The U.S. Agriculture Grant will support work by Connecticut Sea Grant, part of a network of maritime programs at universities around the U.S.
The grant will pay for analysis of maps that show environmental conditions and human use patterns in the sound. It would include a preliminary map of potential shellfish restoration areas to help with planning.
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Work is expected to begin this fall with a report identifying potential restoration areas due in two years.
About 20 percent of Connecticut waters of the Sound are already designated for commercial or recreational shellfishing.
Officials say impaired water quality may be to blame in areas most in need of restoration.