PHILADELPHIA – Yesterday, the Trump administration proposed a budget for fiscal year 2021 that excludes essential funding for a long list of critical conservation programs, including the Delaware River Watershed Restoration Program that conserves the Delaware River Watershed, ensuring clean drinking water for more than 13.3 million people and sustaining more than 400 bird species and other wildlife.
“This budget proposal is disappointingly short-sighted. It withholds fundamental tools our communities need to improve water quality, restore habitat, reduce flood damage and improve public access in the Delaware River Watershed for birds and people,” said Greg Goldman, executive director at Audubon Pennsylvania. “Without preserving the watershed, climate-threatened birds like the Belted Kingfisher and Cerulean Warbler or federally-protected species like Red Knots and Sanderlings could lose significant portions of their habitat at a time that we should be preparing for the dire effects of climate change.”
“Excluding funding for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program has a direct impact on birds and people in New York State and puts the health of 2,390 square miles of our freshwater rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and reservoirs at stake,” said Michael Burger, managing director of Audubon New York. “Imagine if 4.5 million New York City residents couldn’t depend on this resource for clean drinking water? Or if declining birds like the Wood Thrush lost even more of their nesting grounds? We are grateful that the New York State congressional delegation has championed this critical conservation program and look forward to working with them to restore this funding.”
The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program supports the protection, restoration and conservation of fish and wildlife habitats in the Delaware River Watershed, encompassing more than 13,500 square miles of land across four states. It is home to a variety of vast forests, 400 miles of designated National Wild and Scenic Rivers, and 700,000 acres of wetland habitats that birds and communities depend on.
These cuts to conservation initiatives come as birds are facing unprecedented peril due to climate change. Audubon’s “Survival by Degrees,” a comprehensive scientific study published in late 2019, revealed that two-thirds of North American bird species are at risk of extinction, and shows that climate-related impacts such as sea level rise, extreme fire weather and drought, pose real and immediate threats to birds and communities alike.
Contrary to the proposed cut, it is a top priority for the National Audubon Society to secure $12 million in funding through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program to ensure positive, meaningful momentum continues on this important initiative.
“We look forward to working with our Congressional champions on a commonsense budget that protects birds and our watershed communities and restores this vital funding,” said Elizabeth Brown, director of Delaware River Watershed Program at Audubon. “The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program has built bipartisan support for collaborative conservation throughout the watershed. This work is needed now more than ever.”
The watershed also provides crucial ecosystem, recreational and commercial services, and is a key economic driver for the area. It grosses more than $25 billion annually in economic activity and $21 billion in ecosystem goods and services each year, such as flood control and water filtration. It contributes 600,000 jobs and $10 billion in annual wages to the economy.
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.
Audubon Pennsylvania, a state office of the National Audubon Society, conserves and restores natural ecosystems in Pennsylvania, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. Learn more at www.pa.audubon.org and by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @audubonpa.
Audubon New York, a state office of the National Audubon Society, protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon New York’s 84,000 members, nature centers and sanctuaries, chapters, and partners have an unparalleled wingspan. Together, we are informing, inspiring and uniting diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.ny.audubon.org.