Long Island Sound—A National Treasure
Long Island Sound (LIS) is a unique natural resource. With more than 28 million people living within 50 miles of its shores, Long Island Sound touches more Americans than any other estuary in the country. At the same time, a vast array of bird species depend upon the Sound for their survival, as evidenced by the large number of Important Bird Areas located within the Sound.
Today, the Sound is cleaner and healthier than it has been for many years.
However, the Sound's viability hangs in the balance. Its "Dead Zone"—an area plagued by hypoxia, where oxygen levels are too low to support life—are still a major problem. It still suffers from dwindling shellfish populations, pollution from sewage treatment plant discharges, contaminated storm water runoff, and accelerated shoreline development. These problems will only intensify unless we can harness the power of community-based conservation and empower individuals to take action on behalf of a sustainable Sound for both people and wildlife.
We have made much progress. Birds that rarely used the Sound in the past such as Razorbill and Northern Gannet have become regular visitors in winter, and migrating and nesting Osprey are thriving along our shorelines. However, there is still much work that needs to be done to sustain and accelerate these improvements.
At Audubon, we envision a healthy Long Island Sound—its waters supporting a thriving ecosystem, its coastal habitats protected, its beaches open for swimming, and its fish safe for human consumption. To realize this, the actions we take over the next decade will be decisive. As the convener of a broad coalition of partners—including federal, state, and local entities, as well as other private groups—Audubon brings a vast array of resources and leadership skills to the table. Since 1985, when the Long Island Sound was one of the first estuaries to be designated by Congress as an Estuary of National Significance, Audubon has been at the forefront of the efforts to restore and protect this amazing resource. In 2006, we helped to pass the federal Long Island Sound Stewardship Act, which identifies LIS Stewardship Areas for special protection and provides resources to enhance and protect them.
Our goal is to restore, protect, and maintain the Sound so that it can permanently support birds, marine species, and other wildlife. The Long Island Sound Campaign addresses the fundamental challenges of water quality restoration and habitat protection, two key areas where improvements will result in the most significant benefits to people and wildlife. Through this campaign, we will empower our partners and local coastal communities to restore and permanently protect the Sound, as a biologically and economically viable natural resource for the benefit of all. This includes restoring the Sound's water quality to levels that rid it of hypoxia and support healthy concentrations of birds, fish, and other wildlife, and increasing public awareness and understanding of the importance of Long Island Sound protection in Connecticut and New York, and throughout the entire LIS watershed.