Regional partnership focuses on environmental projects

    The public/private alliance will focus on major environmental efforts in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

    Hundreds of Delaware school children joined local leaders in celebrating the 40th annual Earth Day in downtown Wilmington.  The kids learned more about caring for the earth through a series of about 20 exhibits set up in Rodney Square.  Exhibits included presentations on composting, solar and wind energy, and recycling.  Another display showed how local water ways are connected in the Delaware estuary.

    One of the presenters, the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, is leading a new partnership of public and private groups that will focus attention on the most critical environmental projects.  The Partnership’s executive director Jennifer Adkins says the Alliance for Comprehensive Ecosystem Solutions includes environmental departments from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, along with the EPA.  On the private side of the partnership are major companies like DuPont, PSE&G, Conoco Phillips, and foundations like the William Penn Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Delaware Riverkeeper.

    Adkins says, “The idea behind it is to try to get the public agencies in our region working together with the private entities- some of which have a long history of being very supportive to environmental projects- trying to get them working together to identify common priorities.”

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    So far, the alliance has identified five projects to focus on.  They include an urban wetland restoration along the Philadelphia waterfront, a Delaware Bay oyster restoration project, a stream restoration project on the Mill Creek in Delaware, and a bird habitat project in New Jersey.  Adkins says, “Over the course of the next year, I hope you’ll be hearing a lot more about them, because one of our goals is to get them out there to raise awareness about them and ideally to raise some support for them.”

    Governor Markell also spoke at the Earth Day celebration in Wilmington.  He says, “Everyday ought to be Earth Day.  It’s fine that we celebrate this once a year,  but what we’ve really got to do is we’ve got to make sure that we’re living every day as though it’s Earth Day.”

    Delaware’s top environmental official, DNREC Secretary Colin O’Mara says while it’s great the state government is taking action to address environmental concerns, that’s not what matters most.  He says, “We can give all the speeches, we can write all the legislation, but at the end of the day, they’re just words on a page, and they’re just words that are spoken into the air.  It’s going to take all of us doing are part.”

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