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Year-in-Review 2019: Protecting Watersheds & Drinking Water

By targeting critical lands within headwaters, OSI is protecting water sources that serve as the lifeblood of local communities and habitats. This year, in a trio of historic acquisitions, OSI helped protect the Everglades, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Delaware River – all by safeguarding natural lands.

OSI’s Eastern Land Initiative (ELI) scored big successes with support from the Wyss Foundation. In central Florida, protection of 4,000-acre Triple Diamond Ranch contributed to the conservation of more than 200,000 contiguous acres within the headwaters of the Everglades; while in the mountains of Virginia, OSI’s protection of 4,700-acre Grace Furnace preserved 14 freshwater springs that feed into the James River, and ultimately Chesapeake Bay.

Within the Delaware River Watershed, OSI with the support of the William Penn Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation capitalized on its multi-year effort to safeguard headwater forests by supporting the expansion of Pennsylvania’s Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge by 4,400 acres. OSI memorialized the effort by producing a movie, Saving Cherry Valley, showcasing the importance of land protection within the Delaware River Watershed, source of drinking water for Trenton, Wilmington and Philadelphia.

In New York City, residents enjoy the “champagne of drinking water” thanks to OSI land protection in the Catskills. Permanent protection of the Golden properties, located within the Ashokan Reservoir watershed, will help ensure long-term access to clean water for millions of New Yorkers for generations to come.

Still more projects illustrate OSI’s dedication to protecting clean water. Harnessing watershed science, OSI summarized and amplified research around land protection to guide utility companies and other decision-makers. On the ground, an effort to create trails along the Boonton Reservoir, while protecting the drinking water supply for Jersey City, New Jersey, was approved by local government; land along a major tributary of the Delaware River got a new life as a nature preserve; and, the Hudson River benefitted from OSI’s donation of Hannacroix Preserve to a local conservancy.

And further north, OSI continues to promote forest conservation in the state of Maine. With support from OSI, the Sebago Clean Waters partnership continues to grow; this coalition of public and private partners aims to protect the Sebago Watershed, a source of drinking water for the City of Portland and one in six Maine residents.

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Year-in-Review 2019: Improving Parks and Increasing Access

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