A Success Story: An Old Investment Helps Yield Downstream Results

Initiative:  Ecosystem Markets formerly Non-traditional Markets / Program:  Monetizing Water as a Forest Product / Project:  Delaware River Basin

As the late Paul Harvey used to say, “And now the rest of the story…” In collaboration with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) matched $2 million in NRCS funds to support three projects designed to advance markets for water as a tool to retain healthy forests.

We’ve often spoken about the success flowing from our grant in Raleigh, where the city instituted – and continues – a watershed fee on monthly water bills that generates about $2.5 million annually for forest retention and management in the city’s watershed. The other two projects were in the greater Philadelphia region and the much smaller Rivanna Watershed in Charlottesville, VA. An article in the April 15 edition of USA Today chronicles American Rivers’ 2020 list of the ten most endangered rivers in the U.S. The Upper Mississippi topped that list.

However, the article didn’t cover a related recognition of the Delaware River – American Rivers’ 2020 River of the Year. That recognition points to how a healthy river can be an engine for thriving communities and strong local economies. Just 75 years ago, the river was unable to support fish and other aquatic life. Today, it is called “a river reborn,” with just a tiny bit of help from the Endowment, our great partners at NRCS, and those who led the work on the ground.

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