Volunteers sought for 25th annual Christina River Cleanup on April 9

NEW CASTLE COUNTY – DNREC Secretary David Small encourages volunteers to join the 25th annual Christina River Watershed Cleanup along the river and several of its tributaries on Saturday, April 9 from 8 a.m. until noon at 15 sites throughout northern New Castle County. The City of Newark site will hold its cleanup beginning at 7:30 a.m., and Brookhaven Park will begin at 9 a.m.

“For 25 years, dedicated volunteers have devoted a Saturday morning to helping beautify our northern waterways in the Christina River Watershed Cleanup,” said Secretary Small. “Clearing debris from the Christina River Watershed not only improves the landscape for residents and visitors to enjoy, it improves the health and quality of the river and its tributaries, the primary sources of public water supply for New Castle County residents and businesses. The work these volunteers do is important, and we thank them for it.”

In honor of the Christina Cleanup’s 25th anniversary, Brandywine Creek State Park, The Nature Conservancy and Delaware’s own First State National Historical Park will host cleanup locations at Thompsons Bridge, Rocky Run and Smithbridge, respectively. This year’s cleanup will be dedicated to the memory of longtime Cleanup Committee member, Dorothy P. Miller of Newark.

The annual cleanup will be held rain or shine. Since the cleanup began in 1992, more than 360 tons of tires, appliances, household items, and plastic and styrofoam have been cleared from the Christina River, White Clay Creek, Naamans Creek and other tributaries. More than 13,000 volunteers have filled trash bags along Churchmans Marsh, White Clay Creek State Park, the City of Wilmington and various other locations.

DNREC has been a sponsor and an integral part of the Christina River Watershed Cleanup since its inception. Specifically, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife provides planning support in addition to staff, boats, and specialized equipment to transport volunteers and discard trash from remote locations. The cleanup of the river within the city of Wilmington benefits DNREC’s ongoing marsh restoration work at the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge.

For a complete list of cleanup sites with directions and to register, visit www.ChristinaRiverCleanup.org or call 302-307-2757. Volunteers are encouraged to register for one of the 15 sites by Friday, April 1 so adequate supplies can be provided to each site captain. Due to insurance requirements, volunteers under the age of 16 must have adult supervision.

For safety and efficiency, participants are encouraged to wear brightly-colored clothing, long sleeves and pants, boots or water-resistant shoes, hats, heavy-duty gloves and sunscreen. Waders or hip boots are helpful for the City of Wilmington, Hale-Byrnes House and Churchman’s Marsh-Christiana sites. Additional jon-boat- work boats are still needed for Wilmington’s Riverfront. All participants must wear a life jacket while on board any boat.

Volunteers will receive a 2016 Christina River Watershed Cleanup t-shirt designed by Ramiro Lopez-Villalobos, a senior at Delcastle Technical High School. The 2016 event marks the 11th year for the cleanup’s T-shirt design contest, which is open to New Castle County students in 7th-12th grade. Ramiro’s winning design takes a more modern approach to a traditional cleanup t-shirt design element, the great blue heron.

More than 40 organizations and businesses sponsor the cleanup each year. In addition to DNREC, primary sponsors include: Christina Conservancy, Noramco Inc., Artesian Water Company, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Delaware City Refining Company, Horizon Services Inc., BASF – The Chemical Company, GE Aviation, Dow Chemical, Veolia Water, Delmarva Power, Kenny Family Foundation and SUEZ in Delaware.

For more information on DNREC’s programs, visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 101

DNREC’s Polly Drummond Hill Road Yard Waste Demonstration Site to reopen

Site reopens Saturday, April 2 with limited operation, weekend hours only

DOVER – DNREC’s Polly Drummond Hill Road Yard Waste Demonstration Site in northern New Castle County, closed since January, will reopen Saturday, April 2 with limited operation at least through June in partnership with the Delaware General Assembly, DNREC’s Solid & Hazardous Waste Management Section announced today.

The site will be open Saturdays and Sundays only, with Delaware residents able to bring yard waste from their own property in non-commercial vehicles to the site from 8 a.m. to until sunset. Again, DNREC operation of the Polly Drummond Hill Road site is Saturday-Sunday only – with the site closed Monday through Friday. In reopening it, DNREC also reminds the public that dumping of yard waste at the gate, along roadways, or other property is illegal, and is subject to fines or imprisonment. (To report violators, call the DNREC 24-hour environmental hotline: 1-800-662-8802.)

DNREC also notes that, in addition to the limited yard-waste drop-off operation at Polly Drummond Hill Road, there is in proximity a free alternative for Delaware residents dropping off their own yard waste: Holland Mulch, 1034 S. Chapel Street (Rt. 72), Newark, DE 19702. This privately-operated site – about five miles from the Polly Drummond Hill Road site – is open from 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7:30 a.m. – noon on Saturdays. For more information about Holland Mulch’s South Chapel Street site, please call 302-737-1000.

DNREC advises that while Holland Mulch also accepts commercial businesses, such as landscaping and lawn care companies, as well as municipalities, all of these entities will be charged a fee when dropping off yard waste. The Department also reiterates that the Polly Drummond Hill Road Yard Waste Demonstration Site is not intended for commercial businesses or for individuals using commercial vehicles to transport their personal yard waste.

Residents wishing for alternatives to recycle their yard waste may manage the material on their own property, arrange for a collection service, or use the drop-off options listed at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/yardwaste. (Businesses that wish to be added to those lists should contact DNREC’s Solid & Hazardous Waste Management Section at 302-739-9403, ext. 1.) Residents living in the municipal boundaries of Wilmington, Elsmere, and Newark are reminded that those municipalities provide free yard waste collection services.

DNREC closed the Polly Hill Drummond Road site Jan. 11 of this year due to increasing costs for maintaining the site and limited funding for operating it. Since its inception as a DNREC demonstration yard waste drop-off site in 2007, the site often operated on a limited and continually-revised schedule because of ongoing funding challenges.

Media Contact: Michael Globetti, Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 99

Open house on proposed Tri-Valley Trail in White Clay Creek State Park will be held April 4

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation will host a public open house on the proposed Tri-Valley Trail in the Possum Hill Area of White Clay Creek State Park. The Open House will be held 4:30 – 7:30 p.m., Monday, April 4, at the Deerfield Golf and Tennis Club, 507 Thompson Station Road, Newark, DE 19711.

The Division of Parks & Recreation proposes to fill a gap in a regional trail system by constructing approximately 2.8 miles of the Tri-Valley Trail, and adding two new trailhead parking sites. The trail will immediately connect Paper Mill Park, a heavily visited New Castle County Park.

Portions of the Tri-Valley Trail are open and in use in New Castle County parks and Newark parks. When combined with other trails, the proposed Tri-Valley Trail would become part of an 18-mile regional network of recreational trails in Greater Newark. Project information is available online at www.destateparks.com/TriValleyTrail.

Visitors at the open house can view proposed trail alignment options and related information including natural and cultural resource conditions, regional trail maps, and trail and trailhead construction details. Parks staff will be available to provide additional information.

More trails for walking, hiking, biking, jogging and related activities rank consistently as the highest outdoor recreation need identified by Delawareans throughout the state. In addition, trail networks promote healthy lifestyles and take cars off the road, reducing air pollution and traffic. The Tri-Valley Trail will offer an opportunity for families and children to be outdoors, enjoy nature and be physically active.

This trail project is part of Governor Markell’s First State Trails and Pathways Initiative that expands a statewide network of new and enhanced trails and pathways for walking, biking, hiking and active living.

For more information on the open house, contact Susan Moerschel, Division of Parks & Recreation at 302-739-9240 or Susan.Moerschel@delaware.gov.

Media Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No.103

DNREC, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service continue investigation into deaths of five bald eagles in Sussex County

Two eagles found sick and disoriented March 19 near Dagsboro released back into wild after rehabilitation by Tri-State Bird Rescue

Bald Eagle released
A mature female bald eagle is released back into the wild in Sussex County after rehabilitation at Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research in Newark. (Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research photo)

DAGSBORO – While U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agents and DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers continue an investigation into the March 19-20 deaths of five bald eagles in Sussex County, two eagles captured that weekend disoriented and possibly near death have been released back into the wild after rehabilitation by Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research of Newark, DNREC and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced today.

The case began with the March 19 discovery of a dead bald eagle in a field near Dagsboro. Later that morning, a group of eagles that appeared sick and disoriented were found in a farm field about a mile away from the dead bird. Five eagles from that group were captured by Tri-State and DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police; three of those birds died in transit to Newark from as yet undetermined causes. Two more eagles – one dead, one alive – were found the next morning, March 20, in the same area. The live bird also was taken to Tri-State.

The first eagle to be rehabilitated, a second-year female, was released to the wild from Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research’s facility last week. “The eagle was demonstrating excellent flight skills and strength in our large outdoor flight cage – she was ready to go,” said Tri-State Executive Director Lisa Smith, noting that because the bird was not an adult, it was not critical to return her to “territory” she had occupied in Sussex County.

“We carefully weigh the advantages of returning birds of prey to the area where they were found against the risk of possible injury during transport,” Smith said. “This eagle was very active, and we were concerned that she would not travel calmly. We considered it best to release her here and allow her to get where she might be going under her own steam.”

The second eagle to be returned to the wild, a mature female, soared into clearing skies over Sussex County yesterday morning, her release overseen by Tri-State representatives and Fish & Wildlife Natural Resource Police after her successful rehabilitation. One eagle remains at Tri-State, now in stable condition, with its rehabilitation continuing.

Neither U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agents nor DNREC Natural Resources Police are commenting on what may have caused the deaths of the five bald eagles – all sent last week to the USFWS forensics lab in Ashland, Ore., for testing. “This is an active investigation and we do not know what caused the five eagles to become sick and die,” said Sgt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police. “We continue to ask people not to attempt to capture or handle any eagles they encounter on the ground, but to call us and report any birds that may appear sick or injured.”

Sick or injured eagles can be reported to the Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police dispatch center at 800-523-3336. Anyone with information about the dead eagles is urged to call the 24-hour Operation Game Theft hotline at 800-292-3030. All Operation Game Theft calls are kept confidential by DNREC.

Thirteen bald eagles were found dead Feb. 20 near Federalsburg, Md., with a determination made by USFWS forensics lab that those eagles “did not die from natural causes.” A reward totaling $30,000 from USFWS and conservation partners has been offered to anyone with information leading to conviction in the Maryland case. A portion of that reward – including $5,000 posted by the American Bird Conservancy – could be made available in the Delaware case for information leading to a criminal conviction.

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife recognizes and thanks the majority of anglers, hunters and boaters who comply with and support Delaware’s fishing, hunting and boating laws and regulations. Citizens are encouraged to report fish, wildlife and boating violations to the Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police by calling 302-739-4580. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030 or online at http://de.gov/ogt.

Media Contacts: Sgt. John McDerby, DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913 or 302-354-1386, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 99

Governor’s Weekly Message Transcript: Recognizing Talents of All People to Build Our Economy

We should strive every day to ensure everyone has access to opportunities to make the most of their own abilities. It’s a moral imperative, but it’s also a fact that we only achieve our potential as a state when we tap into the talents of all of our people.

Too often certain groups of individuals are left behind including those people with disabilities. A quarter century after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, less than 30 percent of the 54 million Americans living with disability are in the workforce.

But we are making great progress in our state through the efforts of many committed advocates like The Ability Network of Delaware. Thanks to its partnership with community service providers, 600 Delawareans with disabilities have found employment. That helped Eric Rayfield, who has a severe heart and lung disease, earn a position as a Food Service Supervisor at Governor Bacon Health Center.

Together these employment opportunities have saved the state nearly $1.4 million through a reduced dependence on public benefit. And thanks to companies like SAP, who hosted forum this week to focus on growing employee autism programs and CAI have committed to hiring more people with autism—these employers and others have realized that when given a chance, individuals with disabilities can excel in the workplace.

We must continue to bring business leaders and advocates together to highlight the benefits of employing people with autism, and other disabilities. It’s good for the bottom line of companies, and it strengthens our workforce. We’ll continue to build on those efforts to ensure that all Delawareans have the opportunity to realize their full potential through meaningful work—and that, will keep Delaware moving forward.