MEDIA ALERT: NLT receives $1.3 million from William Penn Foundation
NATURAL LANDS TRUST RECEIVES $1.3 MILLION
FROM WILLIAM PENN FOUNDATION
Foundation makes $35 million investment in Delaware River watershed to protect drinking water for 15 million people
Media, PA – Natural Lands Trust announced today it has received $1.3 million in funding from the Philadelphia-based William Penn Foundation. The grant is part of an innovative, science-driven, $35 million initiative launched in 2013 by the foundation to protect and restore water resources in the Delaware River watershed. The initiative and associated funding has galvanized an unprecedented collaboration of conservation organizations—including Natural Lands Trust—to protect land, restore streams, test innovative approaches in ecologically significant places, and monitor results over time.
“The William Penn Foundation’s forward-thinking approach to protecting the watershed once again demonstrates their remarkable commitment to this region’s well-being,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands Trust. “Protecting the Delaware River watershed is essential to the health of all of its residents and we are honored to be a part of this ground-breaking initiative.”
The Delaware River watershed covers more than 13,500-square miles spanning New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Although it comprises only four-tenths of one percent of the total continental U.S., about five percent of our nation’s population—more than 15 million people—rely on the Delaware River watershed for drinking water. Additionally, the watershed supports an array of water-related economic enterprises valued at $25 billion per year, as well as significant habitat. Poorly planned development, deforestation, chemical runoff from farms, and stormwater runoff in cities severely threaten the health of the watershed.
“Every day, millions of people depend upon the watershed as a source of drinking water, for agricultural uses, and for recreation,” said EPA Region 2 Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Preventing pollution from entering the Delaware River and its watershed is the single most effective strategy to ensure that the watershed is protected.”
The William Penn Foundation identified eight “clusters” of sub-watersheds where analysis showed that targeted efforts to protect or improve water quality in specific streams and rivers could deliver significant results. Restoration and preservation efforts in these sub-watersheds will contribute directly to the water quality in the Delaware Basin, and also will serve as incubators for cultivating a wide range of effective approaches for expanding investment across the watershed, and ultimately in other river basins across the country.
Because of its broad geographic reach and conservation expertise, Natural Lands Trust was selected by the William Penn Foundation to work in five of the identified sub-watersheds: Schuylkill Highlands, Upper Lehigh, Poconos and Kittatinny, Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer, and Brandywine-Christina.
Natural Lands Trust’s work in these five landscapes will call upon a wide array of conservation and land stewardship techniques. In addition to permanently protecting open space through purchase or conservation easement, the organization will work with local municipalities to make land use planning and regulation changes—such as the organization’s Growing Greener: Conservation by Design model—that encourage preservation. In some regions, Natural Lands Trust will focus on restoration of agricultural lands as a way to reduce harmful runoff into area streams, implementation of a municipal ordinance designed to protect stream corridors from development-related stormwater runoff, partnering with landowners to promote forestry best practices and to establish permanent riparian buffers, and development of a volunteer training program—modeled after the organization’s Force of Nature program—to recruit and train volunteer water monitors.
Laura Sparks, chief philanthropy officer for the William Penn Foundation, explained that monitoring data will enable it and other foundations to make more informed, evidence-based decisions going forward. Sparks continued, “We are eager to use the data collected to inform real-time adjustments, analyze the potential of these projects across the watershed, and magnify those results to catalyze widespread action grounded in high-quality science.”
Andrew Johnson, senior program officer for watershed protection with the William Penn Foundation, stated, “We look forward to making this work and data available to the public and hope to identify new evidence-based methods for avoiding or mitigating key stressors threatening water quality in major metropolitan areas, specifically urban storm water runoff, agricultural pollution, loss of forests in essential headwater areas, and aquifer depletion.”
Natural Lands Trust is the region’s foremost land conservation organization and is dedicated to protecting the forests, fields, streams, and wetlands that are essential to the sustainability of life in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Since its founding in 1953, Natural Lands Trust has preserved more than 100,000 acres, including 42 nature preserves totaling more than 22,000 acres. Today, millions of residents enjoy the healthy habitats, clean air and water, bountiful recreational opportunities, and scenic beauty provided by the lands the organization has preserved. For more information, visit www.natlands.org.