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Westbury meeting Tuesday afternoon will focus on ways to protect the Long Island Sound

A wide-ranging proposal on ways to protect the Long Island Sound over the next two decades will be the subject of a public meeting Tuesday in Westbury.

The meeting, at 1 p.m. at the Yes We Can Community Center, is designed to solicit public comment on the draft Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan of the Long Island Sound Study, a multiagency partnership that works to protect the estuary.

Calls for further reductions in nitrogen loading in the Sound and measures to combat the effects of climate change are part of the updated plan, which was approved in 1994 and at that time focused primarily on pollution.

The plan will help focus policymakers on key issues affecting the Sound -- especially climate change, a topic that has grown in prominence in the past 20 years, said Mark Tedesco, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Long Island Sound office.

"We have a lot more knowledge about Long Island Sound than we did, and it's important that we use that knowledge," Tedesco said.

The meeting in Westbury is one of three scheduled to gather the public's input, Tedesco said. The public comment period will be open until Nov. 8, and the final plan is slated to come out at year's end.

"It's really important that the plan reflects the hopes, the desires of people in the region," he said. "We are not going to accomplish things that aren't desired by the region."

The draft plan has four sections, each focusing on a different aspect of the Sound, including water quality, wildlife and surrounding communities.

Goals include reducing the number of areas in the Sound that are oxygen-starved and overloaded with nitrogen, reducing the amount of time beaches are closed due to harmful runoff, and improving shellfishing areas currently closed to harvesting.

It also includes proposed steps to addressing rise in sea-levels, ocean acidification and other issues related to climate change.

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