As our calendar year winds down, we are very thankful for Congress’s bi-partisan work on fiscal year 2020 appropriations. Several initiatives that MWA supported or proposed made it into the budget:
The Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers program added three new rivers this year, and Congress responded, boosting funding to include these new rivers, and they fully funded the Partnership program for the first time in its 27-year history. Funding went up 56 percent, from $2.024 million in 2019 to $3.576 million 2020.MWA receives funding through this program to implement the National Wild and Scenic River Plan on the Musconetcong, and we will likely see in an increase funding in 2020.Representatives Gottheimer, Malinowski, and Sherrill, Senators Menendez and Booker, and Representative Watson Coleman (NJ’s only Member on the Appropriations Committee) supported the funding increase. This program provides funding for MWA to conduct in-school education programming, manage the river in partnership with local governments, and communicate to residents the goings on in the watershed.
The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program, which is only three years old, saw a funding increase of 62 percent, from $6 million in 2019 to $9.7 million in 2020 – just $300,000 shy of the amount requested.In 2018, Representative Lance had increased the program from $5 million to $6 million, and this year Representatives Gottheimer, Malinowski, and Sherrill, Senators Menendez and Booker, and Representative Watson Coleman supported the funding increase.MWA was recently awarded a grant through this program to work on the Beatty’s Mill flood plain restoration project in Hackettstown and Washington Township, Morris County.This program has been a key priority of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, on which MWA has served on the steering Committee since 2014.It provides funding for river restoration and habitat improvement projects.
A Feasibility Study for the Warren Mill Dam Removal was included in the budget for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.MWA worked with Representative Watson-Coleman and Senator Booker, as well as state organizations, including The League of Conservation Voters, The Watershed Institute, NJ Audubon, the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, and The Nature Conservancy.The feasibility study will help develop baseline information needed to assess how to remove this 39’ tall and 330’ wide dam, and the fish and habitat benefits of its removal.
Sandra Meola, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed; Ed Potasnak, League of Conservation Voters, Alan Hunt, Musconetcong Watershed Association, Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman, Tom Wells, the Nature Conservancy, Jim Waltman, The Watershed Institute, and Eric Schrading, NJ Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (invited guest of the Congresswoman as a dam removal expert)
We thank our members of Congress for their support of the Musconetcong Watershed, and our partner organizations, who amplified our voices. You can thank Congress, too. Here’s how:
Call the Capitol Switch Board (202) 224-3121
Ask to be connected to the Representative or Senator’s office
Thank them for their support of the appropriations bill, and the specific program by name
How did the Musconetcong do so well with Congress this year?
Each year we visit with our Congressional delegation in Washington, DC, sharing our successes, challenges, and changes in watershed.With increasing turnover in Congress, we increased our outreach in 2018 and 2019, to two trips to DC, also adding in meetings with the National Park Service.
MWA, along with other Partnership Wild and Scenic River organizations, proposed to the Coalition for the Delaware River watershed in 2018 and 2019 a federal policy priority to fully fund the Partnership program.This resulted in a 150 organization coalition also requesting support for Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers.
MWA’s membership within the Coalition for the Delaware River watershed allowed us to communicate results of the Delaware River Restoration Fund’s first year of funding to Congress.
We cultivated allies in federal policy in New Jersey, the region, and nationally, including through a newly formed national wild and Scenic River Coalition, groups like American Rivers, River Network, and American Whitewater.
MWA maintained a dialogue throughout the year with our Representatives and Senators, responding to questions and keeping them appraised of what is going on in the watershed.
This coming year, we hope to repeat many of these successful strategies. However, the work doesn’t end with Congress. We will continue work with partners and outreach to agency officials to ensure funds are utilized for the best public benefit possible.
We thank our allies, new and old, as well as our Congressional delegation for supporting the Musconetcong watershed, as well as other similar watersheds in our region and the country.