Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wildlife Foundation Awards $2.4 Million In Delaware River Grants

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Wednesday announced $2.4 million in grants as part of the first round of $7 million in funding to improve waters that contribute to the overall health of the Delaware River.
This initial round of funding includes 15 projects (9 in Pennsylvania) that will work toward restoring water quality and fish and wildlife habitat across the Delaware River watershed.  The projects will collaboratively restore 34 acres of wetlands and 32 miles of riparian habitat, engage 1,050 volunteers and mitigate nearly two million gallons of stormwater runoff.
These grants are part of a $35 million multi-state investment by the William Penn Foundation to protect the Delaware River.
In April, The William Penn Foundation announced a $7 million grant to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to restore habitat in the Delaware River as part of a $35 million initiative that also includes the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the Open Space Institute and more than 40 additional national and regional partners.  
The initiative aims to permanently protect more than 30,000 acres, implement more than 40 restoration projects, pilot new incentives for landowners and businesses, provide replicable models for other locations in the watershed, and develop long-term water quality data for the watershed at an unprecedented scale.
Dignitaries and grantees alike gathered at the Race Street Pier in Philadelphia for the 2014 Delaware River Restoration Fund grants announcement.  
Amanda Bassow, Director, NFWF Eastern Partnership Office; Laura Sparks, Chief Philanthropy Officer, William Penn Foundation; Denise Coleman, State Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service – Pennsylvania; and Shawn Garvin, Regional Administrator, U.S. EPA Region 3, provided remarks about the multi-state investment to protect and restore critical sources of drinking water for 15 million people.  
“NFWF is thrilled to announce the inaugural slate of Delaware River Restoration Fund grants.  With an investment of only $2.4 million from NFWF this year, our grantees are able to leverage more than twice that amount for on-the-ground conservation and restoration,” said Amanda Bassow, Director of the Eastern Partnership Office for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.  “We're grateful to William Penn Foundation for sparking this initiative by bringing together such a talented group of partners—and we're looking forward to supporting additional important projects in subsequent rounds.”
“The team at the William Penn Foundation is very excited to see the first steps of the recently-launched Delaware River Watershed Initiative come to life. We're pleased that these NFWF grants will further align efforts to restore streams, advance implementation of green infrastructure, deliver robust conservation on working lands and improve water quality in our region,” said Laura Sparks, Chief Philanthropy Officer for the William Penn Foundation.
"Conservation is truly a partnership effort," said Denise Coleman, NRCS State Conservationist. "NRCS is looking forward to expanding our conservation efforts with partners and grant recipients to protect and improve water quality in the Delaware River."
In recent years, deforestation from commercial, residential and energy development, contaminated runoff from farms and urban stormwater have increasingly threatened the health of the Delaware River.  
The Delaware is the only free-flowing river east of the Mississippi and provides clean and safe drinking water to more than 15 million people, many in major cities including Philadelphia, New York, Camden (NJ) and Wilmington (DE).  
The Delaware River watershed covers 13,539 square miles of land and water, touches a population of over eight million people and is home to native brook trout, river herring, oysters and threatened plants and other wildlife.

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