Long Island Sound cleanup plan refreshed

Expanding on its first two decades of success, the Long Island Sound Study has released its plan for another 20 years of ambitious cleanup projects of its namesake waterway. The new Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) outlines 20 goals to be completed over the course of as many years, ranging from increasing water clarity and open space to reducing beach closures due to sewage pollution.

The study, sponsored in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, first came together in 1994 with a goal of restoring and protecting the Long Island Sound. This year's CCMP will update the study's original charge by incorporating advances in available water remediation technology and addressing new environmental concerns. Other emphases include sustainability, climate change resilience and environmental justice.

"People from all over this region enjoy the use and beauty of Long Island Sound and benefit from its resources thanks in part to the dedication of those who took action in 1994," said Robert Klee, Connecticut's DEEP commissioner. "It is now our obligation to make certain we leave a Sound that future generations are able to enjoy and benefit from as well."

To achieve this, the new CCMP's 20 targets include:

  • Reducing areas of water with unhealthy oxygen levels by about 28 percent.
  • Restoring 3,000 acres of coastal habitat by 2035.
  • Conserving an additional 4,000 acres of open space in Connecticut and 3,000 acres in New York.
  • Reducing the five-year average of marine debris collected from the sound by more than 300 pounds per mile surveyed.

If the new program is anywhere near as successful as its predecessor, these programs could be among the region's most effective. Since 1998, the Long Island Sound has seen the restoration of 1,650 acres of habitat and the reopening of 317 miles of river and stream corridors to fish passage. Since 2006, the Long Island Sound Study has protected 2,675 acres of open space and coastal habitat through easements and land acquisitions with its partners. Both efforts stemmed from targets of the 1994 CCMP.

In addition to being an important environmental and ecological resource, the Long Island Sound and its watershed serve as a critical economic driver for the region. According to research conducted by the Study, swimming, fishing and boating on the Sound contribute $5.5 billion to the economy every year.

"Long Island Sound is an important ecological and economic treasure, and the new CCMP provides a strong blueprint for all partners to follow in keeping it on the road to recovery," said Marc Gerstman, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

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