For Governor-elect John Carney, passage of the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act (DRBCA), and the hundreds of miles of land and water that the watershed supports, serves as “a perfect example of that we should be doing in public service.”
Carney, Nature Conservancy Director Richie Jones, and other federal and state officials marked the milestone yesterday at the DuPont Environmental Education Center as they celebrated the passage of this bi-partisan environmental initiative.
Carney, U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, former Congressman Mike Castle, and National Wildlife Federation President Collin O’Mara all offered remarks concerning the significance of the legislation and importance to Delaware and surrounding states. The final passage of the bill took place December 10th, 2016.
Several environmental organizations served as partners in passing this landmark legislation, which will establish a non-regulatory Delaware River Basin Restoration Program in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service along with a $5 million grant and technical assistance program. The program creates a coordinated approach for identifying, prioritizing, and implementing restoration and protection activities throughout the river basin.
This is a major accomplishment for local lawmakers and stakeholders, such as the Delaware Nature Society, the Delaware Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control , who have been working for decades to secure the federal support achieved by other major watersheds, such as the Chesapeake Bay.
“I am so proud of the coalition we built for the Delaware River Watershed,” said National Wildlife Federation President/Former DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara. O’Mara lives in Delaware and enjoys spending time outdoors – hiking, fishing or bird watching. O’Mara said the basin is a vital watershed that supports agriculture, tourism, hunting, fishing and wildlife industries.
Richie Jones said Delaware will realize tremendous benefits because of the new legislation. “When we look back years from now, we’ll see passage of the DRBCA as a major tipping point in our collective journey to protect and restore our region’s most important natural resources. I’m proud of my trustees and colleagues at The Nature Conservancy, all of our conservation partners and our tremendous Congressional Delegation for pulling together to create such a momentous legacy for people and nature.”
To DNREC Secretary David Small, there are so many treasures on the Delaware River Basin, which serves as a critical habitat to people, fish, plant and wildlife species. “As we think about water quality and our mission, I really appreciate the unique and equally diverse and rich resources that our watershed offers our community,” he said. The Delaware River Watershed spans 330 miles and four states, provides more than 15 million people, including the City of Wilmington and much of New Castle County, with clean drinking water.