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Delaware River Basin receives $13 million under new USDA program

NEW YORK, NY – January 15, 2015 – Conservation organizations working to restore the Delaware River received a $13 million grant from a new, innovative US Department of Agriculture program to help fund ongoing restoration efforts.  

The USDA called these efforts, spearheaded by the William Penn Foundation starting in 2012, a “rigorous watershed-wide assessment and prioritization process,” according to the announcement of the grants. USDA has tapped American Farmland Trust (AFT) as the lead agency for the USDA funds. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Open Space Institute, drawing from the $10 million fund OSI manages for the William Penn Foundation as part of its Delaware River Watershed Initiative, will fund alongside USDA, matching the agency’s funding for eligible restoration and protection projects.

“OSI is delighted to be a part of this exciting USDA program, a significant effort towards restoration of the Delaware River,” said Peter Howell, OSI’s Executive Vice President, Conservation Capital, who runs the Delaware River Watershed Initiative. “We are honored and privileged to work with the William Penn Foundation and other conservation leaders to restore this watershed, which is so vital to so many.”

“This grant will help farmers be the solution for clean water, not the problem, in the Delaware River Basin,” said Andrew McElwaine, President of American Farmland Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting farmland. 

The new USDA program, called the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), is an innovative federal program which supports stakeholder-driven, local efforts that leverage private sector investment in conservation. While in the past much of the USDA’s conservation focus has been on individual farms, the new RCPP enables multiple farms and landowners within a defined region to rally around landscape-level programs and achieve greater impact.

Through a highly competitive process, NRCS awarded more than 100 grants to conservation projects across the country. Other partners in the Delaware River Basin Conservation Initiative include the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Academy of Natural Sciences, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon, Natural Lands Trust, The Pinchot Institute and many more.

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