PHILADELPHIA, PA — Six member organizations of the Circuit Trails Coalition recently received new funding from the William Penn Foundation with grants totaling $2.3 million to support projects that increase equitable and widespread access to clean waterways in the Delaware River watershed. The grants were part of the Foundation’s more than $3.4 million awarded in its Watershed Protection area in July.
“I’m thrilled to see six member organizations of the Circuit Trails Coalition receive crucial funding for the planning and implementation of trail projects that not only stimulate important trail development and use as we pursue our goal of building 500 miles of the network by 2025 but also enhance access for people to the miles and miles of waterways that run alongside so many of our Circuit Trail segments,” said Sarah Clark Stuart, chair of the Circuit Trails Coalition.
Through its Constituency Building strategy, the William Penn Foundation supports work that builds an active regional constituency for watershed protection. Its funding expands public access to and use of increasingly clean waterways for experiential learning and recreation. This includes a particular emphasis on building a culturally and racially diverse base of support for the watershed.
“When people use the Circuit Trails — whether for recreation or active commuting – they are very often walking, running, or rolling next to the region’s rivers, creeks, and streams, or they are using the trails to get to places like environmental education centers that provide on-water activities. Through this exposure, a constituency of people from neighborhoods across Philadelphia and Camden and throughout the region who care about the quality of our waterways continues to build, which is central to fortifying a clean watershed,” explained Andrew Johnson, Program Director, Watershed Protection, William Penn Foundation.
This recent round of grants focus largely on advancing the Circuit Trails network, which eventually will include more than 800 miles of multi-use trails in the Greater Philadelphia and southern New Jersey region. Some of the awarded projects feature complimentary community engagement and programming work to activate use of the trails and adjacent waterways.
Grants were awarded to:
- Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, Inc. ($1,181,000 over 36 months) to plan, develop, and activate Circuit Trails projects along Camden’s nine-mile Delaware and Cooper River waterfronts and grow internal capacity for equitable and inclusive community engagement for the trails.
- Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Inc. ($260,000 over 24 months) to pilot efforts to activate trail users in support of funding for trails and policies to protect and restore water quality in adjacent waterways.
- East Coast Greenway Alliance, Inc. ($150,000 over 21 months) to advance the portion of the Greenway that runs through the Delaware River watershed, which is also a major trunk of the Circuit Trails network.
- Heritage Conservancy ($300,000 over 22 months) for trail development and experiential environmental learning with youth and community members to increase public access to the Delaware River and Delaware Canal and to engage people with these waterways.
- Natural Lands, Inc. ($290,000 over 36 months) to advance the Circuit Trails and green stormwater infrastructure projects along them through technical assistance and community engagement in Chester, Pottstown, and Coatesville, which reside on the Delaware, Schuylkill, and Brandywine Rivers, respectively.
- Sierra Club Foundation ($200,000 over 24 months) to lower barriers to outdoor access for communities of color in Philadelphia through engaging programs and to empower participants to advocate for fishable, swimmable waters in the Delaware River watershed.
The William Penn Foundation’s grants come at a time when trail use has been surging across the region, as people seek outdoor and natural areas to recreate safely in light of COVID-19. When visiting a local trail, the Circuit Trails Coalition reminds trail visitors to recreate responsibly, maintain six-feet of physical distance from others and to come prepared with a cloth face covering.
The Circuit Trails Coalition is also calling on trail visitors tofor the growing network by emailing their legislators about the need for continued support and funding to help accelerate trail development.
For more information about the Circuit Trails, please visit www.circuittrails.org.
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