Save The Sound praises new EPA plan for Long Island Sound

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New Haven, Conn.-based Save the Sound is praising a new 20-year plan for restoring and protecting Long Island Sound, released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and urges swift action to implement the plan.

The plan, called the Long Island Sound Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, is a revision of a 21-year-old plan for the revitalization of Long Island Sound developed by the EPA, Connecticut, New York, and the Long Island Sound Study.

The plan sets targets that will improve the health of the Sound and the lands and communities that surround it and is organized around four themes:

• Clean Waters and Healthy Watersheds

• Thriving Habitats and Abundant Wildlife

• Sustainable and Resilient Communities

• Sound Science and Inclusive Management

Goals to be achieved by 2035 include cutting the number of beach closures by 50 percent, reducing the acreage of water with unhealthily low oxygen level by 28 percent, improving water clarity, restoring 3,000 acres of coastal habitat, conserving an additional 4,000 acres of open space in Connecticut and 3,000 acres in New York, buffering streams and rivers with natural vegetation, and reducing trash polluting the Sound’s waters and shores.

“Low oxygen zones and bacterial pollution are critical problems facing Long Island Sound, and we’re pleased to see that the new CCMP places them front and center,” said Tracy Brown, director of Western Sound programs for Save the Sound. “Nitrogen loads from sewage and stormwater runoff severely depress oxygen in the Sound’s waters. In late summer, oxygen levels in the western Sound as well as bays and harbors all around the Sound can drop to almost nothing, forcing fish, lobster, crabs, and other marine animals to flee or die.