FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Meagan Schaefer, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed
House Passes the Delaware River Basin Conservation Reauthorization Act
Trenton, NJ (July 21, 2022) – Late last week in a 220-206 vote, the House passed the Delaware River Basin Conservation Reauthorization Act (DRBCA), included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Coalition applauds the made in order amendment that was offered by Rep Evans (PA), Rep Fitzpatrick (PA) and Rep Blunt Rochester (DE) to the NDAA.
Reauthorization of DRBCA would enhance the current legislation through 2030 by changing the 1:1 match requirement to a 90% federal investment with 10% match for small, rural, or disadvantaged communities that are submitting restoration projects for consideration, an important step to creating better access to critical conservation and restoration funding.
Signed into law by former President Barack Obama in 2016, the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act (DRBCA) created the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP). Administered by the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), DRBRP develops a coordinated approach to identify, prioritize, and implement restoration, protection, and public outdoor recreation access and activities across the Basin. The DRBRP provides a competitive grant and technical assistance program known as the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund (DWCF) to support on-the-ground restoration and conservation projects, which is facilitated by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).
Since 2018, DWCF has awarded $26.6 million to 123 projects, which generated $46 million in match, for a total conservation impact of $72.6 million. Reauthorization of this critical and well-established federal program would continue to affirm the nationally and historically significant Delaware River Watershed as a resource worth protecting.
“The Coalition applauds Basin lawmakers for supporting the Delaware River Basin Conservation Reauthorization Act. This already highly successful program will be made more effective by reducing the match component, paving the way for more shovel-ready conservation projects in our watershed, particularly in small, rural or disadvantaged communities,” said Kelly Knutson, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed director. “This critical piece of funding will enhance our ability to protect and preserve the Delaware River Watershed for future generations.”
“Thank you to Delaware Rep. Blunt Rochester and every House member who voted to support the Delaware River Basin Conservation Reauthorization Act. The Delaware River Watershed provides drinking water to 13.3 million people and pumps $25 billion dollars in the regional economy annually,” said Lori Brennan, Nature Conservancy, Delaware/Pennsylvania chapter executive director. “The investments enabled by this Act are vital to protecting and restoring the watershed’s wetlands, habitats and waterways.”
“We’re grateful to House lawmakers for reauthorizing the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program and advancing conservation in this must-pass legislation,” said Alexandra Kozak, Pennsylvania field manager with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The Delaware and its tributaries are iconic for trout anglers in the Northeast, but these resources wouldn’t be what they are without on-the-ground conservation projects made possible by the program. We urge the Senate to match these provisions to maintain the Delaware River Basin Conservation Reauthorization Act in the final NDAA, which would be widely celebrated by the hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation community.”
The Delaware River Basin Conservation Reauthorization Act and funding source will bolster the substantial work already taking place in the watershed to combat critical issues like habitat degradation, invasive species, and climate change.
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 175 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.