Tidal Delaware River Restoration

PEC and its partners are developing a “Circuit” of connected trails and greenways. As this work proceeds, PEC seeks to restore ecological features such as riverbank forests, meadows, and wetlands.


The Delaware River, like many urban rivers, is undergoing a 21st century transformation. A network of greenways, parks, and trails are being stitched into landscapes long dominated by industrial activities. With this comes increasing opportunities for people to walk, fish, bird watch, or otherwise enjoy the natural resources of the upper Delaware River Estuary. As efforts expand to re-connect people to their urban rivers, PEC seeks ways to restore the ecology of the riverfront.

Ecological restoration features could include upland meadows, riverbank forests, and freshwater tidal wetlands, which provide opportunities for native plants and animals that inhabit these areas. Restoring these habitats will create homes and stop over points for the rich variety of wildlife species found along the Delaware River, including: American black ducks and great blue herons, bald eagles and osprey, shad and shortnose sturgeon, leopard frogs and red bellied turtles, freshwater mussels, and blue crabs.

Our ecological restoration effort is focused on the North Delaware River Waterfront in Philadelphia. We work closely with the Delaware River City Corporation as they design and construct a trail network along the riverfront and with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation as they secure parkland along the river’s edge. PEC engages many other partners including but not limited to: DuPont Clear Into the Future; Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Philadelphia Water Department, Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency.

November 18, 2015

Tidal Delaware Restoration

PEC completed the Philadelphia North Delaware River Greenway Ecological Assessment and Prioritization Report project in November 2009 under a Pennsylvania Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Grant. PEC and its partners completed site assessment and prioritization work along approximately eight miles of Delaware River shoreline in the North Philadelphia area, from the Betsy Ross Bridge upriver to the Poquessing Creek.

We worked with many local, state, and federal partners to gather information and develop an ecological assessment and prioritization approach. The partners identified and ranked ecological restoration opportunities at the parcel level considering habitat, site-wide, and recreational assessment criteria.

We have and will continue to integrate the findings of this work into regional and local initiatives focused on land revitalization, recreation, trail and greenway development, and ecological restoration. A high priority parcel, Lardner’s Point, has already been transformed by the Delaware River City Corporation into a river’s edge park with restored wetland and upland habitats. PEC has also developed preliminary ecological restoration designs for several parcels along the K&T Trail alignment and for the Bridesburg waterfront.

April 9, 2015

Lardner’s Point Park: From a Vision to Reality

Lardner’s Point Park is the poster child of how PEC enhances the environment through our partnerships and vision.

That vision is being rewarded on Saturday at 11 a.m. as the park will be receiving the Green Parks Award—along with a plaque and tree planting ceremony—for its sustainable design and for connecting people to natural resources.

It is a jewel of a park located in the Tacony area of Philadelphia. Located on the Delaware River, it reflects PEC’s motto of Conservation through Cooperation. It exists because of PEC, but it wasn’t built by PEC, nor is it owned by PEC.

Credit is due to the Delaware River City Corporation, chaired by former Congressman Bob Borski (PEC’s Patrick Starr is a founding board member) for building it. Credit is also owed to the City of Philadelphia, Department of Parks and Recreation (which owns and maintains it), as well as to PA DCNR, among other sources that funded it.

Today it stands as a beautiful “natural” park, consisting primarily of meadows and riverbanks with spectacular views of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge. It is now a model of sustainable park design that incorporates passive recreation features and habitat restoration.

When Starr first saw it, what is now Lardner’s Point Park was a derelict brownfield site overgrown with invasive non-native plants. PEC entered in the late ‘90s, facilitating planning for the “North” Delaware greenway that proposed a riverfront trail and new parks for public access and recreation. With funds raised by PEC from DCNR and the City of Philadelphia, the new greenway master plan debuted in 2005.

PEC had already moved the ball by facilitating the transfer of the site from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation to the Fairmount Park, as well as the negotiation of the transaction between ConRail and the City of Philadelphia to transfer the K&T railroad. Additionally, the area had to go through an Act 2 remediation process and have an underground storage tank removed.

A portion of the trail would use an abandoned redundant rail line—the Kensington & Tacony—that bisected Lardner’s, which had at one time served as a ferry terminal. It was clear that the park was a perfect trailhead for the proposed riverfront trail situated mid-way on the corridor with visibility and street connections.

Then the fun began to plan the new park and for numerous practical and ideological reasons, we envisioned Lardner’s as setting a new standard for 21st century park design.

PEC hired a design firm, Biohabitats to create the plan.

  • There would be minimal mowed turf (geese love it) – more maintenance
  • Features of the site would be re-used and adapted for the park purpose
  • The pier was adapted as a fishing pier
  • Concrete surfaces were reused as a wave slowing toe-wall
  • Solar panels would sustain lighting, reducing costs
  • A composting toilet would reduce costs and avoid an expensive sewer connection
  • The riverbank itself would be restored and tidal wetland vegetation restored
  • A small stormwater-fed wetland would be enhanced.

In the end, it all came to fruition after more than a decade of hard work, and PEC definitely helped make it happen!

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