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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : The Environment & Land Use : Delaware's Land Protection Act

  Delaware's Land Protection Act

Identifying and mapping Delaware's most valuable resources

Where are Delaware’s last great open places? Why are they valuable? Do they protect us from flooding, or safeguard our water quality and supply, or shelter rare plants and animals, or provide a barrier to rising sea level? 

Do they accomplish all of the above?

These are the questions we will answer with science and specificity over the next several months as we meet the requirements of the  Delaware Land Protection Act regarding the mapping of State Resource Areas. The law (Delaware Code Title 7, Chapter 75) requires DNREC to work with the Delaware Open Space Council to develop standards and criteria for “determining the existence and location of state resource areas; their degree of endangerment; an evaluation of their importance; and information related to their natural, historic or open space values.”

The Council recommends adoption of the standards and criteria to DNREC’s Secretary, and then the department develops State Resource Area maps based on those guidelines. The Council then recommends the resulting maps be adopted by the Secretary. Those maps are then transmitted to the three counties, according to the law. 

Counties have the flexibility to employ a number of tools for protecting those areas while still allowing development to continue. DNREC prepared a timeline for the development of criteria and maps, and the Open Space Council reviewed the timeline at its March 10 meeting.

In 2008, Delaware Chancery Court voided the first set of updated State Resource Area maps because the law’s specific process for adopting the criteria on which the maps are based was not followed. Since then, a stakeholders group that includes equal representation from conservation organizations and the development community has been meeting to discuss, among other issues, how to improve communication about State Resource Areas – to individual landowners, legislators, interest groups, and the general public. 

We hope this second chance gives us an opportunity to create a better understanding of why State Resource Areas are an important and valuable public benefit. We also believe that protecting them or avoiding them during development will enhance the value of surrounding properties. As the process moves forward, we will plan workshops in each county and, eventually, a public hearing. We also will post information on this website and communicate individually with landowners.

For more information, contact: LeeAnn.Walling@state.de.us



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