Willistown Conservation Trust Receives Grant to Advance Watershed Protection


The Crum Creek is one of four major tributaries to the Delaware River with headwaters in the Willistown Conservation Trust’s geographic focal area. Image via the Willistown Conservation Trust.

The Willistown Conservation Trust, the founders of which 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.

The Crum Creek is one of four major tributaries to the Delaware River with headwaters in the Trust’s geographic focal area.

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 of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

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 country.

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“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, President and Executive Director of the Newtown Square-based Willistown Conservation Trust.

“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 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.

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