Estuary Science Summit – Balancing Progress and Protection – 10 Years of Science In Action

Municipalities and their partners work at the local level to create and maintain healthy communities.  From the environmental perspective this can range from park and greenway trail management to flood control and water quality improvement projects.

The January 2015 Delaware Estuary Science and Environmental Summit provided multiple insights into how these collective municipal actions are critical to protecting the health of the Delaware River and its Estuary.

Since 2005 the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE) has organized the Summit every two years, capitalizing on the field downtime offered by late January weather to gather together scientists, educators and policy makers in Cape May, New Jersey.  While many area residents just catch glimpses of the estuary while crossing Delaware River bridges, PDE’s website reminds us that the Estuary:

  • Is a vital ecosystem, creating habitat for more than 130 species of finfish, as well as clams, oysters, and crabs,
  • Has the second largest concentration of migrating shorebirds in the Western Hemisphere, along with habitat for 15 different species of waterfowl, which total more than half-a-million individuals who either migrate through or spend the winter here, and
  • is home to the largest population of spawning horseshoe crabs in the world.

Talks and posters at the Science and Environmental Summit range from more technical scientific research findings to broader perspectives on policy and education and outreach programs.  Examples included:

  • Ecological restoration focusing on techniques and case studies for restoring living shorelines and wetlands.
  • Citizen and academic monitoring programs such as:
    • An upstream suburban Philadelphia watersheds citizen Streamkeeper program, summarized by Stephanie Figary of the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association.
    • Trends in PCBs in Delaware River fish and sediments near Philadelphia (PCBs concentrations are declining via efforts of TMDL pollutant minimization plans).
    • Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University’s monitoring of fish, algae, and macroinvertebrates to evaluate conservation and restoration practices across the Delaware River Watershed.
  • Education and outreach programs such as:
    • The Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership’s use of both traditional and tech (social media) outreach tools
    • Partnership for Delaware Estuary’s inclusion of volunteers to map fresh water mussel populations.
    • Eastern Delaware County Stormwater Collaborative’s project that involves homeowners in rain garden projects.

You can visit PDE’s website to view all of the summit sessions and presentations.

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