Thank you to everybody who attended FUDR’s “Water, Water, Everywhere” conference yesterday at the West Branch Angler in Hancock. It was a great opportunity to reconvene our coalitions and partners and begin to develop a strategy that focuses in on our top priorities and outlines a 2017 game plan that utilizes our resources effectively and efficiently.
Here are some highlights from the event:
- The 2016 State of the River report revealed significant progress this year in achieving our coalition goals including an increasing willingness from the Decree Parties to improve water releases at critically needed times for recreational and ecological needs. We are also seeing improved transparency and open communication with reservoir managers about resource management decisions, both good and bad, that allow us to better understand events as they occur and develop more substantive responses on a quicker timeframe.
- Huge challenges remain, including overcoming the ongoing stalemate between the Decree Parties that is blocking all progress on a new reservoir management plan (FFMP) that should address pressing needs for the Upper Delaware River and the entire Delaware watershed.
- WWE participants took a candid internal look at the strengths and weaknesses of our efforts. The group agreed that our collective advocacy voice is growing stronger and that our goals and objectives are increasingly garnering attention on a much broader scale, including significant national attention from the U.S. Congress and federal resource agencies. The group identified a need for improved communication of our successes (and failures) and our vision and goals to ensure that our growing constituency is fully informed and prepared to take action on a timely basis.
- The Pinchot Institute and the Common Waters Partnership presented on the critical need to protect waterways in a warming world and outlined effective management and policy strategies that can deliver multiple resource and community benefits including improved water quality, healthy aquatic habitat, flood mitigation, and infrastructure protection. FUDR’s partnership with the UDR Tailwaters Coalition, Delaware County NY, and the Pinchot Institute are developing a protection and management plan for UDR waterways that can incorporate many of the principles that were discussed in this session. Thanks to Stephanie Dalke from the Pinchot Institute who made the trip from Washington DC to be with us yesterday!
- Madeline Urbish from the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed and Grant LaRouche from the National Wildlife Federation discussed the work of the larger Delaware River coalition and how it provides critically needed assistance for our conservation efforts in the UDR region. They also relayed some potentially promising news about the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act now under active consideration in the U.S. Congress and discussed near-term actions that everybody can take to help push this bill across the finish line this year. We will be sending updates and action alerts to our members and partners in the coming weeks to support this effort.
- We reached agreement on our 2017 “Fair Share” coalition requests for the next NYC reservoir management plan. In the face of the ongoing stalemate among the Decree Parties, many of our requests remain the same as previous years including improved baseline releases and adoption of a thermal release protocol. In the coming months we will continue to communicate with the Decree Parties and seek ways to break a logjam that is increasingly being seen as a public policy debacle and an unnecessary impediment to protecting one of the nation’s most important river systems.