TRENTON, NJ – The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed applauds the Water, Power & Oceans Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee for holding a hearing today on H.R. 1772, the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act. “We are thrilled that the Water, Power & Oceans Subcommittee has followed through on our request to hold a hearing on the DRBCA,” commented Kelly Mooij, Esq., Vice President of Government Relations at New Jersey Audubon. “This hearing is a critical first step to enable the DRBCA to advance through Congress, and is long overdue for a bill that enjoys such widespread bi-partisan support.”
The DRBCA uses a non-regulatory approach that would be overseen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service working in concert with other partners to identify, prioritize, and implement restoration and protection activities. “The framework for coordination and collaboration established by the DRBCA will facilitate more effective and efficient protection and restoration efforts to create the greatest benefits for the fish, wildlife and people that rely on the Watershed,” said Ginger North, Director of Conservation at Delaware Nature Society. “Working together to advance shared priorities makes sense practically and economically.”
The DRBCA also provides for a competitive grant and technical assistance programs to further on-the-ground projects such as habitat restoration and protection, water quality improvements, flood mitigation, strategic planning to maximize resiliency, public access improvements, and outreach and education programs. The Act requires a minimum 50 percent non-federal match, providing a vehicle for leveraging of additional dollars and ensuring that any federal investment is at least doubled. “For years, we’ve watched as the federal government has made substantial investments to restore water resources in other parts of the country,” noted Jeff Skelding, Executive Director of the Friends of the Upper Delaware River. “It’s time to give similar attention to a Watershed that provides drinking water to 16 million people, provides outstanding recreational opportunities, and is home to iconic species from brook trout in the clear headwaters to horseshoe crabs in the Bay.”
The Delaware River Basin generates approximately $25 billion annually in economic activity as well as $21 billion in ecosystem goods and services. Today’s hearing confirms that the Delaware River Watershed is a resource with national significance. “The Delaware River Basin is now one step closer to receiving critical conservation investments comparable with its core role in the region’s environment and economy,” stated Matthew Stepp, Director of Policy from PennFuture. “Holding this hearing shows that after years of inaction, Congress is getting serious about the Delaware.”
About the Coalition: The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed is an organization for nongovernmental groups working throughout the Watershed to protect and restore the River, its tributaries, and surrounding lands. Coalition members include watershed associations, land conservancies, recreation and outdoor interests, nature centers, and advocacy groups. The Coalition provides a forum for members to share information and network with each other, as well as the opportunity to coordinate efforts and advocacy around shared interests such as the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act.
About Delaware Nature Society: Founded in 1964, Delaware Nature Society works to improve the environment through conservation, advocacy, and education.
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