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THE NATURE CONSERVANCY LAUNCHES DRIVE TO PROTECT DELAWARE RIVER WATERSHED; SMITHKLINE BEECHAM GRANT SIGNALS NEED FOR BUSINESS SUPPORT

 THE NATURE CONSERVANCY LAUNCHES DRIVE TO PROTECT DELAWARE RIVER WATERSHED; SMITHKLINE BEECHAM GRANT SIGNALS NEED FOR BUSINESS SUPPORT
 PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- The Nature Conservancy today announced an unparalleled four-state effort to protect threatened natural areas within the watershed of the Delaware River.
 Risks of environmental damage and pollution have been increasing in the most ecologically significant areas of the 13,000-square-mile watershed, one of the most densely populated regions of the United States.
 The Nature Conservancy chapters in Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania are seeking a total of $15 million in private gifts to protect 150 key sites -- rare natural communities and habitats for rare and endangered species that depend on the Delaware River watershed for their survival.
 The Conservancy's Campaign for the Delaware so far has raised $8.9 million in cash and land, including a premier corporate grant of $500,000 from SmithKline Beecham (NYSE: SBH), the health care company.
 "Despite being so densely populated, the watershed remains wild and wonderful. It is an exquisite complex of rivers, streams, marshlands and forests, with a magnificent array of biological diversity," said John Sawhill, president and chief executive officer of The Nature Conservancy.
 SmithKline Beecham Chairman Henry Wendt commented, "Protecting the environment has special meaning for a company whose aim is better health. What's more, the Delaware River has been an asset for our company since the dawn of the industrial revolution. It's only right for us to be in the forefront of this rescue effort."
 SmithKline Beecham operates 89 facilities in the four-state area, including its U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia. More than 7,000 of the company's employees live within the Delaware River watershed.
 The Delaware River watershed stretches from its headwaters in the Catskill Mountains, through the Pocono mountains, past its densely populated middle to the Delaware Bay. The Delaware is the largest undammed, free-flowing river in the Eastern United States.
 The watershed abounds with wildlife and scenic beauty. Its location makes the watershed one of America's most valuable and imperiled resources. One hundred million people live within a day's drive. Millions rely on the watershed for their jobs and recreation. Twenty- two million drink its water. A FLEETING OPPORTUNITY TO SAFEGUARD THE DELAWARE'S NATURAL TREASURES
 "Time is running out for the Delaware," said Sawhill. "In just the last decade, the human population of the Delaware River watershed has grown 50 percent, intensifying the pressure on its endangered species and ecosystems. For that reason, we appeal to the region's businesses, foundations and individual citizens to join SmithKline Beecham in helping protect the Delaware. The broader the participation, the better we can protect what remains of this priceless resource. Delay could compromise our quality of life now and for generations to come."
 The chief threats to the Delaware and its species result from indiscriminate development, dredging and pollution. Among the riches at risk: more than 500 rare natural communities, plants and animals, from butterflies to bald eagles; refueling stops vital to more than 20 species of migratory shorebirds on their way from Latin America to the Arctic, including 80 percent of the hemisphere's red knots and half of its ruddy turnstones; and the natural balance maintained by wetlands, essential to water quality because they act as filters, purifying water and controlling storm water runoff.
 The $15 million the Campaign for the Delaware is expected to raise by 1995 will be used to:
 -- protect 50 high-priority natural areas;
 -- safeguard 100 additional important sites;
 -- implement voluntary protection agreements in cooperation with landowners;
 -- establish a Stewardship Fund to manage the long-term health of protected species and habitats;
 -- conduct a detailed biological inventory of natural areas, and
 -- help guarantee safe wintering grounds in Latin America for millions of migratory shorebirds.
 A private international organization, The Nature Conservancy preserves plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and water they need to survive. Since 1951 it has protected more than 6.5 million acres and saved thousands of species, including some 900 on the brink of extinction.
 SmithKline Beecham is one of the world's leading health care companies. SB discovers, develops, manufactures and markets human and animal pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter medicines and clinical laboratory testing. The company's U.S. headquarters are in Philadelphia.
 /delval/
 -0- 10/8/92 R
 /Editors: A NEWS CONFERENCE will be held at 4:30 p.m. today in Philadelphia at Eli's Pier 34, 735 S. Columbus Blvd., on the Delaware River. It will be followed from 5:30 to 7:30 by a Campaign for the Delaware launch reception. Leaders in government, business and philanthropy throughout the watershed have been invited. A multimedia program about the life of watershed will be presented during the reception.
 Reporters attending the news conference are invited to remain for the reception./
 /CONTACT: Deborah Meyer (Pennsylvania), 215-963-1400; Chris Cammerene-Wessel (Delaware), 302-674-3550; Diana Hall (New Jersey), 908-439-3007; or Dave Tobias (New York), 914-232-9432, all of The Nature Conservancy/
 (SBH) CO: The Nature Conservancy; SmithKline Beecham ST: Pennsylvania, New York IN: SU:


LJ -- PH004 -- 0349 10/08/92 10:02 EDT
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Date:Oct 8, 1992
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