Suozzi Announces Nearly $3 Million in Federal Sound Protection Matching Grants

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On Dec. 7, during a virtual press conference, U.S. Representative Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) announced matching grants from federal agencies that will bring nearly $3 million in funds to the 3rd congressional district to help protect and preserve the Long Island Sound.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation all contributed funds to the grants. The organizations or agencies receiving the grants will be required to match the funds.

Suozzi, co-chair of the bipartisan Long Island Sound Caucus, said at the Dec. 7 news conference that the main issues environmentalists have had with the waterway over the years have been hypoxia and the release of nitrogen into the strait by sewage. processing plants. He called the waterway “our national park” and said it had improved over the past decades but still needed more care.

“If you look at the water, look at it, it’s clearer than before,” he said. “If you look at wildlife, you see more osprey and more red-tailed hawks.”

He added that there were also more bunker fish in the water.

Also present at the virtual press conference were Curt Johnson, president of Save the Sound; Cecilia Venosta-Wiygul, Udalls Cove Preservation Committee and Douglaston Civic Association Board Member; Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens’ Campaign for the Environment; Vanessa Pino Lockel, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk; Eric Swenson, executive director of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee; Carol DiPaolo of the Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbour; and Heather Johnson, executive director of Friends of the Bay located in Oyster Bay.

The groups will benefit from the grants, and Suozzi praised them for their efforts in protecting the Sound.

“It’s a constant effort from everyone on this call working together as a team,” he said.

Northport Mayor Damon McMullen also spoke at the virtual press conference. He said the village was working on upgrading the sewage system and it had made a “huge difference”. He said the village was able to reduce its nitrogen production from 19 pounds a day to less than 2 pounds. The mayor said the village has invested money in next year’s budget for stormwater control, which will help capture pollutants and pesticides before they enter Northport Harbor and only end up ending up in the strait.

$105,001 will be made available in a program known as Green Infrastructure to improve water quality in Northport Harbor and the Long Island Sound. The grant money will go to rain gardens to capture stormwater in the village, which the mayor says is the next step in achieving the goal of cleaner water.

The grants include $170,000 to develop an action plan for Long Island Sound students, and among the projects that will receive funding is the Long Island Sound Summit for high school students, Esposito said. The project included 125 students from four schools this year, and she said they expect 250 students from eight schools over the coming year, including Northport, Smithtown and Rocky Point. Part of the project includes students taking water samples and examining the strait’s microplastic content, studying the effects of nitrogen on native cordgrass along the shoreline and more.

Among other grants, $729,606 is earmarked for new methods to improve coastal restoration and resilience in Centerport Harbor; and $152,314 for the expansion of oyster sanctuaries in Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor.

When Suozzi first took office in January 2017, he said funding at the time for sound was around $4 million. This year it was more than $30 million, he said.

While Suozzi was thrilled his district was getting the money, he said any area along the Sound receiving help was a plus.

“If we get money in Connecticut, if we get money for the combined sewer outfall in New York, that helps all of us, because there are no geographic boundaries,” a- he declared. “There are no congressional boundaries in Long Island Sound. We’re all in the same boat.”

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