Governor Carney, DNREC Secretary Garvin, Education Secretary Bunting join first-time campers at Governor’s Campout

FELTON – Governor John Carney, DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin, and Delaware Department of Education Secretary Susan Bunting joined a group of third-graders and their families from South Dover, W. Reily Brown, and Star Hill elementary schools, for the 4th annual Delaware Outdoor Family – Governor’s Campout at Killens Pond State Park over the weekend.

The Governor’s Campout, part of Great Outdoors Month, offers the opportunity for families to become more familiar with camping, and helps to strengthen the relationship between family members, the environment, parks, and the community. This year, DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation partnered with the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE), to focus on the importance of reading and science. The event was linked to the state Department of Education’s Next Generation Science Standards implementation, and the Governor’s and DDOE’s literacy initiative.

“Third grade literacy is critical to the future success of our students,” said Governor Carney. “This is the time when students shift from the fundamentals of learning how to read, to reading to learn. I’m proud we can launch our literacy plan while inspiring the next generation of park enthusiasts. Improving literacy and science education will better prepare Delaware students for success.”

“Getting young people outdoors is critical for their health and well-being,” said Secretary Garvin. “At the same time, science education and reading prepare Delaware’s youth for science careers, emphasizes their role in keeping our environment healthy, and helps our young people continue to be good environmental stewards.”

“Students need to develop strong literacy skills in order to successfully absorb information in math, science, social studies, the arts and every other subject,” said Secretary Bunting. “Outside the classroom, students can use the literacy and scientific skills they’ve acquired in outdoor explorations to better engage with their families, their environment, and their communities.”

Students and their families, teachers, staff, and others, participated in night hikes, stargazing, history and other programs over the weekend. They also took time out to enjoy the traditional camping treat, s’mores over a campfire.

Great Outdoors Month is a national celebration of state and national parks across the country. It includes events such as Capital Campouts, Governor’s Campouts, National Trails Day, National Get Outdoors Day, and the Great American Campout.

Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No. 167


DNREC’S Division of Parks & Recreation announces fee season to take effect in state parks on March 1

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation reminds visitors to Delaware’s state parks that entrance fees will be in effect starting Thursday, March 1 through Nov. 30, 2018.

Revenue generated from park entrance fees is used to manage 16 state parks and more than 26,000 acres of state park lands. Delaware’s state parks are primarily self-funded, with 65 percent of revenue to operate and maintain the parks generated by park users. The revenue is used for trail maintenance, environmental and recreational programs, visitor amenities, guarded beaches, management of campgrounds, cabins, and more.

Daily park entrance fees for vehicles registered in Delaware are $4 at inland parks and $5 at ocean parks. Fees for out-of-state vehicles are $8 at inland parks and $10 at ocean parks. Where fee attendants are not on duty, visitors should deposit the daily fee in the self-registration envelopes provided at park entrances and place them in the designated secured drop boxes.

Annual passes are a convenient way to access the parks for the entire fee season. A Delaware resident annual pass costs $35, and Delaware residents 62 and older will receive a discounted rate of $18. A $65 lifetime pass is available for Delawareans 65 and older. Reduced rates are also offered to Delawareans who receive public assistance, or who are active duty military or veterans. Active duty military personnel with an out-of-state license plate can purchase an annual pass at the in-state rate. Please visit www.destateparks.com for further information and requirements.

In addition, the corporate and group pass program offers participating businesses, nonprofits and other groups discounted annual passes for their employees. For more information, or to purchase corporate passes, please contact Caroline Foltz at caroline.foltz@delaware.gov.

Parks officials remind customers that annual passes and surf fishing permits can be purchased online to save time when they visit a park during fee season. Annual park passes may be purchased online at www.destateparks.com, at all park offices, at DNREC’s main office in the Richardson & Robbins building at 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901, and at six retail locations. For more information, visit www.destateparks.com/fees/passes/index.asp.

Vol. 48, No. 39

Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902


DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation posts record year for camping

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation announced today that 2017 was a record-breaking year for camping, cabins, and cottage stays in Delaware’s state parks. Visitor stays grew by 19 percent, with more than 16,500 additional overnight stays occurring in 2017, compared to 2016. The strongest months of growth in 2017 were the shoulder seasons of April, May, September, October, and November.

Recreational Vehicle at Lums Pond State ParkSince 2015, DNREC’s Delaware State Parks has invested more than $11 million in campground improvements and renovations at parks throughout the state. Improvement projects are selected based on electronic surveys sent to customers following a stay.

Campers are taking advantage of the improvements being made and responding with more frequent and longer visits to state parks. Over the last five years, overnight stays have increased 47 percent in state parks – the highest at any time in the Division’s history. In 2011, statewide user stays totaled 67,453. This number has grown to 104,469 in 2017. In addition, online travel service Hipcamp.com recently named Delaware the second-most camping-friendly state in the country.

“These numbers show that our award-winning state parks system provides high-quality experiences that all Delawareans can enjoy,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “More than five million visitors come to our state parks, which boosts our tourism economy tremendously. Our state parks staff, volunteers, and concessionaires do an outstanding job providing top-notch campgrounds, educational programs, trails, historic sites, and outdoor recreation opportunities. These new figures bear that out.”

Recent campground improvements include:

Killens Pond State Park – New 50-amp electrical service at campsites, fire pits, and renovated kitchens for the cabins have been added. In addition, a $3 million renovation brought four 45-foot slides to the popular waterpark.

Cape Henlopen State Park – Recent renovations include electric hookups, new bathrooms, a new playground, camp store, additional cabins, and improvements to the nature center.

Lums Pond State Park – A $5 million renovation added full hookup sites and new bathrooms. Over the past five years, the park has seen a 250 percent increase in overnight stays.

Delaware Seashore State Park – The park remains the most popular camping park in the state. A new playground is under construction for the South Inlet campground and the Big Chill Restaurant offers food to visitors just a short walk away.

Trap Pond State Park – Upgrades to bathrooms are underway and the park friends group, the Trap Pond Partners, has raised more than $180,000 in grants and donations to build a new playground for the campground.

Campsites for other holiday weekends are already filling up fast; for example, several parks are already completely booked for Memorial Day weekend.

Campers are advised to think ahead and go online now to make reservations. Bookings can be made up to one year in advance of the date of arrival. To make a reservation, visit destateparks.com, or call 877-98-PARKS.

Media Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.


13 students graduate from DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Advanced Youth Academy

NEW CASTLE – Thirteen students, their families, officers, and instructors recently celebrated the completion of the week-long DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police’s Advanced Youth Academy, with the graduation ceremony at Cabela’s in Newark.

2017 Youth Academy Advanced Class
Front row, left to right: Alistair Bebbington, Connor McDerby, Hannah Price, Noah Kracyla, Trevor Smith, Anthony Puleo, and Riley Graham; Back row, left to right: Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Captain Brian Pollock, Joseph McDermott, Ross Alexander, Carter Wilkins, Benjamin Burris, Troy Christiansen, Gage Williams, and State Representative Jeff Spiegelman.

At the advanced Natural Resources Police academy, held for the first time this year, students ages 12 to 15 acquired skills for camping, fishing, and hunting, and were exposed to the various aspects of a Natural Resources Police officer’s daily routine. Students completed their turkey hunter certification, participated in a fishing derby, assisted wildlife biologists with capturing and banding mourning doves, participated in skeet shooting as well as .22 caliber rifle target shooting, and camped at Lums Pond State Park primitive campground on Friday night. To finish up the camp, students participated in a public outreach event with officers displaying the Operation Game Theft trailer at Cabela’s in Newark.

“Our students are our greatest environmental stewards. The Youth Academy is geared towards building their knowledge base of some of the things we do at DNREC, while getting them out into the natural resources we are working to protect,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “By returning to take this advanced course, these students have taken the next step toward possible environmental careers – perhaps even with DNREC.”

Students who completed the New Castle County Advanced Youth Academy, held at DNREC’s Ommelanden Hunter Education Training Center in New Castle, were: Ross Alexander of Bear; Alistair Bebbington of Newark; Benjamin Burris of Lothian, Md.; Troy Christiansen of Dover; Riley Graham of Townsend; Noah Kracyla of Townsend; Connor McDerby of Newark; Joseph McDermott of Townsend; Hannah Price of Stroudsburg, Pa.; Anthony Puleo of Newark; Trevor Smith of Middletown; Carter Wilkins of Landenberg, Pa.; and Gage Williams of Marydel. Ten out of the 13 students were returning students who had completed the inaugural Natural Resources Police Basic Youth Academy held in July 2016.

In addition to the students’ earning their certificates for completing their turkey hunter education class at graduation, Natural Resources Police instructors presented individual awards to five class members. Riley Graham took home the leadership award; Hannah Price received the sportsmanship award; Gage Williams won the sharpshooting award (skeet); and Noah Kracyla was recognized for fishing skills as well as his sharpshooting skills (rifle target shooting).

DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police also thank the following sponsors who helped make this year’s youth academy possible: Cabela’s; Signature Stitches of Dover; Delaware Chapter of Ducks Unlimited; Delaware Chapter of the Wild Turkey Federation; Quality Deer Management Association; PSC Contracting, Inc.; and BJ’s Wholesale Club.

Learn more about the Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police and the Youth Academy.

Media Contacts: Lt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913 or 302-354-1386, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902


Governor Carney and DNREC Secretary Garvin join first-time campers at Governor’s Campout

LAUREL – Among the participants were young people and their families from the MERIT (Minority Engineering Regional Incentive Training), program, and Caesar Rodney and Laurel school districts. Sussex County legislators and town officials also attended.

Parks Director Ray Bivens, Governor John Carney and DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin at Governor’s Campout.

“Our goal this weekend is to encourage young people to connect with the outdoors,” said Secretary Garvin. “These outdoor adventures will start a lifetime journey of discovery for young people and their families of all that is available inside and outside our state parks. We hope the amazing experiences they will have will stay with them and become an experience they will not forget, encouraging them to return to reconnect with nature and the outdoors.”

The goal of Delaware’s third annual Governor’s Campout was to safely introduce children and their families to camping, the outdoors and outdoor recreational opportunities, particularly families who have not spent much time in DNREC’s Delaware State Parks. The event was part of Great Outdoors Month, during which participants from across the nation camp out overnight.

The Governors Campout featured numerous activities including setting up tents and campsites, cooking demonstrations over campfires and grills, guided hikes, pontoon tours and kayak trips, and even the traditional camping treat – s’mores over a campfire.

The campout was designed to encourage participants to continue camping and making the outdoors part of their life/family traditions.

Vol. 47, No. 145

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