Wood Frog by Derek Stoner

Investments in Our Future


Senator Carper and Governor Carney Join Conservation Organizations to
Highlight Christina River Project Supported by Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund

U.S. Senator Tom Carper and Delaware Governor John Carney joined conservation partners in Wilmington today to celebrate the Christiana and Brandywine River restoration and resiliency project funded by the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund. Another important step in the on-going work to improve Wilmington’s riverfront area with clean healthy rivers and attractive places for people and wildlife.

“I am pleased to be here today with so many good partners to support the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund’s investments in the protection and preservation of this ecological treasure,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper, Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “Projects like this are critical for our efforts to tackle climate change and help ensure that all Delawareans can enjoy these precious resources for generations to come.”

For the future of federal infrastructure investments, the U.S. Senate recently approved the bipartisan infrastructure package. The bill includes $26 million of supplemental funding for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP) administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over five years. The funding support on-the-ground restoration projects and new and existing jobs across the 4-state watershed through the DRBRP. Projects will enhance fish and wildlife habitat, improve water quality to support wildlife and drinking water for people, enhance water management for flood damage mitigation, and improve recreational opportunities for public access. Amidst the growing threats of sea level rise, a creeping salt line, frequent flooding, habitat loss, and polluted stormwater runoff, this investment is desperately needed.

“Millions of people in our region depend on the Delaware River Basin for clean drinking water, and the river remains vitally important for outdoor recreation and economic development for communities in Delaware and beyond,” said Governor John Carney. “All Delawareans deserve clean water. That’s why we’ve made it a priority to upgrade our infrastructure to make sure all Delaware families have access to clean drinking water. We will continue to work with local and federal partners and states in our region that rely on the Delaware River Watershed to properly manage this valuable resource.”

“DNREC has been working for years through the Christina-Brandywine River Remediation, Restoration, Resilience project – or CBR4 – toward a time when the Christina River and Brandywine Creek are once again drinkable, swimmable and fishable,” said Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “We believe it is an achievable goal and are building on decades of work to create a holistic, inspiring vision and plan to direct remediation, restoration and resilience actions for the next 10 to 20 years.”

“The Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund has been invaluable to Delaware, and the watershed as a whole by investing in projects that improve drinking water quality, provide public access to outdoor recreation, and restore and conserve natural habitats, ” said Jen Adkins, Director of Clean Water Supply at American Rivers and a member of the Christina Conservancy Board of Directors. “To date, the Fund has supported 21 projects benefiting the First State, totaling $4.3 million with natural and economic benefits. We’re excited for our project on the lower Christina and Brandywine Rivers here in Wilmington to be among them.”

American Rivers collaborated with the Christina Conservancy to receive a Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund award to work closely with DNREC and other local partners on a Christina and Brandywine Rivers Remediation, Restoration and Resilience plan. This plan will create a blueprint with specific restoration projects for completing the transformation of the lower Christina and Brandywine Rivers in Wilmington into healthy river ecosystems. Additional partners on the project include Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Sarver Ecological, BrightFields, Inc, and Anchor QEA, who are providing scientific and technical expertise, as well as the Delaware Nature Society who is working with local groups like the South Wilmington Planning Network and Collaborate Northeast to seek input from local residents.

“We’re thankful to our Congressional champions, including Senator Tom Carper and thrilled to see that our advocacy for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program continues to translate to on-the-ground dollars for restoration and conservation throughout the Delaware River Basin,” said Sandra Meola, Director, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed.

“The attention and focus on investment in the Delaware River Watershed offer an encouraging outlook for the future of birds and communities in the region. Projects funded through the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program, like the Christina River project, are prime examples that increased investment in conservation in the watershed benefits us all and makes us more resilient to the rising tide of climate change,” said Tykee James, Government Affairs Coordinator at the National Audubon Society. “My career in the environmental space jump started through opportunities with local conservation projects in nature and the Environmental Leadership Program that led me to a role as environmental policy advisor to a legislator in Philadelphia. And now at Audubon, I’m working directly with members of Congress and staff to build out the Delaware River Watershed Caucus to find solutions at all levels to protect my hometown watershed.”

Green jobs and workforce development are a focus of Delaware Nature Society whose Trail Ambassadors offered Senator Carper and Governor Carney a tour of the Boardwalk Marsh. Programs such as the Trail Ambassadors not only connect youth closer to the environment but serve as a steppingstone to the proposed Civilian Climate Corps.

“President Biden’s Civilian Climate Corps will put thousands of young people from all backgrounds to work making our communities more resilient, protecting our clean water, addressing environmental injustices, and restoring wildlife habitat — through essential projects like those supported through the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “A 21st century version of the Civilian Conservation Corps will accomplish these critical conservation goals, while equitably empowering the next generation of conservation leaders to strengthen communities across America by restoring treasured natural resources.”

Added Joanne McGeoch, Delaware Nature Society Interim Executive Director, “We are grateful to the many partners involved in raising awareness and protection of the Delaware River Watershed.  This vital resource provides clean water for millions of people in the region, supports green jobs and our local economy.  Delaware Nature Society believes that investments in our youth are equally vital to ensuring our future.  To that end, we’ve launched the Trail Ambassador program, engaging local youth from Wilmington in training the next generation of conservation leaders.  Along with our partners at National Wildlife Federation, we support the Biden administration’s proposal for the Civilian Conservation Corps and look forward to working together to ensure that conservation jobs are part of the recovery efforts needed to protect our environment, tackle climate change, and boost our economy.”

The Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund was launched in 2018 to conserve and restore natural areas, corridors and waterways on public and private lands that support native fish, wildlife and plants, and to contribute to the vitality of the communities in the Delaware River Watershed. The fund is facilitated by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and funding is provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program.

In total, 90 projects have been funded in the last three years that 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 instream habitat in critical headwaters in the Delaware River Basin. View the full 2020 grant slate online at http://bit.ly/dwcf2020.

Additional quotes from project partners and supporters can be found below.  

“Now is the time to make critical investments to protect and improve our environment,” said New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer. “Thanks to Senator Carper’s environmental leadership and advocating for green jobs that focus on restoring our waterways and environment we can ensure the Delaware River remains this region’s lifeblood.”

“Thank you to Senator Carper for being a champion of the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program. The projects funded through the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund are supporting the enhancement and protection of critical species and habitats and helping us to gain a better understanding of how climate change is impacting the Delaware River and Bay,” said Kathy Klein, Executive Director of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE). “As host of the Delaware Estuary Program, we have been fortunate to have had our headquarters located on the banks of the lower Christina River for more than 17 years. Seeing the area’s transformation during this time has been exciting. Being a CBR4 partner provides a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with a fantastic group of organizations. Through robust research and planning, we will work together to ensure a healthy and resilient future for these important tributaries and their surrounding communities.”

“Collaborative efforts like the Christina River Project exemplify a shared vision for conserving the Delaware River Watershed that is driven by the needs of the fish, wildlife, and people who make their homes here,” said Wendi Weber, North Atlantic-Appalachian Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Through the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund, we are proud to join with Coalition, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and many other partners to support and invest in projects that will have a significant impact on the environment, economy, and quality of life for all citizens in the watershed.”

“I’ve been working on the Christina Riverfront land remediation and redevelopment for 24 years,” said Marian Young, President for BrightFields, Inc. “Now It’s time to clean up the river sediments and improve the ecology. Our CBR4 Team (Christina & Brandywine Rivers Remediation, Restoration & Resilience) has raised $1.2 M to date toward a $40-60 M estimated target.  We are working on technical and outreach planning tasks with a goal of fishable, swimmable, drinkable rivers in the shortest time frame possible.”

About Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed:

The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed protects and restores the land and waters in the Delaware River Basin. We amplify the collective power of 160+ member organizations and other stakeholders as we advocate for a healthy and protected watershed with an inclusive, unified voice. The Coalition convenes member and non-member organizations, builds capacity, coordinates communications, and advances policy at the federal and state levels. Click here to learn more. 

About DelNature

DelNature’s mission is to connect people with the natural world to improve our environment through education, conservation, and advocacy. We envision a healthy and sustainable environment for all.

Founded in 1964, DelNature, a state affiliate for the National Wildlife Federation, is renowned for educational programming, conservation, and advocacy, providing the tools for communities to take action and promote the health of the environment through land preservation, wildlife protection, and watershed stewardship.            

DelNature manages over 2,000 acres of land statewide, including four nature preserves, and operates four educational sites: : Ashland Nature CenterAbbott’s Mill Nature CenterDuPont Environmental Education Center, and Coverdale Farm Preserve.

Organizational priorities are comprised of three pillars of engagement focused on: working and natural lands, healthy waters, and protecting habitats and wildlife.

Currently, thousands of members and over 1,000 volunteers assist core staff and interns to support DelNature’s mission and help our year-round educational programs, conservation, and advocacy efforts continue to improve and grow.

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Mark Nardone, Director of Advocacy
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