Delaware River Basin Restoration Program gets $6 million in funding
REGION — The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP) received a $1 million boost in funding for the year, in an appropriations bill signed by Congress and the President February 15.
The total amount to be given to the basin is $6 million and will provide technical assistance and grant funds to address environmental challenges, according to the organization, as well as allow money to go toward keeping drinking water clean. The basin includes more than 13,500 square miles of land across Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. The funding will be used to support local governments, state governments and nonprofits in those four states, all of which are implementing on-the-ground restoration and conservation projects that combat habitat degradation, invasive species and climate change.
The DRBRP itself was created by a congressional act as a partnership of coalitions, headed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to restore a network of large natural areas, corridors and waterways on public and private lands within the basin.
“The [DRBRP] represents a critical investment in the future of our region,” said Sandra Meola, director at the New Jersey Audubon Society and the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. “The Program provides funding required to restore habitat for fish and wildlife species, keep our watershed clean and healthy, expand recreational access and provide job opportunities.”
According to the program, the Delaware River Basin faces threats including overdevelopment, stormwater runoff, flooding, stream erosion and loss of wildlife habitat. It’s also home to more than 400 species of birds and more than 90 fish species, plus endangered animals including the Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, American kestrel and the Pine Barrens tree frog.
Additionally, say grant recipients, the river is a vital part of the region’s economy, and money used to safeguard it ends up affecting everyone positively.
“The Upper Delaware River’s clean water and prime outdoor recreational opportunities support a growing and increasingly important river-based regional economy in New York State,” said Jeff Skelding, executive director of Friends of the Upper Delaware River. “The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program will invest funds into improving the Upper Delaware, which will safeguard the area’s jobs, boost tourism and ensure this essential resource stays healthy.”
Environmental advocates along the basin were pleased with the funding report, and say that more should go toward issues like these. “In commenting on the amounts approved in the budget deal yesterday President Trump said ‘I have so much money we don’t know what to do with it,’” the New Jersey-based environmental advocacy organization BaySave said in a Facebook post. “Here at the Delaware River Basin we want to assure the President that we do know exactly what to do with it, for the sustainability of our crucially important natural resources.”