The Common Waters Fund Approach
The Common Waters Fund seeks to engage forest landowners in the conservation and management of their forested land for water quality benefits. The program will provide landowners with incentives for improving or modifying management of their lands to benefit water quality. In addition, it will provide financing to land trusts in the upper basin to enable the donation or purchase of conservation easements on forested properties.
The program will focus its efforts on the most important parcels for source water protection in the upper basin. These locations have been determined by reviewing and compiling available data and water quality assessments for the Upper Delaware Region. Funding is available for projects such as riparian plantings, prevention of erosion, invasive species removal, deer fencing, and other management practices that will improve the health and economic viability of family forests. Eligible practices, along with funding for Forest Stewardship Plans and conservation easements, were selected because of their potential to provide water quality benefits and keep forests as forests.
While the landowner conservation incentive program is the core of the Common Waters Fund approach, there are other elements as well. The priority funding areas map also provides useful information to regional planning agencies and DRBC. These entities have a new resource to help inform their own conservation efforts. In addition, some funding is devoted to supporting outreach by county planners to municipalities about importance of smart growth, clustered development, and other issues relevant to water quality. This effort will contribute to the comprehensiveness of the program. Conservation is a significant first step; however, other efforts such as sound planning to encourage water quality friendly development patterns in the upper basin are also required.