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Grant program to lend federal support to Delaware River Basin conservation efforts

Courtesy of The Nature Conservancy

Federal support is set to go towards the restoration and conservation of the Delaware River Watershed.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service are putting 4.3 million dollars toward watershed cleanup efforts.

The Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund will be distributed through a competitive grant program to groups working to restore fish habitats, improve water quality and mitigate flood damage.

Some groups with current watershed cleanup operations in Delaware are the Littoral Society, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and Ducks Unlimited.

Mike Slattery is the Delaware River Watershed Coordinator for the FWS. He says priority projects could include dam removal, farm field runoff reduction or coastal community protection.

“Enable habitats and communities to be buffered from significant coastal storms and at the same time provide adequate habitat to sustain resources like horseshoe crabs—which, of course, shorebirds feed on their eggs,” said Slattery.

Funding for watershed conservation was secured through appropriations allowed by the 2016 Delaware River Basin Conservation act sponsored by Delaware Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons.

The Delaware River Basin runs 13,539 square miles through Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York and provides drinking water for 15 million people.

Slattery says he hopes the grant program is a catalyst for an even larger cleanup effort.

“That over time would give rise to sufficient connected habitat,” he said. “A network of habitat both in the water and on the land that taken together could support almost all the fish and wildlife species that people care about who live and work in the watershed.”

Applications for grants are due September 27.

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