Can you see yourself relaxing in the Chesapeake Bay or a river on a hot summer’s day: the way the water gently nudges your feet and toes while you’re lounging on a floatie? Many people don’t know how important the Delaware River actually is. Did you know fifteen million people from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware use the river for drinking water?

The Delaware River is an excellent waterway for recreation and wildlife spotting. Flickr photo by Jeffrey Duda.
The Delaware River is an excellent waterway for recreation and wildlife spotting. Flickr photo by Jeffrey Duda.
When you’re cruising down the current, you might be able to spot some of the abundant wildlife found in and around the river such as shad, eels, beavers and foxes. When the shad are sexually mature they enter the streams leading into the river around May and June. It mainly feeds on plankton and sometimes will also eat fish eggs. The freshwater eels are known to spawn in salt water but then live their adult lives in the fresh water. The plethora of eels found in the Delaware River benefit from the undammed river because there is nothing to stop their migration up the river. The beavers are seen making their dams especially between January and March since that is when breeding occurs. The foxes can sometimes been seen in the forested area that surrounds the river. This wide variety of wildlife is an example of why the river should be protected and cherished. Since the river is undammed, many outdoor enthusiasts flock to participate in recreational activities like kayaking, tubing, boating, swimming, and fishing.

Relaxing and having a fun time on the river with friends and family is great, but, there are certain things threatening the water such as, storm water runoff and pollution. Right now the river doesn’t have a geographic watershed program or federal support. The Delaware River receives its funding for the National Estuary Fund while the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes receive federal funding from the EPA’s Geographic Programs. If the Delaware River isn’t taken care of, then it can negatively impact the people that live around it and others who make a living from tourism. NWF and its affiliates PennFuture, Delaware Nature Society, and NJ Audubon Society are trying to make a difference by supporting the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act (DRBCA).

The Delaware River is a vibrant habitat for wildlife and an invaluable resource for area residents that needs to be protected. Flickr photo by Andy Arthur.
The Delaware River Basin Conservation Act of 2013 is about collaborating effectively in conservation work in the basin and making improvements for the wildlife and the people that live around it. The act authorizes a grant program that will support local projects to protect and restore the Delaware. Now is the time to act. The William Penn Foundation recently invested $35 million in protecting the Delaware’s water, and this act can leverage those funds by creating a structure for restoration and protection for years to come. The DRBCA is important because it gives the government and conservation organizations a structured way to protect and restore the basin. It will also bring new federal money into the picture which wasn’t there before.

The cleanliness and protection of the river is crucial because it can ensure that the water be safe for children and others who depend on it. Who wouldn’t want to take a dip in a clean river compared to one that’s filled with chemicals?