TRENTON, NJ -- The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed is celebrating today as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation jointly announced the first round of 25 Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund grant recipients totaling $4,140,000 in federal funds.This is the first time that dedicated federal funding has been allocated to on-the-ground projects that conserve and restore the Delaware River Basin (NY, NJ, PA, and DE) which provides 15 million people, including New York City and Philadelphia, with drinking water.
“Since our founding in 2012, the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed has been working toward this milestone through our efforts to pass theDelaware River Basin Conservation Act and ensure a successful framework for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program.
The Coalition worked diligently with Congress and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make this a reality and we are grateful to our members and close partners for playing a tremendous role in this effort,” said Sandra Meola, Director at New Jersey Audubon and the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed.
“The first set of grant awards and their associated conservation and restoration impact is a strong foundation for the Coalition to build upon as we continue to ensure the successful implementation of the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program and advocate for robust future funding.”
Of the 25 Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund grantees, 15 are members of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed: Friends of the Upper Delaware River (NY), Trust for Public Land (NY), New Jersey Audubon (NJ), Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (NJ), American Littoral Society (NJ), Trout Unlimited (NJ and PA), Friends of Cherry Valley (PA), Ducks Unlimited (PA), Wildlands Conservancy (PA), Pennsylvania Resources Council (PA), Brandywine Red Clay Alliance (PA), Friends of the Wissahickon (PA), Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association (PA), Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PA, NJ, and DE), and University of Delaware Water Resources Center (DE).
“New Jersey Audubon is dedicated to restoring Delaware River Watershed wildlife habitat and improving water quality. We’re grateful to receive two grants from the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund to continue this work,” said John Cecil, Vice President of Stewardship, New Jersey Audubon. “These funds will allow us tackle two major projects: restoring wetland function and creating habitat for American Black Duck in Northwestern New Jersey; and restoring and connecting wetland and upland habitats beneficial for water quality and Bog Turtle in the Upper Salem River in South Jersey.”
Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund grants were awarded to organizations to address key issues facing the watershed, such as conserving and restoring fish and wildlife habitat, improving and maintaining water quality, sustaining and enhancing water management and reducing flood damage, and improving recreational opportunities and public access. A large pool of worthy projects was submitted for consideration, signifying the need for continued robust federal funding for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program.
Funding levels throughout each state are as follows:
•New York received $437,525 for two in-state projects;
•New Jersey received $1,127,764 for seven in-state projects and three multi-state projects;
•Pennsylvania received $1,757,319 for eleven in-state projects and four multi-state projects;
•Delaware received $241,000 for one in-state project and two multi-state projects;
•Four multi-state projects received $490,392.
"We’re delighted that the new Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund will support bringing living shoreline technology to the freshwater urban areas of the Delaware Estuary and to work with partners such as the Philadelphia Water Department and states of Delaware and New Jersey," added Danielle Kreeger, Science Director, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. "During the funding period, we will find locations in Delaware and New Jersey where tidal, freshwater living shorelines would be effective in stabilizing stream erosion, buffering waves and flooding, and promoting improved water quality using natural means. We will also work with the Philadelphia Water Department to design and implement a portion of a freshwater mussel-based living shoreline for water quality and habitat enhancement along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia."
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation performed a preliminary analysis of expected outcomes from the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund grants and discovered that across all the proposed projects:
•626 acres of wetland habitat will be restored;
•12 miles of riparian habitat will be restored;
•549 acres of floodplain will be restored;
•64 miles of stream habitat will be restored;
• 1,406 acres of forest habitat will have improved management;
• 18,310,710 gallons of stormwater will be prevented;
• 12 miles of trails will be developed or improved;
• 1,794 acres will have new or improved public access;
and 32 news jobs will be created by project investments.
"By utilizing Delaware Watershed Conservation funds, we will improve natural stream function and reduce stream erosion plaguing the Upper Delaware River in New York State. As we reduce accelerated sedimentation and enhance water flows to Upper Delaware tributaries, we are restoring aquatic habitat for fish and wildlife, supporting local jobs, and boosting the recreational value of the river," stated Jeff Skelding, Executive Director, Friends of the Upper Delaware River.