DNREC Set to Begin Emergency Dredging Project Restoring Navigability in the Murderkill River

The Murderkill River, shown here where it meets the Delaware Bay at Bowers, will be dredged in August to improve navigation for commercial and recreational vessels. DNREC photo.

 

An emergency dredging project is set to begin and be completed by the end of August to restore navigability in the Murderkill River, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today. Permitted by and with modification approvals from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and DNREC regulators, the project calls for removing approximately 52,000 cubic yards of sediment from the river’s navigation channel. DNREC will then make beneficial reuse of the dredged sand to nourish up to 1,000 feet of eroding shoreline at South Bowers Beach.

Funding for the $2.3 million project comes from appropriations to DNREC made under fiscal year 2022 and 2023 Bond Bills, both of which named the Murderkill River as a dredging priority.

“This important state-funded dredging project in the Murderkill River will restore navigability of the channel while bolstering shoreline resiliency in South Bowers,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “It’s a win-win in two critical DNREC areas of responsibility: navigable waterways and infrastructure support. Thanks to our partners – the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the town of Bowers and the South Bowers Volunteer Fire Company – for working with us to bring a much-needed dredging project to fruition.”

U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, worked with the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure this project could begin.

“After working to secure the necessary federal permits from the Army Corps of Engineers, I’m so glad that this project will now be able to begin and restore the Murderkill River to its full potential,” said Senator Carper. “In the Senate, I’m leading the effort to pass bipartisan legislation that would support navigability in our waters for years to come. Enacting this legislation will ensure towns across our state can better access the help they need to maintain their infrastructure.”

The Murderkill River is a federally-authorized navigation project that requires periodic dredging to maintain the safety and navigable access to the river, critically important to commercial and emergency vessels as well as recreational boating. The river forms the southern boundary of the Town of Bowers – a popular boating area with its docks, DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife-owned boat launch and large parking area – before flowing into the Delaware Bay.

In early 2022, DNREC removed sand from the Murderkill Inlet’s navigation channel but was limited by having to use a land-based excavator, and navigation continued to be challenge at low tide, especially in the mile-long approach channel to the Inlet. Nautical dredging equipment to be deployed next month will deepen the channel. An onshore staging area, made possible through a temporary construction easement agreement between DNREC and the South Bowers Volunteer Fire Company, will help facilitate the project. Dredging will be carried out by Cottrell Contracting Corp. of Chesapeake, Va., with almost a century-long record of Eastern Seaboard infrastructure dredging.

“Nourishing the South Bowers shoreline is a vitally important defense of the coastal community against extreme weather, an impact of climate change,” said Jesse Hayden, DNREC Shoreline and Waterway Management Section administrator. “The beach-quality sand from this latest dredging project will be used to extend the area of an earlier beach replenishment project that also utilized dredged sand from the Murderkill’s navigation channel.”

With the project expected to start on or about Aug. 1, the U.S. Coast Guard soon will give notice for mariners to exercise caution and maintain safe distance from the dredging activity – to include floating and submerged pipelines in the Murderkill, and the dredge and support vessels in the area. The USCG also advises that commercial fishing nets, crab pots and other structures removed from the dredging area before work begins.

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


Recycled Cardboard Boat Regatta Set for Saturday, Aug. 6 on Nanticoke River

Team competition is always intense in the recycled cardboard boat regatta sponsored by DNREC, the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance, the Town of Blades and other environmental partners/DNREC photo

 

The seventh annual Recycled Cardboard Boat Regatta will cast off Saturday, Aug. 6 at the Nanticoke River Public Marine Park, 26 North Market Street, Blades, after a two year absence. Sign in and registration begin at 11 a.m., with judging of boats’ appearances at noon, and races starting at 12:30 p.m. The rain date is Sunday, Aug. 7.

The Recycled Cardboard Boat Regatta is presented by the DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship, the DNREC Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances, the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance, Abbotts Mill Nature Center, and Town of Blades, as part of the Reclaim Our River (ROR) Program – Nanticoke Series. The event is open to anyone who can build a cardboard boat.

Boats may be any size, shape, or design, but must be made of recycled cardboard. They should be painted with multiple coats of any indoor or exterior latex house paint. Decorations may be removed after judging, and prior to the race start. Participants who pre-register their boats by Saturday, July 30, will receive special early-bird pricing of $20 per boat. After that date, registration will increase to $30. Participants can also register the day of the event.

Participants should plan to paddle their boats from the starting point on the Nanticoke River, approximately 100 yards for adults, and 50 yards for children, to the regatta finish line. First place awards will be given for winners of races in five categories: individual, youth, teens, family, and organizations or businesses. Special awards will be given for “Pride of the Fleet,” “Most Whimsical Boat,” and “Team Spirit.” Also, spectators will be asked to pick a “People’s Choice” award winner, while a special “Titanic Award” will be given for the “Most Dramatic Sinking!”

Participants also are encouraged to challenge others to race in the Recycled Cardboard Boat Regatta for one-on-one bragging rights. After all boat races are completed, skippers of cardboard boats may challenge another skipper to a race. For a challenge race, both challengers pay a $5 fee.

During the event, attendees can learn about the Reclaim Our River (ROR) partnership and how to help protect Delaware’s waterways. The ROR-Nanticoke Series is devoted to bringing events, workshops, and recreational activities to the Nanticoke Watershed. The series offers participants fun opportunities to connect with Delaware’s waterways and provides important information on water quality that can help in protecting aquatic resources.

The ROR partnership also welcomes event sponsors, with proceeds going toward event costs, projects that improve water quality, and water quality education. Sponsorships begin at $50.

Registration, rules and other information about the Cardboard Boat Regatta is available at nanticokeriver.org/rcbr22. A video about the event including past regattas is posted on the @DelawareDNREC YouTube channel.

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. The DNREC Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances ensures Delaware’s wastes are managed to protect human life, health, safety and the environment. 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


DNREC Brandywine Watershed Report Details Wetland Health and Management Recommendations

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has released a report and educational report card on the health of wetlands within Delaware’s portion of the Brandywine watershed, with wetlands earning a C+ grade with recommendations for improvement. Published by the DNREC Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program (WMAP), the report covers the Brandywine watershed, a combination of eight sub-watersheds. The Delaware part of the watershed resides in New Castle County, where it encompasses 72,969 acres (114 square miles) of land.

This northernmost watershed in Delaware is part of the Piedmont region and extends farther north into Pennsylvania. During the summer of 2019, environmental scientists from the DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship collected data on the plants, hydrology and wetland buffer disturbances from 68 random sites within the Brandywine watershed. Using wetland stressor checklists and biological metrics, they determined the wetlands in the watershed to be in moderate condition, falling in the lower end of Delaware watersheds previously rated by DNREC. The WMAP scientists found the most common stressors to the Brandywine were fill, structures interrupting waterflow, and invasive species, development, roads and mowing in the surrounding landscape. More details about DNREC wetland health assessments can be found at de.gov/watershedhealth.

The report found approximately 3% of the land area of the Brandywine watershed is currently covered by wetlands. WMAP performed freshwater assessments in 14 flat wetlands, 24 riverine wetlands, 11 depression wetlands, and 19 seep wetlands using the Delaware Rapid Assessment Procedure (DERAP) Version 6.0, a data collection method created by DNREC environmental scientists, which is now available for use by professionals and the public. No tidal wetlands were assessed because there were very few tidal wetlands in the watershed, and those that were present occurred only in a couple of small areas. The watershed also contained some Category One wetlands, which are rare, unique, freshwater wetland types in Delaware.

DNREC’s data was used to create a technical report and a more user-friendly “watershed report card.” The technical report summarizes not only the health of the Brandywine watershed’s wetlands, but also examined the change in wetland acreage in recent decades; what value the wetlands provide; and how recent changes in land use will impact wetlands in the future. The report card condenses general information on the watershed, summarizes environmental indicators of wetland health, and showcases what the general public can do to help the future of the Brandywine watershed’s wetlands.

Brandywine Watershed Map
Brandywine Watershed Map

Mapping analysis estimated that by 2017, 26% of historic wetland acreage in the watershed had been lost, mostly due to human impacts such as development. On-the-ground assessments were used rate the health and function of remaining wetlands. Impacts to wetland health reduce a wetland’s ability to perform fully, diminishing its valuable role in controlling flooding and erosion; improving water quality; storing excess rainwater; and providing ecosystem services for both people and wildlife. In this watershed, wetlands overall received a C+ grade. Forested flats and groundwater seep wetland types received a class grade of B-, while riverine and depressions both received C grades, based on impacts mostly to the buffer habitat surrounding wetlands.

Based on the results of this study, DNREC made recommendations targeting scientists, public decision makers and landowners toward improving and enhancing the future health of Delaware’s wetlands. These recommendations included maintaining adequate wetland buffers, restoration activities, increasing education and outreach, using best management practices, suggesting that landowners protect wetlands on their property, and improving the protection of the watershed’s non-tidal wetlands for the future.

The DNREC Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program, funded by the U.S. EPA’s Region 3 Wetland Program Development grants, prepares wetland health reports for Delaware watersheds. Those reports, including the report for the Brandywine watershed, are found at de.gov/watershedhealth.

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


DNREC to Present Living Shoreline Social Marketing Webinar June 16

Rachel Felver, Communications Director of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

 

A social marketing strategy to improve shoreline management is the topic of a free webinar at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 16, presented by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, in partnership with the Delaware Living Shorelines Committee.

The webinar speaker is Rachel Felver, the communications director of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, who will provide an overview of the strategy involving a community-based social marketing campaign.

Felver’s presentation will showcase how the campaign influences environmentally sensitive actions in relation to shoreline management, specifically with living shorelines. The webinar will highlight how shoreline degradation has a direct and negative impact on water quality, while natural shoreline protection provides more resilience against climate change. The webinar presenter will focus on the materials, preparation and outcomes of the Chesapeake Bay specific marketing strategy. Additionally, the lecture will review the project findings, share the toolkits created, and ask for assistance in helping identify the best methods to put this information into the hands of those who could use it.

The webinar is part of an ongoing virtual series offered by the Delaware Living Shorelines Committee, a work group dedicated to facilitating the understanding, peer review and implementation of living shoreline strategy within the state. DNREC’s participation is represented by the DNREC Wetland Monitoring and Assessment program and the DNREC Coastal Training program.

For more information, visit Delaware Living Shorelines. Registration for the webinar and more information about it are also available on the DNREC events and meetings calendar at de.gov/DNRECmeetings.

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


DNREC Announces Beach Access Closures Due to Storm Damage

 The widespread beach erosion and storm damage along Delaware’s Atlantic Coast as seen at Rehoboth Beach. /DNREC photo

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today that multiple Delaware State Parks drive- and walk-on crossings will be closed this Memorial Day Weekend due widespread erosion along Delaware’s coastline sustained during a May 8 nor’easter.

Unsafe drop-offs along the dunes where the crossings meet the beach necessitated the closures. Additionally, very little beach is available for drive-on surf fishing even during low tide at the closed locations.

As of Thursday, May 26, the following beach access points remain open:

  • The Point, Herring Point and Gordons Pond crossings at Cape Henlopen State Park. The northernmost pedestrian crossing at The Point parking lot is closed.
  • 3Rs crossing at Delaware Seashore State Park.
  • North (York), Middle and South crossing at Fenwick Island State Park.

The following beach access points are closed:

  • Navy crossing at Cape Henlopen State Park.
  • Keybox, Conquest and Faithful Steward crossings at Delaware Seashore State Park. The Conquest pedestrian crossings are also closed.

DNREC’s Shoreline and Waterway Management Section beach crew is working to reopen drive-on and pedestrian crossings along the coastline, including at other damaged beaches.

Cape Henlopen and Delaware Seashore state parks Facebook pages will be updated regularly with what crossings are open or closed.

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

###