Troy, N.Y. –Erin Crotty, Executive Director of Audubon New York and Vice President of the National Audubon Society, was in Washington DC today to testify to members of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife on Senate bill 675, the “Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act.”
The Act, sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, authorizes funding for projects to restore and preserve the Sound and its ecosystems, including much needed funding for upgrades to wastewater treatment plants, wetlands protection and restoration, and non-point source control and abatement.
“Long Island Sound is a globally significant ecosystem for birds, fish, and other wildlife, including the federally threatened Piping Plover and Red Knot,” said Erin Crotty, Executive Director of Audubon New York. “Yet, the health of the Sound is still threatened, with today’s threats being more challenging than those of 30 years ago. Habitat for birds and other wildlife are literally being squeezed out by rising sea levels, climate change, and user conflicts. The collaborative and integrated effort enabled by the Long Island Sound Restoration Act is more important than ever.”
In addition to funding, the Act also adds to the Long Island Sound Study Office the responsibility to study environmental impacts, including the impacts of sea-level rise and the development and implementation of adaptation strategies, on the Sound watershed; conduct planning; develop and implement public education strategies; and conduct monitoring to ensure the projects and programs are working effectively. The Act requires a biennial report to Congress, an annual crosscutting budget, and critical federal agency coordination. Finally, the Act authorizes up to $40 million annually for grants to support the Sound’s Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan and up to $25 million annually for grants to procure and enhance sites within the Sound’s watershed.
Crotty continued, “I am very honored for the opportunity to highlight the importance of the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act and that of the EPA’s National Estuaries Program. This legislation is a priority within our Coastal strategy and Long Island campaign and provides a common sense approach to modern estuary protection and helps meet the federal government’s share of the funding needed to further improve water quality, protect and improve habitat, educate and involve the public, and ensure sustainable and resilient communities based on sound science and inclusive management. It helps the private and public sectors work together on achieving the vision of clean water, publicly accessible beaches and preserves, flourishing commercial fisheries, and a protected ecosystem. It’s critical to the safety and well-being of the birds, people, and communities of the Sound.”
The Sound supports 54 Important Bird Areas (IBAs). Identifying IBAs is a collaborative effort of 19 partners throughout the world to identify, monitor, and protect the most important places for birds. 14 of those IBAs are identified as global, meaning they are places of critical conservation value at an international scale, and support bird species of global conservation concern or significant numbers of birds. Federal funding authorized under the Act will be leveraged with other federal, state, local and private investment to protect the Sound’s ecosystem, and with it, these critical habitats. On average, the estuaries of the National Estuaries Program, of which Long Island Sound Study is one, raises $18 for every $1 provided by the EPA and often, federal funding is the driver for projects moving forward.
For Crotty’s testimony in full, visit the Audubon New York website at: http://ny.audubon.org/lisrsasenatetestimony
For interview requests, contact Claudette Thornton, Director of Strategic Communications at 518-869-9731 or email@example.com
Audubon New York is the state’s leading voice for the conservation and protection of natural resources for birds. Integrating science, conservation, policy and education, Audubon’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitat for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. With 50,000 members and 27 affiliated chapters state-wide, Audubon New York oversees seven sanctuaries and centers, from Long Island to western New York, and protects priority habitats, including more than 130 Important Bird Areas identified as critical for the conservation of birds.