The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program received $9.7 million in funding as part of the fiscal 2020 Interior Appropriations bill approved by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump, a 62% increase from fiscal 2019’s funding levels.
The DRBRP will provide technical assistance and grant funds to address the Delaware River Basin’s environmental challenges. This funding will support eligible applicants in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey including government entities, nonprofit 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,” said Sandra Meola, director at New Jersey Audubon and the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. “We anticipate a growing demand for the project funding from eligible entities throughout the basin. We are immensely grateful to Congressional champions for affirming the importance of the basin with a significant increase of 62% 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.”
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%, 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% of the U.S. population — with water for drinking, washing and farming. Additionally, the Delaware River Basin is the only water source for two major U.S. cities, Philadelphia and New York. 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 more than 400 types of birds, more than 90 fish species and many other animals, including threatened and endangered species.
“We’re grateful to see increased federal investment in the four-state, 13,500-square mile Delaware River Basin, which is an ecological and economic powerhouse that more than 8 million people call home in the densely populated Mid-Atlantic region,” said Anne Harper, executive director of the Delaware Nature Society. “The basin is an historical icon that is home to nationally significant ecological and recreational assets, including six National Wildlife Refuges, like Bombay Hook and Prime Hook, and one of the largest systems in the National Estuary Program.”
For more, visit delriverwatershed.org.