Long Island Sound (LIS) is an Estuary of National Significance, and the region's single most valuable natural resource. We depend on LIS for recreation, fishing, economic development, and our quality of life. Recent studies estimate that the Long Island Sound's economic value is between $17 billion and $37 billion annually, and it supports more than 191,000 watershed dependent jobs.
While progress has been made to protect and restore the Sound, threats remain and much work needs to be done:
- Reduce Nitrogen Pollution: Each day thousands of pounds of nitrogen pollution enters the LIS. Excessive nitrogen pollution leads to hypoxia (low dissolved oxygen) or anoxia (no dissolved oxygen), making it difficult to sustain life. In 1998, NY and CT agreed to a goal of reducing nitrogen levels 58.5% by 2014. While nitrogen has been cut by 35 million lbs/year at 106 wastewater treatment facilities, the goal was never met, and more work remains to reduce harmful nitrogen into the Sound.
- Protect and Restore Important Habitat: Healthy tidal wetlands, sea grass beds, beaches, and bluffs are critical for the survival of fish, shellfish, birds, and other wildlife found in the Sound's watershed. In 1998, the Long Island Sound Study adopted a goal to restore 2,000 acres of coastal habitat. To date, more than 1,400 acres of ecologically important coastal habitat has been restored and more than 295 miles of fish passage has been created. Significant progress has been made, but federal funding is urgently needed to continue this work.
Congress Holds the Key to LIS Restoration
Unfortunately, Congress has underfunded restoration efforts and failed to reauthorize the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act, which authorizes up to $65 million in funding for Long Island Sound. Congress must provide at least $10 million for restoration efforts in 2016, and reauthorize the LIS Restoration and Stewardship Act to ensure the long term success of restoring the Sound!
Save Plum Island, Don't Sell It!
Plum Island is a rare 840-acre island located 10 miles from Connecticut in the heart of Long Island Sound. Approximately 90% of the island is undeveloped, allowing pristine wetland and grassland areas to flourish and giving the island tremendous ecological value. It is inhabited by a wide variety of plant species, including rare orchids, oaks and carnivorous plants. Plum Island is also considered to be vital breeding grounds for over 80 species of birds, including Piping Plovers, Roseate Terns and other endangered species.
Plum Island is the current home of USDA's animal disease research facility, requiring that the island be completely isolated from public access. The facility is now being relocated and the federal government is seeking to sell Plum Island to the highest bidder. This sale would jeopardize critical wildlife habitat, increase pollution going into Long Island Sound, and prevent future public use. Congress is now considering legislation that would reverse a 2008 law requiring the island to be sold at public auction. Congress must act quickly to protect Plum Island and ensure it is allowed to remain a natural treasure in LIS for generations to come!
How You Can Help
Our congressional leaders must work quickly to provide the funding needed to advance Long Island Sound's restoration goals, and take decisive action to save, not sell Plum Island. Without immediate action, Long Island Sound's most valuable natural resources may be lost forever. Take Action Now!
For more information:
U.S. EPA, Long Island Sound Study Management Plan
Updated by lburch 7/10/15