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The Delaware Bayshore Initiative


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Enhancing the state's natural resources for
world-class conservation and boosting the
economy through 
recreational activities

Bayshore Initiative VideoDNREC is inviting current and potential recreational users of public lands along the Delaware Bayshore to participate in a survey. Survey responses will assist DNREC’s Delaware Bayshore Initiative Team with planning and implementing investments in the Bayshore region.
Take the Bayshore Initiative Survey

Extending from Pea Patch Island in New Castle County to the City of Lewes in Sussex County, the Delaware Bay shoreline is widely recognized as an area of global ecological significance. Its expansive coastal marshes, shoreline, agricultural lands and forests provide diverse habitat to many species, including migratory shorebirds. Birders and biologists from around the world come to central Delaware to witness the annual spring spectacle of more than a half million shorebirds taking a rest stop to dine on eggs laid by spawning horseshoe crabs.

The Delaware Bayshore Initiative will collaboratively build on the region’s reputation as a unique and beautiful natural resource, and help improve the shoreline economy by encouraging more Delawareans and visitors to enjoy it through activities such as recreational fishing, hunting, boating and ecotourism. This non-regulatory approach will continue the tradition of DNREC’s commitment to preserving the state’s coastal zone, which has been protected by Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act for the past 40 years. Due in large part to the legacy of thatClick here to see the full size Bayshore map landmark legislation, more than half of the Delaware Bayshore’s acreage remains undeveloped, and is today protected as state or federal wildlife lands.

By building on public-private partnerships and leveraging state, federal and private resources, the Bayshore Initiative targets three major areas for improvement:

  • Conservation and ecological restoration – Connect wildlife areas by acquisition or easement of unprotected lands; restore native habitat; and protect resources.  
  • Recreation and connectivity – Focus strategic investments to connect wildlife areas to urban centers; maximize enjoyment of the outdoors by providing safe, healthy recreational experiences; and enhance access to wild areas.
  • Engagement and marketing – Engage, educate and inspire the next generation of environmental stewards; partner with local communities and organizations to promote the area regionally, nationally and internationally; and promote local volunteerism.

In addition to economic benefits, the Delaware Bayshore Initiative stands to improve quality of life through enhanced outdoor recreational opportunities; to provide students with outdoor living classroom educational options; and to help prepare Delaware for future climate changes and impacts. It was recently recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior as one of the country’s most promising ways to reconnect Americans to the natural world.       

A Delaware Bayshore Initiative project highlight:
Wildlife viewing enhancements at Augustine Wildlife Area's Ashton Tract

DNREC's Division of Fish & Wildlife will soon begin a wildlife viewing enhancement project at the Ashton Tract of the Augustine Wildlife Area in Port Penn. Funded in part through the FY15 Trails and Pathways Bond Bill appropriation, this project is part of a Federal Highways Administration Byways Grant for Route 9, Delaware's Bayshore Byway. Included in these enhancements is a wildlife viewing platform overlooking the Thousand Acre Marsh and an access trail, both designed to provide ADA-compatible opportunities for observing wildlife. Interpretive signs are planned for the trailhead area and at the observation platform. The project should be completed by early Fall 2015, providing an excellent opportunity for wildlife viewing for waterfowl, herons, egrets, and other waterbirds using the area during the peak Fall migration period.

Ultimately, these enhancements will provide a safe location for travelers on Delaware's Bayshore Byway to stop and view wildlife and wetlands. As part of the Delaware Bayshore Initiative, this project will foster greater appreciation for our natural resources by providing access to them and it will promote conservation compatible recreation in close proximity to Bayshore communities such as nearby Port Penn and Delaware City.


 An access trail is being designed to provide ADA-compatible opportunities for viewing wildlife.  This newly enhanced site will provide great views of the Thousand Acre Marsh.



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