DNREC Parks Director Earns National Award

DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens /DNREC photo

 

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced Division of Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens has received the 2021 National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) Conference Distinguished Service Award Sept. 10 during the NASPD’s annual conference.

NASPD states on its website that “The Distinguished Service award is given to a state park director who has demonstrated a long-term, sustained record of professional accomplishment in the field of park and recreation management.”

“Ray is the perfect recipient of this national award. He is an innovative problem solver and leader whose passion for the environment, people and our state park system directly benefit the millions of people who visit Delaware State Parks each year,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “He is a true steward of park lands with a customer-centric focus who pushes his team to excel and provide the public with enjoyable experiences within our state parks.”

For 30 years, Bivens has dedicated his career to park stewardship with a passion for natural and cultural resources, customer service, training, partnerships and staff development. He is a hands-on leader who often works alongside Delaware State Parks field staff to gain perspective of the visitor experience.

He has placed a focus on youth during his 18-year tenure with Delaware State Parks, and played a lead role in creating the Delaware Children in Nature plan and the creation of the First State Heritage Park in Dover. One of his first acts as director was to establish the Delaware Youth Conservation Corps. Other accomplishments include having a key role in the creation of the Trap Pond and Killens Pond state park nature centers, and the development of multiple new trails and playgrounds.

Under Bivens’s leadership, the Delaware State Parks system, administered by the DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation, has seen tremendous growth and broken records in various areas, including camping/cabin stays, volunteer hours, park attendance, and revenue. Park users generate 65% of the revenue utilized to operate and maintain the parks. A recent economic impact study concluded that out-of-state visitors generate close to $400 million in impact on the Delaware economy thanks to the state park system. Other milestones include the dedication Delaware’s 17th state park, Auburn Valley, in 2018 and the creation of the division’s first strategic plan in 2020.

In 2016, the division was selected as the only small state to be awarded the National Gold Medal as the best managed state park system for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA). Delaware State Parks is currently a finalist for the 2021 Gold Medal award to be announced later this month.

“Delaware State Parks has an abundance of natural and cultural resources,” Bivens said, “but our greatest resource are the dedicated staff and volunteers who passionately give of their time and talents.”

Prior to being named Delaware’s eighth state park director in 2013, Bivens served as the division’s chief of interpretation and operations section manager. Bivens’s natural resources career started as a teenager in the Maryland Youth Conservation Corps. He served as a park naturalist for various Maryland state parks including Rocky Gap, Tuckahoe and Point Lookout state parks. Bivens and his wife, Becky Bivens, reside in Frederica.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation oversees more than 26,000 acres in 17 state parks and the Brandywine Zoo. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov or Shauna McVey, shauna.mcvey@delaware.gov

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Plan to Connect Donovan Smith Manufactured Home Community Gets Important Conditional Approval

Donovan Smith was required to cordon off areas where wastewater surfacing has occurred and pump the sewage to mitigate further wastewater surfacing and groundwater pollution within the manufactured home community.

 

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today plans to connect the Donovan Smith Manufactured Home Community to the Lewes Board of Public Works sewer system are proceeding following issuance of a conditional letter of approval of the state-funded loan mechanism that will provide financing for the connection.

The community owner’s lender had to sign off on the financing arrangement in order for the state-funded loan for the connection to proceed, and a conditional approval has been secured by the owner, DNREC confirmed Monday, following months of negotiation.

Donovan Smith was chosen as a pilot project for Delaware’s Clean Water Initiative for Underserved Communities – with DNREC, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, and the Delaware State Housing Authority partnering at Governor John Carney’s behest to develop a priority list for underserved communities in the state that have longtime water and wastewater issues. The combination of DNREC enforcement of wastewater regulations and financial help for Donovan Smith aims to end water pollution at the site by moving the community from septic systems to the Lewes central sewer system. The Clean Water Initiative will use the approach being piloted with Donovan Smith to institute water and wastewater improvements in other similar communities.

“There are a number of manufactured home communities in our state — especially downstate — with longtime septic issues where putting the cost of a sewer connection on the residents would be a tremendous financial burden. Finding a way to mandate the sewer connection without burdening the residents or possibly bankrupting the park — and leaving the residents without anywhere to live — is the tightrope we must walk, and which the state financing supported by Gov. Carney is making possible,” DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin said. “We are working to make a difference in the lives of these residents and in the environment, one step at a time.”

DNREC also announced it has issued a second Notice of Violation to Donovan Smith Mobile Home Park (MPH), LLC following an initial NOV issued in July. The second NOV was issued Sept. 13 after a compliance inspection and two environmental complaint investigations found multiple additional violations associated with several small onsite wastewater treatment and disposal systems within the community that were not previously addressed in the July NOV. One of the violations was a collapsing septic tank with wastewater overflowing and ponding on the grounds – with no barrier or fencing preventing human or pet contact with untreated wastewater, a significant public health hazard.

The first NOV documented the Donovan Smith MHP’s ongoing noncompliance and established deadlines for Donovan Smith to correct the problem and move forward on the sewer connection with financing from the Clean Water Initiative. According to the latest enforcement notice, although DNREC received updates from Donovan Smith concerning interim corrective actions taken, initiation of the required system pump-outs and submission of a corrective action plan did not occur within the timeframes established in the July NOV.

This second NOV cites Donovan Smith MHP for these delays, as well as additional violations that have occurred since July. And although Donovan Smith has since initiated system pump-outs and submitted a preliminary corrective action plan, this second NOV requires additional interim corrective actions. The DNREC enforcement measure also calls for amendments to the corrective action plan to address additional violations, monthly communication with the community residents on the status of corrective actions, and more rigorous inspection and reporting to mitigate additional environmental and public health concerns until the sewer connection is achieved.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Water manages and protects Delaware’s water resources. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov


Sen. Carper, Gov. Carney, Conservation Groups Hail Christina River Project and Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund

The Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington /DNREC photo

U.S. Senator Tom Carper and Delaware Governor John Carney joined conservation partners at the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington today to celebrate the Christiana and Brandywine River restoration and resiliency project funded by the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund. They celebrated another important step in the ongoing work to improve Wilmington’s riverfront area with clean, healthy rivers and attractive places for people and wildlife.

“I am pleased to be here today with so many good partners to support the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund’s investments in the protection and preservation of this ecological treasure,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper, Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “Projects like this are critical for our efforts to tackle climate change and help ensure that all Delawareans can enjoy these precious resources for generations to come.”

For the future of federal infrastructure investments, the U.S. Senate recently approved the bipartisan infrastructure package. The bill includes $26 million of supplemental funding for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP) administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over five years. The funding supports on-the-ground restoration projects and new and existing jobs across the four-state watershed through the DRBRP. Projects will enhance fish and wildlife habitat, improve water quality to support wildlife and drinking water for people, enhance water management for flood damage mitigation, and improve recreational opportunities for public access. Amidst the growing threats of sea level rise, a creeping salt line, frequent flooding, habitat loss, and polluted stormwater runoff, this investment is desperately needed.

“Millions of people in our region depend on the Delaware River Basin for clean drinking water, and the river remains vitally important for outdoor recreation and economic development for communities in Delaware and beyond,” said Governor John Carney. “All Delawareans deserve clean water. That’s why we’ve made it a priority to upgrade our infrastructure to make sure all Delaware families have access to clean drinking water. We will continue to work with local and federal partners and states in our region that rely on the Delaware River Watershed to properly manage this valuable resource.”

“DNREC has been working for years through the Christina-Brandywine River Remediation, Restoration, Resilience project – or CBR4 – toward a time when the Christina River and Brandywine Creek are once again drinkable, swimmable and fishable,” said Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “We believe it is an achievable goal and are building on decades of work to create a holistic, inspiring vision and plan to direct remediation, restoration and resilience actions for the next 10 to 20 years.”

“The Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund has been invaluable to Delaware, and the watershed as a whole by investing in projects that improve drinking water quality, provide public access to outdoor recreation, and restore and conserve natural habitats, ” said Jen Adkins, Director of Clean Water Supply at American Rivers and a member of the Christina Conservancy Board of Directors. “To date, the Fund has supported 21 projects benefiting the First State, totaling $4.3 million with natural and economic benefits. We’re excited for our project on the lower Christina and Brandywine Rivers here in Wilmington to be among them.”

American Rivers collaborated with the Christina Conservancy to receive a Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund award to work closely with DNREC and other local partners on a Christina and Brandywine Rivers Remediation, Restoration and Resilience plan. This plan will create a blueprint with specific restoration projects for completing the transformation of the lower Christina and Brandywine Rivers in Wilmington into healthy river ecosystems. Additional partners on the project include Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Sarver Ecological, BrightFields, Inc, and Anchor QEA, who are providing scientific and technical expertise, as well as the Delaware Nature Society who is working with local groups like the South Wilmington Planning Network and Collaborate Northeast to seek input from local residents.

Green jobs and workforce development are a focus of Delaware Nature Society whose Trail Ambassadors offered Senator Carper and Governor Carney a tour of the Boardwalk Marsh. Programs such as the Trail Ambassadors not only connect youth closer to the environment but serve as a steppingstone to the proposed Civilian Climate Corps.

“President Biden’s Civilian Climate Corps will put thousands of young people from all backgrounds to work making our communities more resilient, protecting our clean water, addressing environmental injustices, and restoring wildlife habitat — through essential projects like those supported through the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “A 21st century version of the Civilian Conservation Corps will accomplish these critical conservation goals, while equitably empowering the next generation of conservation leaders to strengthen communities across America by restoring treasured natural resources.”

Joanne McGeoch, Delaware Nature Society Interim Executive Director said: “We are grateful to the many partners involved in raising awareness and protection of the Delaware River Watershed. This vital resource provides clean water for millions of people in the region, supports green jobs and our local economy. Delaware Nature Society believes that investments in our youth are equally vital to ensuring our future. To that end, we’ve launched the Trail Ambassador program, engaging local youth from Wilmington in training the next generation of conservation leaders. Along with our partners at National Wildlife Federation, we support the Biden administration’s proposal for the Civilian Conservation Corps and look forward to working together to ensure that conservation jobs are part of the recovery efforts needed to protect our environment, tackle climate change, and boost our economy.”

The Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund was launched in 2018 to conserve and restore natural areas, corridors and waterways on public and private lands that support native fish, wildlife and plants, and to contribute to the vitality of the communities in the Delaware River Watershed. The fund is facilitated by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and funding is provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program.

In total, 90 projects have been funded in the last three years that will improve 6,783 acres of forest habitat, treat polluted runoff using agricultural conservation practices on more than 4,596 acres, restore 141 acres of wetland habitat, and improve 3.5 miles of instream habitat in critical headwaters in the Delaware River Basin. View the full 2020 grant slate online at http://bit.ly/dwcf2020.

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DNREC Seeks Volunteers for Delaware Coastal Cleanup Sept. 11

The Wallace family of Kent County collecting litter and trash at Slaughter Beach during the 2020 Delaware Coastal Cleanup

 

Volunteers Also Invited to Clean up Close to Home in September

Volunteers for the 34th annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup will have two options this year to help keep the state’s beaches and waterways free of trash through a widespread effort that also touches Delaware’s natural areas and neighborhoods. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is hosting the traditional one-day coordinated event at 39 sites statewide on Saturday, Sept. 11 from 9 a.m. to noon. In addition, a month-long campaign starting Sept. 1 will encourage Delawareans and visitors to clean up neighborhoods, green spaces and waterways throughout the state on days, times and at locations of their choice.

Delawareans and visitors alike are encouraged make a special effort to keep communities and natural areas in the First State clean through personal commitment and in support of Governor John Carney’s Keep DE Litter Free initiative. “In order to keep our state beautiful, we must keep our coastlines and outdoor spaces clear of litter. That’s why we started our Keep DE Litter Free initiative,” Governor Carney said. “Thanks to DNREC and our other state and local partners who work to protect our unique natural heritage every year with this Coastal Cleanup. I encourage all Delawareans to participate.”

“We look forward to giving volunteers a choice of options this year to participate in the Delaware Coastal Cleanup,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “Whether volunteers sign up for the traditional Saturday morning cleanup at specific beaches and coastal areas or choose their own time, date and place to clean up close to home, the Delaware Coastal Cleanup’s message remains the same: We can all make a difference keeping our beaches, waterways and wetlands clean and free of trash.”

For the Sept. 11 coordinated cleanup, volunteers must preregister by Tuesday, Aug. 31 for their choice of sites at the mobile-friendly Coastal Cleanup online hub. Limitations on the number of volunteers are in effect at all sites and no walkups will be accepted on the day of the cleanup. Site captains with supplies will be onsite to sign in volunteers and provide trash bags and directions. Although gloves, paper data cards and pencils will be available on request, volunteers are strongly encouraged to bring their own gloves and to use the online Coastal Cleanup reporting tool when it goes live Sept. 1 to share their findings.

Participants can find ideas about how to get involved in the 2021 Delaware Coastal Cleanup on Facebook and Twitter. Volunteers in both the coordinated event on Sept. 11 and the month-long campaign can post photos on facebook.com/DelawareDNREC for a chance to win a 2022 Delaware State Parks pass and a prize bag. Volunteers can post photos as often as they like throughout the month, with each photo counting as a one entry. All volunteers should also report their findings and are invited to share photos on the Coastal Cleanup online hub at de.gov/coastalcleanup2021. Results will be updated during the month in real time on an interactive map.

Cleaning up locally makes a big difference statewide and keeps trash from entering waterways and making its way to beaches and beyond. DNREC suggests several ways to help make a difference all year long:

  • Be proactive by picking up trash near your home to keep your neighborhood clean.
  • Follow a carry-in/carry out plan and take all trash with you when visiting outdoor spaces, like Delaware State Parks, DNREC wildlife areas, Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve locations, and county or local parks.
  • Pack a bag and rubber gloves when you take a walk, go for a hike, go hunting or fishing, etc., to collect and carry out trash you find along the way.
  • Recycle applicable items through in-home recycling or designated drop-off locations. Learn more at de.gov/recycling.

DNREC reminds everyone to wear gloves when picking up trash, wash hands thoroughly after cleanup activities, and follow all recent public area protocols, including the most current COVID-19 guidance.

For more information, visit de.gov/coastalcleanup. Volunteers also can email questions about the cleanup to DNREC_Coastal_Cleanup@delaware.gov.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov, Joanna Wilson, Joanna.wilson@delaware.gov

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Delaware Celebrates Lewes Canal Living Shoreline Project

A crew of 13 installed the living shoreline on the Lewes Canal in just one day in June. DNREC photo.

 

A living shoreline project developed by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary to help Lewes, Delaware with shoreline stabilization was completed in partnership with Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Delaware Living Shorelines Committee.

The Lewes Canal project was a joint effort to add a 180-foot feature adjacent to an already existing living shoreline constructed in 2014 behind the Lewes Little League ball field. A method of shoreline stabilization and protection for wetlands, living shorelines absorb storm energy and protect property while reducing the potential for shoreline erosion issues. They also filter pollutants to improve water quality, a notable benefit as Delaware recognizes National Water Quality Month in August.

“Living shorelines are an innovative and environmentally friendly alternative that uses natural materials such as oyster shells,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “This project is a good example of the benefits living shorelines provide: pollutant filtering to improve water quality; habitat for animals, fish and birds; and protection from erosion and of infrastructure; as well as aesthetics for property owners.”

The new portion was constructed using natural materials: a small amount of coconut fiber coir logs and 1,300 recycled oyster shell bags. A crew of 12 configured the oyster shell bags in long, wavy pyramid formations along the intertidal zone to reduce wave energy and allow wetland habitat restoration. The design includes breaks in the structure to allow tidal exchange, fish and fauna passage, and runoff outflow. This project will be monitored through a collaborative effort for several years to document increase of wetland size and populations of ribbed mussels and oysters.

“From fisheries and water quality to flood protection, the ecological health and resilience of the Delaware Estuary depends on our historically abundant coastal marshes, but sadly we are losing about an acre per day,” said Kathy Klein, executive director at the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, which launched the Delaware Estuary Living Shoreline Initiative in 2008. “Thanks to its science-based design and monitoring, this project showcases how innovative, nature-based tactics can help stem these wetland losses.”

The project is a launching point for developing more partnerships and solutions to coastal restoration, as well as promoting green infrastructure efforts of the Delaware Living Shorelines Committee, a working group dedicated to facilitating the understanding, peer review and implementation of living shoreline tactics within the state. DNREC’s participation is represented by the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program.

Supporters of the project include the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, United States Fish and Wildlife Service Delaware Bay Estuary Project, who provided funding through a small grant, and continued support from the Environmental Protection Agency. Property access and shoreline coordination provided by Lewes Historical Society and the Overfalls Foundation.

For more information, visit Delaware Living Shorelines at delawarelivingshorelines.org.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship develops and implements innovative watershed assessment, monitoring and implementation activities. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov