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.

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With Delaware Bay Beach Nourishment Projects Complete, DNREC Now Works Toward Restoring Atlantic Coastline

DNREC’s completed Bay beach nourishment project in Pickering Beach, showing a wide beach berm and newly planted beach grass. /DNREC photo

 

Recovery from the Recent Nor’easter to Continue Into Fall

Having recently completed beach nourishment projects in five Delaware Bay beach communities, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control today begins the next phase of restoring parts of Delaware’s coastline, including the beaches that experienced widespread erosion and damage from a May nor’easter.

“Our Shoreline team will be hard at it for the foreseeable future on beach restoration priorities that this storm handed us,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “While restoring the beaches will not be instant nor easy, we are confident of surmounting the challenge ahead. We’re working on making the state’s beaches accessible and in shape for the summer. Of course, we also welcome the communities’ help in restoring the beaches just as they – and we – value our federal partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when expected beach nourishment projects begin in a number of these communities as early as next fall.”

“The damage done to our beaches by the recent nor’easter makes clear that robust federal, state and local partnerships are needed now more than ever,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “I have been fighting to give one of our key federal partners in this effort — the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — several new beach restoration tools in the 2022 Water Resources Development Act legislation. Among the provisions in the bill are: emergency authority to allow the Corps to help restore beaches in the aftermath of storms; a requirement that the federal government pay 90% of the costs of the Bay Beach nourishment project; and a reorientation of the Corps’ civil works program to proactively address climate change and streamline the implementation of shoreline protection and restoration projects. The state of Delaware should be able to count on the support of the Corps and other federal agencies to help restore our beaches and make sure our communities are protected.”

DNREC recently completed beach nourishment project in the Pickering Beach, Kitts Hummock, Bowers, South Bowers, and Slaughter Beach communities. This project used approximately 52,650 cubic yards of sand – enough to fill almost 11 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The next restoration phase spans the majority of the state’s coastline and will require DNREC to partner with the Army Corps of Engineers and affected communities to restore the coastline.

Storm erosion and dune fence damage in Rehoboth Beach from the recent nor’easter storm. /DNREC photo
Storm erosion and dune fence damage in Rehoboth Beach from the recent nor’easter storm. /DNREC photo

“The long duration of the storm and the post-storm wind direction mean we may not see a rapid natural rebuilding of the beach,” said DNREC Shoreline and Waterway Section administrator Jesse Hayden. “The dunes did their job protecting our communities from being inundated, but by absorbing the impact of the storm they suffered damage that affects people’s ability to access the beach. Our immediate goal is restore as much safe beach access in as many communities as possible so that beachgoers can enjoy a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. Our partners are a big part of that.”

DNREC’s post-storm work is set to begin this week in South Bethany, the community worst hit by the storm, and restoration work will then move south to north. At each juncture, DNREC will clean up debris such as smashed dune fencing and will re-grade numerous access crossings. DNREC also is working on a nourishment project north of the Indian River Inlet which lost significant sand from the dune critical to protecting the roadway and the Indian River Inlet Bridge.

“The first pass made by our team will focus on cleanup and restoring access,” Hayden said. “When that work is done, we will begin repairing the damaged dune fence.” Both post and rope and wooden dune fence do the job of keeping people off the sensitive dune. But where wooden dune fence can trap wind-blown sand at its base, a post and rope system allows a more natural exchange where vegetation covering the dune can trap wind-blown sand over a wider area. DNREC uses both types, depending on the management needs in each area.

DNREC’s beach nourishment projects introduce sand into the shoreline system to offset the effects of erosion. The beach and dune are an important natural line of defense between the ocean or bay and inland public and private infrastructure, including houses and roads. Both the Delaware Bay and Atlantic beaches and dunes also provide crucial habitat for migrating shorebirds, including several threatened species, and other wildlife, such as spawning horseshoe crabs – which, under ordinary circumstances, means beach nourishment projects must be completed by April 15 or by March 1 at some beaches, with beach nourishment not permitted again until Oct. 1.

However, after Pickering Beach was impacted by a nor’easter on April 18, the Shoreline and Waterway Management Section requested and received approval from DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife to replace sand that had washed onto the road there back onto the beach. The sand was then reshaped into a dune at Pickering. The other Bay beach communities experienced some erosion of newly placed beach and dune sand, but none of the towns where the nourishment was made experienced overtopping of the dune from the most recent nor’easter.

Several bay beach communities experienced minor impacts from the more recent nor’easter that caused widespread erosion on the both coasts – some of the truck-hauled sand from that project was moved around and lost because of the storm. But the winter beach nourishment at South Bowers, Bowers, Kitts Hummock, Pickering Beach and Slaughter Beach largely held its ground and worked to protect the communities in the face of high tides and winds. Future nourishment is planned along both the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay coastlines. Along the Atlantic Ocean, large scale nourishment projects in partnership with the Corps of Engineers will include Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany, and Fenwick Island. Along Delaware Bay, DNREC will perform small-scale nourishment to further fortify the most vulnerable sections of shoreline.

More information about the work of the DNREC Shoreline and Waterway Management Section can be found at de.gov/shoreline. More information on beach nourishment in Delaware available from Outdoor Delaware, de.gov/outdoordelaware.

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


DNREC, Delaware Center for the Inland Bays To Host Water Family Fest Saturday, May 14

Delaware’s Sassafras Landing living shoreline, a joint project of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, was recognized as one of the 2021 Best Restored Shores by the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA). /DNREC photo

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Center for the Inland Bays (CIB) are again partnering to host Water Family Fest and Annual Native Plant Sale. The family-friendly event will be held at the James Farm Ecological Preserve in Ocean View from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 14. The free event highlights the work by DNREC and the CIB in the Inland Bays to improve Delaware’s environment and preserve the area’s natural resources, including wetlands, water quality and living shorelines.

Water Family Fest visitors will enjoy exhibits from more than 20 nature-based and non-profit organizations while taking advantage of the opportunity to explore a variety of environmental topics including native plants, shellfish, buffers, beaches, wetlands, tax ditches, rain gardens and more. Visitors also can explore hiking trails, take a guided hike, and even try paddle boarding and kayaking.

Short talks on topics such as horseshoe crabs, aquaculture, green infrastructure, and native plants are scheduled every half hour at Water Family Fest from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. The event also features family activities such as seining, bird identification and horseshoe crab tagging. An event program can be found at dnrec.delaware.gov.

Also, as part of Delaware Flood Awareness Week, DNREC’s Floodplain Management Program will unveil a working model of a floodplain at Water Family Fest that helps young people understand flooding and its impacts. The Enviroscape tabletop model at Water Family Fest offers a hands-on creative way to demonstrate flooding and floodplain management concepts. The model also shows how flooding on the floodplain can be caused by unplanned development – and the importance of wetlands in helping mitigate flooding impacts.

Sponsors of the event include Inland Bays Garden Center, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, WSFS Bank, Coldwell Banker Realty, Real McCoy Group, Sussex County Association of Realtors, Coastal Plant Care, Jolly Trolley, G&E Hardware, Bethany Club Tennis and Delmarva Public Media.

More information about the Water Family Fest can be found at dnrec.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. 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: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov; Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov


DNREC, DEMA Sponsor Delaware Flood Awareness Week

Flooding such as occurred in Delaware during Hurricane Sandy is becoming a bigger threat to country’s lowest-lying state.

 

Interactive Quiz, Flood Insurance Webinar and Social Media
Campaign Highlight Daily Flood-Related Themes from May 9 to 13

Governor John Carney has proclaimed May 9 through 13 Delaware Flood Awareness Week to inform residents about flood risk, likelihood of flooding from extreme weather events brought on by climate change, the importance of having a flood insurance policy, and flood remediation for property damage or loss. “Every Delawarean should make sure that they are prepared for unexpected flood events,” said Governor Carney. “Flood Awareness Week allows for federal, state and local emergency agencies to increase public awareness of flood risks. Explore the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s resources to make sure that you’re prepared.”

Throughout next week DNREC and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) will highlight numerous resources for flood awareness in Delaware, to include an interactive quiz, webinar and floodplain mapping tool.

“Delaware is the lowest-lying state and has the lowest average land elevation in the country – we are already susceptible to flooding and becoming more at risk from sea level rise,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “With climate change spawning more extreme weather events, including hurricanes and tornadoes, flooding is an issue that we must confront with greater urgency. It’s imperative to get word out on flooding and flood risk management.”

“Delaware is experiencing significant flooding with increasing frequency in areas that have not previously experienced flood events. We encourage residents to be proactive to understand how flooding could affect them and take the appropriate precautions to protect their property and families,” said Department of Safety and Homeland Security Secretary Nathaniel McQueen Jr.

Much of the impetus behind Delaware Flood Awareness Week is helping the public become better informed about flood insurance, which provides policy holders with financial security and ensures quick recovery of personal property from flood damage. Delawareans can learn how much they know with a new interactive online flood quiz, available on Monday, May 9 from @DelawareDNREC social media pages. The quiz and much more information about flood awareness also can be found at de.gov/floodrisk.

Much of the focus for Flood Awareness Week is on the tools and resources available to help Delawareans understand flood risk and be proactive addressing it on a personal property level. DNREC and DEMA staff will be on hand virtually and via social media during the week to explain flood insurance issues, to help residents access a flood insurance policy, and to advise on mitigation assistance resources in Delaware.

On Tuesday, May 10, DNREC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will host a flood insurance virtual open house, with two hour-long discussions, in the morning from 10 to 11 a.m. and an evening session from 6 to 7 p.m. The open house offers expert commentary from the state and federal level, and the private sector on flood insurance and Risk Rating 2.0, the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) new risk rating and pricing methodology. At the end of each open house, the panel will address general questions from attendees via Zoom chat. More information, including Zoom registration, can be found at de.gov/floodrisk.

DNREC’s Floodplain Management program will drive more flood insurance and flood awareness outreach later this month, with a DART bus traveling Sussex County routes outfitted with a graphic depiction of a flooded Delaware community under the heading “FLOODS. Are You Prepared?”

The Wednesday, May 11 theme “Flood Safety” is highlighted by more social media and outreach from DEMA, carrying messages such as “Flooding Can Be Dangerous” and, particularly in Delaware, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” when encountering flooded roadways – a typical passenger vehicle can be swept away toward a tragic outcome by as little as 12 inches of onrushing water.

The flood awareness theme for Thursday, May 12 is “Know Your Flood Risk,” with a goal of encouraging Delawareans to research flood risk for their property. DNREC supports this effort by providing the Delaware Flood Planning Tool app, which can be found at de.gov/floodplanning. DNREC’s social media awareness message for the day is “Anywhere it rains, it can flood. Know your flood risk. Use the Delaware Flood Planning Tool to view other flood risk information for your property.”

For the Friday, May 13, and the flood awareness theme of “Remediation and Mitigation,” DEMA will turn to social media for explaining how actions taken now can reduce Delaware’s vulnerability to future disasters – how, on average, $1 spent on hazard mitigation provides Delawareans $4 in future benefits. The theme extends to helping Delawareans understand the benefits of mitigating at the local level, including how they can apply for mitigation grants through their local communities.

The finale for flood awareness week outreach efforts is a bonus for the next generation of Delaware property owners. DNREC’s Floodplain Management Program will unveil a working model of a floodplain Saturday, May 14 at the DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship’s “Water Family Fest” at the James Farm Ecological Reserve that helps young people understand flooding and its impacts. The Enviroscape tabletop is a hands-on way to demonstrate flooding and floodplain management concepts – along with showing how flooding on the floodplain can be caused by unplanned development, and the role wetlands play in helping mitigate flooding impacts.

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.

About DEMA
The Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA), a division within the Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS), is the lead state agency for coordination of comprehensive emergency preparedness, training, response, recovery and mitigation services in order to save lives, protect Delaware’s economic base and reduce the impact of emergencies. For more information, visit the website and connect with DEMA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: DNREC: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov; Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; DEMA: Paige Fitzgerald, paige.fitzgerald@delaware.gov

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DNREC Inland Bays Wetland Strategy Details Restoration Plans for Wetlands and Submerged Aquatic Vegetation

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has finalized a strategy to address several specific wetlands and aquatic vegetation issues in the Inland Bays watershed. Published by the DNREC Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program (WMAP), the Inland Bays Wetland Restoration Strategy plan covers the Inland Bays watershed, which drains 210,064 acres of land in southern Delaware. According to Delaware’s 2017 Statewide Wetland Mapping Project, 58,906 acres of the basin are wetlands. This acreage represents 20% of all of Delaware’s wetlands.

The primary purpose of this strategy is to identify key tactics for addressing issues affecting tidal wetlands, non-tidal wetlands, and submerged aquatic vegetation in the Inland Bays watershed, while also identifying priority areas on public land where the tactics could be implemented. WMAP used past wetland health assessments, documented changes in wetland acreage in the recent decade, and interviews from more than 12 conservation organizations to compile the strategy. WMAP also used spatial analysis methods to identify optimal tidal and non-tidal wetland restoration opportunities on public protected lands in the Inland Bays.

The Inland Bays Wetland Restoration Strategy plan contains a comprehensive overview of major issues faced by wetlands and submerged aquatic vegetation, such as sea level rise and invasive species, in the Inland Bays and the diverse tactics that can be used to address the problems. The tactics and tasks outlined align with seven major themes from Delaware’s 2021-2025 Wetland Program Plan: mapping, monitoring, climate adaptation, restoration, collaboration, conservation, and education.

The DNREC-produced plan can be cited by conservation groups and organizations to prioritize projects and justify funding requests for wetland or submerged aquatic vegetation restoration projects in the Inland Bays. The plan also supports wetland management goals of several entities, including the Delaware Wildlife Action Plan created by DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). As other conservation groups working in the Inland Bays may not have a concrete wetland and submerged aquatic vegetation-related strategy, the Inland Bays Wetland Restoration Strategy also could serve as a starting point for understanding current Delaware wetlands and aquatic vegetation issues, while encouraging collaboration toward resolving them.

For more information about DNREC’s Inland Bays Wetland Strategy, visit dnrec.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. 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: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov; Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov