Adovcates push for funds to restore, renew the Long Island Sound

MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH)–Decades of development and pollution threaten the water quality and overall health of the complex ecosystem that makes up Long Island Sound. And as the weather should start to warm up and bring people by the thousands, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is looking for big money to protect the fragile estuary.

For over 50 years, Woodbury resident Bill Hammitt has fished Long Island Sound.

“The entire area’s good for stripers, blues,” Hammitt said. “They’re catching some black fish in New Haven. It’s a nice area to fish.”

He’s been around long enough to remember the bad old days of the Housatonic River, which dumps all its contents in to the Sound.

“You couldn’t swim in it,” Hammitt said. “It was really bad. It was a lot of industrial pollution, a lot of it was farmland pollution.”

The industrial contaminants have gotten much better lately. But Monday in Hartford, advocates were sounding the alarm about the health of Long Island Sound.

“From research in the western Sound, we are right at the brink where shellfish can no longer reproduce in the sound,” said Curt Johnson, executive director of Save the Sound.

“By virtue of the fact that we live in this state we have an obligation as citizens of the world to make sure that Long Island Sound is here and the habitats that surround it for generations to come,” said Sen. Murphy. “That’s why I’ve created this Long Island Sound funding plan – to present a clear document outlining the federal programs that support the Sound and the funding they require. The needs of the Sound are multi-faceted, and our strategy has to be as well. This plan is the first of many steps we must take to protect it.”

Murphy is calling for $860 million on what he calls the Long Island Sound Investment Plan, to protect and preserve the Sound. The Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center in Milford said everyday citizens can also help out, for a lot less money. By being mindful that all chemicals, pesticides, even styrofoam coffee cups, can end up in the ecosystem.

“Everything we do on a daily basis can go into Long Island Sound and then could come back to affect us in a negative way,” said Cathy Hagadorn, with the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center.

Sen. Murphy sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is in control of discretionary spending. He’s hoping his position will help him win approval for his Long Island Sound Investment Plan.

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