Contact: Melanie Rapp, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902, Melanie.Rapp@state.de.us
Katie Wilson, (Sen. Carper’s office), 302-598-4915
Brian Cunningham, (Sen. Coons’ office), 302-573-6054
Albert Shields, (Rep. Carney’s office), 302-691-7333
Andrea Boyle, University of Delaware, 302-690-5138
Sens. Carper and Coons, US Rep. Carney and Sec. O’Mara
highlight $6.9 million in federal funding for Delaware Bayshore
projects that will restore wetlands and beach habitats
Projects include resiliency investments in Mispillion Harbor
and coastal impoundment wetlands in wildlife areas
DELAWARE BAYSHORE (June 27, 2014) – With the scenic beauty of Mispillion Harbor Reserve as a backdrop, Delaware’s Congressional Delegation of US Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Congressman John Carney and DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara were joined by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Northeast Regional Director Wendi Weber and National Fish & Wildlife Foundation field representative Martin McHugh to highlight the state’s $6.9 million in funding from the US Department of the Interior (DOI) through Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency appropriations.
This month, DOI Secretary Sally Jewell released $102.7 million in Sandy recovery funding to support 54 projects along the Atlantic coast. The funds awarded to Delaware were made available through a competitive grants program administered by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.
"Delaware is playing a leading role as we work to make coastal communities more resilient to future storms in the face of climate change and sea-level rise," said Interior Sec. Jewell, who announced the grants on June 16. "These grants make it possible for our partners here in Delaware to take action to restore and enhance beaches, marshes and other natural defenses that will help communities and wildlife recover from Sandy and create natural resilience for the future."
“Severe storms and coastal flooding have damaged protective tidal marshes and infrastructure posing significant risks to Delaware’s quality of life,” said Governor Jack Markell. "This funding builds on our efforts to not only restore resources damaged by Hurricane Sandy, but also to reduce the risk of major damage to Delaware’s Bayshore and all of our communities in future storms. Our Congressional Delegation recognizes that these initiatives protect our precious natural resources while also supporting jobs and strengthening our economy. I'm grateful for their work to support this funding.”
The federal funds will be used to design and construct projects to restore Delaware Bay wetland and beach habitats that will reduce coastal flooding and enhance the resiliency of ecosystems degraded by storms, including Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The funding supports Delaware’s efforts to protect lands, infrastructure, and communities along the Bayshore from future coastal storms and sea level rise. The federal grants will leverage state, local and partner funds.
“Over the years, the state and federal government have combined efforts to help mitigate the effects of superstorms,” said Sen. Carper. “Whether it is creating wide, robust beaches and a strong and healthy dune system, or looking at new ways to build roads to withstand flooding, Delaware is constantly looking at ways to protect our homes, businesses and communities from strong storms. I am confident this funding will help Delaware explore other adaptive measures so when the next major storm strikes, the First State will be prepared.”
"Protecting and restoring Delaware's wetlands and coastal habitats is incredibly important to maintain our significant and unique natural resources," said Sen. Coons. "In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, these much-needed funds will help a great deal in restoring and repairing Delaware's vast natural ecosystem and protecting such animals as horseshoe crabs and the imperiled Red Knot in the Mispillion Harbor Reserve and Milford Neck Conservation Area."
“The Delaware coastline is a beautiful natural habitat enjoyed by residents and visitors across the region. It’s our responsibility to help protect this resource for future generations to enjoy,” said Congressman Carney. “The federal funding announced today protects central areas of the Delaware Bayshore, the animals and wildlife that rely on it, and surrounding land and residences. It’s essential work so that these parts of our state can be better prepared for the next storm emergency.”
“Improving Delaware’s coastal resiliency and preparedness to storms, sea level rise and other climate impacts is not just essential for wildlife habitat, it’s important for supporting a thriving economy and protecting the health and safety of our residents,” said Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara. “I want to commend everyone involved – our Congressional Delegation, Senators Carper and Coons and Congressman Carney – for their help in bringing this important funding to Delaware. I am also proud of our DNREC team and the collaborative effort to pursue these funds with partners such as The Nature Conservancy, Delaware Wild Lands, Delmarva Ornithological Society, the National Wildlife Federation and the many communities impacted by coastal storms."
Delaware was awarded three DOI grants that will be used for projects in the state’s central Bayshore area degraded by coastal storms, severe flooding and erosion – an area that no longer provides high quality habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife dependent on coastal marshes and wetlands. The central Bayshore marshes, a major stopover point in the Atlantic Flyway for migratory waterfowl and shorebirds, and the surrounding lands and adjacent resources are at risk for more severe flooding, erosion and saltwater intrusion, which has been greatly accelerated by multiple coastal storms in recent years. The projects will benefit more than 15,000 acres of tidal marshes and wetlands and more than 3 miles of beach habitat and protect more than 2 miles of navigation channels.
“These grants are in many ways symbolic of the core mission of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “They address current challenges, but at the same time, they lay the groundwork for addressing community needs and advancing long-term conservation of critical habitat and species. And these grants leverage the initial investment from the Department of the Interior with millions of dollars of additional funding and in-kind contributions, leading to a much greater conservation impact for those regions devastated by Hurricane Sandy.”
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) was awarded two grants totaling $6.5 million that will increase coastal resiliency of Bayshore lands from Mispillion Harbor (near the Town of Slaughter Beach) to Milford Neck Conservation Area and from the Mahon River (near the Town of Little Creek) to the St. Jones River.
A $4.5 million grant to DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife entails projects that will restore the most vulnerable shorelines in Mispillion Harbor, increase resiliency of important habitat for spawning horseshoe crabs and migratory shorebirds including the Red Knot, and protect the tidal flow and navigation channels of the Mispillion River and Cedar Creek. Restoration and resiliency planned for the harbor will also protect the navigation channel through Mispillion Inlet, ensuring continued commercial and recreational access to the Delaware Bay. Efforts to maintain tidal flow through Mispillion Inlet will complement restoration work at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge.
Plans to design restoration strategies for Milford Neck marshes will reduce flood risks to adjacent communities, forests and agricultural lands. This project builds upon the success of the Milford Neck Conservation Area Partnership, a coalition that includes DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, Delaware Wild Lands, and The Nature Conservancy, to conserve and restore lands, waters and habitat.
“A variety of natural and human interventions over the years have severely compromised the marsh complex at Milford Neck,” said Richie Jones, Delaware state director for The Nature Conservancy. “This grant will begin the process of restoring the functionality and resiliency of this valuable natural asset, which will in turn provide economic, social and ecological benefits to Delaware.”
“Today’s event and timing of this grant award are particularly noteworthy because tomorrow is the anniversary of Delaware’s landmark Coastal Zone Act, which passed 43 years ago,” said Kate Hackett, executive director of Delaware Wild Lands. “Delaware Wild Lands, the State of Delaware, The Nature Conservancy, and other conservation partners recognize generations of investment in the coastal communities and working landscapes of Milford Neck and the importance of this grant to the long-term vitality of our saltmarshes, upland forests, coastal farms and communities. Delaware Wild Lands looks forward to building on these great accomplishments by advancing restoration projects that benefit Delaware’s critical wildlife habitat, natural resources, and coastal economy.”
A second grant of $2 million to DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife will be used to design and construct restoration projects for coastal wetland impoundments and beach habitat from Ted Harvey Conservation Area north to Port Mahon. These projects will increase the resiliency of habitat and reduce sea level rise and flooding vulnerabilities of Kitts Hummock, Pickering Beach, the Town of Little Creek and more than 1,300 acres of farmland. Two coastal wetland impoundments at Little Creek Wildlife Area and Ted Harvey Conservation Area will be restored.
A third grant of $400,000 was awarded to the University of Delaware to develop a three-dimensional wetland model for the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. The project will provide an extensively-tested tool for assessing the present state of the refuge, evaluating restoration strategies and predicting the refuge marshes’ long-term sustainability. The project enhances work on Delaware Bay storm surge and sediment processes being done concurrently for DNREC, by providing an additional focus on Delaware’s natural wetlands that complement existing projects on resilience and sustainability of coastal communities.
For information on the grants awarded to DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, contact Karen Bennett, Karen.Bennett@state.de.us or 302-739-9124. Information on the Delaware Bayshore Initiative can be found by visiting DNREC’s website, www.dnrec.delaware.gov or by clicking here. To view the DOI announcement, click U.S. Department of Interior press release.
Vol. 44, No. 222