Elementary, middle and high school students, teachers and the communities of 10 public schools in urban and suburban areas will comprise the newLong Island Sound Schools network, committing to the protection of local watersheds, the Sound and our one global ocean.
With funding by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Long Island Sound Study and facilitated by Connecticut Sea Grant and Mercy University, the program supports schools that implement a school or community-based project and create a plan to increase ocean literacy by engaging students, families and the public.
All the schools are located within the Long Island Sound watershed, from inland areas with waterways that flow into the estuary to shoreline communities. Program funding will provide stipends for lead teachers at each school and up to $5,000 per school to implement projects. The schools will also have access to a network of educators, connections with scientists, community organizations and stewardship sites, and possible travel funds for conference presentations.
WTNH Channel 8 news broadcast a story about Connecticut Sea Grant’s shell recycling initiative on its April 19 show. CTSG’s Tessa Getchis, aquaculture extension specialist, and Michael Gilman, shell recycling coordinator, were interviewed for the piece, titled “Connecticut oyster recycling program reinvigorates reefs.”
Empty oyster and clam shells from Long Island Sound shouldn’t be treated like trash.
They are vital components of healthy habitat for shellfish and other marine life, and need to be returned to their watery home instead of being hauled away with other garbage. That’s the message shell recycling advocates are advancing as part of a new statewide initiative.
“Virtually all the shell that goes to restaurants and markets is being discarded,” said Tessa Getchis, aquaculture extension specialist for CT Sea Grant and UConn Extension. “Connecticut is in the rare position of having some of the few self-sustaining populations of oyster beds in the world. We need to get that shell back in the water so that healthy beds remain productive, and so we can rebuild those in suboptimal condition.”
At 7:30 p.m. on April 4, Getchis will give a presentation on the history of the Connecticut oyster beds and the state’s efforts to restore this critical habitat, and UConn Marine Sciences Professor Zofia Baumann will follow with an overview of her efforts to develop a shell recycling program in the town of Groton. The shell recycling initiative is being launched as part of a broader effort to restore the state’s natural shellfish beds to preserve and enhance their vital economic, environmental and cultural contributions.
The program at the UConn Avery Point campus, titled, “Ensuring the Future Viability of Connecticut’s Natural Oyster Beds,” is part of the annual Coastal Perspectives public lecture series held in the campus auditorium. Admission is free, and the program can also be accessed virtually.
These new projects, which seek information that can be used to improve the conditions of the estuary for humans and wildlife, are being supported by $4.2 million in federal funds. That will be supplemented with matching funds of $2.1 million, for a total research package of more than $6.3 million.
The projects will be conducted over two years beginning this spring. The results will build on the substantial body of research funded through the LISS Research Grant Program administered by CTSG and NYSG since 2008 which has contributed to improved understanding and management of this nationally recognized estuary. Cumulatively, this represents the largest research investment in the Sound, which has been designated an estuary of national significance and one of the most valuable natural resources for both states.
In the early 1990s Connecticut Sea Grant published popular guidebooks of Long Island Sound called Living Treasures: The Plants and Animals of Long Island SoundandTesoros Vivientes: Las plantas y animales del Long Island Sound. Accompanying the books, the Sea Grant educators also developed slide presentations, which provide a great overview of the plants and animals that live in the underwater and shoreline habitats of the Sound. These photo tours, produced by Nancy Balcom, associate director of Connecticut Sea Grant, has been recently updated with new slides and photos.
The Living Treasures PowerPoint in Spanish and English along with StoryMap of the undersea life of Long Island Sound can be foundhere.
For information on obtaining the LivingTreasures: The Plants and Animals of Long Island SoundandTesoros Vivientes:Las plantas y animales del Long Island Sound booklets, visit:https://seagrant.uconn.edu/?p=864.
The 2022 Long Island Sound Research Conference will take place in Bridgeport on May 25, 2022. Oral presentations and posters across disciplines in natural and social sciences that contribute to the four themes of the Long Island Sound Study CCMP are welcome.
Clean waters and healthy watershed
Thriving habitats and abundant wildlife
Sustainable and resilient communities
Sound science and inclusive management
Deadline for abstract submissions is April 8, 2022. Registration deadline is May 6, 2022.
The Connecticut Sea Grant program, joined by volunteers from Save the Sound, the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and other groups, will launch the fifth annual #DontTrashLISound
campaign with a cleanup at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport on Aug. 16.
This year’s campaign, run by the Connecticut and New York Sea Grant programs with support from the Long Island Sound Study, will run through International Coastal Cleanup Day on Sept. 18. It will consist of cleanup events in both states, social media posts and giveaways of “Protect Our Wildlife” stickers for reusable water bottles and travel mugs.
The theme of this year’s campaign, #DoOneThing, encourages people to take at least one action to reduce litter on streets, parks and beaches before it gets carried into waterways and ultimately Long Island Sound. Social media posts will emphasize positive steps people are taking to address the problem.
“Campaigns like this one help keep people aware of the larger marine debris problem affecting Long Island Sound,” said Nancy Balcom, associate director of Connecticut Sea Grant. “They also help people focus on doable actions that we can all undertake with as much or as little effort as we have time to commit.”
A new educational tool for teachers will be showcased in an Aug. 19 webinar sponsored by the Long Island Sound Study national estuary program and its partners Connecticut Sea Grant (CTSG) and New York Sea Grant (NYSG).
Titled “A Spotlight on Long Island Sound Habitats,” the webinar will showcase a Next Generation Science Standards-based StoryMap focused on highlighting habitats within the Long Island Sound watershed and some of the ‘phenomena’ observed or work done in those regions.
This webinar will feature:
A walkthrough of the StoryMap by NYSG and CTSG
A Q&A panel with expert Long Island Sound researchers and resource managers
A break-out session for teachers to explore the resource with each other and exchange ideas about how to incorporate the tool into the classroom
This educator webinar is suitable for anyone interested in learning about LIS habitats and this new educational tool showcasing them for students. Teachers and educators in New York and Connecticut are especially encouraged to join in!
It will take place from 10 to 11 a.m. on Aug. 19 via Zoom. Attendance is free, but registration is required.
**Certificates of attendance will be provided upon request.**
For more information, contact Diana Payne, CT Sea Grant education coordinator, at:email@example.com; or Jimena Perez-Viscasillas, N.Y. Sea Grant Long Island Sound outreach coordinator, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gov. Lamont signs the Shellfish Restoration Bill on July 23 as legislators and industry members look on. Tessa Getchis / Connecticut Sea Grant.
Stratford– Gov. Ned Lamont joined legislators, state officials, agricultural advocates and business representatives on July 23 for a bill signing ceremony near the shore of the Long Island Sound to commemorate the enactment of legislation implementing policies that will support continued growth of Connecticut’s shellfish industry in an effort to increase the populations of oysters along the state’s shoreline and protect the sustainability of this vibrant sector of the economy.
The shellfish industry is a significant sector of the Connecticut shoreline’s economy, generating more than $30 million in sales annually and supporting 300 jobs statewide. There are currently more than 70,000 acres of shellfish farms under cultivation in Connecticut.
extends Public Act 490 protections – which were adopted more than 50 years ago and allow landowners to have their qualifying lands classified as farms and thereby subject to reduced property tax rates – to include aquaculture operations;
allows more flexibility to actively manage the natural oyster beds in Long Island Sound, ensuring that Connecticut oysters will be available for future generations through better management of the natural beds; and
reconstitutes and expands the Connecticut Seafood Council with new membership to drive the industry forward.
It received overwhelming support from business and agriculture organizations across the state, including the Connecticut Farm Bureau Association, the Connecticut chapter of the National Audubon Society, the Connecticut Restaurant Association, and numerous small business leaders that depend on the sustainability of Connecticut’s aquaculture to support their operations.
Connecticut Sea Grant Associate Director Nancy Balcom highlights the program’s collaborative restoration efforts with the Department of Agricultures during the bill signing ceremony. Tessa Getchis / Connecticut Sea Grant
“Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing sectors in Connecticut, and this legislation continues to move the dial on this industry receiving some of the same protections and support that land farmers receive,” Gov. Lamont said. “My administration will continue focusing on commonsense changes like these that business owners in Connecticut deserve. I look forward to seeing this already great industry continue to grow. Let’s spread the word far and wide, Connecticut has some of the best oysters around.”
“This law ensures that the future for the industry is prosperous and encompassing of all the types of aquaculture industry in our state, including seaweed and indoor production,” Connecticut Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt said. “The law also establishes parity and access to the property tax relief program, Public Act 490, to include aquaculture production, further ingraining this industry as a facet of Connecticut agriculture. Many thanks to the industry, the Connecticut Farm Bureau, and UConn Sea Grant for their partnership and commitment to this proposal and the future of the aquaculture in our state.”
“On behalf of its members and aquaculture farmers, the Connecticut Farm Bureau thanks Gov. Lamont and the legislature for their support of this very important legislation,” Connecticut Farm Bureau President Paul Larson and Executive Director Joan Nichols said in a joint statement. “This legislation provides both financial relief and equity in taxation for aquaculture farmers across Connecticut by expanding Public Act 490 to include aquaculture into the state’s definition of farmland.”
The governor noted that shellfish aquaculture also provides a number of environmental benefits, including by improving sediment quality through the harvesting process, stabilizing sediments and helping to protect the shoreline from erosion, and providing critical ecosystem functions by creating structure and habitat for other species that provide a food source for fish and other marine species.
The legislation is Public Act 21-24, An Act Concerning Connecticut’s Shellfish Restoration Program, The Connecticut Seafood Council and the Taxation of Certain Underwater Farmlands.
Oversimplified, shoreline beaches are where the sand meets the sea.
Too often, this two-dimensional view has become the foundation of efforts to restore storm and erosion-battered beaches on Long Island Sound and other coastal areas. These projects mainly seek to widen the flat open sand swathe to maintain maximum recreational worth and protect nearby areas from storm and flood damage. Dune grass, beach pea, and the dunes these and other plants inhabit along the shore have largely been left out of the equation.
But thanks to a new marine and coastal economics fellowship created by Connecticut Sea Grant, a Yale University doctoral candidate will spend the next year and a half developing restoration tools that account for the real-world complexity and value of natural and manmade features beyond the sand. The fellowship is funded with $20,000 of the federal funds allocated to CT Sea Grant.
“I’ve been interested in coastal ecosystems since I was young, growing up in Miami,” said Ethan Addicott, 29, who is pursuing his doctorate in environmental and resource economics at Yale and was chosen for the fellowship post. “I’m working to quantify the relationship between healthy dune ecosystems and property values, to enhance the relationship between natural resources and management decision making.”
CT Sea Grant Director Sylvain De Guise said Addicott’s project will accomplish the two main goals of the new fellowship. It was created to help train a new generation of students in marine and coastal economics, and to give coastal communities new resources to draw on in making decisions about threatened coastal areas.