Skip to Page Content  |  Text Only Governor | General Assembly | Courts | Elected Officials | State Agencies
  Photo: Featured Delaware Photo
  Phone Numbers   Mobile   Help   Size   Print   Email

Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : Delaware Coastal Programs : DNERR : St Jones Reserve

The St. Jones Reserve


Life On The Edge photograph of St Jones TributaryThe St Jones Reserve component of the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) is located on the north shore of the St Jones River, off Kitts Hummock Road, south of Dover in Kent County and includes a portion of Delaware Bay. 

The St Jones Center for Estuarine Studies at the Reserve is open to the public and provides hiking trails, hands-on interactive activities and exhibits, a recycling center, restoration demonstration areas as well as a variety of programs and volunteer opportunities for the community, teachers, students, and families. The Center also supports ongoing research and monitoring, field studies, citizen monitoring programs, and training opportunities for coastal decision makers. 

Visitors are welcome to tour the St Jones Center for Estuarine Studies (offices, displays and fish tanks), Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (closed on official State holidays) and enjoy the wonders of estuaries through our interpretive exhibits. The trails and recycling center are open from dawn to dusk 7 days a week and free of charge. Take note of posted signs during hunting seasons which may result in area closures.
(Photo: Life On The Edges)

St Jones Reserve
818 Kitts Hummock Road
Dover, DE 19901
(302) 739-6377

St Jones Trail Guide (coming soon!)
Calendar of Events


  • The St Jones Reserve features a two-mile nature trail, a part of the St Jones Greenway, with a quarter-mile boardwalk over the salt marsh that connects the Reserve with the adjacent Ted Harvey Wildlife Management Area. 
  • The buildings at the St Jones Reserve are designed with state of the art sustainable infrastructure, including a geothermal heating and cooling system, an on-site wetland based tertiary wastewater treatment system and a photo-voltaic (solar panel) system.
  • The Delaware Native Plant Society maintains a native plant nursery on the Reserve and holds an annual Native Plant Sale the first Saturday in November. 
  • The Alvin G. Wilson Conservation Demonstration Area provides a living exhibit where people can see a large variety of conservation practices installed.



The facilities at the St Jones Reserve house the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve offices, classroom space, research and teaching laboratories, conference rooms, a Coastal Training Center, dormitory rooms, and interpretive exhibits. It is a federally funded; state owned and operated environmental education, training and research facility.

St Jones Buildings

  1. St Jones Center for Estuarine Studies includes Reserve offices, classroom space, research and teaching laboratories, and interpretive exhibits.
  2. Dormitory Rooms are available for overnight lodging of visiting researchers or educators.
  3. Coastal Training Center (“The Barn”) has two conference rooms that can be combined into a larger auditorium that can accommodate up to 75 people.
  4. The Shop
  5. The two-mile nature trail Trail features a boardwalk over the salt marsh.
  6. Delaware Native Plant Society Nursery 
  7. Parking

A rental fee will be assessed and reinvested in the Reserve program and facilities for its use by educational, governmental, natural resource, and non-profit groups. The center is not available for private parties.  Reservations will be scheduled on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

For more information or to schedule a reservation please contact Colleen Holstein at (302) 739-6377 or by email

About the Reserve

St Jones RiverThe St Jones Reserve features tidal brackish-water and salt marshes dominated by saltmarsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), salt hay (Spartina patens) and open water of creek, river and bay areas, buffered by freshwater wooded fringe, farmlands and meadows. (Photo by: Eric Crossan)

The St. Jones River watershed drains a portion of the coastal plain in central Kent County, DE, including the city of Dover, the surrounding suburbs, industrial areas, agricultural areas and Dover Air Force Base. The upper St. Jones is impounded by a dam 10.5 miles upstream from the bay to form Silver Lake, a municipal recreation area. Some other headwater streams are also impounded. Much of the eastern portion (bayward) of the watershed consists of wetlands and forests, including lands and waters managed for waterfowl, wild turkey, deer and other wildlife.

The St. Jones Reserve is about 1518 hectares (3750 acres) in designated size, distributed along 8.8 km (5.5 mi) of medium-salinity tidal river situated at the lower end of the St. Jones River watershed, with the river discharging into mid-Delaware Bay.

The St. Jones Reserve contains 35 parcels of land held by private land-owners, plus the DNERR and one other state agency. Within the St. Jones Reserve’s designated boundaries, about 282.8 hectares (698.5 acres) of tidal marshes, upland fields, woodlots, and croplands were purchased or protected by the DNERR in 1991-92 [with 174.7 ha (431.3 ac) purchased through fee-simple acquisition, and 108.1 ha (267.2 ac) protected through conservation easement], but the remaining majority of the Reserve is still in private ownership.

Mouth of the St Jones RiverAdjacent to the St. Jones Reserve on its eastern side is the Ted Harvey Conservation Area, owned and managed by DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, consisting of 817 ha (2019 ac) of woodlands, upland fields, croplands, freshwater ponds and wetlands, coastal wetland impoundments, and Delaware Bay shoreline. While the Ted Harvey Conservation Area is not within the DNERR’s designated boundaries, it is nonetheless available through cooperative arrangements with the Division of Fish and Wildlife for use in DNERR research and educational activities.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Roberts Tract, a 71.2 ha (176 ac) parcel of the Little Creek State Wildlife Area, borders the St. Jones Reserve at its western end; in conjunction with the Division’s Ted Harvey Conservation Area, the Roberts Tract provides conservation-oriented land ownership on both upstream and downstream ends of the St. Jones Reserve.

The John Dickinson Plantation and Mansion, owned and managed by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, provides another 106.4 ha (262.8 ac) of protected area within the Reserve’s designated boundaries, adjacent to the DNERR property’s western border.

A small-boat ramp and fishing pier at Scotton Landing, owned and managed by the Division of Fish and Wildlife, provides good boat and water access to the main channel of the St. Jones River towards the Reserve’s western end.

On its far eastern end, the St. Jones Reserve also contains about 1036 ha (2560 ac) of Delaware Bay bottom and nearshore waters, running for 3.2 km (2.0 mi) along the Ted Harvey Conservation Area’s bay shoreline and extending outward 3.2 km (2.0 mi) into the open bay.

The St. Jones River watershed has significant development in upstream non-tidal areas, where urbanized Dover (Delaware’s state capital) dominates the middle and upper watershed. However, downstream portions of the St. Jones River watershed, where the St. Jones Reserve is located, are still primarily agricultural, with the Dover Air Force Base nearby.



site map   |   about this site   |    contact us   |    translate   |