Saturday, December 21, 2019

Coalition For The Delaware River Watershed/ Audubon Pennsylvania: Federal Budget Includes $9.7 Million For Watershed Restoration

On December 20, the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program received $9.7 million in funding as part of the fiscal year 2020 Interior Appropriations bill approved by Congress and signed by the President, a 62 percent increase from fiscal year 2019’s funding levels, according to the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed.. 
The DRBRP will provide much-needed technical assistance and grant funds to address the Delaware River Basin’s environmental challenges. 
This funding will support eligible applicants in NY, NJ, PA, and DE, including government entities, non-profit organizations, and institutes of education implement on-the-ground restoration and conservation projects. 
Projects will combat critical issues such as overdevelopment, stormwater runoff, flooding, stream erosion, and loss of wildlife habitat.
"The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program represents a critical investment in the future of our region. We have strongly advocated for the inclusion of $10 million for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program and are thrilled by the tremendous amount of good the program has done so far. We anticipate a growing demand for the project funding from eligible entities throughout the basin," said Sandra Meola, Director at New Jersey Audubon and the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. “We are immensely grateful to Congressional champions for affirming the importance of the basin with a significant increase of 62 percent in fiscal year 2020 for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program. We know that this funding increase will allow for the necessary improvement of the land and water resources upon which people, wildlife, and our economy relies.”
“We look forward to working with our federal, state and local governments and partners to ensure the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program continues to lead the way in protecting and restoring our founding waters,” said Greg Goldman, executive director of Audubon Pennsylvania. “This program will help reverse wildlife declines, improve water quality and enhance economic conditions right here in our communities by expanding healthy recreational access and providing job opportunities.”
“We commend the bipartisan delegation for demonstrating their commitment to protecting this critical natural resource,” said Beth Brown, director of the Delaware River Watershed Program at Audubon Pennsylvania. “The Delaware River Watershed provides key habitat for iconic birds as varied as the Red Knot, Wood Thrush and American Black Duck. When habitats improve for birds and wildlife, people also benefit with more flood-resilient communities, better water quality and reduced stormwater.”
“Funding at this level will allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to accelerate conservation efforts in the watershed, by bringing federal, state and local governments together with nonprofit organizations to prioritize and implement much-needed restoration projects,” said Ana Paula Tavares, executive director of Audubon New York. 
Audubon Pennsylvania & Audubon New York work to improve conditions for birds and people in the Delaware River Watershed through on-the-ground conservation, advocacy and watershed education. 
“From the Poconos down to Philadelphia - nonprofits, state, and local governments will be able to apply for fiscal year 2020 Delaware River Basin Restoration Program funding for site-specific projects that result in cleaner water, more green space, and restored wildlife habitat,” stated Jacquelyn Bonomo, President and CEO, PennFuture. “Restoring and conserving the basin is crucial for the Keystone state, as the Delaware River and its tributaries, such as the Schuylkill and Lehigh Rivers, encompass over forty percent of the state’s population.”
In the first two years of implementation, the DRBRP has funded 53 projects throughout the basin and awarded $8.74 million in grants for these projects. These grants have generated $12.04 million in matching funds for a total conservation impact of $20.78 million. 
These projects will collectively: restore 10 miles of riparian habitat and 17 miles of stream habitat; conserve and enhance 119 acres of wetland habitat; restore 251 acres of floodplain; improve 3,737 acres of forest habitat; and open 200 acres of land for public access. 
With federal funding increased by 62 percent, even more conservation and restoration projects can begin to address environmental concerns within the basin.
The Delaware River Basin is significant because it encompasses portions of four states and supplies about 13.3 million people (4 percent of the U.S. population) with water for drinking, washing, and farming. 
The Delaware River Basin is the only water source for two major U.S. cities, Philadelphia (100 percent) and New York (about 50 percent.) The Delaware River Basin is also a major economic driver for the region, bringing in about $25 billion annually in economic activity and supporting about 600,000 jobs. 
Land and water within the Delaware River Basin must also be protected as it provides habitat to over 400 types of birds, over 90 fish species, and many other animals, including threatened and endangered species.
Visit the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed website for more information on Delaware River Watershed initiatives.  Questions about this announcement should be directed to Rita Yelda by sending email to: or call 732-979-0655.
For more information on Audubon programs in Pennsylvania, initiatives, upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the Audubon Pennsylvania website.  Questions about this announcement should be directed to Chandler Lennon by sending email to: or call 212-979-3063.
[Posted: December 21, 2019]

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