Top environmental officials announce action agenda to restore and protect long island sound
Greenwich, Conn. -- Top officials responsible for the health of the Long Island Sound from the two U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regions, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection today announced a blueprint for coordinated actions to be taken through 2013 to protect and restore Long Island Sound. They were also joined by Congressman Jim Himes, Connecticut State Senator L. Scott Frantz, members of the Long Island Sound Study’s Citizens Advisory Committee (LISS CAC), and Save the Sound.
During the final SoundVision schooner event held at the Indian Harbor Yacht Club along the Long Island Sound shoreline in Greenwich, Connecticut, the officials cited recent progress in the Long Island Sound restoration, and announced the Long Island Sound Study Action Agenda: 2011-2013. The Action Agenda contains 54 actions organized around four themes: Waters and Watersheds, Habitats and Wildlife, Communities and People, and Science and Management. Within these themes priority actions are identified to improve water quality, restore habitat, conserve the land, maintain biodiversity, and increase opportunities for human use and enjoyment of the Sound. The Action Agenda is consistent with the Citizen Advisory Committee’s SoundVision Action Plan.
In addition to continuing progress in reducing nitrogen pollution and mitigating combined sewer and sanitary sewer overflows, the Action Agenda commits to research stormwater practices to control nitrogen, pilot innovative strategies to use shellfish and seaweed to mitigate nitrogen pollution, and designate all of Long Island Sound as a “no discharge zone” for vessel waste. New targets are being set to restore 200 acres of coastal habitat and to reopen 80 miles of riverine migratory corridors to fish. And a number of actions target restoration of eelgrass, a critical habitat for shellfish and juvenile fish.
'A clean and healthy Long Island Sound is a fantastic resource for both recreation and a vibrant economy,' said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. 'The Action Agenda is a clear road map for coordinated efforts among many levels of government and concerned communities for us to achieve a cleaner, healthier Long Island Sound for people to enjoy. This collaborative effort underscores our commitment to protecting the Sound.'
The Long Island Sound Study (LISS), sponsored by EPA and the states of Connecticut and New York, is a partnership of federal, state, and local agencies, universities, national and local environmental groups, businesses, and community groups whose mission is to restore and protect this great resource. The LISS partnership strives to be adaptable, collaborative, effective, and efficient in the implementation of a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) that was developed in 1994. The plan, approved by the Governors of Connecticut and New York and the EPA Administrator, set a goals and targets for improving the health of Long Island Sound.
Periodically, the LISS has developed agreements to guide and prioritize implementation of the CCMP – such agreements were developed in 1996, 2003, and 2006. This Action Agenda identifies priority actions to implement the 1994 CCMP from 2011 to 2013, and sets the stage for a more comprehensive update to the CCMP that is planned for 2014. The actions are specific and measurable, and will build upon the progress made to date by setting clear priorities, responsible entities, and timeframes for the LISS partnership through 2013.
“Partnerships are the key to achieving environmental results,” said George Pavlou, EPA Region 2 Deputy Administrator. “The actions announced today will guide how our federal/state partnership works with the private sector and academic community to protect and restore coastal lands, improve water quality, and strengthen the science that underpins our work.”
“Long Island Sound is a unique resource that must be maintained and restored. As a long time environmentalist, I believe we must do all that we can in order to maintain our nation’s natural resources, and that includes the diverse and beautiful Long Island Sound,” said Congressman Himes. “The SoundVision Action Plan and the Action Agenda unveiled today has made preservation of the Sound a priority, and I look forward to working with our federal and state partners in the future as we move forward with plans to restore the health and beauty of this state treasure.”
Daniel C. Esty, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) said, “Long Island Sound is one of our most important natural resources and is critical to our quality of life and economic well-being. The Action Agenda helps sharpen and focus ongoing and new actions that Long Island Sound partners need to take to address conservation and management priorities. The successes we’ve achieved in protecting and enhancing the Sound are a testament to the power of partnerships, and the future challenges we face will be met by the impressive alliance of environmental stewards represented here today.”
“SoundVision and the Action Agenda are investments that support the waters, the wildlife, and the economy of our home state,” said State Senator Frantz. “Without these efforts, Long Island Sound and Connecticut would be a very different place. It is my hope these efforts are furthered so that the generations to come can enjoy the beautiful views we share today.”
'A clean and healthy Long Island Sound is vital to our economy and the environment this precious resource sustains.' said Assistant Commissioner James Tierney of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 'New York State is pleased to reinvigorate our commitment to work with our partners to protect and restore Long Island Sound. The Action Agenda provides a solid framework to improve water quality; protect and restore habitat and living resources; and foster continued cooperation between the federal government, New York, and Connecticut with local governments, interest groups, and the scientific community.'
“We are so pleased that the states will be agreeing to a two-year Action Agenda that is consistent with the goals outlined in SoundVision,” said Curt Johnson, program director of CFE and Connecticut co-chair of the CAC. “This is the first time in several years that federal and state partners have come together on the Sound's coast to publicly announce a shared vision for the preservation and restoration its waters. Together, we will clean the Sound’s waters and coastline, saving the last great places around the Sound for our children and wildlife while creating new jobs and building economic prosperity. Whether it’s joining together in a volunteer coastal cleanup or harbor water monitoring program, or working with our elected officials to continue investing in clean water and habitat restoration job creating projects, the Action Agenda and SoundVision Action Plan will help save the Sound and preserve our local heritage now and for future generations.”
Long Island Sound (LIS) is one of the largest urban estuaries (a coastal body of water where fresh water draining from the land mixes with salt water from the ocean) in the United States. It provides economic and recreational benefits to millions of people in Connecticut and New York, while also providing natural habitats to more than 1,200 species of invertebrates, 170 species of fish, and dozens of species of migratory birds.