State Representative Terry Backer (D-Stratford) was honored today for his 25 years of work as the Long Island Soundkeeper during a ceremony attended by over 100 people at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) headquarters in Hartford. As SoundKeeper, Backer has served to protect Connecticut’s top natural resource and inspired over 200 other autonomous water keepers across 20 countries. SoundKeeper is a private non-profit whose goal is the protection and enhancement of the biological, physical, and chemical integrity of Long Island Sound and its watershed.
“I want to thank everyone for this honor, it was quite a surprise,” said Backer. “It is unfathomable to me that this day would happen when I began advocating for the Sound 30 years ago.”
Governor Dannel Malloy issued a proclamation declaring Monday, April 23, 2012 as “Terry Backer Day” in the state of Connecticut.
“Terry Backer has successfully brought to light pollution issues associated with damage to Long Island Sound’s water quality and aquatic resources through advocacy and direct legal actions that have resulted in the creation of significant habitat restoration and water quality improvements, reduction of pollution from storm water and energy security,” said Governor Malloy in his proclamation.
During his service as SoundKeeper, Backer has championed several important causes including:
- Establishing no-discharge areas in Long Island Sound
- Providing free pumpouts for recreational vessels in the western portion of Long Island Sound from May through October.
- Suing to reduce the hazardous waste escaping from sewage treatment facilities in Norwalk, Bridgeport, Stratford, and Greenwich.
- Stopping irresponsible sandblasting of lead paint from watershed bridges forcing adoption of containment procedures.
- Restoring the state’s public shellfish beds. In the past six years over 3,000 acres have been restored.
The featured guest speaker at the day’s event was Terry Tamminen, who served as the Santa Monica BayKeeper, modeled after Backer’s SoundKeeper model.
“Terry Backer is the reason I took my passion for the environment and made a difference in California,” said Tamminen. “He was and still is an inspiration to all of us.”
Commissioner of DEEP, Daniel Esty, led the tribute, and said,
“Terry is very knowledgeable on a myriad of subjects and his passion resonates. He inspires others and his results speak for themselves. Connecticut has forever benefitted from Terry’s years of service and his commitment to the preservation of Long Island Sound.”
State Senator Bob Duff, who served with Backer on the Energy and Technology Committee also offered tribute.
“Terry is pragmatic and practical, which sometimes hides his almost spiritual sense of obligation to Long Island Sound and the environment,” said Sen. Duff.