Wm. Penn Foundation awards $4.2 million in environmental grants

Watershed protection programs in the region just got a $4.2 million boost from the William Penn Foundation.

Ten grants totaling that amount were announced this morning.

More than $600,000 will go toward helping to restore and preserve land along the Delaware Bayshore. The Bayshore has been getting a lot of attention lately, beginning with an announcement by U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar including it in the national "American Great Outdoors" initiative. He called the Bayshore  "a landscape of national significance."

Biologists hope that giving the Bayshore region more cachet will lead to more public support for efforts to preserve its ecology -- including the shorebirds that arrive every spring to feast on horseshoe crab eggs -- and historic significance.

Additional funds will go toward protecting ore preserving land in New Jersey's Pinelands and the Pennsylvania Highlands. Other grants will fund science-based research and advocacy in the Susquehanna and Delaware watersheds and help implement Philadelphia's new  stormwater management program, praised as a national model. Philadelphia's regional trail network also will benefit from some of the money.

The grant recipients are:

Heritage Conservancy:  $330,000

To be used for technical assistance to advance completion of priority gaps in the East Coast Greenway in Bucks County and increase public access to the Delaware River adjacent to the trail; and toward permanent protection of priority natural lands in the D&L Trail.

New Jersey Audubon Society:  $275,000

Toward protection and restoration of critical habitat in priority watersheds in the South Jersey Bayshore and the Pinelands in New Jersey.

Sierra Club Foundation:  $375,000

Toward expansion of a national campaign in the Delaware and Susquehanna watersheds to build support for adoption and implementation of natural gas drilling policies that are based on sound science and protective of ecological and human health.

Wildlands Conservancy, Inc.:  $247,500

Toward development of and programming for targeted trails and greenways connecting the Kittatinny Ridge, Pennsylvania Highlands, and Lehigh Valley to the Greater Philadelphia trail network.

Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Inc.:  $895,000

Toward work to complete key links in the East Coast Greenway, in Philadelphia and Bucks County, and encourage green infrastructure approaches to urban stormwater issues in communities upstream of Philadelphia.

Brandywine Conservancy, Inc.:  $165,000

To its Environmental Management Center, toward completion of transactions to permanently protect priority lands in the Pennsylvania Highlands, and to develop a greenway and trail plan for the Brandywine Creek Regional Recreation Corridor.

Natural Resources Defense Council:  $275,000

To support the Philadelphia Water Department's effective implementation of its nationally significant Green City, Clean Waters plan to reduce urban stormwater pollution.

American Littoral Society:  $330,000

Toward advocacy and outreach to municipalities and landowners to secure protection of critical watershed lands in the Delaware Bayshore in South Jersey.

Cooper's Ferry Partnership:  $863,500

Toward project management and community outreach to advance implementation of park and trail plans in Camden that are key elements of the Circuit, the regional trail network.

Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future:  $495,000

To support implementation of policies and practices that will protect clean water in Pennsylvania, including stormwater management in Philadelphia and nutrient management in the Susquehanna watershed.