NEW YORK, NY (October 5, 2015) – Sussex County, in the federally designated Highlands Region of northwestern New Jersey, includes the Upper Paulins Kill, among the largest tributaries in the state that drain to the Delaware River and a priority area for watershed protection. Whatever happens in this part of Sussex County – a mixture of extensive intact forests, farmland, and suburban development – affects the drinking water of more than 5 million people.
To plan for the future of this region, The Land Conservancy of New Jersey (TLC-NJ) is utilizing the watershed science the Open Space Institute has developed to provide the conservation community with rigorous and practical analysis and planning tools, aided by a $25,000 grant from OSI’s Delaware River Watershed Land Protection Fund.
OSI’s support for TLC-NJ’s work is one of the ways we are contributing to the Delaware River Watershed Initiative. To make watershed science as accessible as possible, OSI recently published an illustrated, six-page primer distilling how literature, models, and data can inform which lands are most important for protecting water quality.
It is designed to guide the work of practitioners, as well as public and private funders, and also explains the criteria OSI uses to assess grant requests for land acquisition to our Fund. To date, we have approved grants totaling about $2 million to protect 7,200 acres of important watershed lands across the Basin.
Supported by the William Penn Foundation, the Initiative is an unprecedented collaboration among more than 50 nonprofits to protect and restore water quality by accelerating land protection and restoration in eight Delaware River sub-watershed “clusters” in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware—including the New Jersey Highlands Cluster, where TLC-NJ works.
OSI’s Delaware Watershed brochure explains the basics of our three-step system for evaluating land protection projects for their contribution to water resource conservation in these areas:
- Watershed context screen: Target healthy watersheds with the ability to produce clean and abundant water.
- Site resource screen: Protect sites that contribute to the production of high-quality surface water and/or recharge of ground water stores. Ideally, land protection projects will have 90% of the area in natural cover, such as forest, wetland, or open water.
- Site vulnerability screen: Assess the potential impacts to surface and ground water if a site were not protected, including sedimentation and ground water pollution.