On August 25, 2022, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced a nearly $15.8 million investment in the Delaware River watershed restoration to improve wildlife habitat, enhance resilience to climate change, and engage underserved communities in these regenerative activities.
Funding for 45 grants will be provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the William Penn Foundation through the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund (DWCF) and Delaware River Restoration Fund (DRRF), in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).
“From its headwaters in New York to Delaware Bay, the Delaware River flows nearly 330 miles through the heart of the densely populated mid-Atlantic region,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF.
“Along its entire path, the Delaware River provides drinking water to more than 15 million people and habitats for a host of wildlife species, from red knots and other shorebirds to iconic and economically valuable fish such as alewives, American shad and eastern brook trout. This year’s significant investment will allow our grantees and their partners to implement projects that benefit people and wildlife and make real conservation gains,” he continued.
This includes $4.7 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support innovative green-infrastructure projects that contribute to the health and economic vitality of communities in the watershed.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a historic down payment in ensuring that future generations have clean air, drinkable water, fertile soil and an overall quality of life that is currently threatened by the worsening climate crisis,” said Secretary Deb Haaland.
“These investments in the resilience and restoration of America’s lands, rivers and watersheds will safeguard clean drinking water, protect wildlife habitat and ensure a healthy, sustainable environment for our future,” she added.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a $1.4 billion boost to the restoration, conservation and stewardship of America’s public lands that will lead to better outdoor spaces and habitats for people and wildlife for generations to come. That includes a historic $26 million investment over the next five years in the Delaware River watershed. These funds align with the America the Beautiful initiative, investing in locally led efforts to support collaborative conservation and protect the lands, waters and wildlife on which we all depend.
“Through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are advancing proven projects and partnerships to help address the needs of people and wildlife in the face of climate change,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams.
“Today’s historic investment will improve fish and wildlife habitat and directly engage underserved communities in addressing issues such as flood mitigation, water quality and safe access to nature where they live,” she explained.
The new funding was announced at an event on the banks of the Brandywine River. Overall, the awards will improve more than 10,000 acres through enhanced voluntary management and the voluntary treatment of polluted runoff using agricultural conservation practices on about 2,200 acres, restore 439 acres of wetlands, plant over 50,000 trees, and open more than 65 miles for fish passage.
The Delaware River watershed covers 13,539 square miles of land and water, running from the Catskills in New York through Pennsylvania and New Jersey, ultimately emptying into the Delaware Bay. The watershed is home to a remarkable variety of species and their habitats — from mountainside cold water streams to tidal salt marshes — that are economically, ecologically and culturally important to the region.
Urban and suburban waterways play a major role in the watershed’s communities, with headwaters in neighboring rural and agricultural areas. Grant projects are implemented across this variety of landscapes, improving wildlife habitat and human communities, accelerating implementation of best practices, providing opportunities for people to engage with nature, and ultimately benefiting water quality locally and for those downstream.
Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund Grants
Of the 45 grants, 36 have been awarded through the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund, funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with additional support this year from the Bezos Earth Fund and AstraZeneca. A total of $14 million, up from $9.5 million in 2021, will fund projects in four priority areas: reducing flooding and runoff, restoring fish and wildlife habitats, improving water quality and enhancing safe public recreational access. This includes $4.7 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds, which will be directed to projects that use green infrastructure to support restoration and climate adaptation.
Delaware River Restoration Fund Grants
The remaining nine grants are funded by the Delaware River Restoration Fund (DRRF), which is supported by the William Penn Foundation. Grantee organizations have committed more than $16 million in match, for a total conservation impact of about $31.8 million.
Photo of Delaware Water Gap via Pixabay.