Restoration underway along Delaware Bayshore to repair and enhance beaches, critical wetlands and natural defenses

Projects at Mispillion Harbor, Ted Harvey Conservation Area are reducing flooding, restoring habitat, improving resiliency and protecting public safety and property

DELAWARE BAYSHORE (Sept. 12, 2016) – Restoration work has begun at Mispillion Harbor Reserve and the Ted Harvey Conservation Area on two key DNREC projects that will repair and restore beaches, critical wetlands and other natural defenses. Both Division of Fish and Wildlife projects protect and restore wildlife habitat, improve coastal resiliency and preparedness to storms, and protect public safety and property by reducing flooding to communities, while enhancing ecotourism and recreational activities along the Delaware Bayshore.

Mispillion Harbor Reserve Located near the Town of Slaughter Beach in central Kent County, Mispillion Harbor Reserve’s beach, wetlands and adjacent resources have been degraded by Hurricane Sandy and subsequent coastal storms, resulting in the significant loss of habitat for spawning horseshoe crabs and shorebirds.

The Harbor is a major stopover in the Atlantic Flyway for waterfowl and shorebirds, including the federally threatened Red Knot. The birds descend on the Harbor to feed on horseshoe crab eggs before continuing their annual migrations to their Artic breeding ground. Birders and biologists from around the world come to Mispillion Harbor to witness the annual spring spectacle. In 1986, Delaware Bay joined the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network as a Site of Hemispheric Importance due to the sheer number of shorebirds that use the Bay as a migratory stopover.

Lindstrom Excavating has begun restoration of the beach and the stone dike. Restoration of the beach includes adding 46,000 cubic yards of sand to the Harbor. The stone dike is being restored with groins which include 12,000 tons of new stone that add height and stability. The stone raises the dike to a level that will better withstand waves and wind from coastal storms, thereby reducing flooding to adjacent wetlands, improving the resiliency of the Harbor to future storms and protecting the navigational channel through Mispillion Inlet, ensuring continued commercial and recreational access to the Delaware Bay.

The project is expected to be completed in April 2017 – in time for the annual shorebird migration.

Ted Harvey Conservation Area Ted Harvey Conservation Area, along the St. Jones River near the Town of Kitts Hummock, is a large coastal impoundment that provides critical habitat for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and other wildlife. The impoundment has suffered several dike breaches and subsidence over the years, and malfunctioning water control structures have resulted in flooding of more than 400 acres of habitat.

The project is restoring more than 5,000 feet of dike and replacing two malfunctioning water control structures. About 40,000 cubic yards of soil is being added to increase the average height of the existing dike by 4 feet, improving coastal resiliency and preparedness to storms. The new water control structures will allow the Division of Fish & Wildlife to effectively manage impoundment water levels for wildlife, thereby improving biodiversity and enhancing recreational activities, including waterfowl hunting.

Project contractor Zack Excavating is scheduled to start restoration this month and complete the project by October 2017. As a result, the Ted Harvey South Impoundment and south boat launch parking lot will be closed to the public beginning Sept. 26 and will reopen once the project is completed in 2017.  Therefore, the impoundment will be closed for the 2016/17 waterfowl season. Additionally, potential closings may take place for the road leading to the restoration site. Drivers should be aware of heavy truck traffic in the area and follow signs, if the road is closed.

The projects are made possible by two federal grants totaling $6.5 million awarded to DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife from the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) through Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency appropriations. Administered by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the grants have leveraged additional funding from state watershed stewardship funds, a Wildlife Sport Fish and Restoration federal grant, and Ducks Unlimited (DU). The projects are the result of close cooperation and partnerships among DNREC, the U.S. DOI, the NFWF, DU and Delaware’s Congressional Delegation of Senator Tom Carper, Senator Chris Coons, and Congressman John Carney.

For more information contact Jeremey Ashe, Habitat Restoration project manager, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Jeremey.Ashe@delaware.gov or 302-735-3601 or visit the Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DelawareFishWildlife

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. In 2011, the Delaware National Bayshore plan received national recognition as one of two Delaware projects included in a 50-state report from the U.S. Department of the Interior outlining some of the country’s most promising ways to reconnect Americans to the natural world.

Contact: Melanie Rapp, DNREC Public Affairs, Melanie.Rapp@delaware.gov, 302-739-9902
Vol. 46, No. 333

 


Stretches of ocean beach reopened at Cape Henlopen State Park

Piping plover nesting season concludes with 13 fledglings this year

CAPE HENLOPEN STATE PARK – DNREC’s Divisions of Parks & Recreation and Fish & Wildlife announced today that stretches of ocean beach between Gordons Pond and Herring Point and beachfront along the oceanside of The Point on Cape Henlopen have now reopened following the end of a piping plover nesting season that produced 13 plover fledglings in Delaware. The last Gordons Pond Piping Plover chick recently fledged, allowing fencing erected to prevent disturbances to any beach-nesting birds in the area to be taken down. The beach is now accessible for fall surf-fishing, and in time for the Labor Day holiday weekend.

The bay side of The Point will remain closed until Oct. 1 to give refuge to the many species of migratory birds that pass through Delaware on their way to overwintering grounds to the south, said Anthony Gonzon, Division of Fish & Wildlife biodiversity program manager.

Although the beach-nesting bird breeding season has ended, surveys for the rare plant seabeach amaranth are continuing. Seabeach amaranth is a federally-threatened plant species under the Endangered Species Act. Searches of likely amaranth habitat are conducted in Delaware three times a year: in late July, mid-August and late August/early September.

This year, all of the known amaranth plants are located at The Point, with more than 30 plants observed since surveys began in July. No plants have been found between Gordons Pond and Herring Point, usually the most reliable location for finding them, but many of the plants on The Point have appeared outside of the typical fenced section of the dunes and overwashes, well above the high tide line.

Due to the annual variability of distribution of seabeach amaranth plants, an additional temporary fenced section along the ocean side of The Point has been installed parallel to the ocean and will be removed once these annual plants disperse their seed – likely to occur within three to four weeks. This temporary closure will allow the amaranth plants to complete their life cycle and help to sustain the plant population within Cape Henlopen while still allowing access to The Point by permitted vehicles for surf fishing.

With seabeach amaranth in mind, DNREC has closed dunes and overwashes to any human activity to protect sensitive and rare habitats. DNREC advises that surf-fishing vehicles should avoid parking in the restricted area in front of the temporary fencing, but may drive through on the beach along the ocean side of the fence. In addition, surf-fishermen should be aware that higher tides may be experienced during the next week. The possibility exists that surf fishing vehicles could be stranded when this occurs.

For more information, please contact Paul Faircloth, Cape Henlopen State Park superintendent, at 302-645-8983, or Anthony Gonzon, Division of Fish & Wildlife, at 302-735-3600.

About the piping plover
The piping plover was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1986, and the Division of Fish & Wildlife is responsible for its protection in Delaware. Under a binding agreement and subsequent species management plan that DNREC made in 1990 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the federal agency with oversight of this ESA-protected species, piping plover nesting areas at Cape Henlopen State Park are closed annually to the public to protect the shorebirds from disturbance during their nesting season which usually runs from March into September. This includes the Point and smaller areas around Gordons Pond. The closure has been successful, increasing the number of piping plover nesting pairs from a low of two pairs to a high of nine pairs, and must include feeding habitat as well as nesting areas. Piping plovers feed on small invertebrates that inhabit the intertidal zone near their nesting territories. Chicks are not fed by their parents, but rather are led to the shoreline to forage while the adults keep watch for potential threats. Allowing pedestrian traffic in the intertidal zone adjoining nesting areas would disturb the vital link between nesting and foraging habitat and risk adverse stress or mortality to the chicks.

About the seabeach amaranth
The seabeach amaranth is an annual plant the formerly ranged from Massachusetts to South Carolina. Rediscovered in Delaware in 2000 after a 125-year absence, this plant has been found on Delaware’s ocean beaches throughout Cape Henlopen State Park and Delaware Seashore State Park. Federally listed as threatened in 1993 under the Endangered Species Act, seabeach amaranth typically grows in open sand along the base of the primary foredunes or along undisturbed wrack lines high on the beach where seed may become trapped. Each year, plants may reoccur in the same locations or appear in new locations as a result of shifting sands and seed dispersal from varying weather conditions over the fall and winter seasons. As an annual plant, amaranth completes an entire life cycle in a single year’s growing season, flowering in mid to late summer, dispersing seed in late August and early September.

Media Contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 323


Volunteers encouraged to sign up now for Delaware Coastal Cleanup Sept. 17

Sec. Small and John Hewish
DNREC Secretary David Small picking up trash on Kitts Hummock Beach with Kitts resident John Hewish.

DOVER – DNREC Secretary David Small and Kitts Hummock residents gathered Thursday at the small community on central Delaware’s Bayshore to encourage volunteer signups for the 2016 Delaware Coastal Cleanup, to be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 17 at more than 50 sites statewide.

Sponsored by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the cleanup spans the First State’s 97-mile eastern coastline and includes Delaware River and Bay and Atlantic Ocean shorelines as well as wetland and watershed areas.

“With Delaware’s annual Coastal Cleanup, we know we are making a difference. Not only are we cleaning up trash from our beaches, waterways and watershed areas, we are raising public awareness about trash disposal and recycling,” Secretary Small said. “In addition, the data our volunteers gather helps identify the source of debris and focus efforts on reducing or eliminating it, both locally and internationally.”

Preregistration is open on the Delaware Coastal Cleanup page on the DNREC website, and is strongly encouraged to ensure enough supplies are packed for each site. Preregistration will close Monday, Sept. 5.

“Many of our sites need more volunteers, especially some of our smaller sites along the Delaware Bayshore and in our wildlife areas,” said Delaware Coastal Cleanup Coordinator Joanna Wilson. “The success of the Coastal Cleanup depends on a diverse group of volunteers, from civic organizations, youth groups and businesses to individuals and families, and we want to encourage both new and veteran volunteers to come out and join this important effort Sept. 17. And, it’s a great day outdoors in some of Delaware’s most beautiful and unique places!”

Some of this year’s sites that need additional volunteers are:

New Castle County

  • Augustine Beach Wildlife Area – impoundment and boat ramp sites south of Delaware City*
  • Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area – Collins Beach Boat Ramp and Thoroughfare Neck Road sites, northeast of Smyrna*

Kent County

  • Little Creek Wildlife Area/Port Mahon Road, east of Dover*
  • Big Stone Beach and Bennetts Pier, on the Delaware Bayshore near Bowers Beach/Frederica*

Sussex County

  • Nanticoke Wildlife Area – Phillips Landing, on the Nanticoke River near Laurel*
  • Slaughter Beach near Milford
  • Boat Hole/Love Creek, near Lewes*
  • Lewes Public Boat Ramp*
  • Lewes Beach
  • Dewey/Indian Beach
  • Bethany Beach
  • South Bethany Beach
  • Delaware Seashore State Park – 3Rs Road, Keybox Road, North and South Indian River Inlet sites
  • Fenwick Island

*Unique smaller sites that especially need volunteers

Popular sites that do not need additional volunteers include Cape Henlopen State Park sites and Rehoboth Beach.

Delaware’s Cleanup is part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, the world’s largest annual clearing of trash from coastlines and lakes by volunteers. Hundreds of thousands of people all over the world help each year to rid the environment of marine debris and collect detailed information on the types and quantities of refuse they find. This information is recorded on data cards and forwarded to the Center for Marine Conservation, which compiles data for all of the cleanups held in the country and around the world. This information helps identify the source of the debris and focus efforts on eliminating or reducing it.

The Delaware Coastal Cleanup is sponsored by DNREC, which organizes the event, recruits volunteers, distributes supplies, ensures trash removal and tabulates all data collected. Co-sponsors are Edgewell Personal Care/Playtex Manufacturing, which provides gloves, and Waste Management, which hauls trash and recyclables. The Ocean Conservancy supplies trash bags, data cards and brochures on marine debris.

For more information about the Ocean Conservancy and the International Coastal Cleanup, visit www.oceanconservancy.org.

For more information about the Delaware Coastal Cleanup, please call Joanna Wilson, Delaware Coastal Cleanup coordinator, at 302-739-9902.

At the 2015 Delaware Coastal Cleanup, 1,492 dedicated volunteers collected 7.8 tons of trash from 50 sites along Delaware’s shorelines and tributaries. About one-quarter of that trash – mostly aluminum cans and plastic bottles – was recycled. Volunteers’ more unusual finds included a raincoat, a hair dryer, a wig, a perfume bottle, a can of Sterno, a tent, two propane tanks, a bow and arrows, a bike pedal, a dog leash and more than 20 bags of dog waste, a smoke detector, a recliner, a metal bed frame, light bulbs, a paint roller and paintbrush, ceiling tiles, a mop head, trash cans, a sink, a toilet seat, carpet pieces, batteries, a rusty fire pit, a microwave, plastic and wood fencing, a teacup, chopsticks, tiki torch holders and four shot glasses, one of which was still full.

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

Vol. 46, No. 316


DNREC honors Delaware’s 2016 Wetland Warriors at State Fair

HARRINGTON – Today at the Delaware State Fair, Governor Jack Markell and DNREC Secretary David Small honored wetland professional and geologist Bartholomew Wilson and teachers Robin Moxley and Patricia Bear as Delaware’s 2016 Wetland Warriors for their efforts to conserve and restore wetlands and to educate young Delawareans about the importance of these vital areas.

“Wetlands are one of Delaware’s most important natural resources, buffering our land and communities against coastal storms, absorbing and filtering water on its way to the Delaware River, Bay and ocean or the Chesapeake Bay, and providing precious habitat for our wildlife,” said DNREC Secretary David Small. “Today, we are recognizing and thanking three Delaware Wetland Warriors who have dedicated their careers to wetlands protection, conservation and education.”

Bart Wilson, this year’s Wetland Warrior in the professional category, has spent his career working with state and federal agencies and non-governmental and private sector organizations to promote wetland restoration and water quality improvements across Delaware. He has worked on numerous committees and task forces, water quality best management practices (BMPs), living shoreline projects, and performed outreach and education to the general public.

Currently, Wilson works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, managing the largest combined shoreline and marsh restoration project ever undertaken in the State of Delaware at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Milton. This $38 million project, which focuses on building storm and sea level rise resiliency back into the natural landscape and creating habitat for birds, is repairing breached marshes and reconstructing damaged shorelines to 4,000 acres of tidal marsh.

“As a resource, there is nothing else like wetlands. Wetlands are a dynamic intersection of land and sea that can be very robust yet fragile, and a vital and unique resource where life begins for so many species and where many components of our environment are recycled,” Wilson said. “My fascination with wetlands started with researching the evolution of wetlands after the last ice age. It always amazes me that during those extreme changes in sea level, tidal wetlands found a way to persist and continue to evolve, even as they do today on a different scale.”

Sharing this year’s Wetland Warrior Award in the education and outreach category are two veteran teachers from the Appoquinimink School District. Both recently retired – Robin Moxley with 30 years and Patti Bear with 31. For 21 years, Mss. Moxley and Bear team-taught fifth grade science, with a special passion for wetlands that they shared with several generations of students, leaving a legacy of young Delawareans well-prepared to appreciate and care for our wetlands for years to come.

“Patti and I always tried to involve our students with hands-on outdoor activities to enhance learning in the classroom,” Moxley said. “We drew on local resources – we took our students to [DNREC’s] Aquatic Resources Education Center, worked with their wetlands kits, did beach cleanups and other activities to let them see and touch wetlands and make them real.”

The Wetland Warrior Award, now in its ninth year, is presented annually to a citizen, organization or business that has demonstrated exemplary efforts to benefit Delaware wetlands in the areas of outreach and education, monitoring and assessment, or restoration and protection.

“Delaware’s wetlands are a valuable natural resource that helps defend our coastlines and purify our drinking waters,” said Brittany Haywood, DNREC Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program. “A lot of great work is being done to protect wetlands throughout the state by everyday citizens, scientists and students. This award aims to acknowledge and thank them for all of their hard work.”

Next year’s call for nominations will be posted in the spring on the Delaware Wetlands website. For details about past Delaware Wetland Warriors, please click Wetland Warrior.

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

Vol. 46, No. 282


Online registration now open for 2016 Delaware Coastal Cleanup volunteers

DOVER – Online volunteer registration opened this week for the 30th annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup, to be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 17. Sponsored by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the cleanup spans the First State’s 97-mile eastern coastline and includes river and ocean shorelines as well as wetland and watershed areas. This year, more than 50 sites in New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties are targeted for volunteers to scour and make cleaner.

Volunteers are strongly encouraged to preregister at the Delaware Coastal Cleanup webpage on the DNREC website to ensure enough supplies are packed for each site. Preregistration will close at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6.

At last year’s Coastal Cleanup, 1,492 dedicated volunteers from civic organizations, youth groups, businesses and families collected 7.8 tons of trash from 50 sites along Delaware’s shorelines and tributaries. About one-quarter of that trash – mostly aluminum cans and plastic bottles – was recycled. Volunteers’ more unusual finds included a raincoat, a hair dryer, a wig, a perfume bottle, a can of Sterno, a tent, two propane tanks, a bow and arrows, a bike pedal, a dog leash and more than 20 bags of dog waste, a smoke detector, a recliner, a metal bed frame, light bulbs, a paint roller and paintbrush, ceiling tiles, a mop head, trash cans, a sink, a toilet seat, carpet pieces, batteries, a rusty fire pit, a microwave, plastic and wood fencing, a teacup, chopsticks, tiki torch holders and four shot glasses, one of which was still full.

Delaware’s Cleanup is part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, the world’s largest annual clearing of trash from coastlines and lakes by volunteers. Hundreds of thousands of people all over the world help each year to rid the environment of marine debris and collect detailed information on the types and quantities of refuse they find. This information is recorded on data cards and forwarded to the Center for Marine Conservation, which compiles data for all of the cleanups held in the country and around the world. This information helps identify the source of the debris and focus efforts on eliminating or reducing it.

For more information about the Ocean Conservancy and the International Coastal Cleanup, visit www.oceanconservancy.org.

For more information about the Delaware Coastal Cleanup, please call Joanna Wilson, Delaware Coastal Cleanup coordinator, at 302-739-9902.

Vol. 46, No. 273