Delaware State Parks Expected to Set Visitation Record

 Increased visitation to Delaware State Parks is expected to continue as more people opt for the benefits of being outdoors

 

After breaking attendance records in 2021, Delaware State Parks is on pace to set another visitors’ attendance mark by the end of 2022, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today.

In 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation had 47,250 active annual passes that allow daily entry into Delaware State Parks compared with 61,744 in 2021, a 31% increase.

As of April 30, 39,959 individuals had purchased an annual pass within the first two months of sales – surpassing the 39,568 passes purchased by the same date in 2021 despite two fewer months of sales. Park passes typically go on sale in December, but sales for 2022 were delayed until February due to nationwide supply-chain disruptions.

Visitation to Delaware’s 17 state parks and the Brandywine Zoo has increased by 30% in the last five years, from 6.1 million in 2017 to 7.9 million in 2021, and is up 78% over the last decade. Increased visitation is expected to continue as more people opt for the benefits of being outdoors.

“The incredible interest our Delaware State Parks have experienced since the start of the pandemic is here to stay. Like never before, the public recognizes the many benefits the nation’s best state parks offer for our health and wellbeing,” said DNREC Secretary M. Shawn Garvin. “I am incredibly proud of how our parks staff continues to meet the challenges that come with increased demand and usage of all our venues and amenities.”

Usage on some park trails has increased more than 70% during the pandemic, boat rentals at the inland pond parks increased by 24%, and the state-owned Deerfield and Garrison’s Lake golf courses saw record-breaking numbers of rounds of golf played with an increase of 37%.

Visitation to the Delaware State Parks beaches also grew, causing parking lots at Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks to reach capacity, resulting in 69 lot closures in 2021. While it is common for day-use parking lots at beach parks to reach capacity on busy summer weekends, 16 of the lot closures in 2021 occurred on weekdays.

Camping and cabin reservations at Delaware State Parks have increased more than 30%, with 153,582 nights booked in 2021 compared to 117,471 nights booked in 2019. While summer has historically been the most popular time to camp in Delaware State Parks, camping and cabin reservations during the off-season started to increase in fall 2020 and continue to trend upward. Camping also draws some of the most active park users who spend both their days and nights on park grounds.

 Delaware State Parks also marked its 70th anniversary in 2021 and, for the second time, won the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) and National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) 2021 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. This biennial Gold Medal Award has only been given 13 times since its establishment in 1997. Delaware and Florida are the only state park systems to win the award more than once.

The division released a Strategic Plan in 2021 with core priorities and goals that will guide Delaware State Parks through 2026. Part of the plan includes the launch of Project 75 with multiple initiatives to take the division into its 75th anniversary. Project 75 includes 75,000 tree plantings in state parks, 75 new accessible amenities and $7.5 million in grants and partnership funding to support free park-based field trips, community recreational improvements, and cultural and natural resource stewardship efforts statewide.

The Division of Parks and Recreation manages an accredited zoo, marinas, golf courses, a water park and is responsible for giving interpretive tours of our state capital. The division is a steward to more than 26,000 acres of land and aims to improve public health, connect children to the outdoors, provide accessible recreation, construct and maintain a sustainable network of trails, and encourage partnerships for conversation, recreation and tourism.

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 Enjoy the natural diversity of Delaware’s 17 state parks. 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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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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Drivers Needed for DART’s Upcoming Beach Bus Season

Drivers Needed for DART’s Upcoming Beach Bus Season

Dover – May has arrived and the beginning of DART’s Beach Bus season is just a few weeks away. After a successful 2021 season with almost 160,000 riders, DART’s contractor, First Transit, is in need of drivers to meet the demand as residents and visitors take advantage of this convenient service to avoid traffic and parking challenges.

With First Transit, Drivers can earn $20 per hour and receive a signing bonus of $3,000 if they have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL); $2,000 without a CDL. For those without a CDL, First Transit will provide CDL training.

“First Transit currently has 44 of the needed 62 drivers to operate our Beach Bus service and need several more qualified drivers to meet our scheduled service needs for the upcoming summer season to avoid any reduction in service,” said Delaware Transit Corporation CEO John Sisson.

Those interested in the position can apply at workatfirst.com, and search Rehoboth Beach.

Starting May 23, DART’s daily Beach Bus service will be on the road to provide convenient, safe and clean rides to visitors and residents. The bus routes serve Rehoboth Beach and the Boardwalk, Lewes, Long Neck, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany Beach, Fenwick Island, Ocean City, MD, Millsboro and Georgetown through September 11.

With the free DART Transit app, riders can plan their trip, view bus stops, get real-time bus information, and track the bus along its route. And, for faster boarding and convenience, riders can pay their fare with DART Pass, a contactless mobile payment app.


Historical Affairs celebrates Women’s History Month 2022

(DOVER, Del. — Feb. 23, 2022) — The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be sponsoring four special events during the month of March 2022. Two of these events will be presented in celebration of National Women’s History Month. A full schedule is included below. All programs are free and open to the public. Go to the following link for additional information and reservation instructions: https://history.delaware.gov/2022/02/17/womens-history-month-2022/.

 

NOTE: Due to health and safety precautions, programs may be rescheduled, cancelled or converted to virtual presentations. Check each museum’s website or social media for the latest info.

Designated by joint resolutions of the United States House of Representatives and Senate and proclaimed by the American president, National Women’s History Month is an opportunity to honor and celebrate women’s lives and historic achievements. Each year National Women’s History Month employs a unifying theme and recognizes national honorees whose work and lives testify to that theme. For 2022, the theme is “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” a tribute to the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and a recognition of the thousands of ways that women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history.

Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs special programs, March 2022

Thursday, March 3, 2022
“HMS DeBraak.” Virtual program from the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ Zwaanendael Museum explores the history of the British warship DeBraak which sank off the coast of Lewes in May of 1798 only to be recovered by treasure hunters nearly 200 years later. Program streamed live via Zoom. Registration required. 4 p.m. 302-645-1148 or mailto:zmuseum@delaware.gov.

Friday, March 11, 2022
Concert by Christine Havrilla. Singer/songwriter. Presented in partnership with the Delaware Friends of Folk. Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 7:30 p.m. Face masks required for all persons over age two. 302-744-5054 or mailto:OSHmuseum@delaware.gov.

Thursday, March 17, 2022
“The Different Lives of Delaware’s 18th Century Women.” Virtual program in which lead interpreter Annie Fenimore of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ John Dickinson Plantation discusses how wealth, race, class and circumstance determined 18th century women’s lives in Delaware. Program streamed live via Zoom and on the Zwaanendael Museum’s Facebook page. Zoom registration recommended. 5 p.m. 302-645-1148 or mailto:zmuseum@delaware.gov.

Monday, March 28, 2022
“Well Seasoned Heirlooms.” Virtual program in which historic site interpreter Kimberly Fritsch of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ New Castle Court House Museum shines a spotlight on the culinary practices, recipes and personalized cookbooks of women throughout Delaware history as they speak to us through their food. Cookbooks became a way for women to pass along their legacy and convey a sense of what was important in their culture, daily lives and, even, weather occurrences and events of the time. Program streamed live via Zoom. Registration required. Noon. 302-323-4453 or mailto:NCCHmuseum@delaware.gov.

Remaining division programs in February 2022

In addition, the division will be presenting three programs listed below during the remainder of February. Go to the following link for additional information and reservation instructions: https://history.delaware.gov/2022/01/06/hca-african-american-history-month-2022/.

Friday, Feb. 25, 2022
“Highlights of African American History in Delaware.” Video in which historic site interpreter Joan Foster and lead interpreter Juliette Wurm of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ New Castle Court House Museum bring to life information from the museum’s exhibit on African American history in Delaware. Video includes the stories of the Hawkins Family, the Colored Conventions, the Buttonwood and Booker T. Washington schools as well as Black Delaware luminaries. Video will be available on the museum’s Facebook page beginning on Feb. 25, 2022. 302-323-4453 or mailto:NCCHmuseum@delaware.gov.

Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022
“Richard Bassett — A Quiet Patriot.” Virtual lecture in which historic-site interpreter Tom Welch of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ Old State House discusses the varied career of one of the Founding Fathers from Delaware, Richard Bassett, including the patriot’s contributions to the political and religious institutions in the First State. Program streamed live via Zoom and on the museum’s Facebook page. Zoom registration recommended. 10 a.m. 302-744-5054 or mailto:OSHmuseum@delaware.gov.

Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022
Guided visitation of the African burial ground at the John Dickinson Plantation. Guided visitation leads participants to the African burial ground which is believed to be the final resting place for enslaved and free Black men, women and children who died on the plantation. Guests will engage with guides about the historical context and archaeological research of the site. Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. 2 p.m. Visitors should wear clothing that accounts for current weather conditions. Admission free but reservations are required by calling 302-739-3277.

Administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the five museums of the State of Delaware — the John Dickinson Plantation, the Johnson Victrola Museum, the New Castle Court House Museum (closed through the spring of 2022), The Old State House and the Zwaanendael Museum — tell the story of the First State’s contributions to the history and culture of the United States. Through tours, exhibits and special programs, the museums shine a spotlight on Delaware’s unique history and the diverse people who came to live there. The museums are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The New Castle Court House Museum and the John Dickinson Plantation are partner sites of the First State National Historical Park. The Old State House is located on the Dover Green, another partner site of the park. Go to the following for a long-term calendar of division-sponsored events.


The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is an agency of the State of Delaware. The division enhances Delaware’s quality of life by preserving the state’s unique historical heritage, fostering community stability and economic vitality and providing educational programs and assistance to the public on Delaware history. The division’s diverse array of services includes operation of five museums, administration of the State Historic Preservation Office, conservation of the State’s archaeological and historic-objects collections, operation of a conference center and management of historic properties across the state. Primary funding for division programs and services is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, a federal agency. However, the contents and opinions expressed in the division’s programs and services do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Department of the Interior.

Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone: 302-577-5170
E-mail: Jim.Yurasek@delaware.gov
Web: http://history.delaware.gov


Zwaanendael Museum Seeks Volunteers for “Recapturing Black Beaches,” an Oral History Initiative

(DOVER, Del. — Jan. 14, 2022) — The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, Delaware, is seeking volunteers to participate in “Recapturing Black Beaches: A Shared Story Project,” an oral history initiative designed to gather, memorialize and share stories about historically segregated Black and Indigenous beaches in Delaware and the people who visited them. These stories will be used for educational purposes and use will be determined by permissions granted by participants.

Photo of bathers at Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Bathing at Rehoboth, Del. – stamp: 1c Benjamin Franklin, Caley Postcard Collection, Courtesy of Delaware Public Archives

Volunteers may participate as storytellers, sharing their memories about the beaches with oral history project staff, or as interviewers, recording conversations between themselves and someone that they know and care about.

To participate in the project, volunteers should fill out an online form or download a printable version that can be submitted via email or mail. Both forms can be found at the following address on the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs website: https://history.delaware.gov/2021/12/10/recapturing-the-stories-of-black-beaches/. Printed forms should be mailed to the Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes, DE 19958 or sent via email to Zmuseum@delaware.gov.

For questions or to learn more, contact the Zwaanendael Museum at (302) 645-1148 or Zmuseum@delaware.gov.

The Zwaanendael Museum was built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the state’s first European colony, Swanendael, established by the Dutch along Hoorn Kill (present-day Lewes-Rehoboth Canal) in 1631. Designed by E. William Martin (architect of Legislative Hall and the Hall of Records in Dover), the museum is modeled after the town hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands, and features a stepped facade gable with carved stonework and decorated shutters. The museum’s exhibits and presentations provide a showcase for Lewes-area maritime, military and social history.

Photo of the Zwaanendael Museum by Cindy Dolan
Zwaanendael Museum. Photo by Cindy Dolan

The Zwaanendael Museum was built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the state’s first European colony, Swanendael, established by the Dutch along Hoorn Kill (present-day Lewes-Rehoboth Canal) in 1631. Designed by E. William Martin (architect of Legislative Hall and the Hall of Records in Dover), the museum is modeled after the town hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands, and features a stepped façade gable with carved stonework and decorated shutters. The museum’s exhibits and presentations provide a showcase for Lewes-area maritime, military and social history.


The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is an agency of the State of Delaware. The division enhances Delaware’s quality of life by preserving the state’s unique historical heritage, fostering community stability and economic vitality and providing educational programs and assistance to the general public on Delaware history. The division’s diverse array of services includes operation of five museums which are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, administration of the State Historic Preservation Office, conservation of the state’s archaeological and historic-objects collections, operation of a conference center and management of historic properties across the state. Primary funding for division programs and services is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, a federal agency. However, the contents and opinions expressed in the division’s programs and services do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Department of the Interior.

Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone: 302-577-5170
E-mail: Jim.Yurasek@delaware.gov
Web: http://history.delaware.gov