IPA Receives $40K Grant

photo of IPA's Ed O'Donnell fishing in White Clay Creek
Fishermen like IPA’s Ed O’Donnell may look forward to angling for shad in White Clay Creek as the result of this funded research.
Foundation grant funds research to help restore shad in White Clay Creek watershed

IPA's Water Resources Agency (WRA) will receive $39,978 to assess the feasibility of restoring fish passage and habitat to the National Wild and Scenic White Clay Creek Watershed. The project began in March and will run through June 2010.  IPA assistant policy scientist Martha Corrozi Narvaez is the principal investigator.

The grant, administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), is one of 17 projects being undertaken by a number of regional organizations that are striving to improve the environment of the Delaware Estuary—the tidal portion of the Delaware River. NFWF funds total $650,503, and considering matching funds raised by the recipients, the total amount being funneled toward estuary projects is $1.44 million.

“I’m excited and honored that we’ve received funding to conduct a multidisciplinary study on this popular regional fishing area in collaboration with stakeholders throughout the White Clay Creek watershed,” Narvaez says.

The long-term goal of the White Clay Creek watershed project is to restore shad and migratory fish passage and habitat, increase spawning areas, and benefit the resident fish in the 107-sq.-mi. watershed.  To achieve this, WRA will conduct a feasibility study for restoring fish passage to the federally designated Wild and Scenic White Clay Creek.

Longtime area fisherman and IPA policy scientist Ed O’Donnell commented, “Research projects such as this are critical to the continued health and vitality of White Clay Creek. Without such research, the enjoyment that people like me—and future generations—get from fishing is in jeopardy.”

In order to identify and achieve the most effective options for restoring fish passage and habitat, WRA will collaborate with the Brandywine Conservancy, the City of Newark, DNREC, Delaware Park, Duffield Associates, United Water Delaware, White Clay Outfitters, Trout Unlimited, the White Clay Wild and Scenic Watershed Management Committee, citizens, and interested stakeholders.
Project tasks include the following:

  • Research to determine abundance and extent of the fish population.
  • Create a shad-restoration committee.
  • Conduct a literature review of successful fish-restoration projects on the East Coast.
  • Carry out a field survey and inventory of existing dams along the White Clay Creek in Delaware and Pennsylvania.
  • With DNREC, conduct fish-abundance surveys along the tidal and freshwater White Clay Creek.
  • Explore the feasibility of restoring fish passage utilizing a variety of techniques.
  • Develop an alternatives analysis, based on environmental, ownership, historic-value, and cost criteria.
  • Create and implement public education and outreach programs.
  • Develop a fish-stocking plan.
  • Recommend the most feasible fish-passage alternative with cost estimates for each dam.

This project will serve as an expansion of the Brandywine Shad Restoration effort, and research will be done in partnership with Christina Basin watershed-restoration efforts.  WRA has a long-term commitment to implementing the recommendations that will be set forth in this study.

A final report will be developed summarizing this information and recommending the most feasible fish-passage alternatives for each dam.  The final recommendations will be provided to the White Clay Creek Watershed Management Committee, the National Park Service Wild and Scenic Program, and DNREC in order to begin implementation based on the recommendations provided in the report.

photo courtesy of Sean O’Donnell