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Long Island Sound and its watershed should be designated as a critical conservation area, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week.
In the letter, Malloy requested that a portion of the $1.3 billion Congress provided the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program over the next five years as part of the 2014 Farm Bill be targeted for the Sound and its watershed.
“Over the last three decades, Connecticut has made a significant commitment to protecting and restoring the Sound,” Malloy said in his letter. “Millions of dollars have been invested in communities throughout its watershed to address pollution concerns and protect the tidal wetlands along its shore. Long Island Sound ranks fourth out of the 28 national estuaries for leveraging federal dollars. For every $1 in federal spending there is $98 in non-federal spending. Formal designation as a critical conservation area would significantly amplify our ongoing conservation activities associated with Long Island Sound and our watershed partners.”
Along with Malloy, Connecticut’s congressional delegation, members of New York’s congressional delegation and many stakeholders have asked Vilsack to designate the Sound a critical conservation area.
The Sound’s economic impact is estimated at more than $8.9 billion per year, according to a news release from Malloy’s office. The watershed contains about 650,000 acres of farmland and is home to a 200-year-old aquaculture industry, with more than 70,000 acres of shellfish beds under cultivation, the news release said.