The organizations involved in the Delaware River Watershed Initiative are hard at work building relationships with farmers, families and governments to protect clean water for all. Here are just a few of the fall headlines (and as always, if you have some to add please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Preserving land, protecting water
Organizations in the New Jersey Highlands purchased 2,200 acres of woodland at the headwaters of the Musconetcong River, a tributary of the Delaware River in northwestern New Jersey. As NJ Spotlight reports, this is the state’s largest land preservation deal in almost decade. The partnership saved 16 mountaintops, 17 miles of stream banks, and nine ponds, all of which will play a role in protecting water quality and endangered species.
In the southern part of the state, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation worked with the Haines family to preserve over 400 acres of a former cranberry farm that had been in their family since the Civil War. The Burlington County Times reports that the farm long ago reverted to wetland and will now protect water and wildlife for generations to come.
Saving water, restoring community
In Northeast Philadelphia, Natural Lands worked with the historic Friends Hospital to preserve almost 50 acres of green space along the Tacony Creek. As WHYY reports, the grounds are now open to the public as part of the Circuit Trail system, staying true the hospital’s Quaker idea of “nature as medicine” while protecting the creek from pollution and trash.
In Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood, the Fairmount Park Reservoir had been inaccessible to the public for 25 years. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, Audubon Pennsylvania has turned the feature into an outdoor community hub with the unveiling of its Discovery Center, nature trail and outdoor activities course. Through their partnership with Outward Bound, Audubon is doing more than protecting native plants and bird species; they are working together with the School District of Philadelphia and generations of Strawberry Mansion families to rekindle their relationship with the Delaware River watershed.
Local governments work together on water quality
In suburban Philadelphia, the biggest threat to clean water is stormwater runoff–rain water that collects pollution from homes and businesses on its way to local creeks. In 2015, the Department of Environmental Protection set strict guidelines for local municipalities to manage the problem, which led to the formation of a partnership between governments, wastewater treatment plants and nonprofits from the Delaware River Watershed Initiative. According to Montgomery News, Gail Farmer of Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association has convinced officials to continue their work together through 2019.
In the Lehigh Valley, Kathy Altmann of Bushkill Stream Conservancy is making the case that townships should take polluted stormwater more seriously. In a recent Morning Call article, she points to the work of local scientist Pat Bradt who says that declining insect populations in Bushkill Creek are a bad sign for the health of the Valley’s drinking water.
Finding common ground with farmers
New Jersey Audubon joined forces with Rutgers University to study how farmers see their role in conservation. In addition, Audubon announced that they have helped New Jersey farmers plant almost 3,000 acres of cover crops over the last four years. Crops like rye and buckwheat help farmers keep their soil healthy and strong, while also protecting creeks and groundwater from soil runoff and pollutants.
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