The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced 36 Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund awards totaling $14.9 million, which includes $4.5 million in funds made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Grantees have committed $20 million in match, for a total conservation impact of $34.9 million that will restore and protect land and water resources.


Of the 36 new or continuing conservation and restoration projects, 16 will be completed by members of Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed (CDRW). With this sixth round of funding, Coalition members were awarded a total of $7 million and have generated $7.4 million of matching funds for a total of $14.4 million for projects that range from a mentored small grants program to tidal marsh restoration, and to conservation workforce development. 


“We are grateful for the Congressional champions who have supported our efforts and are pleased to witness our dedication to the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program translating into actual funding for on-ground restoration and conservation across the basin,” saidKelly Knutson, Director of The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. “Particularly exciting is the news that almost half of the awarded projects will be led by CDRW members. The initiatives span a spectrum of activities, encompassing expanded recreational access, improved water quality, and efforts towards stream restoration and habitat preservation. This is precisely why we urge Congress to increase funding investments for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program.”


“Greater Philadelphia’s Circuit Trails Coalition Community Grant Program invests in locally led, community-driven projects that increase residents’ awareness of the region’s trail network and improves residents’ access to nature right in their neighborhood,” saidEmilia Crotty, director of trails and equitable access at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), which administers the program. “Through the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund, additional grant-funded projects will make even more residents feel welcome, invited, and connected to their neighborhood trail, ensuring that everyone – and especially members of historically disinvested communities and marginalized groups – has access to the significant health benefits of trails.”


“At Trust for Public Land (TPL), we are grateful for DWCF’s generous support to help us acquire more than 1,100 acres along the scenic Black Creek Gorge in Carbon County, Pennsylvania,” said Owen Franklin, TPL’s Vice President, Great Lakes Region. “This project complements the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s goal of restoring eight miles of the Quakake and Black Creeks as a trout fishery and builds upon Weatherly Borough’s work to develop a 5-mile trail to connect with the D&L Trail and make this new link a destination along the corridor. It also protects forested lands, linking with more than 24,400 acres at Lehigh Gorge State Park and State Game Lands. In short, this is a great collaborative project with important conservation and outdoor recreation access benefits for the entire region.”


“After decades of hard work preserving over 2,500 acres of land along the South Branch of French Creek, we’re eager to start making thoughtful investments to improve the habitat and natural function along the Creek” noted Bill Gladden, Executive Director of French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust.  “We are grateful for the opportunity these funds provide to collaborate with the community around our Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve and partners throughout the region.  Working together, we will chart a course for long term improvements not only on our preserve, but for our upstream and downstream neighbors throughout the watershed.” 


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 which increase equitable access and community engagement, especially for underserved communities, with the goal of providing opportunities for all to experience the benefits of a healthy Delaware River Watershed. See the full list of 2023 Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund grants here.

About the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund (DWCF):

Grants were awarded through the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund (DWCF), a program administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). The DWCF is funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to achieve the goals of the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act. The Act guides and supports federal, state, regional and local partners to collaboratively identify, prioritize, and implement habitat restoration and conservation activities within the watershed. Since 2018, the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund has funded 195 projects that provide vital support to fish and wildlife, help support economic vitality, and contribute to quality of life through public access and outdoor recreation opportunities. The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed has advocated, year over year, for robust federal funding to support this essential program.

This post adapted from a release by the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed (CDRW).