by Virginia Kennedy

On February 10, the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, the region’s foremost organization for the protection of healthy lands and waters, and the Eagle Institute, the Upper Delaware River Watershed’s premier organization for the protection of eagles and the stewardship of their habitat, announced their merger. The partnership is a wonderful development for eagle lovers and for all residents of the Upper Delaware River region for whom clean waters, healthy lands, and thriving wildlife are vital to quality of life. Going forward, the Eagle Institute will be a Project of the Delaware Highlands Conservancy.

Since its founding, the Eagle Institute has been hosted by the National Park Service and located in the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. As a Project of the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, the Eagle Institute will increase its capacity for engaging visitors and residents with our iconic national bird and the beautiful forests and rivers that are home to it. Superintendent of Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, Sean McGuinness, affirms that, “the Eagle Institute and the Delaware Highlands Conservancy are the best at what they do.” Together with the Park Service, this partnership will provide enhanced leadership in conservation in our region.

“I founded the Eagle Institute to support the return of the endangered eagle to the Upper Delaware River region,” states Eagle Institute founder and executive director, Lori McKean, “Nearly two decades ago, I dreamed things would turn out just as they have: The eagles are back in the Watershed and thriving, the Eagle Institute is supported and run by incredible volunteers, members, and contributors who are passionately concerned about the protection of our national symbol and its habitat, and we have educated nearly 50,000 people over the years about the critical role this region’s healthy lands and clean water play in the survival of this magnificent bird. We are ready to open a new chapter in our success story.”

Conservancy Executive Director, Sue Currier, is excited about the possibilities: “Coming together with the Eagle Institute means we’ll be stronger. In these days of doing more with less, leveraging the resources of both organizations means those resources will go further. By combining the energy of dedicated members, volunteers, and supporters, we’ll protect more eagle habitat than ever. We’ll reach more people with the message that the eagle thrives when the lands and waters where it lives are healthy and protected.”

“We know what it feels like to watch an eagle fly freely; to see it dive for its food or perch majestically against a winter blue sky” adds Lori McKean, “We all realize that if the eagles are thriving, the lands and waters where they live are healthy for humans, too. Eagles are good for our hearts, our spirits; their healthy habitat is good for our bodies. We need to make sure the eagles and their habitat are protected now and into the future.”

This is a great move for the Conservancy,” affirms Conservancy founder, Barbara Yeaman, “the Eagle Institute’s passion for protecting eagles together with the Conservancy’s passion for protecting the lands and waters where eagles live truly is the perfect partnership.”

The board and staff of the Conservancy are enthusiastic about the unlimited potential of this new partnership to protect the eagle and its habitat and to build support for the Conservancy’s conservation mission in the region.

Reprinted with permission by the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, from the  Conservancy’s Highlands Journal (March 2012).