President’s 2020 Budget Proposal Lacks Delaware River Investment

President’s 2020 Budget Proposal Lacks Delaware River Investment

Nicholas Tonelli Photo.jpg

By Rita Yelda, Outreach & Communications Manager, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed

The decisions made by our nation’s leaders today will impact generations to come. This statement couldn’t be truer of investment in our natural resources, including life-sustaining water. Waterways within the Delaware River Watershed provide drinking water, recreation, wildlife habitat, and economic stimulus for New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

Prioritizing the Delaware River Watershed is essential to the health and vitality of Mid-Atlantic states, as the watershed provides 15 million people with drinking water, supports hundreds of vulnerable wildlife species, brings in $25 billion annually in economic activity.

Coalition members National Audubon, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, National Wildlife Federation, and Ducks Unlimited visit the Capitol on March 12, 2019.

Coalition members National Audubon, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, National Wildlife Federation, and Ducks Unlimited visit the Capitol on March 12, 2019.

Bearing the significance of the Delaware River Watershed in mind, it’s disappointing to see that President Trump’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2020 either reduces or completely excludes much needed funding for programs that provide direct benefits to the watershed.

The President’s 2020 budget proposal kicks the legs out from under some of the nation’s most important conservation programs by:

  • Including no funding for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program, which is necessary for catalyzing on-the-ground conservation and restoration projects that address key issues facing 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.

  • Slashing funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund by 95%, which has provided funding to protects parks, forests, open space, and watersheds. Over the last 50 years, the four states in the Delaware River Watershed have received over $1 billion from this fund to support public lands including the Appalachian Trail (NY & PA), Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (PA & NJ), Pinelands National Reserve (NJ), Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge (DE), and the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River (PA & NY). President Trump should follow Congress’ lead by increasing funding, as Congress approved $435 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in fiscal year 2019, which was a $10 million increase.

  • Cutting the funding provided to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by approximately 31%, though this agency oversees and administers bedrock environmental protections on which we all rely, such as the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Resources must be given to agencies that determine the future state of our environment and protect public health.

  • Including no funding for the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), although the federal government agreed to “fair share” funding percentages in 1988. Without full funding, the DRBC, which serves as the main governing body for water resources issues, is unable to function at the level at which it was originally intended. The commission's policies, programs and abatement efforts must have the ability to adapt and evolve in order to continually improve the basin's water quality for future generations.

New Jersey Audubon, the Nature Conservancy, Great Egg Harbor Watershed Association, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, and NJ League of Conservation Voters pose with Congressman Jeff Van Drew on March 12th.

New Jersey Audubon, the Nature Conservancy, Great Egg Harbor Watershed Association, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, and NJ League of Conservation Voters pose with Congressman Jeff Van Drew on March 12th.

While we are dismayed to see critical funding for environmental programs cut or excluded from President Trump’s proposed budget, Congress will likely modify and strengthen the 2020 budget.

The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed went to Washington D.C. on March 12th for our annual Hill Day, where we met with Members of Congress that represent the watershed to advocate for clean water priorities. These delegates have shown bipartisan support for programs that benefit the Delaware River Watershed in the past, and we encouraged them to continue to do so in fiscal year 2020. Now is not the time for rollbacks, but rather a time for smart investment in our watershed for the people, wildlife, and businesses that rely on it.

The Delaware River Means Photo Campaign’s Grand Finale: How Can You Stay Involved?

The Delaware River Watershed is an expansive area, tracing its borders around 12,800 square miles across four different states in the Northeast. It is an area as diverse in its fauna and flora as it is in its people and communities. With millions of different people living within the watershed, there is a multitude of backgrounds and perspectives and, more pointedly, endless opportunities for experiencing the Delaware River and the resources it has to offer. It was that desire to learn and share personal experiences that sparked the Delaware River Means photo campaign and now, over a year since its beginning, the initial photo campaign has reached its grand finale.

Delaware River Restoration and Conservation Awarded $6 Million for 2019

On February 15th, the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP) received $6 million in funding as part of the fiscal year 2019 Interior Appropriations bill approved by Congress and signed by the President, a $1 million increase from last year. The DRBRP will provide much-needed technical assistance and grant funds to address the Delaware River Basin’s environmental challenges. This funding will support local governments, state governments, and nonprofits in NY, NJ, PA, and DE that are implementing on-the-ground restoration and conservation projects that combat critical issues like habitat degradation, invasive species, and climate change….

New Year, New Priorities: A Recap of CDRW’s Annual Member Meeting

January is a time for a fresh start and a chance to shake off the dust and get ready to work refreshed. With the new year comes new year’s resolutions, and personal goals that one wishes to focus on in the upcoming months. CDRW is among those joining in the new year traditions and, with the help of exemplary representatives of our various member groups, we are excited to announce that we have adopted an official list of our 2019 priorities!

Urban Promise Offering New Viewpoint of The Watershed for Camden Youth

When one thinks of the environment of the Delaware River Watershed, Camden, New Jersey might not be one of the first locations that comes to mind. Urban areas overall tend to be overlooked as integral parts of the watershed due to the concrete sprawl and lack of green, open spaces. But, as with most situations in life, there is more than what is just seen on the surface. Cities can hide a vast array of valuable wildlife and natural resources, especially a city like Camden that sits on the banks of two important rivers—the Delaware and the Cooper. One organization in the city is taking that idea and putting it into action. Through education of the youth in the area, UrbanPromise hopes to change the perspective the younger generation has on their local environment and broaden their future horizons.

A Vision for the Future: Restoring Petty’s Island

Blossoming spring buds, lush summer greenery, vibrant autumn leaves, and sparkling fresh winter snow—each season in the northeast has something naturally beautiful to offer for those who wish to explore the outdoors. No matter what the season may be, people in the four-state cradle of the Delaware River Watershed are constantly looking for safe and beautiful places to go outside. Accessible open spaces are an area of interest for environmental enthusiasts and organizations alike and, thanks to the collaborative efforts of a New Jersey state agency, the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust (NJNLT), the environmental community, and a private company, one new destination is on its way to being added to the hiking lists of people throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan area—Petty’s Island.

Planning for the Future of the Upper Delaware River Watershed

I’m Molly Oliver and I was recently hired as the Policy Director for Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR). I’m a native of Delaware County, NY and a Registered Landscape Architect. I’ve spent the last five years working for Delaware County, NY in the Departments of Planning and Watershed Affairs, where I spent a significant amount of time working with FUDR and other watershed partners developing a comprehensive Stream Corridor Management Plan for the Upper Delaware River Tailwaters. I also worked on policy matters and local land use issues in the Upper Delaware River watershed above the NYC Delaware basin reservoirs. 

Wheels for Water: Learning First-Hand about Wilmington’s Water

On October 14th, a brisk Fall Sunday afternoon, approximately 20 water-minded cyclists could be spotted cruising Wilmington, Delaware’s city streets as part of “Wheels for Water”. This water-themed cycling event was designed to showcase some of the city’s prominent water features and projects. The tour was a cooperative event between cycling experts from Urban Bike Project of Wilmington, water experts from the City of Wilmington’s Public Works Department, and Delaware’s Clean Water Alliance.