U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the just-passed federal spending bill includes $12 million to fund the Environmental Protection Agency’s Long Island Sound program, an increase of $4 million from the year prior. The Senators said this is the highest level of funding for the LI Sound program in twenty-five years.
“The Long Island Sound is a natural treasure and an economic engine for the whole region that draws families, boaters, tourists and anglers to our shores. Securing $12 million in federal funds will allow us to keep a focus on restoring and protect the beaches and waters in and around the Sound. It was imperative that we accomplish this win for current and future generations,” said Senator Schumer.
“The Long Island Sound is one of our most precious natural resources and a vitally important part of New York’s economy, and we must do everything we can to protect it,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “This increase in federal funds will go a long way toward restoring the environmental quality of the Sound and its watershed, so that local residents, local businesses, our fishing industry, and tourists from all over the country can continue to use this important waterway without having to worry about whether it is safe. I was proud to fight for this funding, and I will continue to work in the Senate to make sure this cleanup effort has all the funding and resources it needs to succeed.”
The Long Island Sound is one of 28 estuaries included in the National Estuary Program, and with more than 23 million people living within 50 miles of the Sound, it is a major contributor of economic development and a source of recreation for residents and visitors alike. According to the Long Island Sound Study, the annual economic value of the sound is approximately $8.9 billion. The Sound is home to more than 120 species of fish, which contribute to our states’ vibrant commercial and recreational fishing industries.
In 1985, the EPA, in agreement with the States of New York and Connecticut, created the Long Island Sound Study (LISS), an office under the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) charged with advancing efforts to restore the sound and address low oxygen levels and nitrogen levels that have depleted fish and shellfish populations as well as hurt shoreline wetlands. In 1990, the Long Island Sound Improvement Act passed providing federal dollars to advance Sound cleanup projects, including wastewater treatment improvements. In 2006, identifying the need for increased stakeholder participation and the need to focus on coastal restoration and improved public access and education, Congress passed the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act which provided federal dollars for projects to restore the coastal habitat to help revitalize the wildlife population and coastal wetlands and plant life.