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More than $2.5M in grants to improve water quality in Long Island Sound

One of Long Island's largest grants for the

One of Long Island's largest grants for the Long Island Sound is $249,046 for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County to restore degraded shoreline marshes in Centerport Harbor using cordgrass, shown, and ribbed mussels.  Credit: Randee Daddona

Federal officials this week announced $5.4 million in grants to government agencies and community groups for 39 conservation and education projects that will benefit water quality in Long Island Sound.

The grants, announced during a virtual news conference Monday, combine funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

About half the money will benefit New York-based projects while the remainder will go to organizations in Connecticut and Vermont. The Vermont projects mostly focus on preventing nitrogen pollution in the Connecticut River, which discharges in the Sound.

Together the projects are expected to treat 353,000 gallons of stormwater annually, install 43,000-square-feet of green infrastructure and remove 97,700 pounds of marine debris from the Sound, EPA officials said.

"Long Island Sound is an essential ecosystem that supports communities, economies and habitats across the region, and we are proud to support local projects that will protect the environment," Deborah Szaro, EPA New England acting regional administrator, said in a statement. "This year’s recipients showcase diverse and innovative projects that help to protect and restore Long Island Sound."

One of Long Island’s largest grants is $249,046 for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County to restore degraded shoreline marshes in Centerport Harbor using ribbed mussels and cordgrass.

Two grants awarded to the Farmingdale-based nonprofit Citizens Campaign for the Environment include $100,000 to deliver educational and stewardship activities for students and $60,001 to install a rain garden to capture stormwater runoff in Northport Harbor.

Each grant requires matching funds from the receiving organization or agency.

Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), New York "co-chairs for the bipartisan Long Island Sound caucus, both noted efforts to increase funding to improve the Sound.

Suozzi, speaking during the virtual news conference, said annual federal funding for the Sound has increased during his time in Congress, from about $4 million to $30 million.

One of the largest grants awarded in his district was $604,461 to the nonprofit Save the Sound to establish a natural shoreline to reduce erosion along Memorial Field in Little Neck Bay. Another $100,000 awarded to the Village of Sea Cliff will fund a water-quality monitoring program in Hempstead Harbor.

Every project, Suozzi said, contributes to the overall health of the ecosystem.

"Anything that happens in Connecticut on the Long Island Sound, or anything that happens in New York City on the Long Island Sound, or anything that happens in Nassau, Suffolk, we’re all affected by it," he said in a phone interview. "There are no boundaries. It’s all one big ecosystem that makes up our National Park."

Zeldin noted grants in his district include $399,997 to the University of Connecticut to develop a climate and shoreline plan for Great Gull Island east of Plum Island and $79,640 to Brookhaven Town to plant 200,000 oysters in Port Jefferson Harbor. He stressed the work of environmentalists in getting the projects done.

"You all make it not only look easy, you actually make some of these victories to secure easy," Zeldin said.

LI SOUND INVESTMENTS

$81,341 to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County to deploy floating litter traps to remove debris.

Another $115,841 to the cooperative extension to remove derelict oyster gear from 18 square miles between New York and Connecticut.

$80,374 to the Nassau County Museum of Art to restore grassland at the William Cullen Bryant Preserve in Roslyn Harbor.

Source: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

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