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EVENT AND PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS:

 

 

Bethany/South Bethany beach plenishment project gets under way 

        Photo by Joanna Wilson-DNREC Public Affairs

Tossing ceremonial buckets of sand off the Bethany Beach Boardwalk, to launch the Bethany/South Bethany beach replenishment project are, left to right: Bethany Beach Mayor Carol Olmstead; South Bethany Beach Mayor Gary L. Jayne; Roy E. Denmark, Chief of Operations, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; U.S. Congressman Michael N. Castle; U.S. Senator Thomas R. Carper; State Representative Gerald W. Hocker; Tony P. Pratt, Environmental Program Manager, DNREC Shoreline & Waterway Management; State Senator George H. Bunting; and DNREC Secretary John A. Hughes.

Everything was beachy when Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Towns of Bethany Beach and South Bethany Beach hosted a launching ceremony at the Bethany Beach boardwalk for the much-anticipated Bethany/South Bethany beach replenishment project.

 

Delaware’s Congressional delegation – who secured federal funding that comprises two-thirds of the $19.8 million project – led a ceremonial “sand toss” symbolizing the start of the beach replenishment. DNREC will provide the balance of the funds as the non-federal sponsor.

 

"Replenishment plays a significant role in the management and restoration of our beaches. I am grateful that through state and federal efforts, we can ensure Bethany and South Bethany's coastline will be protected," said Congressman Michael N. Castle. "Our beaches are a great place for recreation and serve as a habitat for important species, but they also provide a critical barrier against storm damage and flooding and protect our coastal communities."

 

DNREC Secretary John A. Hughes introduced state, federal, and local officials whom he praised for having worked tirelessly to make the project a reality – including U.S. Senator Thomas R. Carper, who punctuated his efforts at obtaining project funding by making the longest heave of ceremonial sand from among the assembled dignitaries.

 

Sen. Carper remarked on the timing of the replenishment and how Delaware will benefit from the bolstered beachfront. "What a fitting weekend to kick off this project at Bethany Beach. As our local beaches, including Bethany, swell with visitors for the traditional last weekend of summer, the government is reaffirming its belief in this beach and all of the wonderful opportunities it brings to our state,” he said. “As people leave this weekend, the Army Corps of Engineers will begin working diligently on replenishing the sand and dunes to protect this beach so that next year, on this very same weekend, people can enjoy the improvements we are starting here today."

 

The project calls for 3.2 million cubic yards of sand to create a beach-and-dune system along 2.8 miles of ocean front from the northern end of Bethany Beach to Fenwick Island State Park. The sand will be pumped in from an offshore borrow area approximately 2.5 miles east of South Bethany Beach. The beach will be widened by a minimum of 150 feet with an average elevation of 7 feet above sea level. The dunes will have a 25-foot wide dune crest and will be built to an average elevation of 16 feet above sea level. Beach grass will be planted and sand fences erected to provide shoreline protection and reduce the potential for coastal storm damage to property.

 

“It gives me great satisfaction to see the Bethany/South Bethany beach replenishment project begin,” Gov. Ruth Ann Minner said in a released statement. “I commend everyone involved for their dedication and perseverance. By replenishing the beaches in our vital communities of Bethany and South Bethany Beaches, we help protect property and lives from coastal storms. We also benefit from the recreation and tourism we derive from our beautiful beaches.”

 

"This much-needed replenishment is going to benefit the entire economy," said Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr., in another prepared statement. "Our residents and visitors will enjoy the superior safety, which we are able to achieve while preserving Bethany’s precious ecosystem. I can’t wait for it to be completed."

 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will manage construction for the project. “This project signifies the culmination of a process that began with a federal study in the early 1990s - materially reducing the risk of storm damages along Delaware's valuable Atlantic coastline," said Lt. Col. Gwen E. Baker, the Corps' Philadelphia District Commander. "We look forward to another successful partnership with our good friends at DNREC."

 

The prime contractor for the project is Weeks Marine Inc. of Covington, La.

 

DNREC/DART Mid-County Community Yard Waste Drop-Off Site opens upstate, with free mulch for the taking by citizens after leaving their yard waste behind

 

At the new DNREC/DART Mid-County Community Yard Waste Drop-Off Site, the operative phrase is "Come and leave it." Or perhaps it's "Come and leave some, and pick up some, too" – the "somes" being yard waste, first, and mulch made from it, second. Those are the possibilities for New Castle County residents, thanks to the county's first public yard waste drop-off site, which will alleviate a burden for the Cherry Island landfill when a ban on yard wastes goes into effect next year.

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 The DNREC/DART Mid-County Yard Waste Drop-Off site near Bear opened July 6.

The new site provides northern residents a cost-free option for disposing of their yard wastes. Residents in return may get an environmental benefit by reclaiming the waste after it has been turned into mulch when the facility opens July 6.

 A ribbon-cutting ceremony July 2 marked the opening of a site which "will help build and sustain community recycling activities,” DNREC Secretary John A. Hughes said. “Residents can participate in the effort to help keep yard wastes out of Cherry Island and other landfills. We encourage New Castle County residents to use this cost-effective and environmentally-sound alternative for their yard waste disposal.”

Secretary Hughes was joined at the unveiling of the new site by Brock J. Vinton, Chairman of the Recycling Public Advisory Council; Pasquale Canzano, CEO of the Delaware Solid Waste Authority; State Representative Valerie Longhurst of the 15th District; and Chris Coons, New Castle County Executive.

 

The three-acre site is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Located at DART’s mid-county facility at the southwest corner of U.S. Rt. 13 and Rt. 72 near Bear, it is easily-accessible from U.S. Rt. 13 South for New Castle County residents to drop off yard wastes and pick up free mulch.

 

 

 

The Mid-County Yard Waste Drop-Off site was unveiled July 2. Wielding the scissors for the ribbon-cutting ceremony were, left to right: Valerie Longhurst, State Representative, 15th District; Brock J. Vinton, Chairman, Recycling Public Advisory Council; Chris Coons, New Castle County Executive; Pasquale S. Canzano, CEO, Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA) and John A. Hughes, Secretary, DNREC.

                                   

Yard wastes make up nearly a quarter of the residential waste in Delaware and include all plant materials resulting from lawn maintenance and landscaping activities. This includes grass, leaves, prunings, brush, shrubs, garden materials, Christmas trees, and tree limbs up to 4 inches in diameter.

 

The new site will begin taking the burden of yard waste disposal from Cherry Island Landfill before a ban goes into effect there Jan. 24, 2008. The site is for use by residents only; commercial businesses, such as landscaping and lawn care companies are not allowed to use the site, nor can municipalities.

 

Signs, listing yard waste materials that are acceptable for drop-off, are posted. Only loose material can be left; plastic bags and other containers must be emptied and removed from the site.

 

As another enticement to use the site for disposing of yard wastes, residents also can pick up free mulch created from it beginning July 6. Mulch benefits plants and the soil by conserving moisture, impeding weed growth and increasing the soil’s organic content. Mulching also reduces the need for chemical herbicides and fertilizers.

 

Planned Blackbird Creek land acquisition, to be made with federal funding and with DNREC's support, will bring 560 acres under conservation and enhances Delaware's estuarine area

 

The Blackbird-Millington Conservation Corridor is a pristine blue-green ribbon of water and woodland extending from the mouth of Blackbird Creek on the Delaware Bay in southern New Castle County to the town of Millington in neighboring Maryland. Today, that treasured ribbon stands to be widened with additional land preserved for the future.

 

An agreement has been reached to purchase 360 acres along Eagles Nest Road near the headwaters of Blackbird Creek for $3.24 million—including $3 million in eligible federal funds. Negotiations also are pending to acquire a second 200-acre property.

 

Both tracts are adjacent to the core area of the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR), of which Blackbird Creek is a component area, and both contain significant freshwater wetlands, extensive mature forest cover, and known and considered species of concern.

 

The acquisition comes via an announcement that the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has selected for FY 2007 funding eligibility the two properties as land conservation projects in what has been called one of the most ecologically valuable areas remaining on the Delmarva Peninsula.

 

Photo by David Carter

An aeriel view of Blackbird Creek at the core area of the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR)


The projects, for which approximately $5.7 million in federal funding has been requested through NOAA’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program, will conserve the existing natural resources on the land and restore some areas altered from their natural state, such as returning farmland to meadow and forest land. The Eagles Nest Tract and the second property were selected from NOAA’s competitively-ranked list as ready and eligible for funding. Matching funds for the projects will come from a combination of in-kind land purchases, Delaware Open Space funds and private partner contributions.

NOAA’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) was established in 2002 to protect coastal and estuarine lands considered important for their ecological, conservation, recreational, historical or aesthetic value. With this protection of critical importance in Delaware,
adding such properties is part of a proactive program to protect lands currently threatened by the rapid residential development underway in southern New Castle County.

                                  Photo by Joanna Wilson

Roger L. Jones Jr., state director for The Nature Conservancy, speaks of his organization's support for land conservation during the Blackbird Creek land acquisition announcement. DNREC Secretary John A. Hughes, U.S. Representative Michael N. Castle and U.S. Senator Thomas R. Carper joined him in lauding the planned purchase of more than 560 acres of stream and woodland.

DNREC Secretary John A. Hughes thanked Delaware’s Congressional delegation and NOAA for their role in the land preservation. “The Blackbird Creek watershed area is especially vital, with its pristine waters, thriving ecosystems and lush landscape that has changed very little since the arrival of the first Europeans in the 1600s," Sec. Hughes said. “I cannot overstate the importance of preserving this area, both as a yardstick against which Delaware’s other watersheds can be measured, and for the enjoyment and enlightenment of future generations.”

Delaware’s Congressional delegation – Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Thomas R. Carper and Representative Michael N. Castle – all spoke of the Blackbird’s beauty and the need to preserve it. “I’m proud of the cooperative effort to preserve this precious watershed from unchecked development,” said Sen. Biden. “In the face of sprawl, every responsible step we take to defend nature’s gifts is a big one. Today is a great day for all of Delaware’s treasured landscapes.”

“The Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program is critical for the protection of coastal and estuarine lands. Protecting open space is particularly important in Delaware, where rapid development is underway, and the federal funding for the land purchase will help ensure that Blackbird Creek, with wetlands, forest, and important species, remains ecologically valuable,” Rep. Castle said.

DNERR was established as a federal/state partnership between NOAA and DNREC in 1993 under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act. DNERR preserves and manages the natural resources in the Reserve as a place for applied research, education and outreach programs that promote a better understanding of Delaware’s estuarine and coastal resources.

 

Since 2003, five parcels totaling 384.47 acres have been added to Blackbird, with federal programs contributing close to $4.1 million towards the purchases. The first major purchase was the 62-acre old Odessa campground in 2004, one of three purchases that received funding from NOAA. In 2006, the first property to be purchased with NOAA’s CELCP funds was the 163.87-acre Ellingsworth Tract of the Blackbird Reserve Wildlife Area, consisting of agricultural lands and mature forest. Both the Ellingsworth Tract and the new Eagles Nest Tract will become a new 523-acre state wildlife area managed by the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife.

 

 

*****

The new DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor Reserve, near Milford, is a state-of-the-art interpretive science center that offers an up-close encounter with the unique animals and plants of the Delaware Bay and Estuary.
The new DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor Reserve, near Milford, is a state-of-the-art interpretive science center that offers an up-close encounter with the unique animals and plants of the Delaware Bay and Estuary.

DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife’s new DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor Reserve drew more than 300 people for the opening of the new state-of-the-art interpretive science center located on the shores of the Mispillion River and Delaware Bay near Milford.

The distinctive red-roofed center includes an observation deck with telescopes to view the harbor, bay and shoreline, and the more than 130 species of fish, shellfish, waterfowl and birds that populate the area. Environmentalists, science educators and tourism organizations from across the state celebrated the opening festivities and later toured the center, which is filled with exhibits devoted to the Delaware Bay’s natural history and ecology.

The center showcases the more than 30 species of shorebirds, including the Red Knot, that visit the Delaware Bay each spring. The bay is a major stop for shorebirds that travel thousands of miles from wintering grounds in South America to breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic. The shorebirds stop here for food  - primarily the protein-packed horseshoe crab eggs – that provide the fuel they need to continue their journeys. This breathtaking display is not seen anywhere else on earth. . (For more information about the shorebirds and their habitat, go to http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Shorebirds/DelBayConn.htm.)

Inside the center visitors can view shorebirds and horseshoe crabs along the shoreline more than 100 yards away, courtesy of the remote camera and 42-inch plasma viewing screen.

The center is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday through June 30, to give birders optimum opportunities for watching migrating shorebirds. Beginning July 1, the center's hours will be Monday-Friday 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. The nature center grounds will remain open each day until sundown.

DIRECTIONS to F&W's DuPont Nature Center: Take Del. Route 1 to Rt. 36 East (Milford/Slaughter Beach exit) and proceed on Rt. 36 - also called the Cedar Beach Road – toward Slaughter Beach for 4.6 miles. Turn Left on Lighthouse Road and continue toward the Delaware Bay. The center is located at 2992 Lighthouse Road, Milford.

For more information, contact Dawn Webb, Center Manager, DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, 302-422-1329.

Early visitors to DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife’s DuPont Nature Center give a “shorebird’s-eye” view to a display of marine creatures found in the Delaware Bay and Estuary. Gov. Ruth Ann Minner’s dedication address for the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s new DuPont Nature Center complimented “so many people here today who have worked diligently in support of habitat protection and environmental education.”
Early visitors to DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife’s DuPont Nature Center give a “shorebird’s-eye” view to a display of marine creatures found in the Delaware Bay and Estuary. Gov. Ruth Ann Minner’s dedication address for the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s new DuPont Nature Center complimented “so many people here today who have worked diligently in support of habitat protection and environmental education.”

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