandchildren can enjoy it for generations to come.”
As part of the funding, the Group for the East End will receive a LISFF grant of $67,542 with a matching grant of $101,371 for habitat restoration and environmental stewardship of Hallock State Park Preserve in Riverhead. The Be a Good Egg III – Share the Shore with Shorebirds program through Audubon New York earned $41,009 from LISFF with a $41,757 matching grant for its environmental education program encouraging people to share the shore with shorebirds on Long Island, including reducing threats to native species like the piping plover, lest tern, common tern and American oystercatcher. Citizens Campaign Fund for the Environment was also awarded funding for its “Going Strawless for Sea Turtles: Educating to Protect Marine Life and Eliminate Single-Use Plastics” program.
The Long Island Sound Study initiated the LISFF in 2005 through EPA’s Long Island Sound Office. To date, the LISFF has invested $19.6 million in 416 projects. With a grantee match of $36 million, the program generated $55.6 million for locally-based conservation. According to a press release, the projects have opened up 163 river miles for fish passage, restored 1,109 acres of critical fish and wildlife habitat and open space, treated 204 million gallons of pollution, and educated and engaged 4.7 million people.
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.