Last week, I had the pleasure of traveling to our nation’s capital to meet with senators and representatives from Connecticut and New York to discuss Long Island Sound issues. Our group represented the Long Island Sound Study (LISS), and included allies from Audubon Connecticut, Audubon New York, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee, and The Nature Conservancy, along with the LISS Citizens Advisory Committee. Each of our meetings covered our three main objectives:
- Promoting the value of Long Island Sound (tens of billions of dollars!)
- Calling for increased funding to the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act, which supports research opportunities, habitat restoration, and infrastructure upgrades to reduce pollution
- Building support for the permanent protection of Plum Island. Last month, the region’s senators sent a letter about Plum to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY01) re-introduced legislation in the House to halt the sale.
As our visit came during the final days before a Congressional recess, the Capitol and its office buildings had a distinct buzz about them. Staff rushed about, ushering elected officials to and from votes, meetings, interviews, and other engagements. This made for some exciting chance encounters throughout the day, including bumping into Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) outside an elevator, greeting Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on the Capitol’s underground subway, and getting an impromptu Capitol tour from Rep. Lee Zeldin.
Overall, our meetings were very productive. We had excellent conversations with representatives Steve Israel (D-NY03) and Zeldin, and with staff from the offices of senators Blumenthal, Gillibrand, and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and representatives Joe Courtney (D-CT02), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT03), Jim Himes (D-CT04), John Larson (D-CT01), and Nita Lowey (D-NY17). We also met with staff from the Council of Environmental Quality, a division of the Executive Office of the President.
All the legislators representing Long Island Sound in DC understand its value–not just environmentally but also economically–and are willing to fight for the necessary dollars needed to see our beloved body of water achieve its true potential.
Photos courtesy of Maureen Dolan Murphy, Executive Programs Manager for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. Posted by Tyler Archer, Fisheries Program Lead for CFE/Save the Sound.