NFWF awards $14.9 million for restoration of Delaware River Watershed

On August 31, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced 36 grant awards totaling over $14.9 million to improve wildlife habitat, enhance resilience to changing climatic conditions, and engage communities throughout the Delaware River watershed in conservation activities.

Funding includes more than $4.5 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for six projects aimed at improving public access, recreational opportunities and water quality, as well as enhancing shoreline and critical habitat. 

This year’s grant slate is the second to include funds from the law, which was enacted in November 2021 and includes a historic $26 million investment in the watershed over five years. 

Pennsylvania Projects

Projects awarded $7.3 million in grants benefitting Pennsylvania include–

— Building Capacity for Cobbs Creek Watershed Coalition, Clean Air Council, $266,500

— Building Capacity for Expanding PA’s Woods And Meadows, DCNR, $1,200,000

– Designing, Planning For South Philadelphia Wetlands Park, Delaware River Waterfront Corp., $150,000

— Developing An Engaging Plum Run Trail At Plum Run Preserve, East Bradford Twp., $250,000

— Development Public Trail & Link To Lehigh River Thru Penn Haven, The Trust For Public Land, $1,500,000

— Engaging Community Stakeholders to Reduce Road Salt Burden to Local Streams, Lower Merion Conservancy, $186,500

— Improving Public Access & Recreation In PA Portion Of Delaware River, Fish & Boat Commission, $1,000,000

— Pachella Gully Restoration & Public Access Improvements, Friends of the Wissahickon, $569,100

— Planning & Design for the Ecological Restoration of Riparian Corridor of French Creek, French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust, $162,100

— Planning & Design for the Fairmount Water Works Floating Water Workshop, The Fund for the Water Works, $225,000

— Reforestation of Stonehurst Hills, Stonehurst Hills Community Assn., $118,100

— Restoring Dynamic Forest Structure for Priority Birds In Delaware Watershed, American Bird Conservancy, $685,700

— Shedbrook Creek Restoration & Sedge Meadow Improvement to Create a Climate-Resilient FDR Park, Fairmount Park Conservancy, $1,500,000

— Stream Restoration at East Branch Red Clay Creek Headwaters, Brandywine Red Clay Alliance, $126,500

— West Wayne Preserve Wooded Wetlands Restoration & Habitat Enhancement, Radnor Township, $461,500

— Youth Workforce Development Pilot in Ecosystems Management on the Tidal Schuylkill River, John Bartram Assn., $251,300

Multiple State Benefits, Including PA

— Assessing Factors that Impact Water Quality In Upper Delaware, Delaware River Basin Commission, $498,200

— Circuit Trails Community Grant Program to Improve Access to the Outdoors, PA Environmental Council, $212,000

— Evaluation of the Endangered Dwarf Wedgemussel Population in the Delaware River, National Park Service, $86,200

— Transforming Recreational Engagement through Innovative and Inclusive Approaches, National Wildlife Federation, $500,000

Click Here for the complete list of projects funded.

“This year’s 36 grants will allow our grantees and their partners to implement projects that benefit communities, fish, and wildlife and continue the remarkable progress made over the past decades for a healthier, cleaner, and more resilient Delaware River watershed,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The Delaware River’s diverse watershed, which flows through nearly 330 miles of the mid-Atlantic region, is both a source of drinking water for more than 15 million people and provides vital habitat for important wildlife species, including threatened red knots and vulnerable saltmarsh sparrow, forest birds rebounding from decline, as well as previously abundant fish such as river herring, American shad and eastern brook trout.” 

These 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 William Penn Foundation and AstraZeneca.

A total of $14.9 million, up from $14 million in 2022, 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.

“Thanks to support from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, these 36 projects in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York will boost local economies and address needs for natural resources while helping tackle the climate crisis,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams, who delivered remarks at today’s event. “By addressing conservation and resiliency needs head-on, we demonstrate the necessity and importance of caring for lands and waters and for those who share a connection to the watershed. Whether a project restores habitat, replaces a decaying culvert, or improves outdoor access, the positive impacts allow fish, wildlife and people to thrive.” 

“The historic level of federal dollars committed through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law strengthens the impact of this work and demonstrates what public and private investment can do together,” said Stuart Clarke, program director, Watershed Protection, William Penn Foundation. “These are critical grants for the people and organizations working every day to advance conservation and restoration initiatives to improve water quality and water access for the benefit of all who rely on this resource.”

The grant awards will improve more than 1,000 acres of forest habitat through improved management, reconnect nearly 30 acres of floodplain, plant over 17,000 trees, and open more than 1,227 acres to public access.

The projects will help advance the goals of the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, NFWF’s Delaware Watershed Business Plan, and the Delaware River Watershed Initiative. 

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.

Visit the NFWF Delaware River Program webpage to learn more about this program.

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