Removing dams to restore fish passages, conserving marsh habitat for endangered birds, and creating recreational trails — these are the kinds of projects getting help this year from the Delaware Watershed Conservation and Delaware River Restoration funds.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation on Thursday announced more than $15 million in federal and private dollars that will support the Delaware River watershed. The 45 projects spanning Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York aim to reduce flooding and runoff, restore fish and wildlife habitats, and improve water quality.
This year’s grant includes $4.7 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to be allocated annually over the next five years.
The Delaware River flows almost 330 miles. In addition to providing habitats for a number of species, it supplies drinking water for 15 million people.
“Conservation is measured in more than just acres, miles, and dollars invested. It’s measured in the improved lives of future generations who have greater access to their watershed, cleaner water to drink, more wildlife, healthier, more resilient habitats, and stronger economies supported by a healthy, functioning Delaware River,” said Sarah Greenberger, associate deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
“We’re seeking out projects that engage underserved communities as partners in conservation, and decisions where they live. Community and locally driven projects ensure our investments produce meaningful outcomes and reflect the needs of those who know and love these areas.”
The Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership is one of the Delaware River Restoration fund grantees. The grant is supported by the William Penn Foundation.
The Tacony-Frankford Watershed is one of greater Philadelphia’s most impaired waterways, struggling with runoff and combined sewage overflows in Philadelphia. The partnership will use the funding to install green stormwater infrastructure at the Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel parking lot in Cheltenham Township, and the Abington Club golf course in Jenkintown, to reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff along Jenkintown Creek and Shoemaker Run.
“This funding helps us restore the creeks. It helps us create solutions to deal with the volume and velocity of runoff, which is what really impairs these creeks,” said the partnership’s executive director Julie Slavet. “And it also leverages other funding for us.”
The New Jersey Audubon Society will use grants from the Delaware Watershed Conservation to preserve marsh habitat for the federally threatened and state endangered Black Rail bird, as well as the Salt Marsh Sparrow, in addition to providing peer mentoring opportunities. The Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund is funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with additional support this year from the Bezos Earth Fund and AstraZeneca.
“Without management and restoration initiatives, these species are endangered, in danger of extinction,” said Alex Ireland, President & CEO of New Jersey Audubon.
Grantee organizations have also committed more than $16 million in match dollars, bringing the total conservation impact to about $31.8 million.
Disclosure: The William Penn Foundation supports WHYY.