The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced $8.12 million in grants this week toward Delaware River Watershed conservation that will include money for a new park in Bridesburg, for improved habitat for horseshoe crabs in Cape May County, and to make an old fishing pier along the Schuylkill suitable for public access.
That sum was matched by $22 million from environmental and conservation nonprofits.
The money will go toward 37 projects scattered throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware near tributaries of the watershed. The grants are designed to enhance recreation, water quality, and habitat conservation.
The grants are awarded through the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund, which is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). The federal money funds the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, legislation to protect the watershed, which is a source of drinking water for more than 13 million people.
“Investing in conservation now helps ensure a sustainable future for the Delaware River watershed, a region where communities, lives, and livelihoods depend upon a healthy environment,” said Mike Slattery, landscape partnership coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Slattery said the list of projects will improve 6,783 acres of forest habitat, treat polluted runoff using agricultural conservation practices on more than 4,596 acres, restore 141 acres of wetland habitat, and improve 3.5 miles of stream in critical headwaters.
Among the projects:
A $50,000 federal grant and $417,826 in matching funds to Schuylkill River Development Corp. to rehab an abandoned fishing pier along Bartram’s Mile in Philadelphia and make it suitable for recreation along the surrounding riverbank.
A $160,036 federal grant and $4.5 million in matching funds to Riverfront North Partnership (also known as Delaware River City Corp.) toward building a 10-acre riverfront park in Bridesburg, once the site of a concrete factory that had cut off neighborhood residents from the river.
A $57,182 federal grant and $57,261 in matching funds to the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance toward removal of the 280-foot-long Lenape Dam on the Brandywine Creek to restore a 3,300-foot section of the creek to its free-flowing condition, restoring fish populations and migration, and improving public access.
A $486,658 federal grant and $530,038 in matching funds to the American Littoral Society to restore, stabilize, and expand habitat for horseshoe crabs and red knot birds, which feed on the crabs during their migration. The project entails creating oyster reefs at the mouth of Dias Creek to preserve and expand horseshoe crab spawning.
A $94,823 federal grant and $145,179 in matching funds to the New Jersey Audubon Society to restore 70 acres of Atlantic white cedar habitat in the Maurice River and Rancocas Creek watersheds. Habitat for the trees is declining because of overdevelopment and sea rise, which pushes salt water farther inland, destroying trees.
A $99,957 federal grant and $5.4 million in matching funds to the Wildlands Conservancy toward purchase of 2,700 acres of Penrose Swamp in Carbon and Luzerne Counties. It would help permanently protect Penrose Creek, bird habitat, wetlands, forest and sections of Beaver and Hazle Creeks.
A $500,000 federal grant and $1.1 million in matching funds to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources toward restoration of wetland habitat at Thousand Acre Marsh along the Delaware Bayshore in New Castle County. The goal is to prevent further decline in habitat for fish and wildlife.