[CT Birds] Save the Long Island Sound and Wildlife License Plates!

COMINS, Patrick PCOMINS at audubon.org
Thu Oct 1 22:19:15 EDT 2009

Dear Friends,

Key wildlife and Long Island Sound funding sources are at risk!  Please take action today! The Connecticut General Assembly is convening Friday to pass budget legislation that will strip $300,000 from the Long Island Sound Fund that is supported by citizen purchase of Long Island Sound License Plates.  As of today (Oct. 1) funds from the Wildlife Conservation License Plate, which provides match for federal wildlife dollars, will also be diverted.

The “Preserve the Sound” license plates have raised almost $5 million for significant scientific, educational and conservation projects in our state.  In an effort to balance the budget, and in spite our yearlong protests from Audubon and others, the monies from the LIS Plate and the Wildlife Plate will now be swept into the General Fund.

There is still time to act!  The legislature can restore the LIS Fund and Wildlife Fund when they finish working on the budget implementer bills this week - but they need to hear from you now!

Here’s what you can say:

-  It is a breach of trust to sweep these funds into the General Fund.  CT citizens VOLUNTARILY purchased these plates or made donations through their People’s Bank credit cards in the expectation that the funds would be used to restore LIS.  In fact, Attorney General Blumenthal issued an opinion late today that taking LIS Plate funds raised prior to October 1, 2009 is illegal because the Fund is charity supported by voluntary donations.

- Please ensure that this $300,000 that was voluntarily donated remains DEDICATED to the Long Island Sound Fund, so DEP can continue to fund projects to restore our Sound.

- Please ensure that the monies generated by the Wildlife Conservation Plate remains DEDICATED to wildlife conservation to provide required MATCH for federal State Wildlife Grant funds.

-  Don’t play bait and switch with taxpayer dollars!  It is wrong to collect money from citizens for LIS and Wildlife, and then use it for general tax purposes.

Please take a moment to call a few of these LEGISLATIVE LEADERS and YOUR LEGISLATORS, and ask them to rededicate the funding CT citizens voluntarily donated to restore the Sound.  Contact info is pasted below.


Patrick Comins

      Don Williams, President Pro Tem of the Senate: 800-842-1420

     Martin Looney, Senate Majority Leader: 800-842-1420

     Chris Donovan, Speaker of the House: 800-842-8267

     Denise Merrill, House Majority Leader: 800-842-8267

     Richard Roy, House Environment Co-Chair: 800-842-8267

     Ed Meyer, Senate Environment Co-Chair: 800-842-1420

    Robert Genuario, OPM Secretary: 860-418-6500

Need help finding your state lawmaker?  Go to http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/CGAFindLeg.asp  or http://www.votesmart.org

Link to the Attorney General’s press release:  http://www.ct.gov/ag/cwp/view.asp?Q=448188&A=3673

To learn more about the LIS License Plate Fund, visit DEP’s website at http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2705&q=323786&depNav_GID=1635

To see a project supported by the Fund go to: www.lisrc.uconn.edu/explorelis.  You will see a newly enhanced Web site created by the University of Connecticut in cooperation with the state Department of Environmental Protection that allows users to explore Long Island Sound with state-of-the-art technology and a new video program. The site also describes the various habitats in the Sound, its history and geology, and how it is affected by human activity.

The site was originally developed in 2007 with a $24,000 grant from the DEP's Long Island Sound Fund, which derives its revenue through the sale of Preserve the Sound license plates, from the Preserve the Sound Affinity credit card, and private donations.  The project is a collaboration between the National Undersea Research Center and the Long Island Sound Resource Center, a UConn-DEP joint organization. Both are based at UConn's Avery Point campus in Groton.

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