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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : DNREC's Division of Fish & Wildlife dedicates three wildlife area tracts

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  Contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife dedicates
three wildlife area tracts that conserve land for
habitat, public enjoyment and recreational use

DOVER (June 20, 2013) – The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife recently dedicated three state-owned and managed wildlife area tracts in honor of the families who previously owned the land and in recognition of the conservation, recreational and educational opportunities these acquisitions provide.

“A crucial part of the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s mission is to conserve lands and waters that provide habitat for the fish, wildlife and plant species that make Delaware unique,” said David Saveikis, DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife director. “By partnering with landowners who are committed to preserving their properties for the future like the Carey, Matarese and Campanelli families, we can continue to add to Delaware’s public lands, which not only support our wildlife but also enrich our lives and those of our children and grandchildren by providing public hunting, fishing, nature study and educational access.”

“We have already lost a lot of lands and locations that should have been preserved. We should always be looking ahead two or three generations, and if we’re not, we’re going to lose more valuable properties and opportunities for present and future generations, which is why it is important to provide incentives to conserve lands for the public such as naming parcels after families that previously owned the land,” said Edward Montague, chair of the Advisory Council on Wildlife and Freshwater Fish. “I congratulate these three families for their generosity and foresight in ensuring the conservation of these lands.”

Carey Point Tract, Assawoman Wildlife Area, Sussex County
Nancy Carey, State Rep. Ronald Gray (38th District) left, David Saveikis, Div. of Fish & Wildlife, at dedication of Carey TractThe Carey family donated the 22-acre tract to the Division of Fish and Wildlife at the end of last year to serve as a wildlife sanctuary, incorporated into the Assawoman Wildlife Area in Sussex County’s Inland Bays region. It adjoins the Swann Keys community, which is on land once owned and used by the Carey family for grazing cattle.

The property is located about two miles west of Fenwick Island within the Little Assawoman Watershed, fronting Dirickson Creek. Composed of tidal emergent wetlands, the tract provides salt-marsh habitat for a variety of species including waterfowl, herons, shorebirds, shellfish and fish while purifying water and protecting Swann Keys from tidal flooding.

With the busy bay and ocean beach resorts just minutes away, the newly-christened Carey Point Tract is like a little island of natural beauty, with marsh stretching out into Dirickson Creek, said Nancy Carey, one of the three Carey siblings who owned and donated the land.  

“Just looking around during the dedication, I thought how beautiful this place is – you can’t help but feel refreshed just seeing it. Also, I noticed an abundance of wildlife – willet, blue heron, egrets and a variety of smaller birds. I can only imagine what is underneath what you can see, including periwinkles and other aquatic life,” Ms. Carey said, noting that she and her brothers, Andrew Carey and Asher Carey III, felt that with the land permanently preserved, people would be able to enjoy this beauty in perpetuity – benefiting people, property and the planet.  

“In addition, we understand how wetlands protect the environment and surrounding communities by absorbing tidal waters and flooding,” Ms. Carey added. “So we’re entrusting this property to the State of Delaware, because it has the resources to protect this productive, protective and beautiful resource for generations to come.” 

The original tracts at the heart of Assawoman Wildlife Area were acquired by the State of Delaware from the federal government in 1957 as one of Delaware’s first managed wildlife areas. Today, Assawoman Wildlife Area encompasses more than 3,100 acres of tidal marsh, impounded wetlands, forestlands and grasslands. Visitors to Assawoman Wildlife Area’s main unit can enjoy auto tours, fishing, crabbing, wildlife and birdwatching, hiking or biking dirt roads, canoeing, kayaking, and deer, waterfowl, turkey, dove and small game hunting in season. Amenities include a fishing/crabbing pier, picnic pavilions, an observation tower and two boat ramps for smaller power boats.  

Matarese Tract, Woodland Beach Wildlife Area, Kent County
Mr. Saveikis thanks Mrs. Philomena Matarese for her family’s donating a conservation easement for the Matarese TractThe 262-acre Matarese Tract was purchased by the Division of Fish and Wildlife in 1991 using Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration funds. The tract was incorporated into the Woodland Beach Wildlife Area east of Smyrna. The Matarese family also donated a conservation easement on 12 additional acres. 

A complex of buildings on the acquired property fronting Route 9 including the Mallard Lodge became the home of the Aquatic Resources Education Center (AREC). With its ideal location on the edge of the marsh on the Delaware Bayshore, AREC annually hosts thousands of visitors including science teachers for training, learn-to-fish programs in its three catch-and-release ponds, and schoolchildren on field trips from around the state. Students travel AREC’s 940-foot boardwalk to learn hands-on lessons about the marsh and its inhabitants.

Located within the Leipsic River Watershed as part of the larger Delaware Bay Watershed, the Matarese Tract includes a mix of early successional habitat, farm fields, freshwater impoundment and ponds, salt marsh, and some old growth hardwoods. The boardwalk also provides a spectacular view of windswept native marsh grasses and open water stretching out to meet the blue-gray waters of the bay. The Matarese Tract also celebrates and continues the long hunting tradition on the property by providing public hunting opportunities, particularly for waterfowl.

“It was truly an honor for my family to attend the dedication of the Matarese Tract at Woodland Beach Wildlife Area, said Mrs. Philomena Matarese. “To know that the property is being used to benefit so many is very gratifying.” 

The Woodland Beach Wildlife Area encompasses 6,320 acres, including a 60-acre waterfowl refuge, a popular fishing pier in the town of Woodland Beach, and a 1.5-mile hiking and nature trail, drawing anglers, crabbers, hunters, hikers, birdwatchers, photographers and beachcombers 

The Julia Anne Campanelli Tract, Blackbird Reserve Wildlife Area, New Castle County
The Campanelli family at dedication of the Julia Anne Campanelli Tract, Blackbird Reserve Wildlife Area, New Castle CountyThe 161-acre Campanelli Tract was purchased in 2007 from the Campanelli family using Delaware Open Space funds. The tract was incorporated into the Blackbird Reserve Wildlife Area east of Townsend, one of the newest additions to the roster of state wildlife areas.

The Blackbird Hundred property is within the Smyrna River Watershed as part of the larger Delaware Bay Watershed and the Delaware Bayshore. The mostly-wooded tract fronts Gardner Road and includes old growth mixed hardwood habitat rich with Tuliptree, along with seasonal ponds and freshwater wetlands. Also running through the property are two tributaries of the Sawmill Branch, which flows into the Smyrna River. A variety of wildlife and rare plants have been documented on the tract, which provides public hunting, birdwatching and other outdoor opportunities.

Joseph Campanelli Sr. and John Campanelli Jr., along with their parents, Mary Jane and John Campanelli Sr., attended the dedication of the tract to their disabled sister, Julia Anne Campanelli, who lives at the Mary Campbell Center in north Wilmington. The Campanellis are developers, dedicated hunters and conservationists who have long enjoyed the Blackbird area for its good hunting and beautiful natural areas.

“We bought the property for hunting and hunted on it for about 20 years,” said Joseph Campanelli Sr., noting they are now continuing their hunting tradition on a property downstate. “A lot of the Blackbird property is seasonal wetlands with good hunting, and it’s surrounded by similar property, so we decided its best use would be to preserve it as a natural area.”

The 835-acre Blackbird Reserve Wildlife Area comprises a mix of forest and former agricultural lands under restoration, coastal plain ponds and wooded wetlands, including a 25-acre wetland enhancement project. Located near the bustling Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area, the reserve invites hiking, wildlife and birdwatching, photography, and small game, turkey and archery-only deer hunting by permit in season.  


The Woodland Beach and Blackbird Reserve wildlife areas are part of the Delaware Bayshore. DNREC’s Delaware Bayshore Initiative is a landscape approach to restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat, increase volunteer participation in habitat stewardship projects, enhance low-impact outdoor recreation and ecotourism opportunities, and promote associated environmentally compatible economic development in the Delaware Bayshore region. For more information, click Delaware Bayshore.


These state wildlife areas also support Delaware’s Children in Nature Initiative, a statewide effort to improve environmental literacy in Delaware, create opportunities for children to participate in enriching outdoor experiences, combat childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyles. Delaware’s multi-agency initiative, which partners state and federal agencies with community organizations, is part of the national No Child Left Inside program.

Vol. 43, No. 254

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