Schumer, Clinton: Senate Approves Increased Protection And Access To Long Island Sound

Legislation would protect more open space and allow additional public access to Long Island Sound

US Senators Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton announced today that legislation to establish a new system to preserve the environmental quality of the Long Island Sound (LIS) passed the Senate. The bill must be passed in the House before its final approval by the President. Schumer and Clinton cosponsored the bill with Senator Christopher Dodd, when it was first introduced in the Senate in April, and again when it was reintroduced in July, by Senator Joe Lieberman.

"Since the time Long Island was first settled, the health of the Island has been linked to the health of the Sound," said Schumer. "From the Sea food industry to Recreation from Orient Point to Great Neck, Generations of Long Islanders have enjoyed the resources and beauty of this spectacular waterway. This important piece of legislation will help ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy all that the sound has to offer."

Long Island Sound is truly a national treasure that plays a vital role in the environmental and economic health of this region. Both the Sound itself and the more than 8 million people who live within the watershed deserve the level of commitment this legislation represents, Senator Clinton said.

The legislation establishes a broadbased Long Island Sound Stewardship Advisory Committee comprised of all LIS stakeholders, including federal, state, public interest and landowners representatives. The Committee would be charged with evaluating the parcels of land within the LIS region and designating crucial parcels as Stewardship Sites eligible for special preservation funds. Under the legislation, owners apply to have their property identified by the Committee as a Stewardship Site at which point they become eligible for a variety of financial options to preserve the environmental and public access features of that property. The legislation authorizes $25 million for the Committees budget, to be drawn from Veterans Affairs Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill.

The major additions to the version that were introduced in the Senate in July include: * Using a cuttingedge scientific method that uses computers and satellites to evaluate the biodiversity and recreational potential of possible Stewardship Sites; * Using a specific management framework for the Committee that is designed for managing natural resources like the LIS. This framework mandates that the Committee review its actions and learn from its successes and mistakes to better adapt to the changing nature of natural resources; * Inserting specific provisions that protect private property owners, and * Designating the Committee as an advisory committee.

The Long Island Sound is one of the nation's most important and burdened waterways. More than 8 million people live in the 16,000 square mil watershed, encompassing NY, CT, MA, VT, NH, and Quebec, Canada; more than 20 million people live within 50 miles of the Sound and over 10 percent of the nation's population lives within 40 miles of the Long Island Sound. The Sound generates more than $5.5 billion to the regional economy in waterquality related goods and services alone. However, at present more than 1 billion gallons of inadequately treated waste makes its way into the Long Island Sound each day, endangering the more than 1,200 invertebrate species and 150 fish species that live in or depend upon the Sound for their food, water, and habitat.

In 2002 the EPA released the results of its LIS study, which concluded that coordinated action to save the Sound was necessary. Building on recommendations from the EPAs LIS Study and on feedback from his public meetings, Schumer and Clinton joined Lieberman in introducing the initial Long Island Sound Stewardship Act of 2004 (LISSA) in April. In July, the Senate and House introduced a more detailed bill and the unified support of the Connecticut and New York Congressional delegations.

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