Contact Melanie Rapp, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
Delaware Bayshore Initiative launched to spur conservation,
recreation and eco-tourism in state's coastal communities
Project part of America's Great Outdoors Initiative
SLAUGHTER BEACH, Del. (May 29, 2012) – Against a backdrop of the annual horseshoe crab spawning spectacle and red knot migration, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar joined Governor Jack Markell, Delaware’s Congressional Delegation of Senator Tom Carper, Senator Chris Coons and Congressman John Carney, DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara and other dignitaries to launch the Delaware Bayshore Initiative, part of the national vision for America’s Great Outdoors.
Secretary Salazar traveled to Delaware to announce his support for the Delaware Bayshore Initiative. Along with the proposed First State National Historic Park, the Bayshore Initiative received national recognition as one of two Delaware projects included in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s “American Great Outdoors 50-State Report” highlighting some of the country’s most promising ways to reconnect Americans to the natural world.
“While we have already achieved a great deal together in protecting 60 percent of the Delaware Bayshore, we still have a lot of work to do if we are going to conserve this region in the face of pressures like climate change, sea level rise, and human development,” Salazar said at a kickoff event today near Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. “This initiative reinforces our shared commitment to protect the region’s clean air, clean water, coastal marshes and beaches, and agricultural lands, all of which support jobs and a vibrant recreation and tourism economy.”
Gov. Markell welcomed Sec. Salazar and thanked the Department of the Interior for support of the Delaware Bayshore Initiative that will enhance and promote the Bayshore area as a world-class conservation and low-impact recreation area, strengthen historic local communities, and improve the quality of life for all Delawareans.
“The Bayshore Initiative builds on Delaware’s reputation as a unique and beautiful natural resource and boosts our economy. The initiative is encouraging more Delawareans and visitors to enjoy the state as a world-class birding and wildlife-watching destination,” said Gov. Markell. “I want to thank Secretary Salazar, our federal partners, bayshore communities, and the many organizations and individuals working collaboratively. Together we ensure that we are conserving and protecting the Delaware Bayshore and its wild and scenic landscape for future generations.”
“The Delaware Bay shoreline includes precious coastal marshes, farms and forests that are home to many diverse species, spectacular views, and great recreational opportunities,” said Sen. Carper. “The Delaware Bayshore Initiative will help our continuing efforts to protect these lands for generations to come, while encouraging Delawareans and visitors to the First State to get outside and enjoy these beautiful natural treasures. Protecting and highlighting these valuable lands provides growth opportunities for tourism – one of our state’s largest employment sectors. As part of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, the Delaware Bayshore Initiative is a great way to bring awareness to the wildlife and recreational opportunities that exist just outside Delawareans’ front doors.”
From Delaware City to Lewes, Delaware’s Bayshore communities are a treasured natural resource enjoyed by both residents and tourists from around the world,” Sen. Coons said. “The Bayshore Initiative continues to build on the legacy of one of Delaware’s most well-known and beloved conservationists, Governor Russell Peterson. I am delighted that Secretary Salazar was able to participate in the launch of this vital initiative, ensuring access to our state’s most beautiful landscapes.”
"Delaware is blessed with beautiful natural resources, including the areas along our coastline that will be preserved through the Delaware Bayshore Initiative,” said Rep. Carney. “This project is a tremendous opportunity to bring more Delawareans and visitors to the area, as well as protect the marshes, agricultural land, and forests that are home to many species of birds and wildlife. I’m very pleased that the Bayshore Initiative is part of the America’s Great Outdoors program, and I look forward to the area being preserved for generations to come.”
The Delaware Bayshore Initiative’s goals include improvements in several areas. The initiative focuses on:
o Protecting and connecting existing wildlife areas;
o Keeping private farmlands in production;
o Continuing and expanding habitat restoration efforts;
· Low-Impact Recreation
o Enhancing public access to wild areas;
o Providing recreational amenities to promote hunting, fishing, birding, hiking, biking, kayaking, and canoeing;
o Increasing wildlife-viewing opportunities with interpretation and educational opportunities for youth;
· Stronger Communities
o Investing in historic Bayshore communities;
o Encouraging ecotourism and new retail/hospitality business opportunities;
o Supporting local volunteerism and resource stewardship, and
o Promoting the Bayshore regionally, nationally, and internationally.
“The ecologically-rich Delaware Bayshore includes some of most significant wildlife habitat in the world and is worthy of designation as a national conservation area,” said DNREC Sec. O’Mara. “Building upon decades of significant conservation attention and investment, now is the time to take our efforts to the next level and make the enhancements necessary to make the Bayshore a premier global destination for wildlife-related recreational opportunities.”
According to a new study recently published by the nonprofit Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, camping, cycling and wildlife viewing contribute nearly $4 billion annually to the economy on the Delmarva Peninsula. With more than 30 million Americans living within a three hour drive, providing low-impact access to a premier wildlife destination will support businesses and create new opportunities for ecotourism within the Bayshore.
The Delaware Bayshore extends from Delaware City in New Castle County to the city of Lewes in Sussex County and includes towns known for their storied past in Delaware’s fishing, crabbing and oyster industries, including Leipsic, Little Creek, Bowers Beach, Slaughter Beach, Milford and Lewes. Today, they remain home to many of the state’s recreational and commercial fishing vessels, and offer some of the state’s most unique tourist destinations.
“The small towns along the Delaware Bayshore enjoy a deep and rich heritage, which evolved from maritime industries,” said Ron Hunsicker, mayor of Bowers Beach. “Not only should we preserve this heritage but expand it. The residents who have long enjoyed the blessings that the Bayshore provides must dedicate themselves to making these natural gifts available to everyone. Only then will we realize the true potential that nature has given us. Through the Bayshore Initiative, we seek partnerships that will maximize resources to make this possible.”
The Bayshore is widely recognized as an area of global ecological significance. Its expansive coastal marshes, shoreline, agricultural lands and forests provide diverse habitat to more than 400 species of birds and wildlife. In 1992 the Delaware Bay Estuary was designated as a Wetland of International Significance by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, because it provides critical resting and feeding areas for migratory shore and wading birds. The Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society both list the region as globally significant wildlife habitat.
Birders and biologists from around the world come to central Delaware’s Bayshore to witness the annual spring spectacle of more than a half million shorebirds taking a rest stop to dine on the eggs of horseshoe crabs. In 1986, Delaware Bay joined the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network as a Site of Hemispheric Importance due to the sheer number of shorebirds that use the bay as a migratory stopover. In addition to birding enthusiasts, the Bayshore offers quality recreational opportunities for hunters and anglers, boaters and kayakers, casual wildlife watchers, and families seeking outdoor opportunities to recreate and learn about nature.
The Delaware Bayshore Initiative continues the conservation commitment made over the past half century by citizens groups, like Delaware Wild Lands and government officials like Governor Russell W. Peterson in establishing Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act. Due in large part to this legacy, most of the Bayshore’s acreage is formally protected as state, federal and private conservation lands and remains undeveloped today. More than 134,000 acres are already protected as national wildlife refuges, state wildlife areas, state parks, national estuarine research reserves, private conservation organizations, agricultural preserves, and cultural heritage sites throughout the Bayshore area.
“We owe this wealth of protected lands to the private landowners and many conservation partners who had the vision, foresight, and commitment to see they would be protected forever,” said Kate Hackett, Executive Director of Delaware Wild Lands. “A healthy economy does not have to preclude a healthy environment and the challenge that lies before us is to develop innovative partnerships that can both embrace the unique characteristics of conservation partners and advance our common goals.”
“The Delaware Estuary supports more than $10 billion of economic activity in our region, however, much of the economic potential for tourism and wildlife-related recreation remains untapped," said Jennifer Adkins, executive director of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, which in, partnership with the Delaware Office of Economic Development sponsors the ecotourism website: ecodelaware.com. "The Delaware Bayshore Initiative will build upon existing efforts and marshall new resources to drive habitat protection, promote tourism, and strengthen local economies."
Today’s event highlighted several Bayshore projects – including key land conservation, habitat restoration and low-impact recreation projects made possible through a variety of partnerships and federal, state and private funding sources. The list of initial projects is attached.
Delaware’s Bayshore Initiative includes local, state and national partners: Delaware Wild Lands; Partnership for the Delaware Estuary; The Nature Conservancy; The Conservation Fund; Delaware Nature Society; National Wildlife Federation; Delmarva Ornithological Society; Ducks Unlimited; Sussex Bird Club; Delaware Audubon Society; Friends of Bombay Hook, Prime Hook and the DuPont Nature Center; The Delaware Lenape Tribe; Delaware Center for Horticulture; Mt. Cuba Center; Sierra Club; American Birding Association; American Bird Conservancy; Atlantic Flyway Council; Delaware Bay Migratory Shorebird Project; Atlantic Coast Joint Venture; DuPont Clear into the Future; Wildlife Management Institute; Delaware Bass Federation; Delaware Trout Association; Quality Deer Management; Delaware Museum of Natural History; National Audubon Society Marine, Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute; Delaware Greenways; Bike Delaware; Delaware Bicycle Council; Delaware Trail Spinners; State of New Jersey; University of Delaware; Delaware State University; Delaware Technical and Community College; Delaware Association for Environmental Education; North American Land Trust; Delaware River and Bay Authority; Delaware’s Congressional Delegation; Office of Delaware Governor Jack Markell; the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control; Delaware Economic Development Office/Tourism, Delaware; Department of Agriculture; Delaware Farm Bureau; Delaware Agricultural Museum; Delaware Department of Transportation; Delaware Department of State; State Conservation Districts; Delaware Association of Conservation Districts; State, County and Local Planning Offices; State Advisory Councils; Friends Groups; Neumors and Sussex Outdoors; Delaware Coalition of Healthy Eating and Active Living; New Castle, Kent and Sussex County Governments; Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies; United States Department of Interior/Fish and Wildlife Service; U.S. Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service & Rural Development; U.S. Department of Commerce/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Mid-Atlantic Council on the Oceans; U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highways Administration; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Local Municipalities, including Delaware City, Port Penn, Leipsic, Little Creek, Bowers Beach, Slaughter Beach, Milford, and Lewes; Local Historical Societies; New Castle County Chamber of Commerce; Kent County & Greater Dover Convention and Visitors Bureau; Southern Delaware Tourism, Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau; Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce; Southern Delaware Chamber of Commerce; local Chambers of Commerce; Delmarva Low Impact Tourism Experiences; and local businesses that support tourism.
For more information on the Delaware Bayshore Initiative, please visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Pages/Delaware.Bayshore.aspx. To learn more about the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, visit. http://americasgreatoutdoors.gov/. Come explore the Bayshore … and discover Delaware’s wild side!
Delaware Bayshore Initiative:
Key Land Conservation, Habitat Restoration and
Low-Impact Recreation Projects for 2011 - 2012
National Coastal Wetlands Grant through the U.S. Dept. of the Interior: Thousand Acres Marsh near Port Penn In January Delaware was awarded this federal grant of nearly $1 million that will be used, along with matching funds from the state Open Space Program and private contributions from the Delmarva Ornithological Society and The Nature Conservancy, to acquire the 194-acre property, known as the Yardley Dale LLC tract, located in the Thousand Acre Marsh. The acquisition will bring a total of 388 acres of the marsh under protection, providing productive marsh habitat important for waterfowl, shorebirds and fisheries. The new property will provide public access for wildlife-related recreation and viewing. Plans include building a platform for bird watching with interpretive signs, blinds for duck hunters and enhancing an existing walking path along the edge of the woodland and fields.
Cedar Creek Boat Launch Facility near Slaughter Beach A new Cedar Creek Boat launch facility opening in June expands and enhances water access for recreational boating in the Bayshore. The facility features eight 16-foot wide launch lanes, five boarding docks and one courtesy dock. Ample parking is provided in a lighted and striped eco-turf area which includes 184 parking spaces and a stormwater management system with about 8,800 square feet of wetland plantings. The project was funded by $3.2 million in federal Sport Fish Restoration funds allocated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state matching funds from fishing and boating license fees.
The Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Project The Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Project supports both the ecological restoration of the native oyster and the revitalization of our commercial oyster industry. Between 2005 and 2011, the Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Task Force deposited almost 2.4 million bushels of shell onto existing oyster reefs in the Delaware Bay, increasing oyster harvests and saving and adding jobs to the region. Aggressive shell planting in Delaware Bay between 2005 and 2009 is credited with bringing Delaware Bay oysters back from the brink of collapse. This collaborative effort also demonstrated a $33 to $1 return on investment based on dockside value, an economic benefit for the Delaware Bay oyster industry and bay shores communities. In 2008, the Delaware-New Jersey Task Force was honored with the President’s Coastal America Partnership Award, the only environmental award of its kind given by the White House.
Route 9 Scenic Byway: Corridor Management Plan Development In 2007, the 52-mile Route 9 corridor from Old New Castle south to the John Dickinson Plantation near Dover was designated as a State Scenic Byway, recognizing the natural beauty, scenic vistas and historic features found along the corridor. Delaware Greenways, in partnership with the Delaware Department of Transportation and DNREC, is currently leading the development of a Corridor Management Plan (CMP). The process will include a public workshop to gather input that will guide development of Byway management strategies. The strategies will address Conservation and Enhancement, Tourism, Recreation, and Interpretation and Education, among other strategies for the Byway. Because the Route 9 Scenic Byway CMP is being developed at the same time the Delaware Bayshore Initiative is being launched, and both initiatives focus on protecting and enhancing the natural qualities of the Bayshore, the two efforts will be closely coordinated where they overlap in the northern half of the Bayshore. The Byway CMP is being funded by a Federal Highway Administration grant administered and distributed by DelDOT to Delaware Greenways.
Land Conservation and Habitat Restoration
Projects completed or underway at specific protected areas are listed from north to south in the Bayshore, with projects distributed throughout the Bayshore near the end of the list.
Pea Patch Island Habitat Restoration and Heronry Enhancements With the support of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) State Wildlife Grants and Delaware Stewardship Funds, and with collaboration between the Divisions of Fish and Wildlife and Parks and Recreation, work is underway to restore more than 20 acres of forest on Pea Patch Island currently dominated by invasive tree-of-heaven and other invasive plants. Pea Patch Island is part of Fort Delaware State Park, and supports the largest mixed-species heronry in the Northeast U.S. Dedicated volunteers assist Parks and Recreation staff with conducting colony surveys to monitor the health of nesting of herons and egrets.
Fort DuPont State Park Habitat Restoration DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation is working in collaboration with Delmarva Ornithological Society and local Boy Scouts, to reforest four acres by replanting native trees and shrubs in an area that was cleared of invasive plants. Together their efforts will benefit migrating and nesting songbirds, and enhance wildlife viewing opportunities at this State Park in New Castle County.
Augustine and Cedar Swamp Wildlife Areas Habitat Restoration With the support of USFWS State Wildlife Grants, over 4 miles of exotic, invasive autumn olive hedgerows were removed from the Cedar Swamp and Augustine Wildlife Areas, and are currently being restored to native trees and shrubs. These hedgerows were also buffered with filter strips of native grasses and forbs. Many species of conservation concern are dependent on field, meadow and shrubland habitats often associated with farmland landscapes.
Delaware Wild Lands Sharp Farm Habitat Restoration With the support of USFWS State Wildlife Grants, Delaware Wild Lands contributed matching funds to restore habitat on the 431-acre Sharp Farm north of Odessa, which is owned and managed by Delaware Wild Land, by planting more than 2,000 native trees and shrubs to expand Coastal Plain Upland Forest on the property, and by controlling seven invasive plant species in a core area of the farm to enhance the quality of existing forest habitat for nesting songbirds and raptors.
Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area Habitat Protection Nearly 100 acres valued at $439,000 was recently donated to DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife as an addition to Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area in New Castle County. The property features farmland, forest and wetland habitats, and offers spectacular views of Collins Beach Marsh. This new property will continue to serve as an important buffer for the adjacent marsh habitat in the watershed with the lowest percentage of impervious surface in the state.
Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area Wetland Restoration With the support of Delaware’s Duck Stamp Program funds and in partnership with Ducks Unlimited and the Kent Conservation District, 30 acres of shallow-water wetlands were recently restored at Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area, with a another 20 acres of wetland restoration planned for adjacent fields. Waterfowl, shorebirds and other species dependent on wetland habitats will benefit from these efforts.
Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area Early Successional Habitat Restoration With the support of USFWS Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds, nearly 100 acres of habitat have been restored on Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area by converting dense monoculture stands of grasses into more open areas with diverse species and structure to improve habitat for meadow, grassland and shrubland birds and enhance wildlife viewing opportunities.
Blackbird Reserve Wildlife Area Habitat Protection Working with Delaware Department of Transportation, an additional 137 acres of mature hardwoods, field, shrub habitat, and farmland was permanently protected and added to the Blackbird Reserve Wildlife Area. This additional property will be open for hunting and other wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities.
Blackbird Reserve Wildlife Area Habitat Restoration Habitat restoration on Blackbird Reserve Wildlife Area included 80 acres of additional forest replanted with the support of funding from DelDOT and State Wildlife Grants, and 3.5 acres of shallow-water wetlands was restored and buffered by 16 acres of goose pasture and 24 acres of food plots as mitigation for the loss of migratory Canada geese attributed to the Athos I oil spill.
Kent County Wildlife Area Invasive Species Control USFWS Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds and matching funds generated by the sale of hunting licenses, supported invasive species control on four Wildlife Areas within the Delaware Bayshore, focusing on eight invasive species that impact important habitat for a diversity of wildlife. Targeted invasive species include autumn olive, multiflora rose, Johnsongrass, Canada thistle, reed canary grass, kudzu, mile-a-minute, and garlic mustard.
Little Creek Wildlife Area Early Successional Habitat Restoration With the support of USFWS Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration, nine acres of an agricultural field were converted into a native wildflower meadow at Little Creek Wildlife Area, and over 100 acres of brush across four wildlife areas were converted to early successional field habitat. Forty-foot buffers were added to agricultural fields at Milford Neck Wildlife Area’s Masten-Dickerson tract enhancing 35 acres of habitat.
Little Creek and Ted Harvey Wildlife Area Wetland Restoration Projects With the support USFWS Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds including State Wildlife Grant fund and matching funds generated by the sale of hunting licenses, 10 acres of wetland restoration were recently completed on the Little Creek and Ted Harvey Wildlife Areas, including placement of water control structures in ditches to restore wetlands that benefit waterfowl and Cope’s gray treefrog and spotted turtles, the latter both species of conservation concern in Delaware.
Ted Harvey Wildlife Area Impoundment Water-level Management for Red Knots Efforts to target water-level management to improve roosting habitat for red knots during spring migration have paid off – more than 1,500 red knots were using the north and south impoundments at Ted Harvey Wildlife Area during high tides. The impoundments offer safe, shallow-water resting areas where red knots can digest horseshoe crab eggs and increase fat reserves for the last leg of their flight to Arctic nesting grounds. Past radio-telemetry tracking data indicated red knots feeding on Delaware’s Bayshore were wasting precious energy by flying 90-km round trips to roost on New Jersey’s Atlantic Coast. Providing safe roosting habitat in Delaware up and down the Bayshore will help red knots save energy for the flight north and provide them with reserves to start nesting even if food is scarce during the still-frigid Arctic spring.
Mispillion Harbor Reserve Fitzgerald Marsh Protection and Restoration The USFWS State Wildlife Grants Program and a matching donation of $30,000 from Delmarva Ornithological Society’s Bird-A-Thon Program supported the purchase and protection of 52 acres of marsh habitat in the Mispillion Harbor Reserve. This marsh is now being targeted for restoration designed to improve roosting habitat for red knot and other migratory shorebirds.
Mispillion Harbor Reserve Conservation Easement Donation A permanent conservation easement valued at $164,000 was donated to protect approximately 6 acres buffering adjacent Reserve marshes that serve as important nesting habitat for saltmarsh sparrows and rails, migratory stopover habitat for shorebirds, and foraging and roosting habitat for wintering raptors.
Cape Henlopen State Park Habitat Restoration Prescribed fire was used to enhance 25 acres of maritime dune and woodland habitat at Cape Henlopen State Park. This cross-department effort included the DNREC Divisions of Parks and Recreation and Fish and Wildlife, and the specially trained fire crew from the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service. Their efforts reduced hazardous fuel loads, thick understory vegetation and invasive Phragmites to benefit several rare plants, enhance piping p[lover nesting areas, and create improved nesting conditions for Common Nighthawk – all species of conservation concern in Delaware. On-going habitat restoration efforts at the park aim to remove Japanese black pines, Oriental bittersweet, Asian sand sedge, black locust and other invasive plants. This restoration work was supported by Parks and Recreation Stewardship funds, which are derived from the income generated by the state’s Land and Water Conservation Trust Fund.
Bay Beach Working Group A team of government officials and local leaders are working to develop long-term strategies to mitigate emerging challenges from erosion, subsidence, inland flooding, extreme weather events and sea-level rise. The group is currently conducting an economic analysis on various beach nourishment and habitat restoration alternatives and evaluating various funding options.
Phragmites Management on Private and Public Lands A total of 3,395 acres of phragmites was treated on private land through the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s cost-sharing program, with 40 landowners participating last year. This work was supported by USFWS State Wildlife Grant funds that leveraged state funds, and most landowners also partner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program to lower landowner share to only 12% of the total spraying cost. This partnership reduces the Division’s share of the operation to only 13% and allows limited State funds to go much farther. The Division also treated 2,375 acres on public areas in the Delaware Bayshore area including State Wildlife Areas and State Parks.
Private Lands Habitat Restoration Assistance More than 70 acres of habitat has been restored in cooperation with private landowners voluntarily entering into agreements with DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife to restore and maintain important habitat for species of concern. With assistance provided by the former USFWS Landowner Incentive Program, active agreements with six private landowners are maintaining 7 acres of wetland, 44 acres of early successional habitat, 4 acres of forest restoration, and 16 acres of invasive species management in the Bayshore area.
Impoundment Restoration Plan Coastal impoundment wetlands are at serious and urgent risk from the impacts of severe storms, erosion, subsidence and sea level rise. To ensure these vital habitats up and down the Bayshore coast can adapt to constantly changing conditions, the state and federal land managers and our conservation partners needed help evaluating the benefits and costs of different management actions. To do so, DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife teamed up with the Delaware Coastal Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey and the National Conservation Training Center to create a management tool for guiding decisions about restoration efforts and water-level management in multiple impoundments. This project aims to enhance impoundments on state wildlife areas and federal wildlife refuges to maximize benefits for waterfowl, shorebirds and fisheries, which in turn will be appreciated by waterfowl hunters, anglers and the thousands of birdwatchers that come to recreate in the Bayshore area. This project was funded in part by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and USFWS Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds, including State Wildlife Grant funds.
Impoundment Restoration Pilot Projects The National Wildlife Federation teamed up with the Division of Fish and Wildlife to develop a case study for adaptation of coastal impoundment habitats in Delaware. The case study describes two types of pilot projects: one that could create new shallow-water wetlands to replace impoundment functions lost to severe storms, erosion, subsidence and sea level rise; and another to restore part of an existing impoundment to saltmarsh as a buffer against storm and sea level rise impacts.
Sea-Level Rise Advisory Committee Representatives from state cabinet-level departments, municipal governments, business advocacy organizations, environmental groups, and citizen advocacy organizations are working together to develop an Adaptation Plan that reflects a wide-range of potential solutions to reduce risk to sea level rise impacts, including impacts to natural resources, infrastructure, and local communities, within the Bayshore region.
Low-Impact Recreational Enhancements
Waterway Trails and Access Adding to the widely popular canoe and kayak trail along Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge , DNREC’s Divisions of Fish and Wildlife and Parks and Recreation are beginning to explore the best options for establishing additional water trails along tidal rivers throughout the Bayshore. Identifying safe access points, marking trails to help trail users navigate their route and identifying partner guide services will be key elements in this effort.
Birding and Wildlife Viewing Enhancements Though many birding and wildlife viewing opportunities exist on public lands throughout the Bayshore, DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is working to identify key observation enhancements on new lands and improving viewing opportunities on existing public lands. The Division is seeking to make visits to these areas more welcoming and comfortable by providing directional signs to key viewing areas, by adding parking facilities and other amenities including composting restrooms, by providing well-maintained access trails, and adding observation platforms and towers at key viewing points with interpretative signs about habitat and wildlife. Efforts to further identify the best opportunities will be ongoing with birding groups and other conservation partners seeking quality nature experiences in the Bayshore public areas.
Hunting Access Improvements Numerous wildlife areas in the Bayshore provide access to duck blinds and deer stands for waterfowl and deer hunting. The Division of Fish and Wildlife is working to evaluate the quality and location of these amenities to determine where improvements are necessary to further enhance the outdoor experience.
Delaware Bayshore Welcome Center Numerous environmental educational destinations exist within the Bayshore region, including Blackbird National Estuarine Research Reserve, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, Aquatic Resources Educational Center, St. Jones National Estuarine Research Reserve, DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, and the Biden Center in Cape Henlopen State Park. Of these facilities, the Aquatic Resources Educational Center is in need of the most significant renovation and has the potential to serve as a regional welcome center, given its existing use as a living classroom for all fifth grade students in Delaware. DNREC is currently seeking corporate sponsorship to match state funds for the project.
Community Connections and Recreation The historic Bayshore communities each have unique attributes that make them attractive to residents and visitors alike. Working with the communities, DNREC will identify ways to connect to the broader Bayshore Initiative, including potential recreational amenities, such as canoe and kayak launches and trails, which encourage visitors to access local towns as the gateways to natural areas. Initial projects include completion of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Trail. For example, recently, the Town of Bowers Beach collaborated with DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation and Watershed Stewardship, to convert a parcel that flooded regularly into a bocce ball court which also provides stormwater protection.
Vol. 42, No. 200