LONG ISLAND SOUND WATERSHED
REGIONAL CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM
LISW - RCPP
Long Island Sound was designated in 1987 as an Estuary of National Significance by the United States Congress. For more information on LIS, visit Longislandsoundstudy.net
In 2015 the Connecticut Council on Soil and Water Conservation was awarded ten million
dollars from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a branch of the US Department
of Agriculture, to implement what has never been attempted in the New England states
before -- a multi-state, multi-agency effort to reduce nitrogen pollution from stormwater
within the Long Island Sound watershed.
The Long Island Sound Watershed Regional Conservation Partnership Program (LISW-RCPP) focuses on private working lands to manage soil nutrient loss, protect non-industrial forest habitat, biodiversity, and drinking water sources, and stem erosion and thus improve resiliency on working lands through riparian restoration.
Long Island Sound, an estuary of National Significance and part of the National Estuary Program, suffers annual hypoxic events that result from the influx of nitrogen from its watershed, a land area that covers 17,814 square miles within six states. EPA’s Long Island Sound Study Program (LISS) currently works with multiple partners on issues concerning the health of the Sound, focusing primarily on coastal watersheds and near-shore land-use issues, and identifying and addressing threats to the estuary and its surrounding embayments.
The LISW-RCPP is a landscape scale initiative that will concentrate on the adoption of best management practices on private working lands, providing both technical and financial assistance.
The greatest challenge – and opportunity, of this initiative is the coordination of multiple New England states (six in all), and agencies – including federal, state, municipal and non-profit organizations. The pride and power of New England’s heritage of local rule has resulted in a strong land ethic, and a dizzying array of local rules, regulations and laws that, in addition to the equally complex layers of national, regional, and local jurisdictions, make for a one-of-a-kind experiment.
Although a small land area relative to other regions of the country where RCPP’s have been applied, the LISW-RCPP will pave the way for future collaborations, innovations, lessons learned, and the means – both financial and technical – to accomplish meaningful environmental work. By reducing stormwater pollution in one of the most densely populated regions in the country, the results will benefit not only the country’s second largest estuary, but will pave the way for region-wide resolutions to environmental challenges through the increased coordination of multiple partners.