Governor Carney, First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney Encourage Reading This Fall

September marks Library Card Sign-up Month, Free Story Walks in each county

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney and First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney on Friday encouraged students and families to read throughout the school year by promoting the new Story Walks created in partnership with the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE), the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the Delaware Division of Libraries and Syncretic Press, a multi-lingual book publisher based in Wilmington.

“Delaware students, families and educators worked hard this summer to make sure learning was accelerated before students went back to classrooms. This effort was capped off with the introduction of the Story Walks in our Delaware State Parks,” said Governor Carney. “One of our highest education priorities is to make sure third graders are reading at grade level. Programs like these Story Walks will help children experience reading in an interactive way in all three counties. We encourage you to check out the Story Walks and sign up for a library card if you don’t have one.”

“Language exposure is such a huge part of healthy brain development, and we’re not going to be able to tackle any of our big problems unless we address that healthy brain development for young children,” said First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney. “Bringing books to settings where kids are comfortable and that they associate with fun, like at our parks, is a great way to encourage reading.”

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The Story Walks launched on September 1 in Brandywine Park, Killen’s Pond, and Trap Pond. There is a different story featured at each park including: Noah and the Red Cat, Spanish Tortilla, and Time to Play. The book titles and installations were managed by Syncretic Press. All stories are available in English and Spanish.

“We are grateful for the State Literacy Plan funding that enabled us to partner with DNREC on this project so we can promote both reading and outdoor exercise. When families visit Delaware’s beautiful parks, we hope the story walks will provide an enjoyable opportunity to jump into a new book,” said Secretary of Education Susan Bunting. “Families can read the stories together and talk about the books with their children while they are walking. They can discuss what the characters are doing and make predictions from one story board to the next. We hope such experiences encourage reading as a family not just while at the park but also when at home. It’s our goal to create lifelong readers in the state of Delaware.”

“We are excited to host these Story Walks within Delaware State Parks and offer our visitors opportunities to read while in nature,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “The stories are fun to read and provide short literary adventures that we hope both children and adults enjoy exploring.”

“In times when everything moves so fast even when we read a story, a Book Walk allows you to pause between the pages and wonder what is coming next as you literally walk to the next page. Engaging the mind and body this way allows the reader to better savor the story and the illustrations,” said Enrique Morás, Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Syncretic Press. “We are excited to introduce these Latin American authors and illustrators to readers in Delaware. Bringing diverse perspectives on art and storytelling open up new windows of understanding, growth and tolerance in our community.”

The Delaware Division of Libraries is also promoting Library Card Sign-up Month throughout September. Individuals can sign up for a library card at delawarelibraries.org or in person at their local public library. 

“September is Library Card Sign-up Month! A library card is a school essential, and it’s free,” said Annie Norman, State Librarian and Director of the Delaware Division of Libraries. “About half of Delawareans have a library card. Register for your library card today, online or in person at your local public library.”

 

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DNREC Chester-Choptank Watershed Report Details Wetland Health and Management Recommendations

Chester-Choptank Wetland/DNREC photo

 

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has finalized a report card on the health of wetlands within the Delaware portion of the Chester-Choptank watershed, with the wetlands earning an encouraging B grade but with recommendations for improvement. Published by the DNREC Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program (WMAP), the report card covers the Chester-Choptank watershed, a combination of several watersheds, including Sassafras River, Elk River, Chester River, and Upper Choptank River. The Delaware part of the watershed resides in New Castle and Kent County, where it encompasses 113,944 acres (178 square miles) of land.

Of Delaware’s many watersheds, only the Chester-Choptank feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. During the summer of 2018, environmental scientists from the DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship collected data on the plants, hydrology and wetland buffer disturbances from 76 sites within the Delaware portion of the Chester-Choptank watershed. Using these condition assessment checklists and biological metrics, they assessed the wetlands in the watershed to be in fair condition, falling in the middle of Delaware watersheds previously rated by DNREC. The WMAP scientists found the most common stressors to the Chester-Choptank to be selective tree cutting and invasive plants; ditching for added drainage and microtopographic alterations; and channelized waterways and development.

The report found that approximately 35% of the land area of the Chester-Choptank watershed is currently covered by wetlands. WMAP performed freshwater assessments in 30 flat wetlands, 27 riverine wetlands, and 19 depression wetlands using the Delaware Rapid Assessment Procedure (DERAP) Version 6.0, a data collection method created by DNREC environmental scientists (and available for use by professionals and the public alike). No tidal wetlands were assessed because the watershed comprises a headwater region of the Chesapeake Bay, which means it is too far inland for the presence of tidal wetlands.

DNREC’s data was used to create a technical report and a more user-friendly “watershed report card” that summarized not only the health of the Chester-Choptank 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.

In assessing it, WMAP estimated that by 2007, 39% of historic wetland acreage in the watershed had been lost, mostly due to land conversion such as development. 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.

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 wetland reports by the DNREC Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program are funded by the U.S. EPA’s Region 3 Wetland Program Development. They are supported by the DNREC Nonpoint Source program, which shares data, best management practice (BMP) issues, and insight into the challenges within the Chesapeake Bay region. For more information about the Chester-Choptank watershed, please visit https://dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/watershed-stewardship/wetlands/assessments/chester-choptank/.

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

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