Natural Resources Conservation & Protection
Mission: Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Inc. , home of the Delaware Estuary Program, leads science-based and collaborative efforts to improve the tidal Delaware river and bay, which spans Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Programs: During 2017, the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Inc. (PDE) continued a number of multi-year projects and began new ones based on partnerships created and grants received. In January 2017, PDE held the Delaware Estuary Science & Environmental Summit with over 300 attendees, including over 100 presentations on the latest scientific findings from practitioners across tristate region. In 2017, there was continued effort to revise the comprehensive conservation and management plan (CCMP) for the Delaware Estuary, which had been originally adopted in 1996. This effort included a series of workshops with experts in the spring/summer of 2017 and a series of presentations and events seeking public and partner input held in the fall of 2017. This revised CCMP blueprint for collective action continues to strive for PDE's region's water to be drinkable, fishable, and swimmable was originally adopted in 1996. Science and research: PDE continued monitoring wetlands across the Delaware Estuary as part of the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Wetland Assessment. PDE conducted new studies on the ecosystem of wetlands to better determine their health and capacity to protect coastal communities. In the attempt to stem erosion of costal marshes, alternatives to traditional practices (like bulkheads) were tested. Several living shoreline sites were enhanced, monitored and maintained at Money Island in NJ and Mispillion Harbor in DE. In Camden, NJ and along the urban Delaware River in PA, planning commenced for new applications of living shorelines in urban and freshwater areas. To better understand the water filtering services that freshwater mussels provide in the estuary, PDE continued tagging and transplanting freshwater mussels in select streams in the region, adding to the over 1,200 already tagged since 2011. A series of freshwater mussel survey training workshops were held to enlist volunteer citizen scientists in order to identify streams where mussels can still be found. PDE provided technical assistance for the creation of an exhibit, which opened in February of 2017, at the Fairmount waterworks museum, which is an interactive small scale hatchery capable of producing small batches of mussels. In April 2017, PDE was awarded $7. 9 million from the Pennsylvania infrastructure authority (PENNVEST) for the mussels for clean water initiative, enabling PDE to undertake an 8-year full scale up of the freshwater mussel hatchery to be constructed in Philadelphia PA. Education and outreach: Earth & Arbor Day in Wilmington, DE was planned and hosted in April 2017 to educate attendees about living an eco-friendly lifestyle. Similarly, Pennsylvania coast day was hosted in September 2017 at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, PA giving attendees a first-hand experience on the water. PDE held a clean water art contest in Philadelphia for school aged children, using the winning art as storm drain labels to educate the public. An enriching opportunity, presented to school teachers, was an accredited summer workshop series to improve the environmental curriculum. And involving school teachers and students, PDE planted rain gardens at schools to teach students and community members about stormwater management. Throughout the spring and summer of 2017, PDE led or supported tens of thousands of volunteers that participated in estuary cleanups, known as the Schuylkill Scrub, Christina Watershed Cleanup, and Philadelphia cleanups, enabling the removal of millions of pounds of trash from the riverbanks of the Schuylkill, Christina, and Delaware rivers. PDE recruited restaurants and volunteers to pilot a successful oyster shell recycling program in Wilmington, which ultimately supported the use of bagged oyster shells to stabilize shorelines and restore wetlands and shellfish.