Congressman Lee Zeldin and environmental advocates objected to a plan to continue dumping waste into the Long Island Sound for the next 30 years. File photo: Katie Blasl

Rep. Lee Zeldin has been named co-chairperson of the Congressional Long Island Sound Caucus, his office announced in a press release this afternoon.

Zeldin replaces former Rep. Steve Israel, who did not seek re-election in November, as co-chair. He shares the chair with Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3).

New York’s First Congressional District encompassed more than 55 miles of Long Island Sound shoreline.

Zeldin (R-Shirley) said he is honored to serve as co-chairperson of the bipartisan caucus, which he said is “dedicated to protecting and preserving the Long Island Sound and other critical waterways and natural treasures in our region.”

He said the Sound provides a diverse ecosystem with more than 170 species of fish, over 1,200 invertebrates and many different species of migratory birds. It is also essential to the everyday economy and livelihood of millions of Long Islanders, he said, in addition to its importance to It’s also important to the local recreation and tourism economies.

“With valuable natural treasures like the Long Island Sound comes a great responsibility to protect them, which is why I have been working tirelessly over the past two years to protect water quality and preserve our environment,” Zeldin said.

“Working on the Long Island Sound Caucus, I will continue my efforts in the 115th Congress to secure funding for our local waterways, including passage of critical legislation that ensures the Sound is protected and restored for generations to come,” he said, “by reauthorizing the Long Island Sound Study and other important water quality and shore restoration programs that oversee and coordinate federal, state, and local activities related to the restoration of the Long Island Sound.”

In the last session of Congress, Zeldin was the lead Republican sponsor of the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act. He and Rep. Peter King of New York’s Second Congressional District were the only two Republicans among the 16 co-sponsors of the bill, which was sponsored by Israel, a Huntington Democrat. The bill would have reauthorized the management conference of the Long Island Sound Study, the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act of 2006, the Long Island Sound Grants, and Long Island Sound Stewardship Grants through FY 2020. It died in committee in the last session, but Zeldin intends to re-introduce it this session, a spokesperson for the congressman said.

Zeldin also pledged to “continue fighting against proposals that would hurt our water quality and ecosystems, and pushing for the recycling and beneficial reuse of dredge material.”

He reiterated his commitment to stopping the sale of Plum Island and to “ensure we pursue a better direction that allows for continued research, public access and permanent preservation of the island.”

“Congressman Zeldin has been a strong and effective advocate for the restoration and future protection of Long Island Sound and we applaud this appointment,” Group for the East End president Bob DeLuca said. “Although the Sound has come a long way, the challenge of assuring its continued recovery and stewardship remains a formidable task and it will take the kind of dedication we have seen by the congressman to keep improving the health and vitality of this remarkable and fragile estuary.”

We need your help.
Now more than ever, the survival of quality local journalism depends on your support. Our community faces unprecedented economic disruption, and the future of many small businesses are under threat, including our own. It takes time and resources to provide this service. We are a small family-owned operation, and we will do everything in our power to keep it going. But today more than ever before, we will depend on your support to continue. Support RiverheadLOCAL today. You rely on us to stay informed and we depend on you to make our work possible.

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.