Greenwich – Sen. Chris Murphy delivered good news on Aug. 24 about prospects for federal funding for Long Island Sound programs including Connecticut Sea Grant to an audience of conservation group representatives, local and state government officials and the public.
While funding for cleanup and habitat restoration programs for the Sound and other waterways was eliminated in Pres. Trump’s budget plan, Congress’ current proposed version of fiscal 2018 federal budget includes $8 million for the Sound, Murphy said. The fiscal 2017 budget funded $4 million worth of restoration programs in the estuary, which is shared by Connecticut and New York.
“The final appropriations bill doubled funding for Long Island Sound,” Murphy told an audience of about 50 people gathered at the Bruce Museum’s Seaside Center overlooking a public beach. “This will double the number of projects we can fund.”
Also in the proposed budget is $3 million in new funding for aquaculture research, said Murphy, who is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He noted that much of that will be spent at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s aquaculture lab in Milford.
“This will be used for research on how to restore shellfish beds,” he said, noting that shellfish farming has both economic and environmental benefits because shellfish filter nutrients and enhance water quality.
Funding for National Sea Grant programs, run as federal-state partnerships, was also eliminated in the Trump budget plan, but was restored to $65 million for base programs and $11.5 million for Sea Grant aquaculture. Connecticut Sea Grant is one of 33 programs in coastal and Great Lakes states.
“These were programs slated for big cuts that we were able to preserve,” Murphy said. He noted that while water quality has improved in the Sound in recent decades, continued investment is needed to continue progress.
While there is bipartisan disagreement on many federal environmental initiatives, Murphy said both parties agree that support for “backyard environmental protection” such as restoration of waterways should be maintained.