Eelgrass Surveys for Eastern Long Island Sound
Surveys in 2002, 2006 and 2009 mapped the eelgrass beds submerged along the shore of eastern Long Island Sound and Fishers Island, with site visits aided by use of aerial photographs, GPS and GIS tools. Eelgrass meadows are highly-valued habitats in shallow coastal waters providing food and nesting grounds for shellfish, small fish eaten by sport fish, and many migratory birds. Scientists believe that eelgrass cannot grow along much of the Long Island Sound shoreline, in part, because nitrogen acts as a fertilizer fueling algal blooms that block the sunlight eelgrass plants need to grow. Information about the current status of eelgrass will help several projects, including one funded by the Long Island Sound Study to establish eelgrass restoration objectives by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the University of Connecticut. This project will try to answer questions relating to the effect that nutrient loading has on eelgrass vitality.
Significant Habitats and Habitat Complexes of the New York Bight Watershed
Completed in 1997, the 1,025-page Significant Habitats and Habitat Complexes of the New York Bight Watershed focuses on the regional geographic distribution and population status of over 1,000 key marine, coastal, and terrestrial species inhabiting the New York Bight watershed. The geographic scope of the study consists of the marine waters of the New York Bight (the Atlantic coastlines of Long Island and New Jersey out to the continental shelf), the New York — New Jersey Harbor Estuary and the entire watershed of the Bight and Harbor, including the Hudson River up to the Troy Dam. The study assessed the status of habitats, including threats to the integrity of these habitats as well as threats to species populations dependent upon them, and determined those habitats and fish, wildlife, and plant populations requiring both immediate and long-term protection, conservation, enhancement, and/or restoration. This habitat assessment is being used to emphasize these regionally-important sites to federal, state, regional, and local planners, resource managers, conservation commissions, regulatory authorities, and the many private conservation organizations throughout the region for further analysis of specific habitat areas where species occur to protect, conserve, and manage these significant habitats and their species populations.
Nomination Report to the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance
In September 1994, in partnership with the state of Connecticut and The Nature Conservancy, the SNEP office developed the Nomination Report to the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, leading to the designation of the lower Connecticut River estuary and tidal wetlands as the nation's fourteenth Ramsar site. The Ramsar Convention provides three categories for selecting internationally significant wetlands: 1) representative or unique wetlands in a region; 2) wetlands using plants and animals as indicators of importance, especially rare and endangered species; and 3) wetlands of particular value to waterfowl. The 66-page nomination report, which includes GIS maps, demonstrates that the lower Connecticut River wetlands fully meet all three Ramsar criteria for inclusion as an internationally important wetlands complex. This partnership of the Service with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and The Nature Conservancy, Connecticut Chapter, reflects a consolidated effort to share the expertise and more effectively achieve the common resource protection goals of the three organizations. The Ramsar area is now the focus of extensive habitat protection and restoration efforts.
Northeast Coastal Areas Study
Completed in August 1991, the 250-page Northeast Coastal Areas Study identified 40 major coastal habitat complexes in need of protection in southern New England and Long Island, New York. It assessed the status of the region's living resources and developed strategies to protect, conserve, and enhance the resources and their habitat complexes, which extend from Cape Cod to Staten Island, including Long Island Sound and the tidal reaches of the Connecticut River. The study identified 153 federal trust species (federally-listed endangered and threatened species and candidates, migratory birds, anadromous fish, and marine mammals) and 15 significant coastal habitat types. The study also emphasizes the need to promote and develop partnerships and cooperative agreements among all landowners, public and private, to most effectively and efficiently manage larger habitat complexes and their protection. This report has been used to set priorities for acquisition through the National Wildlife Refuge System and partnerships.