Tubman Bicentennial Tours at Blackbird State Forest

SMYRNA, Del. (March 4, 2022) — Delaware’s Urban and Community Forestry Program is sponsoring “Harriet Tubman Bicentennial Underground Railroad Experience Walking Tours” at Blackbird State Forest to celebrate Harriet Tubman’s unique connection to Blackbird State Forest and commemorate the bicentennial of her birth in 1822. The tours will take place on Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m. and on Saturday, April 2 at 2 p.m. at Blackbird State Forest, 502 Blackbird Forest Road, Smyrna, 19977.

There is no cost to the public, but space is limited and advance registration is required at https://harriet-tubman-200-blackbird.eventbrite.com/

Download the UGRR Blackbird Tour Flyer

Conductor Dee Patterson
“Conductor” Dee Patterson – acclaimed storyteller, historian and nationally certified cultural interpretive guide – will take participants on a powerful journey on the Underground Railroad to experience the natural world that shaped the inspirational life of Harriet Tubman. Patterson, who brings her unique research-based narratives, poetic storytelling and creative energy to each visitor experience, is the CEO and founder of UGR3DAY Underground Railroad Experiences Inc. (https://ugr3day.com)

Please note: This event features an outdoor two-mile hike requires a moderate level of fitness to keep pace with the tour. Also, attendees should note that the subject matter will include a realistic discussion of slavery and material is intended primarily for adults and children over 12.

2022 marks the 200th anniversary of Tubman’s birth in Maryland. Tubman specifically mentioned a place called “Blackbird” as one of her landmarks as she traveled through Delaware, but her precise pathways and stops there are unknown. It’s possible that Blackbird might have referred to one of the free black communities that existed in the area. Today, the 6,000-acre Blackbird State Forest still evokes the landscapes that freedom-seekers and their guides likely encountered on their perilous journeys northward. Blackbird is an official stop on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Historic Byway. (http://harriettubmanbyway.org)

Harriet Tubman 200

Wildfire Training Classes Online

DOVER, Del. (February 15, 2022) — The Delaware Forest Service is looking for motivated recruits to enroll in its wildfire training classes. There is no cost for training and no previous experience is necessary. Candidates must be over 18 years of age, willing to learn, physically fit, and able to travel for at least two weeks at a time, usually in the summer months. Completion of all classes is required for prospective wildland firefighters to achieve “red card” certification from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG).

This year, all required training classes for rookie firefighters will be offered online due to COVID-19 protocols.

New firefighters must complete all five required classes (listed below) by clicking the links to NWCG and FEMA websites.*

* Users may need to set up a FEMA ID if they have not previously registered.

Core Classes (three)

♦  L-180: Human Factors in the Wildland Fire Service (course link)

♦  S-190: Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior (course link)

♦  S-130: Firefighter Training (course link)

Prerequisite Courses * (two)

* Students must complete two FEMA prerequisite courses online at the FEMA website.

ICS-100 – Introduction to the Incident Command System (course link)

IS-700 – An Introduction to the National Incident Management System (course link)

All completed course certificates must be emailed by March 31, 2022 to:

Kyle Hoyd, kyle.hoyd@delaware.gov

Mailing Address:
Delaware Forest Service
2320 S. DuPont Highway
Dover, DE 19901

Fire Camp

Students who complete the entire set of courses are eligible to attend “Fire Camp,” a one-day hands-on seminar featuring a “live-burn” fire simulation.

The exact date, time, and location for this year’s Fire Camp has yet to be determined.

Firefighters attending “Fire Camp” will be expected to complete an online registration form before attending.

Students must also complete an arduous “work capacity” or “pack test” – carrying a 45-pound pack over a three-mile course in 45 minutes or less – to receive their NWCG “red card” and participate on out-of-state fire assignments.

For more information, call 302-698-4548

Kyle Hoyd

Delaware 2021 wildfire crew
In 2021, Delaware sent its wildfire crew to battle the Harris Mountain Fire in Montana.

Do you have what it takes to join the Delaware Wildfire Crew?

Are you interested in participating in an adventure of a lifetime? Would you like to help protect human lives, property and precious natural resources during a national crisis? Do you have the mental fortitude, physical stamina and work flexibility to spend at least two weeks or more on a fire line far from home?

Every year, millions of acres of forests, marshes, and grasslands across the United States are ravaged by wildfire. But thanks to a training program sponsored by the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and the Delaware State Fire School, citizens from across the First State can qualify to serve on national fire crews. Since 1996, the Delaware Forest Service has trained more than 600 volunteer firefighters, and now every fire season deploys 20-person crews for out-of-state wildfire assignments.

The program is growing and in need of additional firefighters who are interested in assisting the national effort to control and contain devastating wildfires. Delaware used to send only one crew a year, but now can send multiple crews. In 2021, Delaware’s crew battled the Harris Mountain Fire in Montana and sent engine crews to Colorado, California, and Washington State.

Visit the “FAQ” page for answers about the wildfire program:

Frequently Asked Questions

Download the Wildland Fire Program Brochure

Eligibility Requirements

  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Must complete required training courses
  • Must pass a work-capacity pack test
  • Be willing to travel for at least two weeks
  • Commitment to serving the public
  • Ability to work well with others
  • Must have a clean criminal record

In The News





Arbor Day Poster Contest Now Open

PHOTO: Shannon Last of Heritage Elementary (at right) was New Castle County’s winner for Grades 3 and 4 in the 2021 poster contest.

Ashley Melvin, Delaware Forest Service

(302) 698-4551  ashley.melvin@delaware.gov 

DOVER, Del. (January 13, 2022) — The Delaware Forest Service is now seeking entries for its annual Arbor Day Poster Contest, open to all K-5 public, private, homeschool, after-school, and other organized youth groups.  Designed to increase student knowledge about trees and forest resources, the contest is a great way for students to learn about the role trees play in our communities and their direct impact on Delawareans’ health and well-being.

This year’s theme, “Trees Are Terrific…for Today and Tomorrow!” highlights the long-lasting impact of planting a tree and the benefits it continues to provide to our community.

2022 marks the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day, the holiday that celebrates planting trees!

Arbor Day is Friday, April 29.

2021 Arbor Day Poster Contest Flyer
Download Arbor Day Contest Flyer

Posters will be judged on originality, use of theme, neatness, and artistic expression. Each winner receives a gift card, a tree-themed book, and a tree planting at their school.  Twelve winners will be selected, one from each county in four grade categories: kindergarten, grades 1 and 2, grades 3 and 4, and grade 5. All participating classes receive free loblolly pine seedlings delivered to their school, just in time to celebrate Arbor Day!

The 12 winners will be invited to the annual Statewide Arbor Day Celebration hosted by Governor Carney. A tree planting ceremony will also be scheduled at each winner’s school to celebrate Arbor Day. The deadline to register is March 9, with entries submitted by April 1.

Register to Participate and Receive Seedlings:


Contest Guidelines and Teacher Resources

tinyurl.com/rzzagf6  (Shared Google Drive)

Planting a tree is a fun activity we can enjoy today, knowing that the tree will continue to improve our lives over time. Trees planted throughout our communities not only provide beauty but help shade our streets and schoolyards and create habitat and food for wildlife. Trees planted today will also be terrific “tomorrow” as they improve air quality, muffle noise, moderate air temperatures, filter run-off into streams and rivers, and reduce energy consumption.

For more information, contact: ashley.melvin@delaware.gov

Urban Forestry Grants up to $5,000 Available

Delaware’s urban forestry grant program has funded 588 projects for $1.86 million. 

Source: de.gov/treegrantdashboard

UCF Grants 2022


Contact: John Petersen, 302-233-8180 (cell) or john.petersen@delaware.gov 

DOVER, Del. (January 10, 2022) —  Delaware’s Urban and Community Forestry Program is now accepting applications for up to $5,000 in matching grants for tree planting and management projects on public land and community open space. Urban and community grants are open to all Delaware municipalities, homeowner associations, and certified nonprofits, including schools and churches. There are also grant opportunities specifically for areas within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. To find out if your property is eligible, click the “Find Your Watershed Address Tool” below. Complete guidelines on all grant programs are at de.gov/treegrants. The deadline is March 4, 2022 and all submissions must be via the online links.

“Trees have the power to transform communities. The grant program’s goal is to increase tree canopy throughout Delaware, along with the many benefits it provides. Funding for this year is very good and we hope to receive requests from interested municipalities, homeowner groups, and nonprofit organizations across the First State.” said Kesha Braunskill, Urban and Community Forestry Program Coordinator. “Quality projects that meet program guidelines have a good chance of getting approved in this grant cycle.”

The urban forestry grant program helps communities harness the numerous natural benefits of trees: cleaner air and water, energy savings, increased property values and civic pride, as well as reduced storm water runoff and flooding. Funding is provided by the U.S. Forest Service and state funds as well as partnerships with the DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship Nonpoint Source Program and the DNREC Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy. This year, additional support is provided by DNREC and Governor Carney’s “Tree for Every Delawarean Initiative,” which aims to plant about one million trees over the next ten years to help address goals in Delaware’s Climate Action Plan

Photos at the Delaware Forest Service Flickr page: 2021 Urban and Community Grants

Videos of 2021 Tree Projects:

In 2021, the UCF program awarded $135,193 for 36 community tree projects.

Source: news.delaware.gov

Tree Grant Rehoboth


Urban and Community Grants

 Requests must be a minimum of $500 to a maximum of $5,000 in only one of two project categories: tree planting or tree management (i.e., professional tree inventory, hazardous tree removal, or pruning).  Grants require a 50-50 match in either cash (non-federal funds) or in-kind services, including volunteer or staff time, equipment rental, or supplies. 

Applications are judged by a committee of the Delaware Community Forestry Council. Eligible projects must be performed on public lands within the community. Priority will be given to first-time applicants, Tree City USA and Tree Friendly Communities, and projects with a focus on promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • Applicants are required to set up a site visit before submitting their application with the Urban and Community Forestry Program, who can review their project and answer any questions.
  • Site visits must be scheduled a minimum of a week in advance.
  • No site visits will be done after February 18, 2022.
  • Appointments will be made on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Final day to make an appointment will be February 11, 2022.
  • Deadline to submit application online is March 4, 2022 by 4:30 p.m.

Grants at a Glance

  • Matching grants range from $500 up to $5,000
  • Requires a 50-50 match in cash (non-federal funds) or in-kind services
  • One project in one category: tree planting or tree management (hazard removal, inventory, or pruning)
  • Project must be on public land or open space
  • EIN Number required – no payment to individuals
  • Site visit by urban forestry staff must take place before project submission
  • Site visits requested at least a week ahead by emailing the UCF Program
  • Deadline to apply via the online application form is March 4, 2022 at 4:30 p.m.

Guidelines and Forms

Online UCF Application


Chesapeake Bay Tree Grants

Ches Bay Map The Delaware Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program also offers tree planting grants specifically to applicants in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The Chesapeake Bay Watershed is the nation’s largest estuary and a priority for conservation and restoration efforts. The Chesapeake Bay Basin in Delaware includes 15 sub-watersheds located along the western part of the state. You can find out if your property is located in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed by using the Find Your Watershed Address tool below and entering your address in the search box to the upper right. Click in the map area outside of the box and it will list the watershed and basin in which the the property is located. The orange and peach color indicates the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Requirements for Chesapeake Tree Grants

  • Must be a municipality or certified 501(c)(3) organization based in the State of Delaware. Common types include nonprofit religious, educational, charitable, scientific, or literary organizations.
  • Must own land located in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed with a parcel registered in your organization’s name that appears on your county’s tax parcel list (must provide parcel number).
  • Must provide a 50-50 cost-share match in either cash or in-kind services. Sufficient volunteer hours for planning, organizing, and carrying out the project can meet this requirement without a need for cash.
  • Be sure to check if your location is in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed by using the “Find Your Watershed Address” tool.

    Find Your Watershed Address

Benefits of Chesapeake Planting Grants

  • Grants can be a no-cost or low-cost way to beautify and enhance your community or your organization’s campus and grounds
  • Tree planting projects can bring your community or organization together to benefit the environment

Technical Assistance

Delaware Forest Service staff can offer assistance at every stage of the tree-planting project:

  • Meet with applicants to discuss their project
  • Identify a suitable site for the tree planting
  • Select the best species for the particular location
  • Help calculate volunteer hours and services for match to reduce project costs
  • Schedule a planting day

How to Apply

If you think your town, church, or organization would benefit from a Chesapeake Bay Tree Planting Grant and you can meet the grant requirements for a 50-50 cost match (can be met by volunteer hours at no cost to your community or organization), then you are invited to contact the Delaware Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program. You can apply by clicking on the application link below:

Chesapeake Application

If you have questions, comments, or need further assistance, please contact the Urban and Community Program  Send E-mail.



Redden Forest Campsites and Trails Closed Due to Snowstorm

Contact: Kyle Hoyd, (302) 698-4548  kyle.hoyd@delaware.gov

GEORGETOWN, Del. (January 6, 2022) – Redden State Forest has closed its campsites and many trails still remain inaccessible following the heavy snowstorm on January 3 that dumped up to 14.5 inches in nearby Ellendale. With a potential for additional snowfall of 3 inches or more and wind gusts to 35 m.p.h., Delaware Forest Service staff are currently assessing impacts from the storm and working to mitigate hazardous trees in and around high-use areas and clear trails and access roads. The Redden Education Trail (photo) on the Headquarters Tract is littered with downed trees and covered with heavy snow. Visitors should be aware of the potential for falling tree limbs on all areas of the state forest. The historic Redden Lodge, also on the Headquarters Tract, remains accessible for now and is open for previously scheduled events and bookings.

“Starting next week, heavy equipment and saw teams will be at the state forest to begin a focused effort to ensure access is quickly returned to the public,” said Kyle Hoyd, assistant state forester. “In the meantime, we urge the public to exercise caution and use good judgment when visiting the forest.”