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Courtney Selected to Serve as Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Long Island Sound Caucus for 117th Congress

July 20, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) shared the news that he has been selected to serve as the fourth Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Long Island Sound Caucus for the 117th Congress. Courtney has worked across the aisle and across the Long Island Sound throughout his career to protect and conserve waterways and natural heritage areas in the region, and will now help lead the bipartisan working group in building support for and advancing issues important to the health, economic activity, and preservation of the Long Island Sound. Rep. Courtney was selected to help lead the caucus by its current Co-Chairs, Reps. Tom Suozzi (R-NY), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Lee Zeldin (R-NY).

“Protecting eastern Connecticut’s open spaces and natural beauty is an issue I’m glad we’ve always found bipartisan support for,” said Rep. Courtney. “No one asks who you vote for when you’re fishing the stream, hiking a trail, or out enjoying our state’s natural beauty—people just want to know what the views were like, and whether the fish were biting. Representatives Zeldin, Suozzi, DeLauro and I have worked together for years to protect the Long Island Sound and the waterways and green spaces that make our region beautiful and vibrant, and we’ve always done it in bipartisan fashion. I’m excited to help lead our environmental conservation and preservation efforts this year, and to continue the work to protect our natural heritage in eastern Connecticut and on the Long Island Sound.”

Congressman Courtney has worked to conserve and protect waterways and natural heritage areas in eastern Connecticut and the region throughout his career. In 2007, the House voted to pass Courtney’s legislation to secure Wild and Scenic protections for Eightmile River—the first bill he introduced upon being elected to Congress.

More recently, Courtney has helped secure new protections and federal funding to help conserve eastern Connecticut’s open spaces and natural heritage for generations to come. In 2019, President Donald Trump signed into law a public lands package that included the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Wild and Scenic River Act—a bill Courtney helped introduce that designates several waterways within the 300-square mile watershed as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Courtney’s bill officially made the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed eligible for federal funding through the National Park Service’s (NPS) Wild and Scenic Program to carry out preservation, conservation, and environmental stewardship activities.

Rep. Courtney has also been a leader in the effort to save Plum Island. For over a decade, Courtney has worked with the Connecticut and New York delegations to preserve Plum Island as a natural sanctuary. In 2019, he led the introduction of the Plum Island Preservation Act—a bill to repeal the law mandating the sale of Plum Island and to require any further use of the island be for conservation, education, and research purposes. In 2020, language from Courtney’s bill was included in the final Omnibus Spending Package for FY 2021 and signed into law—the language mandating the sale of Plum Island was officially repealed.

Courtney has also found bipartisan success in efforts to save the Last Green Valley—a piece of Connecticut’s natural heritage that represents the last stretch of dark night sky in the coastal sprawl between Boston and Washington, DC. Without action from Congress to reauthorize it as a federally recognized National Heritage Area, the Last Green Valley is set to lose important federal support through the NPS this year.

In February, Rep. Courtney helped pass the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act (H.R. 803). The bill included an amendment he supported to provide a 15-year reauthorization to all of America’s National Heritage Areas so that protected open spaces like the Last Green Valley have the support they need for conservation efforts—the Senate has not yet acted on this bill. In March, Courtney led the bicameral introduction of a standalone bill (H.R. 1810) that would provide the Last Green Valley with a 15-year reauthorization as a federally protected Natural Heritage Area.