Report highlights Delawareans’ desire for climate change action

50th anniversary of Earth Week theme resonates across the state

DOVER, Del. – The theme for the 50th anniversary of Earth Week is climate change, an issue that concerns most Delawareans, according to a report commissioned by DNREC’s Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy. The report found 77% of Delawareans see climate change as a serious threat that will harm future generations.

The report, conducted by Standage Market Research in partnership with University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication, is based on a survey of more than 1,100 Delaware adults. The full report, published this week, is available at de.gov/climatesurvey.

The full report builds on preliminary survey results released in February. It reveals differences in perceptions of climate change and sea level rise across the state and compared to those nationwide. Key findings include:

  • A majority of adults in both Delaware and the U.S. believe climate change is an important issue. Additionally, 64% of U.S. residents are worried about climate change, and the same is true of Delaware residents (62%).
  • Delawareans in all three counties say they have been personally affected by climate change. However, New Castle County residents are more likely than residents of Kent and Sussex counties to favor immediate action to reduce the impacts of climate change (76% versus 68% and 58%, respectively).
  • Sussex County residents are more likely to say they have been personally affected by sea level rise. More than half (51%) of adults in Sussex County said they have personally experienced or observed local impacts of sea level rise, compared to 47% for Kent and 45% of New Castle residents.
  • Women are more likely than men to say we should act now on climate change (78% versus 62%). They are also more likely to say they have personally experienced or observed local impacts of climate change (62% versus 50%). Opinions about sea level rise follow similar patterns.
  • There are no significant age differences for having personally experienced or observed local impacts of climate change. However, younger adults are also more likely to favor acting now to reduce the impacts of climate change (78%, versus 64% and 69%, respectively).

“The impacts of climate change threaten our environment, economy and way of life,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “Over the past decade the percentage of Delawareans concerned about this issue has increased. We continue to experience the impacts of sea level rise, hotter temperatures and more frequent intense storms, but we are also working toward solutions as we continue to develop Delaware’s Climate Action Plan.”

According to the climate perceptions survey, Delawareans support a range of options to address the causes and consequences of climate change, including:

  • 82% support preserving undeveloped land;
  • 80% believe we need stronger air pollution controls;
  • 79% support changing building codes;
  • 74% said roads and infrastructure should not be built in flood-prone areas;
  • 74% think we should increase the amount of electricity we get from renewable sources;
  • 73% believe we should improve energy efficiency standards;
  • 64% support elevating building in risk areas

Development of the Climate Action Plan will continue through 2020, with a report due in December. Public input sessions on development of the plan were held in each of the three counties in March. More than 250 people participated in those meetings, and many others have gone online to declimateplan.org to complete a questionnaire asking about various actions the state can take to address the causes and consequences of climate change.

The period to complete the questionnaire closes Friday, May 1.

Later this summer, virtual meetings will be held to gather additional public input addressing what the state can do to manage the impacts of climate change that we are already seeing, such as sea level rise. A third opportunity for the public to weigh in will occur this fall, after possible strategies have been identified.

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

Media Contact: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Jim Lee, jamesw.lee@delaware.gov

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As public process begins to create plan for climate change, survey shows majority of Delawareans say it is time to act

DOVER, Del. – With public input sessions beginning next week to create Delaware’s plan to mitigate, adapt and respond to climate change, most Delawareans believe climate change and sea level rise are happening, and a majority say the state should act now to address both issues, according to a survey commissioned by DNREC’s Division of Climate, Coastal & Energy.

Residents surveyed also support a range of key strategies to reduce climate change and respond to rising sea levels. The survey, supervised by the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication, was conducted in late 2019 by Standage Market Research with the results announced today by DNREC.

On March 3, 4 and 5, public input sessions will be held to provide an opportunity for Delawareans to learn more about how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and better prepare the state for climate impacts. Workshop attendees will also have a chance to provide their thoughts on choices the state can make to more effectively take action on climate change. These workshops are the start of public interaction in creating Delaware’s Climate Action Plan, which will review what’s being done in Delaware to reduce the impacts of climate change that the state already is experiencing, such as sea level rise and increased flooding in some areas, and to provide a comprehensive “road map” of steps to help mitigate those impacts on Delaware communities.

“More and more Delawareans are experiencing the impacts that climate change and sea level rise are having on our state, and this survey shows they support actions to reduce this growing threat,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “The next step for Delawareans is to take part in conversations to help Delaware decide where and how we must act.”

The key findings of the survey include:

  • Delawareans believe in climate change. Three in 4 Delawareans (77 percent) are completely or mostly convinced that climate change is occurring, and 70 percent say the state should take immediate action to reduce its impact. Almost as many (71 percent) are completely or mostly convinced that sea level rise is happening, and almost two-thirds (63 percent) say we should take immediate action to reduce its impacts.
  • More Delawareans have personally experienced or observed local impacts of climate change. Fifty-six percent report personal experience with the impacts of climate change, compared to 53 percent from a 2014 survey sponsored by DNREC. Meanwhile, a growing proportion of Delawareans (47 percent) now say they have personally experienced sea level rise. That figure represents a 19-point increase from the 2014 climate survey (28 percent) and a 25-point increase from a 2009 survey conducted by Responsive Management (22 percent).
  • Delawareans are concerned about the future of climate change. A combined 56 percent of Delawareans think climate change will personally harm them a great deal (21 percent) or a moderate amount (35 percent). That grows to a combined 77 percent when respondents were asked if they think climate change will harm future generations a great deal (61 percent) or a moderate amount (16 percent).

“Future generations will judge us based upon the actions we take today,” Secretary Garvin said. “Failure to take action now increasingly locks us into a future with increased flooding, more intense heat waves and threats to our quality of life.”

Standage Market Research interviewed a representative sample of 1,126 registered Delaware voters for the study either by telephone (601 respondents) or online (525 respondents). Interviewees were selected through random sampling. Statistical results are weighted by demographic factors to reflect population values. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 2.9 percentage points.

A full report of the survey results will be released in March.

Three Climate Action Plan public input sessions are planned next week, one in each county, from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. each evening. The first session will take place Tuesday, March 3, at the CHEER Community Center, 20520 Sand Hill Road, Georgetown. The session will move to the Wilmington Public Library, 10 East 10th Street, Wilmington, DE 19801, on Wednesday, March 4, and a final session will take place Thursday, March 5, at Del Tech’s Del-One Conference Center, 100 Campus Drive, Dover, DE 19901.

View the complete summary report of the climate perceptions survey at de.gov/climatesurvey.

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 Climate, Coastal & Enedrgy uses science, education, policy development and incentives to address Delaware’s climate, energy and coastal challenges. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov

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Funding available to communities to plan for coastal flooding and climate change impacts

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Climate, Coastal, & Energy is soliciting letters of interest from municipal, county, or state government entities to enter into projects that will support local resilience planning and adaptation activities in Delaware.

The Resilient Community Partnership program provides technical assistance and potential funding to plan for and reduce the impacts of coastal hazards related to flooding from sea level rise, coastal storms, and climate change through development of planning strategies at the local level. Coastal resilience means strengthening the ability of a community to “bounce back” after hazardous events such as hurricanes, coastal storms, and flooding – rather than simply reacting to impacts.

Examples of eligible projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Assessments of vulnerability to flooding due to sea level rise, coastal storms, and nuisance flooding (sunny day flooding).
  • Assessments of local land use ordinances, zoning codes and building codes for the purpose of identifying barriers and opportunities, and recommending improvements.
  • Adaptation plans that outline short and long-term actions that can be taken to reduce vulnerability and increase preparedness, including updating comprehensive land-use plans. Such plans can be drafted for a specific community, town, or region or for a specific type of resource or infrastructure.
  • Design of on-the-ground adaptation projects.
  • Improving communication of risk and adaptation options to affected populations from flooding due to sea level rise, coastal storms, and nuisance flooding

Limited funding is available for activities that require advanced technical assistance and are required to support the project objectives. DNREC’s Delaware Coastal Programs section, which oversees the program, will work with awardees to determine the technical needs of the proposed project and, as appropriate, retain subject matter experts or contractors to meet project requirements and deadlines.

Letters of interest from municipal, county or state government entities are due April 13. Selected partnerships will be announced April 27.

Complete guidelines for submitting a proposal and examples of past projects – including partnerships with the City of New Castle and Town of Slaughter Beach related to building resilience to flooding – are available at http://de.gov/resilientcommunity.

For more information about the program, contact Kelly Valencik at 302-739-6377 or Kelly.valencik@delaware.gov.

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


DNREC Shoreline & Waterway Management Section to make public presentation on revised beach regulations Oct. 21 in Bethany Beach

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship’s Shoreline & Waterway Management Section will make a public informational presentation on Delaware’s revised beach regulations Oct. 21 in Bethany Beach. The presentation will take place from 1 – 3 p.m. at the South Coastal Library, 43 Kent Avenue, Bethany Beach, DE, 19930.

The Shoreline & Waterway Management Section will outline recent revisions made to the Regulations Governing Beach Protection and the Use of Beaches (which went into effect Aug. 11). Topics to be presented include:

  • A history of coastal storms and erosion that have impacted Delaware, and the importance of beaches and dune systems for their protective and recreational benefits
  • A brief history of the Beach Preservation Act and the state’s beach regulations
  • Building line maps
  • 2016 Revisions to the Regulations Governing Beach Protection and the Use of Beaches, including: The Regulated Area, Substantial Damage, Substantially Improved, The Four-Step Process, Cantilevered Decks, and Temporary Structures
  • New application forms for Letters of Approval and Permits

The presentation will provide the public, local construction industry professionals, and local and county officials with information about revisions made to the regulations.

Registration is required for this event as seating is limited. Attendees may register online at http://www.eventbrite.com/o/shoreline-and-waterway-management-11381581248 or call Coleen Ponden of the Shoreline & Waterway Management Section at 302-739-9921.

If registration fills, a second presentation may be scheduled at a future date.

CONTACT: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 349

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DNREC, Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve celebrating National Estuaries Week Sept. 17-24

Free events planned at the Blackbird Creek Reserve and St. Jones Reserve on September 24

DNERR Boat Trip
A DNERR boat trip on the St. Jones River.

DOVER – Estuaries represent unique and vital natural systems that provide many benefits to people and animals, and Delaware has a place dedicated to estuary conservation, education and research – the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR). For National Estuaries Week, Sept. 17 to 24, DNERR will host a variety of special events dedicated to getting the public more involved with this amazing resource.

“Estuaries give back to our community in so many ways, including improving the quality of our water and reducing floods,” said DNERR Education Coordinator Maggie Pletta. “But estuaries do even more than that. Our estuary is an ‘outdoor classroom,’ providing opportunities to learn and have fun in a natural environment. That’s what we want to showcase during Estuaries Week.”

The public is invited to celebrate the Delaware Bay on National Estuaries Day Saturday, Sept. 24 with special events starting at 9 a.m. at DNERR’s St. Jones Reserve, 818 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover, DE 19901; and Blackbird Reserve, 801 Blackbird Landing Road, Townsend, DE 19734. Events include:

At the St. Jones Reserve:

  • St. Jones Reserve Open House, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
    Come and explore the Reserve buildings and get a sneak peak at new exhibits coming soon. After taking in the exhibits, visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about the volunteer and citizen science opportunities offered at the Reserve. No preregistration required.
  • Guided Nature Hike to Kingston Upon Hull, 10 a.m.-noon
    Join a Reserve naturalist for a short hike out to Kingston Upon Hull, a historic building with a long history located on the Ted Harvey Wildlife Area. On the hike you will learn about the natural and cultural history of the St. Jones Watershed. Please wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to walk approximately 2 miles on uneven terrain.
  • Explore the St. Jones River by Boat, 4-4:45 p.m. and 5-5:45 p.m.
    Get ready to board our 24-foot skiff as we take an expedition onto the St. Jones River! Designed for ages 5 to adult, this program will meet at Scotton Landing off Barkers Landing Road in Dover. Lifejackets will be provided and are required to be worn on the trip. When registering, please be sure to specify which trip time you wish to attend.
  • Explore the Estuary at Night with a Campfire, 7-8 p.m.
    Join Reserve and the John Dickinson Plantation staff for a fun evening around the campfire to learn more about the history of fire and the role it plays in the natural environment and Delaware history. All ages are welcome to attend and will be given an opportunity at the end of the program to roast marshmallows over the fire. Participants must bring their own roasting supplies and sticks. This program meets at the John Dickinson Plantation Visitor Center, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover, DE 19901.

At the Blackbird Creek Reserve:

  • Give Back to the Bay on National Estuaries Day! 9 a.m.-noon
    Join Reserve staff at Blackbird Creek Reserve (801 Blackbird Landing Road, Townsend DE) in celebrating National Estuaries Day by planting trees to help our local environment. Volunteers will need to supply their own work gloves and wear long pants and closed-toed shoes.
  • Guided Nature Hike at Blackbird Creek, 1-2 p.m.
    Join a Reserve naturalist for a short hike through the woods to learn more about native tree species and how to identify them while in the field. Please wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to walk approximately 1 mile on uneven terrain.

To preregister for these events, and for more information, visit the DNERR National Estuaries Day web page.

About DNERR and estuaries
Estuaries are defined as ecosystems along the oceans where freshwater and saltwater mix to create wetlands, bays, lagoons, sounds, or sloughs. These ecosystems are not only home to unique plant and animal habitats, but they provide communities with food, recreation, jobs, and coastal protection. Of the 32 largest cities in the world, 22 are located on estuaries.

The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve is part of a national system of reserves that protects more than 1.3 million acres of coastal land and water. Each of the 28 sites receives support from NOAA and local partners. The research and environmental monitoring performed at each reserve plays an important role in protecting environmental health, both locally and nationally. Visit DNERR on the web at de.gov/dnerr, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

This project is part of DNREC’s Bayshore Initiative, a landscape approach to restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat, increase volunteer participation in habitat stewardship projects, enhance low-impact outdoor recreation and ecotourism opportunities, and promote associated environmentally compatible economic development. For more information, click Delaware Bayshore.

This project also is part of Delaware’s Children in Nature Initiative, a statewide effort to improve environmental literacy in Delaware, create opportunities for children to participate in enriching outdoor experiences, combat childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyles. Delaware’s multi-agency initiative, which partners state and federal agencies with community organizations, is part of the national No Child Left Inside program.

Media Contact: Melanie Rapp or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 341