DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation receives land parcel donation adding wetlands to Fork Branch Nature Preserve in Dover

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation, in partnership with the Kent County Conservancy, announced today that it has secured two wetland parcels formerly owned by the McClements family of Dover, to become part of the Fork Branch Nature Preserve. The two parcels, one almost three acres in size, the other just over 2½ acres, are located adjacent to the Anne McClements Woods tract of the 247-acre Fork Branch Nature Preserve. Both properties were donated by the children of Dr. James and Anne McClements, Mary Jane, Nancy, Jimmy, Walter and Bill McClements, in their parents’ memory.

The land donation was initiated by the Kent County Conservancy, a local non-profit preservation organization, working with DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation, which accepted the donation in memoriam to the McClements, and expanding the Fork Branch Nature Preserve.

DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin joined Governor John Carney and other officials last year, at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Fork Branch Trail, located in the Anne McClements Woods tract of the Fork Branch Nature Preserve, which is open with free access to visitors.

The two donated parcels for the Fork Branch Nature Preserve are located on Kenton Road. One parcel, entailing a stream bed, is 2.93 acres, while the other is also a wetland area of 2.69 acres. The McClements’ family gift of the two parcels will help protect and buffer the preserve’s wetland habitats, and the wildlife species the habitats support.

“These additions to the preserve do not just expand its boundaries, but will also help Delaware achieve the state’s broader goal of improved water quality and healthy wildlife habitat,” said Secretary Garvin. “We thank the McClements family for supporting these efforts, and the Kent County Conservancy, for being instrumental in facilitating the donation of the two parcels to the State of Delaware.”

“The Fork Branch watershed has been our highest preservation target,” said Gerald Street, president of the Kent County Conservancy. “We were delighted to facilitate this public-private partnership. The McClements family continues to set a magnificent example of how this can work. We also appreciate the support and advocacy of Tom Burns, who worked with the conservancy on behalf of the McClements family.”

The Fork Branch Nature Preserve is one of Dover’s last remaining natural areas, and is known to contain a unique stand of old growth American beech, a wooded stream corridor, and several rare and threatened plant species. The preserve is located near the corner of Kenton and West Dennys roads, along the Maidstone Branch in the St. Jones River watershed.

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

Vol. 49, No.11

DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter: Jan. 7-13

Reminder for the week: Use caution when boating icy waters or walking on frozen ponds

DOVER – To achieve public compliance with laws and regulations through education and enforcement actions that help conserve Delaware’s fish and wildlife resources and ensure safe boating and public safety, DNREC’s Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers between Jan. 7-13 made 1,567 contacts with hunters, anglers, boaters, and the general public, issuing 23 citations. Officers responded to 53 complaints regarding possible violations of laws and regulations or requests to assist the public. An increased Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police presence continued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area and Michael N. Castle Trail.

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Actions

  • On Jan. 8, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers arrested Roy A. Corron, 52, of Magnolia, for one count each of driving with a suspended or revoked license, dumping on a state wildlife area, and operating a motor vehicle off an established roadway on a state wildlife area at the Norman G. Wilder Wildlife Area near Viola. Corron was arraigned at Kent County Justice of the Peace Court 7 and released pending a future court appearance.

Citations issued by category, with the number of charges in parentheses, included:

Wildlife Conservation: Trespassing to hunt (1), unlawful to hunt migratory waterfowl except from designated blind sites (3), hunting migratory waterfowl without required wildlife area daily lottery blind permit (1), possession of prohibited lead shot while hunting migratory waterfowl (1), and hunting license forgery or misrepresentation (3).

Boating and Boating Safety: No navigation lights (1) and no boating safety certificate (1).

Public Safety: Failure to display required hunter orange during a firearms season (1), operating a motor vehicle at unreasonable speed (1), and possession of a loaded firearm on a motor vessel (1).

Other: Driving with a suspended or revoked license (1), dumping on a state wildlife area (2), dumping/littering (1), operating a motor vehicle off an established roadway on a state wildlife area (1), trespassing after hours on a state wildlife area (3)*, and possession of marijuana – civil (1).

*Includes citation(s) issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area.

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 or through the DENRP Tip app on a smartphone, which can be downloaded free of charge by searching “DENRP Tip” via the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030, going online to http://de.gov/ogt, or using the DENRP Tip app. Verizon customers can connect to Operation Game Theft directly by dialing #OGT.

Are you AWARE?
With the cold weather, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police remind anglers, hunters, and winter outdoor enthusiasts of the potential hazards of ice and winter weather, and offer these tips:

  • Waterfowlers using a boat while hunting should watch ice conditions and currents carefully to avoid becoming locked in by ice. Drifting ice in tidal marshes and waterways can complicate rescue efforts.
  • Anglers and outdoor enthusiasts should exercise extreme caution when venturing onto ice, and should always take along someone who could provide or summon help in an emergency situation.
  • Examine ice carefully before walking on it. Freshwater ice should be a minimum of 2 to 3 inches thick, clear and sound, with no thin spots caused by springs or currents. Be wary of snow on the ice, which can hide weak spots. For ice fishing, ice should be at least 4 inches thick. Ice on tidal and salt waters can be very unstable due to tidal currents, so venturing onto ice on these areas is strongly discouraged.
  • Driving ATVs, snowmobiles, and passenger vehicles on ice is strongly discouraged. To support the weight of a vehicle, ice must be at least 7 to 10 inches thick. Without an extended period of extreme cold, ice is unlikely to reach this thickness in Delaware.

Follow Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DEFWNRPolice/.

Follow Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police on Twitter, https://twitter.com/DE_FW_NRPolice.

Contact: Sgt. Brooke Mitchell, 302-382-7167, or Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913

DNREC’s Brandywine Zoo temporarily closed through February for construction and improvement projects

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation announced today that the Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington is temporarily closed through the end of February while construction and improvement projects are made to the zoo’s campus. The zoo’s education building will remain open to host upcoming programs scheduled throughout January and February.

The construction projects, undertaken ahead of implementing the zoo’s master plan for operations recently approved by DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation, include the conversion of the zoo’s otter exhibit into a new small animal contact area, and improvements to the honeybees and hive learning exhibit, and to the Andean condor exhibit. The improvement projects also include installation of new zoo signage, and renovation of the exhibit for the zoo’s South American capybaras – better known as the world’s largest living rodents.

Modifying the exhibits not only will enable the zoo to move some animals into upgraded facilities, but also helps the zoo to prepare for the arrival this spring of new species. Brandywine Zoo Director Brint Spencer said that during construction, some of the animals are being shifted to zoo housing away from the construction work areas, where they will be fully engaged by keepers until returning to their exhibit space.

Regularly scheduled education programs at the education building, located across the street from the zoo’s main entrance at 1001 North Park Drive, Wilmington, DE 19802, will continue throughout the construction period.

Registrations are being taken for the following events – anyone interested in attending should visit www.brandywinezoo.org to register:

  • Monday, Jan. 21, 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Martin Luther King Day Camp. On the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, kids will spend the day enriching zoo animals to help keep them active and engaged.
  • Sunday, Feb. 3, 1 – 2:30 p.m., Zoo Camp Open House. Overview of camps and one-day only discounts.
  • Saturday, Feb. 9, 9:30 a.m. – Noon and 1 – 3:30 p.m. (Two sessions), Girl Scouts – For the Love of Animals.
  • Sunday, Feb. 10, 1 – 2:30 p.m., Summer Intern Open House (for high school and college students).
  • Monday, Feb. 18, 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Presidents’ Day Camp (for ages 5-13).

Visitors are encouraged to check the zoo’s website www.brandywinezoo.org and Facebook pages for updates.

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

Vol. 49, No. 12

Delaware’s Parks and Recreation Council votes to raise surf-fishing permit fees for 2019 season

DNREC to cap number of annual surf-fishing permits issued at 17,000

DOVER – Delaware’s Parks and Recreation Council, which advises DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation, today voted to raise surf fishing permit fees this year and to limit the number of permits issued annually to no more than 17,000. Both decisions were made at a regularly-scheduled Parks and Recreation Advisory Council meeting, for which the council had received written comments in advance about the two issues voted on. Over 100 individuals and organizations submitted written comments ahead of the meeting, while about 20 people commented to the council before the vote was taken.

When the approved changes to the surf-fishing program go into effect Feb. 1, yearly surf fishing permit fees will be increased from $80 to $90 for Delaware residents, while out-of-state residents will pay $180 for the annual surf fishing permit, up $20 from 2018 fees. Surf-fishing permit holders will continue to receive the additional benefit of their permit serving as an annual parks pass, providing access to all 17 of DNREC’s Delaware’s state parks.

The fee increase is intended to help ensure public safety, and to continue improving the quality user experience for Delaware State Parks’ visitors, including surf-fishing permit holders, at designated multi-use beaches. Limiting the number of permits will enable more efficient management of the state’s surf-fishing program, said Division of Parks & Recreation Director Ray Bivens. The fee increase also aligns with DNREC’s priority to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors to Delaware’s award-winning state parks system, he said.

The most common public comment received by DNREC on the surf-fishing program was the request for more enforcement of current surf-fishing rules and regulations. At the meeting, the Division of Parks & Recreation presented findings demonstrating a three-fold increase in the last year for violations of the “actively-engaged in surf fishing” rule. The Division of Parks & Recreation also announced at the meeting the addition of a new full-time Delaware Natural Resources Police Park Ranger for the region and expansion of Rangers’ work week from 37.5 to 40 hours, creating 1,000 hours of expanded coverage annually for the coastal parks. “The ‘actively-engaged’ rule will continue to be a priority area for targeted enforcement in the future,” said Parks & Recreation Director Bivens.

Regarding the cap on annual permits, another presentation made at today’s meeting showed that the issuing of surf-fishing permits has increased at a rate of seven percent annually from 2011-2017. “Implementing a first-come, first-served cap on the number of permits issued is the best way to be equitable to all beach users, to manage a limited resource, and to protect against overcrowding our beaches in the future,” Bivens said.

Sixty-five percent of the funds used to operate and maintain the parks come from the collection of user fees. Revenue generated by the new fee increase will advance the Division of Parks & Recreation’s efforts to improve increase enforcement efforts, improve amenities and better educate parks’ visitors on the state’s multi-use beaches.

The authority to increase park user fees is included in Section 87 of the FY2019 bond bill, and requires “adequate opportunity for public comment and approval of the appropriate public advisory council.” The Parks and Recreation Council is an 11-member board, appointed by the Governor that serves in an advisory capacity to DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation.

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

Vol. 49, No. 13

Recycling Public Advisory Council to meet Jan. 23 in Lewes

DOVER – Delaware’s Recycling Public Advisory Council (RPAC) will meet at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, at the Lewes Public Library, 111 Adams Avenue, Lewes, DE 19958. For more information about the monthly RPAC meeting, including the agenda, please go to Public Meeting Calendar.

The Recycling Public Advisory Council was enacted into law by Senate Bill 234 in May 2010, and charged with advising the Governor’s Office, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and the Delaware Solid Waste Authority on all aspects of recycling, including: development of grant criteria and selection of applications; a methodology for measuring recycling rates; and possible outreach activities designed to achieve higher recycling rates.

For more information about RPAC, please visit https://dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/waste-hazardous/recycling/recycling-public-advisory-council/, or contact Adam Schlachter, DNREC Solid & Hazardous Waste Management Section, at 302-739-9403, ext. 1.

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

Vol. 49, No. 10