Melville, NY April 21, 2021 –The Long Island Sound Funders Collaborative announces $203,500 in grants awarded to 12 nonprofits through its Long Island Sound Stewardship Fund at the Long Island Community Foundation.
The Long Island Sound Stewardship Fund (LISSF) was established in 2018 to support projects that address pressing challenges and provide for a healthy, productive, and resilient Sound now and into the future. The fund promotes a sustainable Sound by providing opportunities for funders who care about this natural resource to work together around a common mission to make a positive impact on its ecological health; support programs and projects that align with the federal Long Island Sound Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan 2015 (CCMP); help nonprofits working to restore the health and living resources of the Sound achieve conservation outcomes in a more effective and collaborative way; and support capacity building efforts that strengthen nonprofits working to protect the Sound. As part of restoring and protecting the health of the Sound, the CCMP also identifies principles that are important to consider in taking any specific action including supporting communication and environmental justice.
Long Island Sound is an estuary that provides economic and recreational benefits to millions of people while also providing habitat for hundreds of species of fish and dozens of species of migratory birds. These grants will support organizational capacity building; piloting tools and strategies to improve environmental factors; and cleaning waters, restoring habitat, sustaining wildlife, and engaging the public in restoration and protection of the health and living resources of the Long Island Sound.
“This is the Fund’s third round of grants bringing our total investment to nearly $900,000,” says David M. Okorn, executive director of the Long Island Community Foundation. “The grant recipients have made incredible strides towards reducing nitrogen loads, restoring habitat, improving water quality, and educating the public about the Long Island Sound. This progress is a direct result of our unique collaboration among funders in New York and Connecticut that enables us to pool funding for greater impact and our grantees who remain committed to protecting the future health and waterways of the Long Island Sound.”
New Haven/Urban Resources Institute – $9,000 to implement strategic habitat restoration projects in New Haven that contribute to watershed health and increase recreational opportunities leading to improved community well-being. The Community Access, Stewardship & Engagement project is designed to improve access for under-resourced communities to wildlife-dependent recreation through the installation of two fishing piers, which the community has identified as a priority. The enhanced shoreline public access will be coupled with formal and informal education, as well as opportunities for engagement in habitat stewardship activities adjacent to the fishing piers.
Groundwork Bridgeport – $19,000 to build organizational capacity through upgraded management systems. While Groundwork Bridgeport’s programs and projects continue to expand, its small staff continues to struggle with outdated management systems. Technology upgrades will improve capacity and increase the organization’s overall effectiveness to deliver programs.
Citizens Campaign for the Environment – $25,000 to expand protection and restoration campaigns through the Citizens Advisory Committee – a volunteer organization that provides ongoing advice to Federal, state, and local government partners working on implementing the Long Island Sound Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the restoration and protection of Long Island Sound. Membership on the Advisory Committee is open to individuals, environmental organizations, businesses, industries, local governments, and other public and private organizations in Connecticut and New York. The member coordinator plays a critical role in directing the daily activities of the group to ensure continued progress in between quarterly meetings.
Housatonic Valley Association, Inc. – $15,000 for an environmental protection program that engages residents and promotes responsible recreational activities in the Housatonic River. Visitor density at Housatonic River access sites in northwestern Connecticut is rapidly increasing. Many sites are not designed for high visitor concentrations and are being negatively impacted by erosion, litter, and other environmental degradation. To protect river health, avoid closures, and ensure equitable and inclusive, and sustainable access to the river, the organization is partnering with Corazón Latino to strengthen community engagement efforts in Danbury with a focus on responsible river recreation and greater public engagement in the protection of the health and living resources of waterways in the Long Island Sound watershed.
Seatuck Environmental Association, Inc. – $10,000 to improve the connectivity of Gabler’s Creek and enhancing wildlife passage into Aurora Pond. Gabler’s Creek is a small coastal stream that drains a watershed in Douglaston and Little Neck and terminates at Udalls Cove, located at the eastern end of Little Neck Bay. Along its path to the Long Island Sound, it passes through several manmade culverts and a dam that are not designed for wildlife passage. Together the structures combine to restrict the ability of fish and other species to move up or down the creek. The dam is a barrier to migratory river herring seeking freshwater spawning habitat and the small roadway culvert forces river otters to cross the road and risk getting hit by vehicles.
City Island Oyster Reef, Inc. – $28,000 to restore marshland and pilot a community-based oyster reef and stewardship program. The City Island Living Shoreline and Educational Center project includes a pilot oyster reef and an outdoor learning center for students and the community-at-large. It has entered into an agreement to restore a marshland area behind P.S. 175, which belongs to the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation. Restoration efforts have commenced with the weeding of invasive plant species, removing debris, and planting appropriate indigenous marshland species donated by the Parks Department.
Conservation Law Foundation, Inc. – $35,000 to improve the water quality of Connecticut’s coastal waters and rivers by minimizing stormwater runoff pollution. Nearly one-fifth of Connecticut’s assessed miles of river and more than half of its coastal embayment’s are classified as polluted. A predominant source of this pollution is excess nutrients from stormwater runoff.
Earthplace – $10,000 to provide environmental education programs for students in Fairfield County. Clean water is a critical part of healthy and vibrant communities. Earthplace provides science-based education programs to students along with hands-on experiences in water quality monitoring. Students are taught the scientific and critical thinking skills needed to understand and protect the natural world.
Friends of the Bay, Inc. – $6,000 to install two demonstration rain gardens to capture and naturally treat stormwater runoff. Oyster Bay is one of the most productive shellfish waterbodies on Long Island, but harvesting is often hampered by pathogens primarily caused by stormwater runoff. Raingardens improve water quality by capturing pathogens, suspended solids, and other contaminants before they enter a waterbody. Reducing and/or treating stormwater runoff can significantly improve water quality and enhance environmental conditions that support aquatic life in our local harbors and bays.
SoundWaters – $21,500 to engage underrepresented communities in environmental protection and conservation. The environment plays a strong role in determining our health, opportunities, and quality of life. The lack of access to the Long Island Sound in lower Fairfield County for underrepresented families continues to be a persistent problem that damages the health and resilience of residents and their communities.
Westchester Land Trust, Inc. – $15,000 to provide an environmental enrichment program that encourages people of color to pursue careers in conservation management. Conservation organization staff and leadership throughout the Hudson Valley region often do not represent the diversity of people who live in their service territories. Westchester Land Trust is addressing this disparity by forging partnerships with local and regional organizations who, together, can offer a robust career ladder to engage students of color in the conservation field.
Westchester Parks Foundation, Inc. – $10,000 to engage volunteers in a forest regeneration project. Human activity and natural disasters have severely impacted Marshlands Conservancy, a 147-acre wildlife sanctuary located along the Atlantic migratory flyway and the Long Island Sound. Storm damage and foot traffic from 31,000 visitors annually has led to severe erosion that is directly resulting in increased pollutant and nutrient levels entering the waterway.
These grants would not be made possible without the generous support from donors and members of the Collaborative. They are Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, Community Foundation of Middlesex County, The Eder Family Foundation, Inc., Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, The Fred I and Gilda Nobel Foundation, Inc., Jeniam Foundation, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Long Island Community Foundation, McCance Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The New York Community Trust, New York Community Bank, Pamela and Richard Rubinstein Foundation, Rauch Foundation, Ms. Wendy W. Roberts, and The Westchester Community Foundation.