October 11, 2008

Long Island Environmental Briefs: October 10, 2008

By Bernadette Starzee

Sound funds for environmental projects

State and local governments and community groups in New York and Connecticut were recently awarded $912,994 in grants under the Long Island Sound Futures Fund. The grants will be added to $1.4 million raised by the recipients, for a total of nearly $2.3 million that will be put toward on-the-ground conservation projects in New York and Connecticut.

The Long Island Sound Futures Fund was initiated in 2005 by the Long Island Sound Study through the Environmental Protection Agency's Long Island Sound Office and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

"The fund grew out of a partnership that achieves environmental protection through collaboration and shared resources," said Alan J. Steinberg, regional administrator for Region 2 of the EPA, which includes New York. "These grants help local experts achieve results that will benefit the sound and its inhabitants for generations."

This year's program funded 17 grants in New York and 18 in Connecticut.

The largest grant in either state, $75,000, went to the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, for its Eastern Long Island Eelgrass Restoration Initiative. "Cornell is testing ways to restore underwater eelgrass beds in a couple of sites," said Mark Tedesco, director of the EPA's Long Island Sound Office. "The eelgrass would improve the sound's capacity for increasing and maintaining fish and shellfish populations."

The Nassau County Department of Public Works was awarded $72,000 to seed two million shellfish to repopulate Hempstead Harbor, which was once an abundant fishery, and then monitor the survival and growth of the shellfish. "It's part of a larger project to improve water quality and reduce stormwater pollution into the harbor, to allow for a self-sustaining shellfish population and recreational harvesting," Tedesco said.

The Nature Conservancy received the third-largest grant, for $71,800, which will be used for its Orient Point County Park Grasslands Restoration project. "Invasive plant species will be removed to restore the grassland, which is an important habitat for many species of birds, and to increase the attractiveness of the park," Tedesco said.

BNL gets state funds for study

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority recently announced a state-funded program designed to evaluate and improve biomass-fired heating equipment. The program includes nine projects, valued at more than $2.5 million. NYSERDA is investing $1.6 million in this effort, with an additional $900,000 in co- funding from research partners.

As part of the program, Brookhaven National Laboratories in Upton will test energy and emissions performance of outdoor wood boilers, advanced gasification boilers, pellet and wood stoves, and a potential emissions control technology.

Green U. grows

The Southampton campus of Stony Brook University entered its second full year of operation this fall, adding four new majors to its sustainability program: Ecosystems and Human Impact; Environmental Design, Policy and Planning; Sustainability Studies; and Business Management with a specialization in Sustainable Business. The new majors join existing majors in Environmental Studies, Marine Sciences and Marine Vertebrate Biology.

"We have worked hard on developing a truly interdisciplinary, 21st century curriculum that closely addresses all the complicated facets of sustainability, offering students not only a world view of the issues that the planet now faces, but also hands-on experience in solving these issues," said Stony Brook Southampton Interim Dean Martin Schoonen.

Enrollment at the campus has grown to 300 full-time students and 400 students overall.

Originally published by Bernadette Starzee.

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