Governor Jack Markell, DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara and Delaware Economic Development (DEDO) Secretary Alan Levin today joined officers from the American Birding Association (ABA) and Delaware City officials to announce the ABA’s plans to move its North American headquarters from Colorado to Delaware next year. The ABA’s new home will be Delaware City’s historic Central Hotel overlooking the riverfront and Pea Patch Island, location of one of the largest heronries on the East Coast.
“We believe birding can play an important role in expanding our multi-billion dollar tourism industry,” said Governor Markell. “Having an international birding organization establish headquarters here in Delaware aids in those efforts, so we are excited to welcome the American Birding Association to its new home in Delaware City.”
“The American Birding Association will be a powerful conservation partner in advancing Delaware’s vision of becoming the First State in Birding,” said Secretary O’Mara. “The ABA national leadership in promoting wildlife viewing and habitat restoration fits perfectly with Delaware’s Bayshore Initiative and will help establish Delaware as the premier destination on the East Coast for birders and other outdoor enthusiasts from near and far year-round.”
“Right now, we have one thing you can’t buy – the birds,” said Secretary Levin. “While some birders – both local and visiting – know Delaware’s reputation for birding opportunities such as the spring red knot migration, we want to build on that reputation and expand this unique area of our growing ecotourism sector to attract many more birding visitors.”
“The American Birding Association has since its founding had a continental and hemispheric reach and outlook and will continue to as we move to our lovely new headquarters in Delaware City,” said ABA President Jeffrey Gordon. “Delaware’s location is ideal, putting us in the heart of a vibrant and active birding scene that stretches throughout the Mid-Atlantic from the ocean to the Appalachians.”
The ABA will be joining an already-vibrant birding community, Gordon added. “Just as important to our organization as the amazing birding found along Delaware’s Bayshore and beyond is the community of birders that live and visit here and the huge numbers of people who love this land and its natural heritage,” he said. “We’re looking forward to working with many partners to strengthen and grow that community and to inspire all people to enjoy and protect wild birds.”
“The City of Delaware City is most fortunate to be the new home of the American Birding Association. For the last few weeks it has literally been the talk of the town,” said Delaware City Chief Executive Officer Dick Cathcart. “With the City’s new emphasis on attracting ecotourism to our river town, the addition of the ABA will be a game changer for us. Coupled with our Branch Canal Trial project and the redevelopment of the Fort DuPont with additional trail systems, we believe Delaware City will become a major destination for this demographic of tourist. This would not have been possible without the cooperative and joint effort of city and state officials, Main Street Delaware City and our local state elected officials. We look forward to a long and great working relationship with the ABA.”
The American Birding Association is an internationally-recognized, non-profit birding organization representing more than 12,000 members from every U.S. state, Canadian province and more than 40 other countries. Founded in 1968, ABA is the only organization in North America that specifically caters to recreational birders, providing support through publications, conferences, workshops, tours, partnerships and networks. ABA’s educational programs promote birding skills, ornithological knowledge, and the development of a conservation ethic. ABA encourages birders to apply their skills to help conserve wild birds and their habitats, and represents the interests of birders in the planning and legislative arenas.
About the Central Hotel:
The Central Hotel has stood on Clinton Street through nearly two centuries of Delaware City’s rich history. Delaware City was laid out in the late 1820s as the C&D Canal was being built to connect the Delaware River and the Chesapeake Bay. The Central Hotel was originally built in 1830 as a combined dwelling and grain storehouse to serve the wharfs along the new canal. Uses over the years have also included a general store, restaurant, oyster cellar, tavern and hotel, as reflected in its many additions and changes.
Today, the former hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Delaware City Historic District. Its owners, Dana and Susan Renoll, are in the process of renovating the building to serve as a visitor center and offices for the American Birding Association, with residential space on the top floors. When finished, the renovations will include a green roof on part of the addition, two garden spaces, a recycled brick sidewalk along the canal side and a clean natural gas system. Completion of the project is expected in spring 2014.
Delaware City is one of the cities and towns along the Delaware Bayshore, the central coastline from the northern cities of New Castle and Delaware City and the Point of Cape Henlopen in Lewes. DNREC’s Delaware Bayshore Initiative, a landscape approach to restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat, increase volunteer participation in habitat stewardship projects, enhance low-impact outdoor recreation and ecotourism opportunities, and promote associated environmentally compatible economic development in this unique region. For more information, click Delaware Bayshore.
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