Malloy sponsors 'Blue Plan' legislation to protect the future use of Long Island Sound

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday proposed a plan to compile an inventory of the natural and human resources of Long Island Sound, and use that information to guide decisions on uses of the estuary’s waters and submerged lands.

The “Blue Plan” will be submitted as part of a package of legislative proposals he will introduce later this month, the governor’s office said in a news release.

The plan would direct the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the University of Connecticut to convene relevant state agencies, academic institutions, and stakeholders to create the inventory.

“The Long Island Sound is critical for Connecticut’s economy and the millions of people who rely on its resources, and yet our state does not have any existing authority to plan for its future use and protection on an overall basis. We need to act now in order to protect our vital coastline, allow comprehensive and regional planning for use of the Sound,” Malloy said. “The Sound has been the scene of several protracted battles over the past decade, which highlights the pressing need for us to take action now.”

The legislation will enhance and expand the work of a Connecticut-New York working group that has been preparing for spatial planning in the Sound, and enable the resulting inventory to be incorporated into a plan that could ensure uses of the Sound are compatible with traditional uses, minimize conflicts, and balance use with resource protection, the news release said. The resulting final plan, developed over a multi-year period, would be submitted to the General Assembly for final approval.

Malloy noted that the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island have developed similar plans for their coastline and waterways and have seen positive impact. New York is engaged in a similar process. He said that it is time for Connecticut to enact a similar plan.

State Sens. Ted Kennedy, D-Branford, and Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield, along with state Reps. James Albis, D-East Haven, and Lonnie Reed, D-Branford, supported the proposal to create a Blue Plan. The Nature Conservancy said the proposal will help protect a publicly owned resource.

“With a Blue Plan, Connecticut can assure new uses of the Sound are compatible with traditional values and resources,” said Nathan Frohling, director of marine and coastal initiatives for the conservancy’s Connecticut office. “We will be able to better balance new uses, while protecting such things as commercial and recreational boating and fishing, the maritime beauty and environmental values that make the Sound such a desirable place.”

Long Island Sound contributes more than $5.5 million to the state economy, the news release said. It is home to more than 120 species of finfish and countless varieties of birds and other animals. Between New York and Connecticut, the Sound’s coastline stretches more than 600 miles.

j.benson@theday.com

Twitter: @BensonJudy

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