Delaware River Restoration and Conservation Awarded $6 Million for 2019

Delaware River Restoration and Conservation Awarded $6 Million for 2019
Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations Budget Increases Funding by $1 Million for NY, NJ, PA, and DE

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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.

“The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program represents a critical investment in the future of our region. The Program provides funding required to restore habitat for fish and wildlife species, keep our watershed clean and healthy, expand recreational access, and provide job opportunities,” said Sandra Meola, Director at New Jersey Audubon and the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. “We are immensely grateful to Congressional champions for securing six million dollars in Delaware Basin funding for fiscal year 2019. The Program is off to a strong beginning and we look forward to seeing the second round of on-the-ground projects move forward.”

The Delaware River Basin faces threats such as overdevelopment, stormwater runoff, flooding, stream erosion, and loss of wildlife habitat. With increased federal funding, more conservation and restoration projects can begin to address these and other concerns within the basin. The Delaware River Basin must also be protected as it provides habitat to over 400 types of birds, over 90 fish species, and many other animals. Several threatened or endangered species rely on the Delaware River Basin, such as the Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, American kestrel, and the Pine Barrens tree frog.

"We're thrilled that the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program was funded at six million dollars for fiscal year 2019, as local communities will be now able to tackle projects that improve water quality, protect wildlife habitat, and increase recreational opportunities," said Brenna Goggin, Director of Advocacy at the Delaware Nature Society. "With the Delaware River Basin taking up fifty percent of Delaware's land area and including seventy-four percent of the state's population, funding for the Delaware River Basin is essential for our state's people and wildlife."

The Delaware River Basin is significant because it encompasses portions of four states, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, and supplies over 15 million people with drinking water (5% of the U.S. population.) Additionally, the basin is the only water source to provide drinking water for two major U.S. cities, Philadelphia and New York. The Delaware River Basin is also a major economic driver for the region, bringing in $25 billion annually in economic activity and supporting about 600,000 jobs.

“We are pleased Congress is taking action to protect clean water coming from the Delaware River, which twenty-two percent of New Jersey's families and businesses use for drinking water. From the Delaware Water Gap down to the Delaware Bay, we rely on this critical resource for drinking water, jobs, and recreation. By increasing funding for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program from five million in fiscal year 2018 to six million dollars in fiscal year 2019, Congress is stepping up to address issues threatening the future of the basin," added Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.

The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed worked with Congressional allies on the 2016 passage of the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, which created the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program. The Program was first funded in fiscal year 2018 in the amount of $5 million and the first Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund was launched in August 2018 as a result.

"The Upper Delaware River's clean water and prime outdoor recreational opportunities support a growing and increasingly important river-based regional economy in New York State. The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program will invest funds into improving the Upper Delaware, which will safeguard the area's jobs, boost tourism, and ensure this essential resource stays healthy," said Jeff Skelding, Executive Director, Friends of the Upper Delaware River.

The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed also worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a framework for the DRBRP to ensure it focused on supporting projects that: conserve and restore fish and wildlife habitat, improve and maintain water quality, sustain and enhance water management and reduce flood damage, and improve recreational opportunities and public access in the Delaware River Basin.

“From the Poconos down to Philadelphia - nonprofits, state, and local governments will be able to apply for fiscal year 2019 Delaware River Basin Restoration Program funding for site-specific projects that result in cleaner water, more green space, and restored wildlife habitat,” stated Jacquelyn Bonomo, President and CEO, PennFuture. “Restoring and conserving the basin is crucial for the Keystone state, as the Delaware River and its tributaries, such as the Schuylkill and Lehigh Rivers, encompass forty-three percent of the state’s population.”

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For more information, contact Rita Yelda, rita.yelda@njaudubon.org, 732-979-0655.

The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed is a network of 138 non-governmental organizations dedicated to protecting and restoring the natural resources of the Delaware River Basin. For more information, visit www.DelRiverWatershed.org.

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.

2018 Midterm Election Takeaways for the Delaware River Watershed

While some pundits debate whether the November midterms exhibited a "blue wave" nationally, the Delaware River Watershed certainly showcased the phenomena. Democrats flipped a total of nine seats. The watershed is now represented by 18 Democrats and three Republicans. The Coalition welcomes 11 new members to the Delaware Watershed House delegation! Of significance, the 116th Congress will see a record number of women and racially diverse representatives including five women newly elected within the boundaries of the watershed.

Organizations Unite Across State Lines for Day of Action that Urges Governors to Prioritize the Delaware River Basin

On November 27th the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, New Jersey Audubon, and New Jersey League of Conservation Voters delivered 2,760 petition signatures to Governor Phil Murphy as part of National Wildlife Federation’s “4 the Delaware” campaign. The state’s First Lady, Tammy Murphy, accepted the petition signatures and received a briefing on the “4 the Delaware” campaign from the delivering organizations. The delivery to Governor Murphy is one of three actions taking place across the Delaware River Basin on November 27th and 28th. Governor Murphy (NJ), Governor Cuomo (NY), and Governor Wolf (PA) will all receive in-person petition deliveries, with a total of 8,129 petition signatures delivered throughout the basin.