May 8, 2017
Newtown Square, PA – Willistown Conservation Trust, whose founders have overseen the protection of more than 7,200 acres of open space in the Willistown area since 1979, has received a two-year $410,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation to increase its capacity for watershed protection, announced President and Executive Director, Bonnie Van Alen.
As part of this grant, the Trust’s geographic focal area which encompasses the headwaters of four major tributaries of the Delaware River—the Chester, Crum, Ridley and Darby Creeks, will become an official Field Study Site for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and other organizations. In collaboration with scientists from the Academy and other institutions with expertise in watershed protection, the grant will enable the Trust to develop and implement best practices for enhancing water quality, and to share its findings with other land trusts throughout the region and the country. “Since our inception we have cared deeply about water quality and know inherently that all of our land protection and stewardship efforts directly improve it,” said Bonnie Van Alen. “But this grant will enable us to increase our expertise in watershed protection, and to create dedicated research sites where we can collaborate, measure and share the results with others.”
The grant will provide funding to hire a Field Site Coordinator, four Drexel University Co-op students, and several interns over the two year period. Guided by methodology developed by the Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI), the Field Study team will identify watershed protection priorities and improvement projects. Findings from the project will be used to enhance water quality in the four local headwater streams, and will be presented to land trusts and other organizations with a goal of encouraging them to undertake similar watershed initiatives.
Willistown Conservation Trust is recognized as a national leader in Bird Conservation, Agroecology and Habitat Restoration, and the staff at the Trust is excited to be adding a watershed protection component that will unleash a powerful synergy between programs. The resulting increased watershed protection knowledge will be incorporated into the Trust’s education and outreach curricula, which reaches a broad array of students from elementary to university level and suburban to urban communities.
The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance opportunity, ensure sustainability, and enable effective solutions. Since inception, the Foundation has made nearly 10,000 grants totaling over $1.6 billion