The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced Thursday 36 Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund awards totaling $14 million, which includes $4.9 million in funds made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Grantees have committed $14.2 million in match, for a total conservation impact of $28.2 million that will restore and protect our land and water resources.
Of the 36 new or continuing conservation and restoration projects, thirteen will be completed by nine members of Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. With this fifth round of funding, Coalition members were awarded a total of $5.2 million and have generated $5.1 million of matching funds for a total of $10.3 million for projects that range from a mentored small grants program to tidal marsh restoration, and to conservation workforce development.
“We’re thankful to our Congressional champions and thrilled to see that our advocacy for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program continues to translate to on-the-ground dollars for restoration and conservation throughout the Delaware River Basin,” said Kelly Knutson, Director of The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. “Particularly, we are excited to see that this grant slate is prioritizing restoration and conservation projects in rural and disadvantaged communities. The Coalition is excited to work in coordination with NJ Audubon on a grant that builds capacity through an intensive peer monitoring and coaching program for small organizations, particularly those in environmentally underserved areas.”
On behalf of Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE) and the Delaware Estuary Program, Kathy Klein, Executive Director of PDE said, “this is such an exciting year for the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund with the pot of grant funding available continuing to grow and an influx of additional funding coming from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. We are especially excited about the projects that will provide much needed support to many of the underserved communities in our watershed and are thrilled to be the recipient of a grant to build capacity for the Urban Waters Federal Partnership’s Delaware River Location.”
“We are grateful for this opportunity to add more than 340 acres to Natural Lands’ 3,565-acre Bear Creek Preserve,” said Oliver Bass, president of Natural Lands. “This acquisition will close the last major gap in a conservation corridor comprised of our Bear Creek Preserve, the 1,880-acre North Branch Bear Creek Camp easement, and the 21,137-acre Game Lands #91. This area is part of a regional landscape of protected lands— including state parks, forests, and Game Lands—that spans more than 150,000 acres.”
“Since 2018, the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program has been a game changer in New York,” said Jeff Skelding, Executive Director, Friends of the Upper Delaware River. The program has raised the statewide profile of the Upper Delaware River (UDR) and helped create a new line item for the watershed in the 2022 NYS Environmental Protection Fund. The program has funded numerous stream restoration projects that unify watershed stakeholders, create local jobs, protect the UDR wild trout fishery, and build community resilience to flooding. Our 2022 award will support an exciting new workforce development program that engages young people in conservation work throughout the watershed.”
“The Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund has been critical to The Nature Conservancy’s work restoring New Jersey’s waterways and aquatic wildlife,” said Eric Olsen, Director of Conservation, The Nature Conservancy of New Jersey. “The continued funding for this program will help us restore rivers to ensure migratory fish and aquatic wildlife can adapt to changing climate conditions into the future.”
Funded projects will contribute to long-term outcomes for equitable access to nature, resiliency, healthy habitat, and a thriving outdoor economy. This year’s grant slate also includes projects with nature-based solutions that address disparities in access to nature by putting equity, justice, and cultural competency at the core of their work.
To view the full list of 2022 Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund grants, click here.