6th Annual Delaware River Forum Unites Conservation Organizations in Cape May

6th Annual Delaware River Forum Unites Conservation Organizations in Cape May
Coalition of 131 Organizations from NJ, PA, DE, and NY and Partners Discuss Conservation of the Delaware River

Photos: http://bit.ly/delrivforum2018

The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed held its 6th Annual Delaware River Watershed Forum in Cape May, NJ on September 25th and 26th. About 250 people attended the two-day event, which provided a platform to share information and learn about a variety of efforts underway to protect the Delaware River Watershed. The Forum focused on how to mobilize around issues and policies that impact the watershed to ensure a healthy river basin for future generations. Additionally, the Forum delved into how to reach new audiences and ensure all underrepresented, underserved, and overburdened communities share equitable access and benefits of clean water.

 Opening plenary speakers: Secretary Shawn Garvin, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control; Deputy Commissioner Debbie Mans, NJ Department of Environmental Protection; Wendi Weber, Northeast Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Opening plenary speakers: Secretary Shawn Garvin, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control; Deputy Commissioner Debbie Mans, NJ Department of Environmental Protection; Wendi Weber, Northeast Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

"We are thrilled to be celebrating six years of the annual Delaware River Watershed Forum today in Cape May. Through coalition building and events such as the Forum, we are laying a foundation for a future where residents, policymakers, and business leaders recognize the importance of clean and abundant water, healthy habitats, access to outdoor recreation, and sustainable economic practices throughout the Delaware River Basin,” said Sandra Meola, Director of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed.

Speakers at the Forum included Wendi Weber, Northeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Shawn Garvin, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control; Debbie Mans, Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; and keynote speaker Tim Palmer, an author and photographer who spoke about the 50th Anniversary of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

 American Littoral Society hosted a field trip that taught attendees about oyster reef restoration taking place in the Delaware Bay.

American Littoral Society hosted a field trip that taught attendees about oyster reef restoration taking place in the Delaware Bay.

“The 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act holds special significance to the Delaware River Basin, as nearly 400 miles of its waterways are included in the national system. Wild and Scenic designations ensure that these waterways will be preserved in their free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations, which is essential for such a large four-state basin that provides drinking water and recreation to so many,” stated Tim Palmer, author and photographer of 26 books about rivers, the environment, and adventure travel.

The watershed is a vital four-state region that provides drinking water to over 15 million people in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York (including New York City and Philadelphia) - which is about 5% of the U.S. population. The watershed supports $25 billion in annual economic activity annually and provides 600,000 direct/indirect jobs in areas such as fishing, recreation, tourism, water/sewer construction, water utilities, and ports. The watershed is home to dozens of fish and wildlife species, including unique species like the Atlantic sturgeon and American horseshoe crab. The basin is in the Atlantic Flyway and provides habitat and food for 250+ species of migrating birds throughout the year. The New Jersey portion of the watershed covers 40% (2,961 square miles) of the land area and includes 22% of the state's population.

 Conference attendees walked along South Reeds Beach in the Delaware Bay on a day-one field trip.

Conference attendees walked along South Reeds Beach in the Delaware Bay on a day-one field trip.

"The Delaware River Watershed plays an essential role for people and wildlife in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York. It supplies drinking water for over 15 million people and provides habitat to species like the Atlantic sturgeon and American horseshoe crab. The Delaware River Watershed Forum offers a unique opportunity to accelerate restoration efforts by working together for the future of our watershed," said Grant La Rouche, Mid-Atlantic Director of Conservation Partnerships at National Wildlife Federation.

The Forum brought together organizations and individuals spanning the four watershed states, allowing for collaboration and providing capacity-building and outreach tools for conservation. This year’s Forum celebrated March’s historical win when $5 million in dedicated federal funds was appropriated for the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund, which will provide grants and technical assistance to on-the-ground projects that address issues facing the watershed.

 Angela Hotaling of NYLCV took part in the monarch butterfly tagging field trip at Cape May Point State Park.

Angela Hotaling of NYLCV took part in the monarch butterfly tagging field trip at Cape May Point State Park.

"The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed has been an essential partner to develop the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program and create the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund. I’m so pleased to take part in the Delaware River Watershed Forum to celebrate all we’ve accomplished, and to identify more opportunities for collaboration to achieve a healthy Delaware River Basin,” added Wendi Weber, Northeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  

The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed is a network of 131 organizations that unites nongovernmental organizations working throughout the four states of the watershed to share information and coordinate efforts and advocacy to promote a healthy Delaware River Basin. The Coalition is advised by a steering committee of sixteen diverse organizations. To learn more, visit www.delriverwatershed.org.

 For more information, contact Rita Yelda at rita.yelda@njaudubon.org.

Celebrating 50 Years of National Wild & Scenic Rivers: Wild & Scenic Film Festival Comes to Hackettstown, NJ

The National Wild & Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Fewer than ¼ of 1% of all river miles in the United States are given the “National Wild & Scenic” designation. Therefore, it's notable that the the Delaware River Watershed has six National Wild & Scenic Rivers: the Upper Delaware, the Middle Delaware, the Lower Delaware, the Maurice River, the Musconetcong River, and the White Clay Creek Watershed. The Delaware River's main stem has 60% (180.7 miles) of its 301 miles designated as National Wild & Scenic.

No Room for Mistakes on New York’s Upper Delaware River

It could have been far worse. The Upper Delaware River dodged a bullet this August when heavy rains and flooding washed out a railroad culvert, and a 63-car train carrying an assortment of waste materials, some of it toxic, derailed near Deposit, NY. Two rail cars plunged into the West Branch of the Delaware, home to one of the East Coast’s most prolific wild trout fisheries. An estimated 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from the train’s punctured gas tanks into the river, leading to widespread reports of strong fuel odors and visible slicks for 30 miles downstream.

Protecting the Water of 5 Million New Jerseyans: Lisa Plevin to Lead Highlands Council

New Jersey League of Conservation Voters would like to congratulate Lisa J. Plevin to her appointment as Executive Director for the New Jersey Highlands Council. Lisa takes over the role after Margaret Nordstrom, who is stepping down after joining the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council staff six years ago. The Highlands Council is a 15-member appointed body tasked with implementation of the New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act of 2004. The Highlands Council is advised in its actions by its Executive Director, who serves as the chief administrative officer of the Council.

Joining Together in the Delaware River Watershed: The Winner of the Delaware River Means “Togetherness” Contest

Imagine that you’re out enjoying the Delaware River on a canoe and the nighttime slowly sneaks up on you. The river winds left and right, and the surrounding trees loom above you as the sky darkens. Though not recommended, this scary scenario led to a prize-winning photo in the Delaware River Means “Togetherness” contest.

NFWF and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announce Launch of New Fund to Support Delaware Watershed Conservation Efforts

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced the launch of the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund (DWCF), a competitive grant and technical assistance program of $4.3 million that will provide new support for the protection, restoration and conservation of fish and wildlife habitats in the Delaware River Watershed, which provides drinking water for more than 15 million people.

The Invasive New Zealand Mud Snail Spotted in the Delaware River Watershed

Call it “Snailzilla” or “the Snailpocalypse,” but the New Zealand mud snail is an invasive species that is no laughing matter. Just this month, the mud snail’s presence was recorded in the Musconetcong River in New Jersey and the Little Lehigh River in Pennsylvania - the first two sightings in the Delaware River Watershed. The mud snail has the potential to rapidly reproduce through cloning and displace native macroinvertebrates. Macroinvertebrates include insects, snails, worms, algae, bacteria, and fungi that play key roles in the ecosystems they inhabit. Displacing native macroinvertebrates can have upstream affects in the food chain, by pushing out native aquatic insect larva and snail populations that feed fish and insect-eating terrestrial species like bats, dragonflies, and birds.

Getting a Bird’s-Eye View of the Delaware River with Lighthawk

The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed (CDRW) staff works to unite organizations and move policy forward that benefits the Delaware River Basin. To accomplish this, we’re often in meetings, on the phone, or sitting behind a computer screen. It’s a rare day when we’re able to venture out into the watershed, which is why when Lighthawk offered to take our staff up in a plane over the Delaware River – we “flew” at the opportunity! Lighthawk is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1979 with one man and a borrowed plane, and now they utilize over 200 volunteer pilots across the U.S. who provide conservation organizations, scientists, and other environmental experts the powerful perspective of flight.