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.