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 to resume state park campground rentals June 1

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will reopen its campgrounds in Delaware State Parks Monday in response to Governor John Carney’s removal of the emergency ban on short-term rental units starting June 1. The mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers will also be lifted Monday.

Governor John Carney on Tuesday announced that the State of Delaware will lift the ban on short-term rental units and the quarantine on June 1 as part of the rolling reopening of Delaware’s economy.

All state park campsites, cabins, cottages and yurts were temporarily closed from March 24 through May 31 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Division of Parks & Recreation issued refunds for reservations through May 31. The current liberal cancelation policy will remain in effect through June 15, allowing those with reservations to cancel them and receive a full refund.

Camping is available after June 1 at the following state parks:

Cape Henlopen: Tents, RVs, cabins

Delaware Seashore: Tents, RVs

Indian River Marina: Cottages

Killens Pond: Tents, RVs, cabins

Lums Pond: Tents, RVs, yurts

Trap Pond: Tents, RVs, yurts, cabins

All cabins and cottages will be sanitized by a professional cleaning service between rentals to allow Parks staff to focus on cleaning common park areas. Some amenities will remain closed until further notice, including nature centers and playgrounds, due to COVID-19.

Campers are required to heed all current safety protocols in Delaware State Parks in order to help limit the spread of COVID-19. All visitors to Delaware State Parks must carry a face mask or other cloth covering and wear it in restrooms, any other enclosed space and when social distancing of at least 6 feet cannot be maintained between members of different households. When camping, visitors are encouraged to report any safety concerns to a Campground Host or the park’s office.

To reserve a campsite, go to destateparks.com/reservations or call 1-877-98 PARKS (1-877-987-2757).

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 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 DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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

 

 


DNREC Campgrounds and Playgrounds to Close March 24

DOVER, Del. – As part of precautions against the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will close its Delaware State Park campgrounds and playgrounds Tuesday, March 24, and cancel campground reservations scheduled through May 15. Full refunds will be issued for reservations scheduled during that time.

While state parks and wildlife areas are currently open, all state park campsites, cabins, cottages, yurts and playgrounds will close at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24.  Buildings such as park offices and nature centers remain closed, and programs and tours are canceled. Additionally, beach access from within Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks is prohibited at this time. Parking and fishing at the Indian River Inlet within Delaware Seashore State Park is permitted at this time. All conditions are subject to change.

Anyone visiting a park or wildlife area is encouraged to engage in responsible social distancing practices, avoiding groupings of people.

Refunds and reservation cancellations will be processed by the Delaware State Parks reservation vendor. Additional questions can be handled at the call center at 1-877-98 PARKS (1-877-987-2757).

Governor John Carney on Sunday issued the fourth and fifth modifications to his State of Emergency declaration, ordering Delawareans to stay at home whenever possible and closing all non-essential businesses in Delaware to help fight the spread of COVID-19. The orders go into effect Tuesday, March 24, and will remain in effect until May 15 or until the public health threat is eliminated.

For the latest information on COVID-19 in Delaware, visit de.gov/coronavirus.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages 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 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 @DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Contact: Shauna McVey, shauna.mcvey@delaware.gov

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UPDATE on DNREC operations in response to COVID-19

Events, including private rentals, canceled through May 15;
One-day cleaning period implemented between rentals of State Park cabins and cottages

DOVER, Del. – The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control continues to focus on taking a proactive and preventative approach to keep communities and employees safe in the midst of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, while maintaining operations and services as best as possible.

Detailed information about events, meetings and online options is available at dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/coronavirus and destateparks.com/Covid19. A few of the updates include:

  • All Department events and programs scheduled from now through May 15 have been canceled, consistent with the Governor’s state of emergency order. The cancellations include private rentals and events at Delaware State Parks sites and facilities, such as picnics, 5Ks and parties. Organizers of events are being notified directly.
  • All state parks and wildlife areas remain open and no entrance fees will be charged through April 30. Anyone visiting a park or wildlife area is encouraged to engage in responsible social distancing practices and avoid groupings of people. Annual park passes, good for the entire season, and surf fishing tags should be purchased online only or at any third-party agents instead of at park offices or in the Dover office. Purchased park passes will be mailed before April 30. Conservation access passes needed for state wildlife areas after April 30 should also be purchased only online or at any third-party agents instead of the Dover office.
  • All state park campsites, cabins, bathhouses, and cottages continue to be open at this time. There will be at least one-day break between rental periods of cabins and cottages to allow for thorough, increased cleanings between guests.
  • Public hearings will be available via phone or video conference. The public will be able to submit comments about the subject of each hearing via email, online form, or regular mail. Verbatim transcripts will be prepared by a court reporter while all exhibits entered into the hearing record will be posted on hearing-specific DNREC webpages. Specific information on how to access each hearing will be posted with individual hearing notices.
  • Sales of fishing licenses, hunting licenses, wildlife area conservation access passes and boat registrations will be online transactions only or made at any third-party vendors that remain open. The Department has provided convenient links to these resources on its homepage, available at dnrec.delaware.gov.
  • Commercial fishing license sales will continue at the Department’s main office in Dover but by appointment only. Call 302-739-9916 to make an appointment.
  • Applications and information provided for well, septic, air, water and other permits are being accepted by email, mail and phone, reducing direct interchange of documents.
  • Offices remain open, but with limited services. A limited number of staff are onsite, but many personnel are working remotely, and available by email and phone to provide technical assistance to the public, contractors, and environmental consultants on regulatory inquiries and permitting matters.

For the latest information on COVID-19 in Delaware, visit de.gov/coronavirus.

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. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Contact: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov


DNREC’s Delaware Becoming an Outdoors-Woman weekend set Sept. 20-22 at Lums Pond State Park

 

Participants in an Introduction to Archery class at a DNREC sponsored BOW weekend. This year’s event is Sept. 20-22 at Lums Pond State Park

Registration deadline is Sept. 6 for state’s 21st BOW event

DOVER – Delaware’s 2019 Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) program is set for the weekend of Sept. 20-22 at Lums Pond State Park near Bear, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announced today, with 2019 marking the 21st year the state has hosted the internationally-recognized women’s outdoors program. Delaware BOW registration deadline is Friday, Sept. 6.

BOW offers a variety of one-and-a-half hour and three-and-a-half-hour courses taught by volunteer instructors who share their expertise and provide instruction in a safe, supportive, and non-competitive atmosphere. The cost of participating in the full BOW weekend is $140, which includes meals, lodging, instruction, and use of necessary equipment and supplies. The cost of participating in only Saturday’s BOW courses is $110, including meals, instruction, and use of necessary equipment and supplies.

Participants can choose from a wide range of hands-on courses, including Kayaking, Tree I.D., Intro to Birding, Advanced Birding, Horseback Riding, Freshwater Fishing, Fly Fishing, Intro to Rifle Shooting, Intro to Archery, Advanced Archery, Firearms Cleaning and Maintenance, Cooking Your Catch, Wild Game Cooking, Urban Gardening, Zip Lining, Rock Climbing, Native Plant Walk, and a Nature Hike.

A specialty course this year at BOW is a mentored crossbow deer hunt. The course involves learning how to safely use a crossbow and taking part in a mentored deer hunt at Lums Pond State Park. Participants in the hunt are required to have a Delaware hunting license or License Exempt Number and, if born on or after January 1, 1967, a hunter education certification prior to the event. Each hunter will be partnered with a mentor who will guide them during the managed hunt.

BOW registration packets are available online at http://de.gov/bow. Completed registration forms with payment should be sent to: Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife – BOW, 2992 Lighthouse Road, Milford, DE 19963. For more information, contact Lynne Pusey at 302-422-1329 or email: lynne.pusey@delaware.gov.

Scholarships are available for the state’s BOW event through the Delaware Friends of BOW. To apply for a scholarship, candidates should complete the BOW scholarship application form on the website at http://de.gov/bow. Once completed, scholarship application forms should be sent to Delaware Friends of BOW, 410 Cornish Road, Harrington, DE 19952.

While BOW is designed primarily for women, it offers an opportunity for anyone 18 or older to learn skills that allow them to participate in numerous outdoor activities. Since the first BOW event was held in Wisconsin in 1991, this exciting international program has expanded to 38 states and six Canadian provinces with more than 80 workshops offered each year. The main goal of the BOW program is to provide women the opportunity to learn skills that encourage and enhance participation in outdoor activities, such as hunting, shooting, fishing, boating, wildlife-viewing, and other activities.

Follow DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife on Facebook, www.facebook.com/DelawareFishWildlife.

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No. 215