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The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed (CDRW) celebrated its sixth annual Delaware River Watershed Forum in Cape May, NJ on September 25 and 26. As attendees walked through the doors of the conference center at the Grand Hotel, there was an aura of victory amongst them. In the last year, this same group of people have celebrated wins and advanced new priority goals while swimming through a very challenging political climate.
In March 2018, for the first time in history, the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP) received $5 million in funding as part of the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus spending bill approved by Congress and signed by the President. Because of this, dedicated funds will now go to on-the-ground projects designed to conserve and restore wildlife and fish habitats, improve water quality, and increase public access to the Delaware River and its tributaries.
The forum hosted a plethora of opportunities for attendees to network, learn about new programs, and educate their colleagues about work presently going on in the basin. They heard welcome remarks from CDRW’s new director, Sandra Meola, along with words from Eric Stiles, President and CEO of New Jersey Audubon, who promoted the goal of every stream in the Delaware Basin becoming “fishable and swimmable” for generations to come. For the next two days, there were so many different discussions and presentations to choose from to attend. Members had their choice of the Wild and Scenic Rivers program to Agricultural Best Management Practices to advocacy efforts to municipal engagement techniques. Any topic there may have been an interest in could have been found at this forum.
PennFuture’s President and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo welcomed everyone to the banquet dinner and reinforced the importance of partnering on projects to be successful. It was exhilarating to see everyone take out their cell phones and sign Our Pocono Waters Campaign petition, stating why exceptional value streams are important to them before they sat down to share a meal with colleagues and friends. After dinner, the networking continued over ice cold local craft brews in 4theDelaware Campaign pint glasses and live music. Some of the networking even shifted to the beach as attendees gazed at the harvest moon.
To wrap up the forum, the group had the privilege of listening to the stories and checking out some amazing river pictures by Tim Palmer, an author and photographer focusing on rivers, conservation, and the environment. As everyone said their good-bye-for-now’s at the end of the last session, the positive thinking and eagerness to get back to their computer desks, sampling equipment, and conference calls to further the mission and priorities of CDRW could not be overlooked.
The coalition’s seventh year will hold new obstacles, successes, and opportunities for all members of the coalition, but with teamwork and common goals, this group will see success once again when they meet for the 7th Annual Delaware River Watershed Forum.
As the Pennsylvania state lead for the CDRW, PennFuture is dedicated to mobilizing the priorities of the coalition through watershed outreach, policy monitoring, and basin wide partnerships.
“The mission of the Coalition is to unite organizations and enhance their capacity to effectively advocate for protecting and restoring the Delaware River Basin by coordinating communications, messages, and actions and fostering accountability for success at the federal, state, and local levels.” – CDRW mission statement. Visit www.DelRiverWatershed.org for more information.