The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced today that they have awarded The Nature Conservancy a $450,000 grant to fund a comprehensive conservation plan for the Delaware River Basin. The project is a joint effort involving The Nature Conservancy’s Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Eastern New York chapters, the Natural Lands Trust, and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.
The Delaware River Basin and its surrounding watershed represent one of the most intact freshwater systems in the region. Freshwater systems are inextricably linked to the lands that surround them, and the adverse impacts of threats including development, pollution, and climate change have taken a toll on the health of the Basin. However, today many areas of the basin remain in good condition, and opportunities exist to conserve high quality habitats and restore those that have been degraded. The Delaware Basin Restoration Initiative will identify opportunities to protect and improve water quality and habitat, as well as provide a blueprint for the region’s conservation organizations and agencies to implement components of the plan.
Robert Allen, the Director of Conservation Programs of the Conservancy’s New Jersey Chapter, says “We’re excited to be a part of a science-based, partner-driven approach to determine the best places in the Delaware River basin to protect and restore. We are especially grateful to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for providing the much needed funding to make this project a reality.”
This comprehensive effort builds upon previous conservation plans, such as the Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan for the Delaware Estuary, State Wildlife Action Plans, New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s Garden State Greenways, and The Nature Conservancy’s regional and site-based conservation plans to develop a shared set of conservation and restoration priority areas that enable coordinated action among the many agencies and organizations contributing to the conservation of the ecosystems of the Delaware River watershed.
“One of the greatest environmental challenges facing our communities is the protection and restoration of rivers and coastal resources,” said Tom Kelsch, Director of Conservation Programs at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “The funding awarded today represents the Foundation’s continuing commitment to improving the health of the Delaware River Basin.”
The Delaware River is the longest undammed river in the eastern United States. The Delaware River basin drains over 13,000 square miles and supports almost 15 million people who depend on its resources for, among other things, clean drinking water. Within the greater northeastern United States, there is a history of habitat loss and degradation, with many river systems being altered and polluted. The Delaware River watershed, in the heart of this region, contains one of the most highly developed urban corridors in the country, and its ecological integrity has suffered as a result, though much of the basin remains in good condition.
“With looming threats like climate change and energy development, a coordinated approach to protecting freshwater systems like the Delaware River Basin is critical,” observes Peter Williamson, the Vice President of Conservation Services for Natural Lands Trust, “Conservation efforts in the Basin will help protect biodiversity, ecological integrity and resiliency, as well as the ecosystem services the watershed contains and provides.”
Incorporated in 1951, today, The Nature Conservancy has an on-the-ground presence in every state in the United States and is active in 37 additional countries. Since its founding, the Conservancy has helped to protect more than 119 million acres of ecologically significant habitat and 5,000 river miles around the world. While solidly grounded within individual states and countries, the Conservancy has increasingly focused on working across borders within ecological regions and across the globe. For well over a decade, strategic conservation planning has been a critical approach; it has helped guide our work in large river basins as diverse as the Connecticut River Basin and the Magdalena River Basin in South America.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey