Unique Gordons Pond Trail opens at Cape Henlopen State Park

            Trail users, officials, residents celebrate long-awaited connector

CAPE HENLOPEN STATE PARK (June 18, 2014) – On the eve of Cape Henlopen State Park’s 50th anniversary, hiking and biking trail fans, elected officials, park visitors and local residents today came out to celebrate the long anticipated official opening of the Gordons Pond Trail at the park.

The new 3.2-mile trail is part of Governor Jack Markell’s Trails and Pathways Initiative, providing a key link in a 15-mile regional trail system connecting Lewes and Rehoboth Beach including the existing Junction and Breakwater Trail. The trail extends from the wildlife observation platform at the Gordons Pond area to the Walking Dune Trail near Herring Point in the park. It includes a boardwalk featuring two observation lookouts.

“The Gordons Pond Trail offers an outstanding opportunity for residents and visitors alike to enjoy the outdoors and experience the natural beauty of our state,” said Governor Jack Markell. “Investments in our trails and pathways provide a tremendous return, promoting healthier lifestyles, a cleaner environment, and a stronger economy.”

The new trail replaces an existing primitive trail which traveled through dune fields and was open only part of the year. Nearly a half of a mile of trail is an elevated boardwalk constructed with a special decking material that light can penetrate, allowing plants to grow below and minimizing impact to the environment. In addition, 2.7 miles of trail is constructed of fine crushed stone. The trail is open to walkers, runners and bicyclists whenever the park is open.

“This is without a doubt one of the most spectacular trails our state has to offer, and it will surely be a major attraction for Delawareans and visitors enjoying this part of our state,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara. “The trail provides a car-free connection between two major beach communities and combines some of the most majestic views with healthy active recreation.”

The Gordons Pond Trail connection was first noted in a 1974 Bikeway report to the General Assembly. It was examined again in 1990. The final route was developed by a team of DNREC resource specialists in 2010, and final trail design began in 2012.

“Trails are a wonderful year-long resource for recreational walking and hiking, which improves physical and mental health for people of all ages,” said Gary Kirk, Environment Chair of the Wilmington Trail Club. “The Gordons Pond Trail is readily accessible, flat, and in a mostly natural setting, so it will be a magnet not just for Delaware residents but also for the many visitors each year to the Delaware beaches.”

“The Gordons Pond Trail is a major enhancement in the outdoor recreational opportunities in this area,” said John Kurpjuweit, president of Sussex Cyclists. “It will greatly add to the outstanding quality of life in Sussex County. Whether cycling, running or walking, trail users now have additional means to improve their health and fitness, or simply to enjoy the beauty of coastal Delaware.”

“This new trail addition is going to be a wonderful thing for runners,” said Mary Beth Evans, owner of the Rehoboth Beach Running Company. “It will be great to hop on the trail and run into Cape Henlopen State Park. I love running somewhere instead of driving.”

“I’m so excited that the trail is open,” said Amy Linzey, a local runner and triathlete. “It’s beautiful! It’s so nice to have one big loop to run and bike on now.”

Cape Henlopen State Park draws more than 1.2 million visitors a year. The park comprises 5,320 acres with swimming beaches, surf-fishing areas, fishing pier, the Seaside Nature Center, a tent and RV campground, youth camps, and historic Fort Miles. The Gordons Pond Trail joins a network of nearly 16 miles of hiking, biking and nature trails in the park, including the 3-mile Bike Loop Trail; the half-mile Seaside Nature Trail; the 2-mile Pinelands Nature Trail; the 1.6-mile Walking Dune Trail; the half-mile Salt Marsh Spur; and the 5-mile Junction & Breakwater Trail east of the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal.

Project design and construction costs came from the Governor’s Trails & Pathways Bond Bill funds for state park trails. Project design and construction totaled $3.48 million. The trail was designed by Delaware engineering firm RK&K, and was constructed by Conventional Builders Inc., also of Delaware.


Gov. Markell, Sens. Carper and Coons, Congressman Carney announce funding to increase resiliency of vulnerable Bayshore habitats

Project includes resiliency investments in Mispillion Harbor and coastal impoundment wetlands in wildlife areas

DELAWARE BAYSHORE (June 16, 2014) – Today, Governor Jack Markell, Delaware’s Congressional Delegation of U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Congressman John Carney, and DNREC Sec. Collin O’Mara announced that the state has received $6.9 million in federal funding to design and construct projects for Delaware Bay wetland and beach habitats that will minimize coastal flooding and enhance the resiliency of communities and ecosystems degraded by storms, including Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The funding will support Delaware’s efforts to protect lands, infrastructure, and communities along the Bayshore from future coastal storms and sea level rise. The federal grants will leverage state, local and partner funds.

Delaware received funding from the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) through the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency appropriations. Earlier today, DOI Secretary Sally Jewell released $102.7 million in recovery funding to support 54 projects along the Atlantic coast. Interior’s commitment of $100 million was matched with $2.7 million from the U.S. Attorney General’s offices in New Jersey and Delaware, as well as donations from Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

“We must address the reality of the increasing frequency of severe storms that have battered our coast and damaged protective tidal marshes and infrastructure,” said Governor Markell. “This funding builds on our efforts to restore coastal resources and increase the resilience of the Delaware Bayshore, while supporting jobs through projects that strengthen local economies. I’m grateful for the tireless work of our Congressional delegation to help advocate for natural resources that are vital to our economy and quality of life.”

Funds awarded to Delaware, made available through a competitive grants program administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, will increase the resiliency of Bayshore habitats, reduce flood risks to communities and agricultural lands, and prevent catastrophic loss of coastal wetlands to open water. The projects will benefit more than 15,000 acres of tidal marshes and wetlands and more than 3 miles of beach habitat and protect more than 2 miles of navigation channels.

“Over the years, the state and federal government have combined efforts to help mitigate the effects of superstorms,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “Whether it is creating wide, robust beaches and a strong and healthy dune system, or looking at new ways to build roads to withstand flooding, Delaware is constantly looking at ways to protect our homes, businesses and communities from strong storms. I am confident this funding will help Delaware explore other adaptive measures so when the next major storm strikes, the First State will be prepared.”

“Protecting and restoring Delaware’s wetlands and coastal habitat are incredibly important to maintain our significant and unique natural resources,” said Sen. Coons. “In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, these much needed funds will help a great deal in restoring and repairing Delaware’s vast natural ecosystem and protecting such animals as horseshoe crabs and the imperiled red knot in the Mispillion Harbor Reserve and Milford Neck Conservation Area.”

“The Delaware coastline is a beautiful natural habitat enjoyed by residents and visitors across the region.  It’s our responsibility to help protect this resource for future generations to enjoy,” said Congressman Carney. “The federal funding announced today protects central areas of the Delaware Bayshore, the animals and wildlife that rely on it, and surrounding land and residences. It’s essential work so that these parts of our state can be better prepared for the next storm emergency.”

“Improving Delaware’s coastal resiliency and preparedness to storms, sea level rise and other climate impacts is not just essential for wildlife habitat, it’s important for supporting a thriving economy and protecting the health and safety of our residents,” said Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara. “I want to commend everyone involved – our Congressional Delegation, Senators Carper and Coons and Congressman Carney – for their help in bringing this important funding to Delaware. I am proud of our DNREC team and the collaborative effort to pursue these funds with partners such as The Nature Conservancy, Delaware Wild Lands, Delmarva Ornithological Society, the National Wildlife Federation and the many communities impacted by coastal storms.”

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) was awarded two grants totaling $6.5 million that will increase coastal resiliency of Bayshore lands from Mispillion Harbor (near the Town of Slaughter Beach) to Milford Neck Conservation Area and from the Mahon River (near the Town of Little Creek) to the St. Jones River. The central Bayshore area, a major stopover point in the Atlantic Flyway for migratory waterfowl and shorebirds, has been degraded through severe flooding and erosion and no longer provides high quality habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife that are dependent on coastal marshes and wetlands. The degradation of these marshes, surrounding lands and adjacent resources are at risk to more severe flooding, erosion and saltwater intrusion, which has been greatly accelerated by multiple coastal storms in recent years, including Hurricane Sandy.

A grant of $4.5 million will be used for projects that will restore the most vulnerable shorelines in Mispillion Harbor, increase resiliency of important habitat for spawning horseshoe crabs and migratory shorebirds including the Red Knot, and protect the tidal flow and navigation channels of the Mispillion River and Cedar Creek. Restoration and resiliency planned for the harbor will also protect the navigation channel through Mispillion Inlet, ensuring continued commercial and recreational access to the Delaware Bay. Efforts to maintain tidal flow through Mispillion Inlet will complement restoration work at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Plans to design restoration strategies for Milford Neck marshes will reduce flood risks to adjacent communities, forests and agricultural lands. This project builds upon the success of the Milford Neck Conservation Area Partnership, a coalition that includes DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, Delaware Wild Lands, and The Nature Conservancy, to conserve and restore lands, waters and habitat.

“This grant will move us well down the road toward demonstrating how natural assets like sand dunes and salt marshes can benefit not just the species that depend on them for habitat, but also Bayshore communities threatened by rising seas, flooding and coastal storms,” said Richie Jones, Delaware State Director for The Nature Conservancy.

“Delaware Wild Lands is pleased to be working with The Nature Conservancy and State of Delaware to protect and restore one of Delaware’s most important tidal marsh and forested wetland complexes located at Milford Neck in Kent County,” said Kate Hackett, executive director of Delaware Wild Lands. “Projects like these are a win for everyone because they weave together multiple sources of funding and take a system-wide approach to restoring and enhancing Delaware’s critical natural resources and the resiliency of our coastal habitat, farmland and communities.”

A second grant of $2 million to DNREC will be used to design and construct restoration projects for coastal wetland impoundments and beach habitat from Ted Harvey Conservation Area north to Port Mahon. These projects will increase the resiliency of habitat and reduce sea level rise and flooding vulnerabilities of Kitts Hummock, Pickering Beach, the Town of Little Creek and more than 1,300 acres of farmland. Two coastal wetland impoundments at Little Creek Wildlife Area and Ted Harvey Conservation Area will be restored.

A third grant of $400,000 was awarded to the University of Delaware to develop a three-dimensional wetland model for the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. The project will provide current wetland assessments, help evaluate restoration strategies and predict the long-term sustainability of the marsh.

In addition, the DOI announced today two Northeast regional Hurricane Sandy grants of nearly $1 million that benefit Delaware. One proposal, submitted by the National Wildlife Federation and Audubon Society, was awarded $470,000 to complete a vulnerability and resilience assessment of all coastal wetland impoundments in the Northeast. This regional project will help Delaware coordinate its restoration and resiliency work with neighboring states. The second regional grant awarded to the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems will provide $520,000 to improve storm-related data interpretation for decision-makers.

For more information on the DOI announcement, click here:  U.S. Department of Interior press release.

Governor Markell Orders Flags Lowered on June 17

DOVER – With the passing of former State Representative Thomas E. Brady Jr. on Tuesday, June 10, Governor Markell has ordered the American and Delaware flags at state buildings and facilities be flown at half-staff on Tuesday, June 17, as a mark of respect for Representative Brady and his service to Delaware.

Representative Brady served in the Delaware House from 1979-1985, representing the 6th district. While serving in the General Assembly, he had several signature achievements including securing funding for the Augustine Cutoff bridge repairs and passage of the Financial Center for Development Act which led to the expansion of the credit card banking industry in Delaware.

Representative Brady was interred in All Saints Cemetery in Wilmington on Saturday, June 14.

Governor Markell Nominates Karen Valihura to Delaware Supreme Court

Wilmington, DE – Governor Markell today announced the nomination of Karen L. Valihura, a widely respected corporate law practitioner, to serve on the Delaware Supreme Court. If confirmed by the Delaware Senate, Valihura will fill the vacancy left by Justice Jack B. Jacobs, who retires on June 24th.

“Karen Valihura is an attorney of uncommon skill, intelligence, and integrity who has earned a well-deserved reputation for excellence in her 25 years in private practice,” said Governor Markell. “As important, she has a long track record of service to the community. If she is confirmed by Senate, I believe Karen will serve our state well as a member of Delaware’s highest court.”

Ms. Valihura is a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, LLP, where she has practiced law since 1989. Her practice involves a wide range of complex and high-profile litigation involving an array of corporate and commercial issues, including mergers and acquisitions, fiduciary duties of directors, and federal and state securities fraud claims. She represents business entities in federal and state trial and appellate courts throughout the country.   Ms. Valihura is widely recognized as one of Delaware’s pre-eminent corporate law practitioners, and she has been selected repeatedly for inclusion in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business and The Best Lawyers in America.

“I am humbled by this great honor, and I wish to thank Governor Markell for having the faith in me to succeed retiring Justice Jack Jacobs who contributed greatly to making our Supreme Court a shining star among our nation’s courts,” said Ms. Valihura. “I also want to thank the members of the Judicial Nominating Commission, and its Chair, the former Chancellor William B. Chandler, III, for their consideration. Should I be lucky enough to be confirmed by the Delaware State Senate, I look forward to working hard  to serve the citizens of this great State as part of one of the best state court systems in the nation.”

In addition to her work in the courtroom, Ms. Valihura has served her community and colleagues.  For 18 years, she served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Delaware Special Olympics, and also served for eight years as a member of the Delaware Bar Foundation. She currently serves as a member of the advisory board of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance and as a member of the Delaware Supreme Court’s Permanent Ethics Advisory Committee on Delaware Rules of Professional Conduct.  She previously served as a member of the Board on Professional Responsibility, having served as Board Chair for six years and as a member of the Corporation Law Council of the Delaware State Bar Association.

Valihura, 51, received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science from Washington and Jefferson College in 1985.  She earned her law degree at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and was admitted to the Delaware Bar in 1989. She resides in Wilmington.

Governor’s Weekly Message: Addressing the Effects of Climate Change

DOVER – In his weekly message, Governor Markell discusses local and national efforts to combat effects of climate change and highlights a recent visit by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy.

“We’re using cleaner power sources; reducing energy bills through efficiency; and creating opportunities for research, manufacturing, and construction jobs to support a cleaner energy economy,” said Governor Markell. “We must continue to build on the progress we’ve made, and we’re committed to helping meet EPA’s ambitious goals. By recognizing the environmental, health and economic benefits of using the right approach to combat climate change, we’ll keep Delaware moving forward.”

Every week, the Governor’s office releases a new Weekly Message in video, audio, and transcript form. The message is available on:

YouTube: http://youtu.be/W8BjyKKdb9w
Delaware.Gov:  http://governor.delaware.gov/podcast_video.shtml
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Transcript of the Governor’s Weekly Message: Addressing the Effects of Climate Change