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Delaware's Green Infrastucture

Vince Kane rakes up the blue-green algae that is choking his neighborhood association's adopted pond near Herring Creek Lewes.Citizens and community groups are encouraged to join DNREC's efforts to conserve the natural beauty and biodiversity of plants and wildlife in Delaware.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is working everyday to preserve and protect our Green Infrastructure lands. Here are some of our programs. We encourage you to join our efforts.

The Aquatic Resources Education Center's Naturalist Volunteer Program

This exciting program provides training and incentives for volunteers. The program's mission is to educate and train citizens throughout the state to serve as volunteers in environmental education; monitoring, restoration, conservation and protection of Delaware's natural resources. Volunteer opportunities include aquatic education, wildlife surveys, tree planting, native seed collection and more!

Right: Vince Kane rakes up the blue-green algae that is choking his neighborhood association's adopted pond near Herring Creek in Lewes. Vince is one of the dozens of volunteers - businesses, community groups, individuals and agencies - who are taking positive steps to keep Delaware's wetlands and waterways healthy, beautiful and productive - preserving our Green Infrastructure.

Become part of this valuable program and receive specialized training, advancement and recognition for your volunteer work. Specializations include Eco Explorers Educators (for 5th grade students),hands-on outdoor projects, wildlife monitoring, HOFNOD (Hooked on Fishing not on Drugs) educators, and many more. This program is great for college resumes or, for those who just want to give back doing something they love to do! For more information, please contact Tess Belcher at (302) 735-8656 or


Adopt-a-Wetland began in the mid 1980’s as the grass roots effort of one woman who felt that individuals could play a role in stewarding Delaware’s wetlands. Today it is an established DNREC program. Housed in the Aquatic Resources Education Center, the program includes more than 3,000 volunteers who help protect 80-plus “adopted” wetlands. Adopters include families, individuals, students and teachers, youth groups, civic organizations, religious organizations, neighborhood committees…all it takes is a wetland close to your home or organization and official registration with the Adopt-a-Wetland program. Adopters steward their wetlands in many ways - water testing, invasive plant removal, wildlife habitat enhancement, hands-on classroom lessons, macro invertebrate surveys, trash clean-up and much more. Annual Adopt-a-Wetland workshops offer volunteers a chance to learn more about local wetland issues, adopting activities and approaches, and an opportunity to network with others in this statewide program. For more information contact Marlene Mervine at (302) 735-8660 or ,or Gary Kreamer at (302) 735-8665 or You can also visit  the Adopt-A-Wetlands web site

Landowner Incentives

The Delaware Landowner Incentive Program (DELIP) offers private landowners - particularly agricultural producers - technical and financial incentives to protect, enhance, and/or restore habitat to benefit "species at risk." This may range from creating shallow wetland habitat for migratory shorebirds and controlling invasive species in bog turtle habitats, to establishing native warm season grasses for upland sandpipers and planting trees for the Delmarva fox squirrel. Although DELIP money targets species-at-risk, habitat work for the target species always translates to benefits for a wide array of species including many game species.

The Delaware Landowner Incentive Program also provides financial and technical assistance for wetland restoration and enhancement, riparian forest and grass buffer establishment, upland early successional habitat enhancement and reforestation. 

Assistance takes the form of cost-share in which a percentage of the actual restoration costs will be paid for by the state and/or its partners. Cost share may range from 75-100%. The landowner would be required to make up the rest of the cost either through a monetary contribution or through in-kind services. Financial assistance may also be received in the form of a conservation easement.

For more information email Brian Jennings or call 302-735-3600; Bill Jones, 302-284-4795, or visit the Delaware Private Lands Assistance Program web site.

A volunteer has completed repairing an osprey nesting platform near Fenwick Island.

Northern Delaware Wetland Rehabilitation program

This program brings together civic and business leaders, scientists, resource managers, and property owners to develop strategies to restore 100,000 acres of wetlands along the Christina and Delaware rivers in New Castle County. For a printable brochure on the Northern Delaware Wetland Rehabilitation program, click here.

Right: Partnerships are vital to the success of Green Infrastructure Conservation programs. Here a volunteer from the Delmarva Ornithological Society has partnered with the Delaware Natural Heritage Program to repair an osprey platform in Mispillion Harbor.

Whole Basin Management:

Whole Basin Management provides an integrated approach to monitor, assess, and manage all of Delaware's biological, chemical, and physical environments on the basis of drainage patterns. Teams of scientists, planners, engineers, and managers work on each of the five major drainage basins in the state.

Tributary Action Teams

DNREC’s Tributary Action Teams are creating strategies to reduce pollution in each of the state's watersheds. Some teams are farther along in this process than others, depending on when and if pollution limits have been set for our watersheds. Teams in the Inland Bays, Nanticoke, Appoquinimink and Murderkill watersheds are currently active. Other teams will be formed as pollution limits are set.

Each active team is engaging citizens by holding public forums on water pollution, publishing articles, and holding community group meetings. The goal is encourage public input and develop broad support for the Pollution Control Strategy designed for each watershed.

 Delaware’s Wildlife Action Plan

The Delaware Wildlife Action Plan is a comprehensive strategy for conserving the full array of native wildlife and habitats - common and uncommon - as vital components of the state's natural resources. Together with conservation partners, we aim to keep common species common and to prevent species from being listed as endangered. For more information, contact Olin Allen, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program Biologist at (302) 653-2880 or 

To view Delaware's Wildlife Action Plan visit:

The Delaware Natural Heritage Program

This program conducts systematic biological surveys throughout the state to locate populations of rare or unique plant and animal species, and to identify and describe significant natural communities. The data is then used for a variety of purposes -- to inform land-use planning efforts, to prioritize sites for conservation and protection, to assist land managers, and to provide environmental review services. For more information on this program and the Natural Heritage database, contact Karen Bennett, Environmental Program Manager at (302) 653-2883 or To learn more visit:

Aquatic Resources Education Center

Located near Smyrna, the Aquatic Resources Education Center (AREC) houses many programs, including Wetland Activities for Delaware Educators; Fish Banks, LTD for Delaware; Green Eggs and Sand Horseshoe Crab/Shorebird Education Project; Eco-Explorer's program for 5th graders; Horseshoe Crabs in the Classroom and the Delaware Adopt-a-Wetland program. The site also offers a salt marsh board walk trail, open to visitors year round, canoes, and fishing equipment and educational kits. Contact Gary Kreamer at (302) 735-8665 or, or Tess Belcher at (302) 735-8656 or . You can also visit our web page at

Delaware Shorebird Project

The Delaware Bay is a globally important location for several species of shorebirds that migrate from South American wintering grounds to Arctic breeding grounds. Each spring, migratory birds are drawn to the Bay and its superabundance of horseshoe crabs that lay their eggs along the coast. These eggs allow the birds to rapidly gain weight, fueling the remainder of their journey to the Arctic. In order to preserve this natural phenomenon, sound scientific information is needed to inform critical decisions regarding the conservation and management of horseshoe crabs, shorebirds and their habitats. To collect this information, a team of state and federal staff, volunteers and local and international researchers work each May to monitor shorebirds during their short stop at the Bay.  The Delaware Shorebird Project welcomes dedicated volunteers to assist with capturing and banding birds; shorebird surveys to count flocks and find individually marked birds; data recording and entry; band and flag making and program support. For more information on how to become involved as a volunteer in this exciting research and monitoring effort, contact Kevin Kalasz, Delaware Shorebird Monitoring Coordinator at (302) 653-2880 or

Delaware Coastal Programs

The Delaware Coastal Programs protect the state's coastal environment against increasing pressures ranging from residential development to the competing demands of recreation and commerce on state waters. Housed within DNREC's Division of Soil and Water Conservation, the more than a dozen DCP programs are coordinated throughout DNREC and with many outside public and private organizations. Check out the Community Open Space Manual, just one of many valuable resources to help you get involved. To find out more information about Delaware Coastal Programs, contact David Carter at (302) 739-9283 or

Statewide Green Parks Program

This program incorporates an environmental policy into the management of Delaware State Parks. The policy includes the responsible use and management of conservation measures to create a healthier environment for the public and park employees, while lowering the cost of operating the parks. This includes the reduction of waste, and reuse and recycling of materials in all state park activities. In addition, the program encourages environmental stewardship through protection of natural habitats and preservation of biological diversity and the prudent use of resources.

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