TU awarded $750K for projects in Upper Delaware

Trout Unlimited has received three federal grant awards totaling nearly $750,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for stream protection and restoration projects in the upper Delaware River watershed.  

These grant awards support the conservation goals of the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with NFWF. Thanks to the leadership of a bipartisan delegation of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York senators and representatives, Congress created this dedicated funding for the Delaware River in 2016, and has since provided $11 million for the matching grant program.  

Projects funded will help reconnect fragmented stream sections by replacing perched culverts (top photo) and other barriers with fish-friendly road-stream crossing infrastructure, like this bridge on Horse Brook, a Beaverkill tributary.

The awards provide funding for on-the-ground stream projects that preserve water quality, restore aquatic habitat and protect the wild trout fishery, enhance river based recreational opportunities, and mitigate the damaging impacts of flooding.  

TU has received nearly $1.5 million in funding from the NFWF program to date—$1 million of that in conjunction with Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR), a close partner on much of the work we do to conserve and restore the systems wild trout fisheries.

“These projects will have an impact that goes beyond stream restoration and trout habitat improvement,” said Tracy Brown, restoration manager for Trout Unlimited’s Northeast Coldwater Habitat Program. “Protecting and restoring streams in the Upper Delaware River watershed has a profound impact on the community, including improving critical municipal infrastructure and providing a boost to a recreational fishery worth millions of dollars in economic impact to the region.” 

TU received funding for three projects to: 

• Remove and replace two antiquated culverts (top photo) in the Delhi, New York. This project will allow trout access to three miles of high-quality habitat, and  stabilize a streambank that is causing excessive sedimentation. Amount: $249,758 

• Replace a failing town culvert in the Colchester and stabilize ecologically significant streambanks along a local road in the Deposit. This project will support the goals of the Upper Delaware River Stream Corridor Management Plan in New York to restore habitat for high-quality trout streams. Award: $239,509 

 • Implement the Upper Delaware River Stream Corridor Management Plan (Phase II). This project includes targeted instream and riparian restoration on Monguap and Oquaga creeks in New York, which will increase habitat quality and diversity for thermal refuge, spawning, feeding and cover for native and wild trout. Through this funding, TU will also advance a fiber optics thermal technology study in the Upper Delaware River and develop a management plan to address priority sites, including a survey of 541 stream crossings, to inform final designs that will address strategic needs. Amount: $249,072. 

A TU crew surveys a road-stream crossing. Funding from the newly announced grants will allow a detailed survey of 541 sites in the upper Delaware River watershed.

In addition, TU and FUDR will partner on four stream restoration and enhancement projects, installing habitat improvement structures, provide stream bank stabilization and floodplain reconnection, and improve stream side fishing access with the construction of a publicly accessible boat launch. The projects, funded by a $250,000 grant met with a $250,000 match, will improve water quality, improve trout spawning habitat, enhance flood mitigation, and create new public access points and recreational opportunities for fishing and boating. 

“The FUDR and TU partnership in the Upper Delaware River watershed is helping spark a much needed economic and environmental revitalization that generates multiple benefits for our communities,” said Jeff Skelding,  FUDR Executive Director and TU Lifetime Member. “For years, the two organizations have worked hand in hand to develop broad watershed stakeholder support and a local blueprint for stream restoration and it’s beginning to pay off.”

In all, NFWF this week announced 41 grant awards totaling more than $6.9 million for water quality restoration and habitat conservation throughout the Delaware River watershed. Grantee organizations have committed more than $8.9 million in match, amounting to a conservation impact of nearly $15.9 million.  

The grants were awarded through two programs administered by NFWF, the Delaware River Restoration Fund and the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund.  

The projects funded by the NFWF Delaware River Grant are some of the most important projects identified by New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, Region 4, said Steve Swenson, Senior Ecologist with Region 4 NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

“Working in partnership with TU and the Friends of the Upper Delaware River, we look forward to continuing to improve the fishery and ecological resources of the Upper Delaware River,” Swenson said. “The DEC is an important partner and instrumental in the identification and implementation of priority projects here and elsewhere in New York.”

By Mark Taylor. A native of rural southern Oregon, Mark Taylor has lived in Virginia since serving a stint as a ship-based naval officer in Norfolk. He joined the TU staff in 2014 after a 20-year run as a newspaper journalist, the final 16 as the outdoors editor of the Roanoke Times. A graduate of Northwestern University, he lives in Roanoke with his wife and, when they're home from college, his twin daughters.