NYS funding gathered by the Delaware River Dc
In August, supporters of NYS funding gathered by the Delaware River. From left: Francis O'Shea, Trust for Public Land; Kelly Knutson, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed; Sherri Resti-Thomas, Friends of the Upper Delaware River; Molly Oliver FUDR; Richelle Dufton, FUDR; Vincent Sapienza, New York City Department of Environmental Protection; Aileen Gunther, N.Y. Assemblywoman; Lisa D'Arrigo, New York League of Conservation Voters; Mike Martucci, N.Y. State Senator; William Cooke, The Nature Conservancy (NY); Julie Tighe, NYLCV; Jeff Skelding, FUDR. PHOTO BY MEG MCGUIRE

Upper Delaware gets $300K funding from New York State

| April 11, 2022

The Upper Delaware River got a $300,000 shot in the arm late last week from New York Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.

The money is a line item in the New York State Environmental Protection Fund, and it gives the money “for the Friends of the Upper Delaware River to implement the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program, including up to $100,000 for operational expenses.”

“It’s not just a grant,” said FUDR Executive Director Jeff Skelding, “it’s the foundation of a program.”

“The funding sets the stage for the creation of a comprehensive watershed management program and a source of sustainable future funding to ensure the long-term protection and restoration of the watershed,” Skelding explained.

Fans of the upper river have been putting the federal funds available via the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program to good use, but have often been hampered by the demand that all money from the grant has to be matched with local funding.

For upper river towns — and counties — with small budgets but a real need for improved infrastructure, that’s a stipulation that can be hard to meet. But it’s exactly those municipalities that can make a difference in the care of the upper river and the two branches below two New York City reservoirs — the Cannonsville and the Pepacton.

It’s the first time a state has put out money to be used as the “other half” to match the federal money available through the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program, which itself is making a significant difference in the watershed since it started in 2018. The program is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Service and you can find out more about it here.

One of FUDR’s partners in the work to get the funding is the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, which has been instrumental in getting federal dollars for the watershed  — especially through the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program.

Kelly Knutson, executive director of the CDRW, applauded the governor and both chambers for the $300K.

“It will support on-the-ground restoration efforts in the Upper Delaware. In a historic first, New York is leading on state-allocated match that’ll complement large-scale federal restoration projects. 

“Alongside environmental partners, the Coalition will call for similar investments from other basin states across the region.” 

Money like this comes through via a robust collaboration among many, Skelding noted, especially N.Y. State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and N.Y. State Sen. Mike Martucci — a notable bipartisan effort.

“We couldn’t have done it without these two river champions representing our interests in Albany,” said Skelding.

Also part of the team: the New York League of Conservation Voters, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, Audubon New York, the Delaware River Tailwaters Coalition and the Alliance for the Upper Delaware River Watershed.

As Skelding mused on the win, he noted that the Friends of the Upper Delaware are really living up to their name and not just focused on trout fishing — though what’s good for the waterways is also good for trout.

Meg McGuire

Meg McGuire

Meg McGuire has been a journalist for 30 years in New York and Connecticut. She started in weekly newspapers and moved to full-time work in dailies 25 years ago. She knows about the tectonic changes in journalism firsthand, having been part of what was euphemistically called a "reduction in force" six years ago. Now she's working to find new ways to "do" the news as an independent online publisher of news about the Delaware River, its watershed and its people.

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