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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : Admin : Delaware Wetlands : Landowner Protection Options


Landowner Protection Options

"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.  When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."  --Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Wetland Restoration Options for Landowners

Conserving Delaware's Open Space Joe pye weed and swallowtail photo by Anthony Jackson
Delaware’s open spaces are areas of forests, waterways, parks, greenways, wetlands, and natural lands. These open spaces support all of the living things that inhabit them, as well as our quality of life, economy and future. Charged with protecting and conserving Delaware’s natural resources, DNREC has taken the lead in preserving a network of areas that support and protect our precious natural resources while allowing for Delaware’s continued economic growth and development.
DNREC's Division of Parks and Recreation - Land Preservation Office
The process for acquiring open space lands and conservation easements was codified in 1990 with the passage of the Delaware Land Protection Act.  The Land Preservation Office in DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation implements this law by identifying areas of high ecological value and protecting these areas through land acquisition and by management through conservation easements.  Since the law was passed in 1990 over 34,000 acres of the Delaware landscape has been preserved through acquisition and over 3000 acres have been preserved through conservation easements. Conservation Easement Criteria. Call the Division of Parks and Recreation's Land Preservation Specialist: (302)739-9235.
Delaware Nature Society, Land Preservation Program
DNS's Land Preservation Program focuses on conserving sites critical to Delaware's biodiversity and water resources including stream corridors, woodlands, connectors between protected lands, and small sites with unique features. Landowners of such sites are urged to consider permanent preservation by gifts of land or conservation easements.
Tractor sunset photo by Anthony JacksonDepartment of Agriculture, Farmland Preservation
The Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation preserves farms - the cornerstone of rural Delaware. The Foundation preserves historic structures, wildlife habitats, important environmental features, wetlands, and forests, as well as setting aside, permanently, the critical farmland for future generations of Delawareans.
Department of Agriculture, Forestland Preservation Program
The Forestland Preservation Program protects forestlands through perpetual conservation easements. A conservation easement is a permanent deed restriction whereby the landowner still owns the property but certain activities, such as development, are prohibited. The owner can sell the property, but all future owners must also follow the same restrictions. The Forest Service also offers conservation assistance through cost-share programs, the Reforestation/low-cost Seedling Program, the Urban and Community Forestry Program, and the Forest Legacy Program.
Ducks Unlimited
DU also accepts donated easements, termed or in perpetuity through its affiliate Wetlands American Trust.  A legal agreement is formed between Ducks Unlimited and the property owner that restricts the type and amount of development on the property and protects valuable natural resources.  Under the agreement the landowner still retains ownership of the land and may continue to use the area for economic gain and/or recreation. Conservation Easement Program Brochure
Federal Landowner Assistance & Stewardship
A comprehensive list of Federal assistance programs. 
Nanticoke River Watershed ConservancyGreen tree frog photo by Anthony Jackson
The Nanticoke River Watershed Conservancy is a land trust that offers easements, land purchases, and life estates specifically targeting lands and landowners in the Nanticoke Watershed. Contact:  Marlene Mervine (302) 337-8847, or Rick Tull (302) 629-9543

Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Wetlands Reserve Program
The Wetland Reserve Program is a competitive program using a combination of statewide and county ranking systems to fund the most environmentally beneficial projects. The voluntary program protects, restores and enhances wetlands, while maximizing wildlife benefits. The WRP reverse auction will pay landowners to establish wetlands in exchange for perpetual or 30 year easements. In exchange for the easements, landowners may receive up to 100 percent of their accepted offer for the enrolled land plus the cost of approved wetland restoration practices.

The Nature Conservancy in Delaware
Over the years, The Nature Conservancy has gained expertise in land conservation transactions and built partnerships that can help landowners protect wildlife habitat, save their land for future generations, and even sometimes reduce landowner's taxes.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife
The Partners Program provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners and Tribes who are willing to work with us and other partners on a voluntary basis to help meet the habitat needs of our Federal Trust Species.


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