On Earth Day 2011, I joined more than 75 volunteers at Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme to complete a beach restoration project two years in the making. Men and women from across the state gathered to plant native vegetation to maintain the fragile dune system and build a sustainable habitat for wildlife.
But most importantly, many of the volunteers also brought their children and grandchildren.
We are proud of our beaches and waterways in Connecticut, and we must all lend a hand to keep them clean and safe for future generations. By teaching young people at an early age the importance of preserving natural habitats, we ensure that the children who today play in the sand while planting new vegetation are able to enjoy these same beaches tomorrow with their own children.
I am proud to have played a key role in securing $1.5 million in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that enabled Save the Sound to repair the wildlife sanctuary in East Lyme. This project restored a collapsed structure that is the lifeline of the Long Island Sound ecosystem.
As they do with projects all along the coastline, Save the Sound spearheaded the Earth Day project, and the turnout was tremendous. Southeastern Connecticut came together and turned out as a community, and a sizable contingent of cadets from the nearby Coast Guard Academy provided a significant boost. The Academy has been an invaluable partner in protecting the Sound and green spaces around New London. It is a legacy cadets learn about when they arrive at the Academy, and one they live out during their four years in New London.
Of course, the effort to protect the Sound extends to Washington, D.C., as well. I am working with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, my colleagues on the Congressional Long Island Sound Caucus, and Save the Sound to advance the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act, which would ensure that resources are there for continued pollution reduction, habitat restoration and education initiatives.
The waterways of eastern Connecticut belong to us all, and the onus is on each of us to be good stewards, handing the Sound to future generations in even better shape than we received it.
Congressman Joe Courtney represents the Second Congressional District in Connecticut. He is a founding member of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition and the Green Schools Caucus.