To foster deeper engagement with the Delaware River watershed, the Foundation is focused on developing and inspiring an active regional constituency for watershed protection. As part of this work we support efforts to construct and complete the Circuit, a defined network of more than 750 miles of connected trails, many of which closely parallel rivers, streams and canals.
We also support efforts to coordinate, expand, and raise the visibility of a network of more than 20 environmental centers that are on the Circuit (or a connecting trail) and a Delaware River watershed waterway. The Circuit and the centers are located in diverse landscapes across the watershed including densely populated urban areas, suburban spaces and rural regions. Through programming and creative use of technology, arts and communications, an overarching goal of this work is to convey the fundamental importance of clean water by increasing public access to and enjoyment of these waterways.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
The Circuit is a 750-mile network of trails across the region, over half of which are located along waterways. To date, approximately 300 miles of trails have been completed and many more are in the planning or development stages. Completion of the Circuit is a key focus of the Foundation, because it provides an opportunity to engage trail users in watershed protection.
The Foundation has supported the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, among the region’s most visible trail-advocacy groups, in leading the Circuit Coalition, a team of about 30 nonprofit organizations engaged in trail development, programs and advocacy. The goal of the Coalition is to develop and implement campaigns and programs that raise visibility and advance completion of the Circuit.
Recently, the Coalition—under leadership of the Bicycle Coalition and partners including the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Tri-State Transportation Campaign—has successfully secured increased public funding for the Circuit in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Photo by Tim Haas
Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC)
An important part of the Foundation’s Watershed Protection work is building a constituency to help protect the Delaware River watershed, and a primary audience is those who recreate on or near the water. To engage the thousands who participate in the watershed’s outdoor trail and river programs, the Foundation awarded a grant to PEEC to provide hiking, biking and paddling outings along the Delaware River that also educate users about the importance of clean water to the activities they enjoy.
PEEC has a 40-year history of providing high-quality environmental education to students and adults, and the grant supported two PEEC programs:
Women on the Water, which engages young women from Philadelphia in paddling outings that include hands-on environmental education. This integrates lessons about watersheds, water quality, public lands and the importance of the pristine headwaters to their own local water sources further downstream.
Bridge the Gap, which provides educational hiking, cycling and paddling trips for thousands of visitors and residents of Delaware River watershed communities.
By January 2016, thousands of outdoor enthusiasts who participate in PEEC’s programs will have acquired a deeper understanding of the value of clean water. PEEC will continue to strive for improved measurement tools that capture outcomes associated with water-focused environmental education to inform programming at other centers along the trails.