Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Delaware River Watershed Remains A Top Priority For Trout Unlimited

By Katy Dunlap, Trout Unlimited Eastern Water Project Director
For decades, the Delaware River watershed has been a top priority for Trout Unlimited.
If you have ever fought with a wild brown trout in the West Branch of the Upper Delaware, or chased after small browns in the tailwaters of the Lehigh, or even cast a line in Valley Creek – a Class A stream wild trout stream located just a short 40-minute drive from Philadelphia,
then you know why TU has worked so hard to protect and restore the basin’s trout streams.
Without a doubt, this has been a “One TU” effort with grassroots and staff work-ing together to provide comprehensive coverage of the watershed.
TU recently organized a “fly-in” for TU members from the Delaware River watershed to meet with their members of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Four outstanding TU volunteers from Pennsylvania joined the event, including Brian Wagner (Forks of the Delaware Chapter of TU), Mike Recine (Monocacy Chapter of TU), and Peter Hughes and Chuck Cutshall (Valley Forge Chapter of TU).
Meetings focused on educating federal decisionmakers about the importance of protecting  fish and wildlife habitat in the Delaware River watershed and the need for federal funding to achieve conservation goals – both of which could be accomplished with passage of the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act (DRBCA).
The DRBCA would create a non-regulatory, voluntary program within the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to help identify, prioritize and implement projects that enhance  sh and wildlife habitat protection and restoration.
Importantly, this bill authorizes $5 million in federal funding for a competitive grant program that could leverage existing restoration and enhancement efforts in the basin – most of which are currently funded by private foundation investments and state and local dollars.
In early April, Trout Unlimited brought that message home to Pennsylvania to raise awareness of the DRBCA among regional and local organizations.
We hosted an intimate conservation roundtable discussion focused on the DRBCA in Malvern, Pa., with Congressman Ryan Costello (PA-06) and about 20 people representing 15 local conservation organizations from his district, including the Tulpehocken, Perkiomen and Valley Forge TU chapters.
While each organization described the challenges they are addressing to protect water quality and fish and wildlife habitat, one thing became abundantly clear: additional federal dollars would significantly enhance and expand the work that is being done in Pennsylvania’s 6th district.
There are countless other issues that TU staff, chapters and grassroots members are working on to improve, protect and restore the Delaware River watershed’s streams and aquatic life – too many to describe here.
Thank you. Without your efforts, the Delaware River watershed wouldn’t be the amazing coldwater fishery it is today.
Katy Dunlap, Trout Unlimited Eastern Water Project Director, can be contacted by sending email to:
(Reprinted from the Spring 2016 newsletter of PA Council of Trout Unlimited.  Click Here to sign up for PA TU updates by email (top of page).)

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