Long Island Sound fund awards grants for area projects
NEW HAVEN -- A fish ladder in the Pequonnock River in Bridgeport, removal of invasive plants at Long Beach West in Stratford and a trout farm at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo are among the 39 projects sharing in $1.6 million in grants from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund.
The recipients announced Friday afternoon at the Peabody Museum were chosen from among 70 applicants requesting more than $4 million, said Ira Leighton, deputy administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA provides most of the money, but other state and federal agencies contribute and recipients must match a portion of their grant. This is the seventh year that the Futures Fund has given grants.
"What struck me the most is how this round of grants cuts across the spectrum to involve kids, academics, scientists and environmentalists," Leighton said. "This money will put a lot of boots on the ground and do a lot of important work. It will also leverage even more funding for the Long Island Sound watershed."
Staff at the zoo will engage students and other members of the public in raising brook trout and brown trout and releasing them into the Pequonnock River. The $21,000 project will demonstrate the interrelationship between the river and the Sound.
Sacred Heart University was awarded $54,854 from the EPA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore 23 acres of salt marsh at Stratford Point. Students will also build a half-acre of dunes at the site.
The University of Connecticut will conduct workshops in Monroe, Trumbull and Bridgeport on protecting the streams that feed the Pequonnock River and lead to the Sound. The $40,000 public education project will stress the importance of protecting the water quality in Fairfield County.
The town of Stratford was awarded $56,100 from the EPA to remove invasive plant species from Long Beach West, and the Connecticut Fund for the Environment will use $118,344 to build the fish ladder in the lower Pequonnock River. That project will allow migrating and spawning river fish, including alewives and herring, to reach the Sound.
The popular "Creature Encounters" exhibit at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk will continue and expand with a $71,911 award, half of it donated by Splash Car Wash LLC. The exhibit is expected to have 95,000 visitors in the coming year who will get to see live animals up close while educators explain the animals' habitat and food sources.
Environmentalists at the ceremony praised U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., for his efforts to increase EPA funding and, as state attorney general, to preserve the former Griswold Airport site as a nature area.
Blumenthal said the grants awarded Friday will fund "projects that are essential to helping our rivers, wildlife and ecosystems thrive.''
Reach Frank Juliano at 203-520-6986 or email@example.com.