The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program was created by federal legislation in 2016. This innovative program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinates restoration and protection activities across the Delaware River Watershed through competitive grants and technical assistance.
Nonprofit organizations as well as state and local governments can apply for funding to plan and implement projects aimed at improving habitat and recreational access throughout the watershed. To date over $11 million in grants have been awarded.
The program aims to improve fish and wildlife habitat and water quality in the Delaware River Watershed, which covers portions of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The watershed provides drinking water to more than 13.3 million people.
Audubon is working to spread the word about this critical program to chapters and partners throughout the watershed. Audubon’s Brewers for the Delaware River has also raised the profile of this program.
In March, President Trump announced a budget that zeroed out funding for Delaware River Watershed restoration. Thanks to congressional champions such as Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), the DRBRP is back in the draft federal budget, but work remains.
Both chambers of Congress have proposed increased funding for the program to $6.5 million (Senate Interior Appropriations) and $10 million (House Interior Appropriations) in FY20 so that Audubon and partners can work toward the watershed’s restoration goals.
While it seems unlikely that Congress will resolve spending issues before a continuing resolution expires on November 21, Audubon continues working with its network to support $10 million for this critical program.