Long Island, NY - March 2, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $800,000 in funding available through the South Shore Estuary Reserve Local Assistance Grants Program. These grants will help fund actions that advance the Reserve's comprehensive management plan, which includes improving water quality, habitat restoration, community resilience, and enhancing public use and enjoyment of the Reserve.
"Preserving our natural resources is critical to the future of Long Island and this state as a whole," Governor Cuomo said. "I encourage local governments to utilize these grants to ensure the South Shore Estuary Reserve remains a tourism asset and economic driver for Long Island communities for decades to come."
Municipalities within the Reserve may apply for up to $50,000 in funding and grants will not require local matching funds. Projects should follow guidelines included in the Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve comprehensive management plan and the Request for Applications is available on the Department of State website. All interested municipalities must submit completed applications by May 3, 2017.
Established in 1993, the Reserve is administrated by the Department of State through the Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve Act. The Act calls for the management and protection of Long Island's South Shore bays and upland areas draining to them. Funding for the Reserve is made available through the State’s Environmental Protection Fund. A Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve Council was established through the Act, which is made up of 23-representatives from towns, villages, counties, the City of Long Beach, as well as, recreation, business, academic, environmental and citizen members.
Long Island is home to 1.5 million people and features a number of tourism assets, including beaches, marinas, parks and nature preserves. There are many opportunities for residents and visitors to swim, boat, fish, hike, and observe wildlife, which support Long Island’s growing tourism, seafood, and recreation industries. This funding aims to protect the region’s natural assets and support efforts to provide quality water to municipalities across Long Island.
New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "Clean water is a critical component of New York’s long-term sustainability agenda and our continued economic success. A clean and sustainable environment is one of our most essential needs as a society. Ensuring thriving communities with great economic success is why we are safeguarding the South Shore Estuary Reserve so it can have all the resources to grow and preserve for years to come."
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Improving the health of the South Shore Estuary is essential to protecting the environment and economy of New York and the Long Island region. This funding will provide important support to projects that will promote the resiliency and productivity of this amazing resource while complementing our ongoing actions to advance Governor Cuomo's Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan. I commend our colleagues at the Department of State for developing this proposal and advancing these much needed projects."
Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment said, "New York State continues to make water quality a high priority. This important grants program will kick-start local water quality initiatives to protect and restore the South Shore Estuary Reserve. Filtering stormwater pollution, piloting bio-extraction, creating rain gardens and installing permeable reactive barriers are all meaningful on the ground projects that municipalities can quickly implement to achieve results. Investing in water quality is an investment in our communities, our maritime culture and our way of life."
Rob Weltner, President Operation SPLASH/Vice-chair Citizens Advisory Committee to the South Shore Estuary Reserve said, "As a group so deeply committed to protecting the South Shore Estuary Reserve, we at Operation SPLASH are very excited to see this much needed funding going to the communities within the Reserve which will address the many important issues necessary to improve the south shore of Long Island."
Stuart F. Gruskin, Chief Conservation and External Affairs Officer for The Nature Conservancy in New York said, "The Nature Conservancy commends Governor Cuomo and the New York State Department of State for protecting the long-term health of Long Island’s South Shore Estuary Reserve and its watershed through the Environmental Protection Fund. Investments in conservation are essential to protect water quality, build community resilience to the effects of climate change, and maintain our industries that depend on healthy living resources to thrive. The South Shore Estuary is the foundation of the local economy and is a natural and cultural treasure, and this program will secure the benefits it provides our communities for future generations."
Funding for the Reserve is made available through the State's Environmental Protection Fund, which establishes support for the broad areas of Solid Waste, Parks and Recreation and Open Space. In 2016, Governor Cuomo proposed and the Legislature approved $300 million for the EPF, which provides resources for land acquisition, farmland protection, waterfront revitalization, municipal recycling, local government assistance to improve wastewater treatment plants and municipal parks, and solving environmental challenges.
The funding also supports the stewardship of public lands, including state parks and millions of acres of public lands throughout the State. Through partnerships with volunteer organizations, state agencies use stewardship funding to manage trails and lands, protect natural resources, preserve wildlife habitats, make critical capital improvements at parks and campgrounds, educate students about conservation and provide access to persons with disabilities.