Nearly $10 million for conservation projects

By FRITZ MAYER
Posted 12/31/19

TRENTON, NJ — When Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act on December 20, lawmakers also approved funding for a lot of non-military programs, including $9.7 million for the …

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Nearly $10 million for conservation projects

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TRENTON, NJ — When Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act on December 20, lawmakers also approved funding for a lot of non-military programs, including $9.7 million for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP). President Donald Trump signed the legislation, and funding represents a 62 percent increase over funding in 2019.

The funding is meant to address environmental challenges in the Delaware River Basin and will go to various entities in the four basin states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The projects will address issues such as stormwater runoff, flooding and loss of wildlife habitat.

Jacquelyn Bonomo, president and CEO of PennFuture, addressed projects in Pennsylvania. “From the Poconos down to Philadelphia—nonprofits, state and local governments will be able to apply for fiscal year 2020 Delaware River Basin Restoration Program funding for site-specific projects that result in cleaner water, more green space and restored wildlife habitat,” she said. “Restoring and conserving the basin is crucial for the Keystone State, as the Delaware River and its tributaries, such as the Schuylkill and Lehigh Rivers, encompass [more than] 40 percent of the state’s population.”

Jeff Skelding, executive director of Friends of the Upper Delaware River, discussed the involvement of New York. “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. With a $3.7 million dollar increase from last year, the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program has more capacity to potentially invest in the Upper Delaware, which will safeguard the area’s jobs, boost tourism and ensure this essential resource stays healthy.”

“The Delaware River Basin is significant because it encompasses portions of four states and supplies about 13.3 million people (4 percent of the U.S. population) with water for drinking, washing and farming.” Additionally, the Delaware River Basin is the only water source for four major U.S. cities, Philadelphia (100 percent), Trenton, NJ (100 percent), Wilmington, DE (100 percent) and New York City (about 50 percent.) “The Delaware River Basin is also a major economic driver for the region, bringing in about $25 billion annually in economic activity and supporting about 600,000 jobs. Land and water within the Delaware River Basin also [...] provide habitat to over 400 types of birds, [more than] 90 fish species and many other animals, including threatened and endangered species,” says a press release from the Delaware Watershe.

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