NFWF Announces $15.8 Million in New Conservation Grants to Restore Delaware River Watershed
Funding through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law contributes to the largest grant slate in the history of the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund
WILMINGTON, DELAWARE (August 25, 2022) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced 45 grant awards totaling nearly $15.8 million to improve wildlife habitat, enhance resilience to changing climatic conditions, and engage communities throughout the Delaware River watershed in conservation activities. This year’s grant slate is the first to include funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which was enacted in November 2021 and includes an historic $26 million investment in the watershed over five years.
“From its headwaters in New York to Delaware Bay, the Delaware River flows nearly 330 miles through the heart of the densely populated mid-Atlantic region,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “Along its entire path, the Delaware River provides drinking water to more than 15 million people and habitats for a host of wildlife species, from red knots and other shorebirds to iconic and economically valuable fish such as alewives, American shad and eastern brook trout. This year’s significant investment will allow our grantees and their partners to implement projects that benefit people and wildlife and make real conservation gains.”
Thirty-six of the 45 grants were awarded through the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund (DWCF), funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with additional support this year from the Bezos Earth Fund and AstraZeneca. A total of $14 million, up from $9.5 million in 2021, will fund projects in four priority areas: reducing flooding and runoff, restoring fish and wildlife habitats, improving water quality, and enhancing safe public recreational access.
Funds through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, $4.7 million allocated annually for the next five years, will enable more entities to support innovative projects that use nature-based infrastructure to restore the watershed.
“Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law comes at a critical time for investments in nature-based solutions that will help address the needs of people and wildlife in the face of climate change," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams. "By building on the strong partnerships underlying our Delaware River Basin Restoration Program, this historic investment will improve fish and wildlife habitat and directly engage underserved communities in addressing issues such as flood mitigation, water quality and safe access to nature where they live.”
In addition to these grants, nine of the 45 grants were funded by the Delaware River Restoration Fund (DRRF), which is supported by the William Penn Foundation. Grantee organizations have committed more than $16 million in match, for a total conservation impact of about $31.8 million.
“The health of the Delaware River watershed has made remarkable progress over several decades, thanks to the tireless work of conservationists across its four-state landscape,” said Stuart Clarke, Watershed Protection Program Director at the William Penn Foundation. “Still, it’s important that we continue to unite to ensure its health and resilience. Broad collaborations like the Delaware River Watershed Initiative, and its Restoration Fund, produce smart and effective land restoration projects to protect clean water and we are pleased to support those efforts.”
“We’re pleased to partner with NFWF in the Delaware River Watershed conservation efforts. Together, we will help contribute to the restoration of forests, diversify wildlife habitats and improve water quality in the Delaware region to benefit community and ecological resilience,” said Joris Silon, U.S. Country President, BioPharmaceuticals Business Unit, AstraZeneca.
The awards announced today will improve more than 10,000 acres through enhanced voluntary management and the voluntary treatment of polluted runoff using agricultural conservation practices on about 2,200 acres, restore 439 acres of wetlands, plant over 50,000 trees, and open more than 65 miles for fish passage. The projects will help advance the goals of the Delaware River Watershed Initiative, NFWF’s Delaware Watershed Business Plan, and the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act. Grant awards include:
- (Delaware) $500,000 via the DWCF to the Brandywine River Restoration Trust to perform studies required to obtain the permits for the removal or modification of the Brandywine Falls Dam near the Pennsylvania state line in Delaware and improve fish migration
- (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania) $440,000 via the DWCF to the New Jersey Audubon Society to assist organizations and community groups in capacity building through on-the-ground restoration projects with an outcome of a cleaner, healthier, and more equitable and coordinated Delaware River watershed
- (New Jersey) $250,500 via the DRRF to the North Jersey RC&D Area Inc. to address agricultural runoff by administering the AgAssist Conservation and Commitment Program and deliver technical and financial assistance to farmers implementing best management practices that improve and protect water quality
- (New York) $464,000 via the DWCF to Friends of the Upper Delaware River to build technical and community capacity in the Upper Delaware to accelerate restoration and improvement projects that will benefit eastern brook trout recovery and community resiliency
- (Pennsylvania) $1.4 million via the DWCF to create Dynamic Forest Restoration Block (DFRB) comprehensive plans for two new DFRBs and implement forest management activities in eight existing DFRBs and four new DFRBs in Pennsylvania
The Delaware River Restoration Fund, launched in 2013, is administered in cooperation with the Delaware River Watershed Initiative, an NGO-driven partnership between leading conservation organizations to protect and restore water quality in the Delaware River watershed, with major funding provided by the William Penn Foundation.
The Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund, created in 2018, is funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to achieve the goals of the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act. The Act guides and supports federal, state, regional, and local partners to collaboratively identify, prioritize, and implement habitat restoration and conservation activities within the watershed.
The Delaware River watershed covers 13,539 square miles of land and water, running from the Catskills in New York through Pennsylvania and New Jersey, ultimately emptying into the Delaware Bay. Despite its position in a major metropolitan corridor, the watershed is home to a remarkable variety of species and their habitats — from mountainside cold water streams to tidal salt marshes — that are economically, ecologically, and culturally important to the region. Urban and suburban waterways play a major role in the watershed’s communities, with headwaters in neighboring rural and agricultural areas. Grant projects are implemented across this variety of landscapes, serving to improve wildlife habitat and human communities, accelerate implementation of best practices, provide opportunities for people to engage with nature, and ultimately benefit water quality locally and for those downstream.
A full list of 2022 Delaware River Restoration Fund projects receiving grants is available here. See the full list of 2022 Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund grants here. See a list of quotes from elected officials about today’s grant announcement here. For more information about NFWF’s Delaware River efforts, please visit www.nfwf.org/delaware. To learn more about the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, click here.
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About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants, and habitats. Working with federal, corporate, and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 6,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $7.4 billion. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.
About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit www.fws.gov.
About the William Penn Foundation
The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. In 2021, the Foundation granted more than $117 million to support vital efforts in the region. For more information, visit www.williampennfoundation.org.
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