Local animal welfare, environmental projects to receive $400,000 in grants

New London — More than $400,000 in grants for animal welfare and environmental projects in New London County will be awarded to 22 nonprofit organizations, thanks to the bequest of former North Stonington resident Peter Letz.

The Peter Grayson Letz Fund for Animals and the Environment, established in 2014, is administered by the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, which announced the grant awards on Tuesday.

This is the second year grants have been distributed by the fund.

Maryam Elahi, president and chief executive officer of the community foundation, said this year’s grant total of $428,295 is a substantial increase from last year, when about $235,900 was awarded.

Applications selected for grants were those determined to be most “strategic” in achieving the purpose of the fund, which is to improve the welfare of pets and wildlife, provide environmental education for youth, improve water quality, preserve open spaces and offer opportunities for the public to benefit their mental and physical health by interacting with nature, she said.

“We wanted to focus on projects that can be transformative, and look at groups that we know can deliver, versus spray and pray across the region, which really doesn’t move the needle,” she said.

Of the 11 animal welfare grants, the largest went to the Connecticut Humane Society. It will receive $70,000 over two years to provide veterinary care, supplies and other resources to low-income pet owners, as well as free veterinary services for animals being cared for by town animal control officers.

It also will provide education for animal control officers and pet rescue workers.

Other animal welfare grants went to:

• Animal Welfare League of New London County, $5,000 for its spay and neuter program and emergency veterinary care for abandoned animals and those owned by low-income residents.

• Beech Brook Farm in Mystic, $6,000 for veterinary care for rescued horses.

• Compassion for Cats of New London County, $2,000 for veterinary care for cats of low-income residents and to prevent hoarding situations.

• Groton Animal Foundation, $10,000 for veterinary care and spay and neuter services for pets at the Groton Animal Control facility.

• Connecticut Animal House, $2,000 for veterinary foster care and rehabilitation for dogs in municipal shelters.

• Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center, $5,000 over two years for the pet food pantry and veterinary care vouchers.

• Safe Futures, $5,000 for shelter care for pets of domestic violence victims.

• Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center/Coogan Farm Nature & Heritage Center, $45,000 over three years for the regional wildlife rehabilitation center.

• Waterford Country School, $26,000 for animal education programs for residential youth, including bird enclosures for injured and orphaned birds of prey.

• High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, $20,000 for equine-assisted activities for children and adults suffering from traumatic events.

The largest environmental grant is being awarded to the Nature Conservancy of Connecticut, which will receive $36,000 for projects in coastal communities to reduce nitrogen pollution into harbors and bays.

Other recipients of environmental grants are:

• Clean Up Sound and Harbors, $3,584 for water quality-monitoring projects.

• Connecticut Fund for the Environment, $15,000 for restoration of Hyde Pond in Mystic; and $7,500 to create a report card for Long Island Sound water quality and health.

• Friends of the Shetucket River Valley, $20,000 for acquisition of the 125-acre Robinson property.

• Lyme Land Conservation Trust, $25,000 toward the purchase of the 82-acre Hawthorne Preserve on Whalebone Creek.

• New England Forestry Foundation, $25,000 toward acquisition and protection of the 200-acre Niantic River headwaters property in East Lyme. The lands will be open for passive recreation and managed for wildlife habitat.

• Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut, $13,211 for the creation of an “Enviroscape,” a three-dimensional model of water flowing through a variety of environments and the human impact on land that will be used in classes for sixth- and seventh-grade students in Pawcatuck.

• Connecticut Audubon Society, $15,000 for science in nature programs for students in Lyme, Old Lyme and New London elementary schools.

• Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center/Coogan Farm Nature & Heritage Center, $30,000 for nature exploration programs for preschoolers.

• New England Science & Sailing Foundation, $10,000 for youth-led social change programs at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School in New London. The program will include environmental education through ocean adventure activities and students working in teams to solve environmental problems on Long Island Sound.

• New London Youth Affairs, $10,000 for early childhood family center aquatic environmental programs.

• Project Oceanology, $22,000 to fund strategic plan development and financial review to direct the future of the organization.

Editor's Note: This version corrects the name of the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut.

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