Bernardsville, NJ (PRWEB) December 19, 2016
President Obama signed the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act (DRBCA) on Friday into law as part of a larger legislative package known as the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, which was passed by an overwhelming majority in Congress earlier this month.
New Jersey Audubon has been at the forefront of advocating for the DRBCA through its leadership role in the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed and celebrates the enactment of this historic legislation for the region.
“The DRBCA will bring critical support to important, on-the-ground conservation projects in the Delaware River Basin, which encompasses nearly 40 percent of our state,” said Eric Stiles, President and CEO of New Jersey Audubon.
“In New Jersey, the Delaware River and tributaries are home to a diverse set of resources and to many incredible fish and wildlife species,” he added. “The ability to leverage private, state, and now federal funding to protect and restore these critical habitats will have a major impact on water quality and special protection species in our state including the red knot and Atlantic sturgeon.”
The DRBCA authorizes the non-regulatory Delaware River Basin Restoration Program in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that will create a coordinated approach for identifying, prioritizing, and implementing restoration and protection projects throughout the watershed.
Additionally, through grants and technical assistance, the program will support locally-driven conservation projects, bolstering the substantial work already taking place in the watershed to combat important issues including habitat degradation, invasive species, and climate change.
Millions of dollars in federal funding are anticipated to support this initiative.
As the most densely populated state and first state projected to reach build-out in the country, New Jersey must continue to lead in its efforts to reduce the effects of development on water quality and quantity, wildlife and fish habitat, and flooding related to stormwater, Stiles said.
The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program will bring much needed funding into the state for important preservation and restoration projects that are critical to protecting our water resources, especially in locations such as the Highlands and the Pinelands, he added.
New Jersey Audubon is a lead partner in the William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Initiative in the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer Cluster in the Pinelands region and the New Jersey Highlands Cluster, where participating organizations focus on protecting priority farmland, reducing seepage into the aquifer, and engaging landowners in agricultural, forest, and stream-related best management practices.
“It is vital that Congress funds the program so that money can flow to important projects, which can leverage substantial investments already made in our region by the William Penn Foundation through the Delaware River Watershed Initiative and its other watershed protection priorities,” said Kelly Mooij, VP of Government Relations for New Jersey Audubon.
In the New Year, New Jersey Audubon and the Coalition will advocate for federal funds to be appropriated for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program so that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can begin its implementation as quickly as possible. The Coalition will also work to ensure the voice of the non-profit community is included in the development of a basin-wide strategy as part of the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program.
About New Jersey Audubon:
New Jersey Audubon is a privately supported, not-for profit, statewide membership organization. Founded in 1897, and one of the oldest independent Audubon’s, New Jersey Audubon is working to make New Jersey a better place for people and wildlife. New Jersey Audubon fosters environmental awareness and a conservation ethic among New Jersey's citizens; protects New Jersey's birds, mammals, other animals, and plants, especially endangered and threatened species; and promotes preservation of New Jersey's valuable natural habitats. For more information, visit http://www.njaudubon.org