The U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Connecticut Office this week announced the formation of the Long Island Sound Multi-State Partnership and the availability of grants for conservation projects in the watershed.
The Sound is one of 28 designated estuaries of national significance in the United States Its watershed begins at the headwaters of the Connecticut River on the Quebec border and encompasses 17,814 square miles in six states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island), and contains some of the most important farmland in the country and an aquaculture industry.
It also provides habitats to more than 1,200 species of invertebrates, 170 species of fish, and hundreds of species of migratory birds. Nine million people live in the watershed, and 21 million live within 50 miles. The estimated annual value of the local economy in 2011 was $8.91 billion.
“The health and condition of the agricultural landscape, habitats, and residents of LIS are connected to the quality of water that enters into big rivers and their tributaries,” Jay Mar, Connecticut state conservationist for the USDA-NRCS, said in a news release. Ninety percent of the fresh water in LIS comes from three major rivers – Connecticut, Housatonic, and Thames Rivers.
The priorities of the multi-state partnership include improving conservation opportunities for private agricultural and forest land owners; ensuring more sustainable agriculture, creating healthy aquatic environments for shellfish and finfish production; restoring and protecting wildlife habitat; and maintaining and restoring hydrologic and ecological functions within the watershed.
“As of today, NRCS is accepting applications for Long Island Sound Multi-State Partnership projects to address resource concerns in this remarkable natural wonder,” Mar said. The deadline for applications is May 11.
For information, contact the USDA field office in Norwich at (860) 887-3604.