Delaware Watershed Gets $26M in Biden Infrastructure Fund | News

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will this week receive dozens of proposals aimed at improving the Delaware regional watershed from environmental groups, civic nonprofits, and even churches with water stewardship teams. ‘environment.

The Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund is a $9.7 million conservation program aimed at restoring and protecting the Delaware bay and shores. With the new Infrastructure Act funds, funding increases to $14 million in 2022.

“We are looking for focused, nature-based solutions and projects to develop green infrastructure,” said Michael Slattery, landscape conservation coordinator for the North Atlantic and Appalachian region of the US Fish & Wildlife Service. “In terms of natural coastal areas, we’re looking for projects that protect those communities that are often impacted by storm surges.”

Adding $4.9 million of money from the Biden administration’s bipartisan infrastructure program means a total of $26 million over the next five years for special upgrades. According to Fish & Wildlife, “these are nature-based infrastructure programs to improve wildlife habitat and support natural systems in the face of climate change.”

“The DWCF RFP is about building local capacity,” Slattery said. “We really try to focus on organizations and communities to support environmental justice.”

The new rules allow all organizations to apply for conservation funding in the Delaware basin and watershed. In the past, environmental groups had to contribute “matching funds,” usually at a dollar-for-dollar ratio to the Fish & Wildlife-backed DWCF. Now, “funding is available for nonprofits and communities in need.”

“It really breaks down the barrier to entry” for Delaware Watershed Funding. “The National Wildlife Federation is an organization that has brought faith groups into conservation in the Delaware watershed, including cleanup programs.”

The Sacred Grounds program in Wilmington involved the installation of pollinator gardens and the engagement of communities of faith in the planting and maintenance of natural butterfly or bee gardens.

“MP Lisa Blunt Rochester is on fire for her support in the area of ​​environmental justice,” Slattery said. “She’s been a tremendous supporter of making sure EJ is in the equation.”

Slattery also cited the American Littoral Society as a group that offers beach replenishment projects to active citizens.

“ALS is working to replenish beaches in horseshoe crab nesting areas,” Slattery said. “Their teams are straightening the coastal geomorphology where it has been disturbed.”

This year, the Service will make $14 million available — up from $9.5 million last year — to fund projects in four priority areas: reducing flooding and runoff, restoring fish and wildlife habitats , improve water quality and improve safe access to recreation for the public. .

The 50% increase in funding from 2021 is due to new funds made available through the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, which provides an additional $26 million over the next five years.

“The additional funding is critical if we are to accelerate support for innovative projects that use nature-based infrastructure to improve wildlife habitat, maintain ecological functions in the face of climate change, and directly engage communities,” said David Eisenhauer, public affairs specialist for American Fish and Wildlife.

Since 2018, the fund has awarded $26.6 million to 123 projects, which have generated $46 million in matching funds from these conservation groups, for a total conservation impact of $72.6 million for the Delaware region.

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