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Keeping roads and bridges in good shape means protecting natural areas, says Carper

Carper_FWS_Prime_hook
Roman Battaglia
/
Delaware Public Media
Carper and U.S. FWS principal deputy director Martha Williams (Center left) discuss the benefits of green infrastructure

Climate change resiliency for the country's urban areas means more investments in green infrastructure out in nature.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife service officials met at Delaware’s Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge to see how the restorations of the refuge’s marshlands have completely changed the environment, and created habit for native animals and birds.

Martha Williams is the principal deputy director of the Fish and Wildlife service, and is awaiting confirmation to become the agency's director.

Williams says investing in green infrastructure projects, such as Prime Hook, over grey infrastructure, like man-made barriers, will end up paying off.

“This was what, $38 million dollars but in the end I think it has saved far more than $38 million,” Williams says. “So it may seem expensive on the front end but we’re learning they are not in the long run.”

Williams says while grey infrastructure projects will need consistent maintenance and upkeep, creating natural barriers that incorporate local plants will only get better as they continue to grow.

Senators in Congress are negotiating the details of a reconciliation bill, containing investments in social spending and climate change proposed by President Biden.

Recent reports indicate funding for climate change has been cut in the bill, leaving less money for resiliency efforts.

Sen. Tom Carper says investing in climate change resiliency is a part of investing in our nation’s infrastructure.

“When you look at the work that my committee did on roads, highways and bridges with respect to resilience,” says Carper. “The climate change is great; the weathers hotter, it’s hard on roads. Flooding, that’s hard on roads, highways and bridges — and to the extent that we can address climate change we reduce the wear and tear on our infrastructure.”

Carper says there will be a specific carve-out in the reconciliation package dedicated towards the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That money will go towards future projects like the one at Prime Hook in other parts of the country.

He says while these green infrastructure projects look expensive up front, they pay dividends in the future in terms of less maintenance and upkeep, and the benefits they bring for wildlife and surrounding communities.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

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