Coons, Delaware River Watershed coalition members convene on Capitol Hill

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Delaware members of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed convened March 10 on Capitol Hill to discuss programs supporting the protection and restoration of the Delaware River Basin.

The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, which unites more than 150 organizations across four states to enhance its capacity to advocate for protecting and restoring the Delaware River Basin, asked Coons to continue to support funding for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program, National Wild & Scenic Rivers Program, Land and Water Conservation Fund and National Estuary Program.

“The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program is my top appropriations request to the Senate Interior Subcommittee each year,” said Coons. “I’m pleased that DRBRP received $9.7 million this fiscal year, which is up from $6 million the year before, and I’ll continue to push for strong funding for this program and others that safeguard Delaware’s economic and environmental wellbeing.”

In addition to supporting the DRBRP, Coons is an original cosponsor of the Great American Outdoors Act, which was introduced March 9. This bipartisan bill combines two that he previously cosponsored, the LWCF Permanent Funding Act and the Restore Our Parks Act.

The Great American Outdoors Act would provide funding for the maintenance backlog at national parks and wildlife refuges, which would benefit First State National Historical Park, and Prime Hook and Bombay Hook wildlife refuges in Delaware.

As a cofounder of the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, Coons has history fighting for the environment in Congress.

In 2014, the Coons-led White Clay Expansion Act was signed into law, which added nine miles of river segments to White Clay Creek’s WSRP, the only nationally designated river of its kind in Delaware.

In February, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, an organization in the Delaware River Watershed Coalition, sent a letter to Coons, thanking him for supporting funding increases for the National Estuary Program.

“This funding will translate directly to improved water quality, wildlife habitat, and way of life for both of Delaware’s NEPs,” wrote Executive Director Chris Bason. “Clean water is fundamental to the health of Delawareans and the health of Delaware’s economy.”

“Delaware’s environment is unique, offering a diverse array of species, native plants, and recreation opportunities,” said Emily Knearl, director of advocacy for the Delaware Nature Society. “We are so grateful for Senator Coons’ support of the environment, clean water funding, and protection of wildlife habitats. His championship in favor of the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program, cosponsorship of the Environmental Justice Act, and Migratory Bird Protection Act send an important message. Delaware’s economy and ecology are fundamentally linked. Protecting the environment is not only sound economics but good policy.”

For more on these pieces of legislation, clean water programs and Coons’ environmental priorities, visit