USDA has tapped the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Open
Space Institute to regrant the capital to innovative restoration
and land protection projects, with American Farmland Trust as the lead
agency for the USDA funds.
NEW YORK, NY – January 15, 2015 – Conservation organizations working to restore
the Delaware River received a $13 million grant from a new, innovative US
Department of Agriculture program to help fund ongoing restoration efforts.
The USDA called these efforts, spearheaded by
the William Penn Foundation starting in 2012, a “rigorous watershed-wide
assessment and prioritization process,” according to the announcement of the grants. USDA has tapped American Farmland
Trust (AFT) as the lead agency for the USDA funds. The National Fish and
Wildlife Foundation and the Open Space Institute, drawing from the $10
million fund OSI manages for the William Penn Foundation as part of its Delaware
River Watershed Initiative,
will fund alongside USDA,
matching the agency’s funding for eligible restoration and protection projects.
“OSI is delighted to be a part of this
exciting USDA program, a significant effort towards restoration of the Delaware
River,” said Peter Howell, OSI’s Executive Vice President, Conservation
Capital, who runs the Delaware River Watershed Initiative. “We are honored and
privileged to work with the William Penn Foundation and other conservation
leaders to restore this watershed, which is so vital to so many.”
“This grant will help
farmers be the solution for clean water,
not the problem, in the Delaware River Basin,” said Andrew McElwaine, President
of American Farmland Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting farmland.
The new USDA program, called the Regional
Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), is an innovative federal program which
supports stakeholder-driven, local efforts that leverage private sector
investment in conservation. While in the past much of the USDA’s
conservation focus has been on individual farms, the new RCPP enables multiple
farms and landowners within a defined region to rally around landscape-level
programs and achieve greater impact.
Through a highly competitive process, NRCS
awarded more than 100 grants to conservation projects across the country. Other
partners in the Delaware River Basin Conservation Initiative include the
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Academy of Natural Sciences, The
Nature Conservancy, Audubon, Natural Lands Trust, The Pinchot Institute and