Led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Science Applications program, the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program builds on momentum for collaborative conservation in the four-state watershed by working with partners to identify, plan, and implement projects in four priority areas: reducing flooding and runoff, restoring fish and wildlife habitats, improving water quality, and enhancing safe recreational access for the public.
In 2018, the Service launched the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund in collaboration with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to support this work on the ground through competitive matching grants. To guide this effort, the watershed states, and other agencies and partner organizations worked collectively to establish the Delaware River Watershed Conservation Collaborative. The Collaborative focuses on organizing, aligning and connecting on-the-ground work to advance strategic conservation outcomes for the benefit of the entire watershed.
Provided that federal funds continue to be appropriated to support the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund, the Collaborative will inform priorities and guide the operation of the grant program to achieve goals and objectives of the Act and fulfill a shared watershed-wide conservation strategy.
Our mission is to inspire, coordinate and actively support watershed-wide collaborative and strategic actions by partners and stakeholders throughout the Delaware River watershed, to achieve agreed upon conservation, restoration and public outdoor-recreation access outcomes.
Flowing from the Catskill Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, the Delaware River is the heart of the four-state region comprising parts of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Cities, towns, farms, forests, mountains, marshes, beaches, and more, are all connected by the longest undammed river east of the Mississippi and its 2,000 tributaries.
The Delaware River watershed is a national treasure of cultural, environmental, and economic importance. It is home to more than eight million people who depend on the watershed as an economic engine, a place of recreation, and a source of clean water. The watershed provides drinking water to more than 13 million people, including residents of New York City and Philadelphia.
The watershed also provides habitat for more than 200 resident and migratory fish species, hosts significant recreational and commercial fisheries, including for eastern oyster and blue crab, and boasts the world’s largest spawning population of the American horseshoe crab, a species with enormous ecological, biomedical, and economic value. Linked to the seasonal spawning of horseshoe crabs is the second largest concentration of shorebirds in North America, contributing to the designation of the Delaware Bay as one of the four most important shorebird-migration sites in the world.
The Delaware River watershed is defined by the diversity of its landscape and communities. It encompasses some of the most densely populated areas in the nation, yet remains 50 percent forested. Conserving and restoring its waters and other natural resource values for future generations of people and wildlife requires a shared commitment to work together more closely today than ever before.
The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program was established by Congress in 2016 in response to the need for federal, state, and local governments, and regional organizations, to come together to identify, prioritize, and implement restoration activities within the basin.