2,075 Seedlings Planted for the Harriet Tubman Bicentennial Tree Planting

TOWNSEND, Del. (September 21, 2022) – On September 17, over 100 volunteers planted 2,075 trees at the Blackbird State Forest for the Harriet Tubman Bicentennial Tree Planting. This initiative will provide scenic beauty, enhance wildlife habitat, fight invasive species, and improve water quality in the critical Chesapeake Bay Watershed. This tree planting was part of a broader program to commemorate the 200th birthday year of Harriet Tubman in 1822 and part of International Underground Railroad Month.Sixth District Councilman David Carter and Del State student Lauren Smith work together to plant a seedling.

“This tree planting event along with the guided hikes (held separately), generated a lot of interest and positive feedback for more programming like this from Delaware citizens. We were fortunate enough to partner in these events with a cultural interpretive guide Dionne Patterson (UGR3day Underground Railroad Experiences Inc.), DelDOT Byways Program, and the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware,” said Delaware Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator Kesha Braunskill. “Our forestry staff did an outstanding job in preparing the site for the planting to take place. And volunteers from all over the state did an awesome job getting all the trees planted in under three hours. These planting events are great for community involvement, and everyone gets to see the fruits of their labor for years to come as they come back to see the forest they helped create.”

The planting project allowed the Delaware Forest Service to continue its goal of increasing tree canopy, as well as increasing the community’s knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of forests and forest management. Volunteers who assisted included teachers and students from various school groups, honor society students, Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops, and volunteers from Delaware’s Air Force Crew.

Blackbird State Forest covers nearly 6,000 acres in southern New Castle County and is a stop on the historic Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. The project was funded by the U.S. Forest Service and its Chesapeake Bay Program and the Delaware Forest Service and its Urban and Community Program.

To find out how to get involved in future tree plantings or other tree-inspired programs, visit https://de.gov/treeevents.

More photographs are available on Flickr, https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjA7XEp

Blackbird State Forest’s Meadows Tract Renamed in Honor of Senator Bruce C. Ennis

TOWNSEND, Del. (September 20, 2022) – At a bill signing ceremony held at the Blackbird State Forest’s Meadow Tract, Governor Carney signed Senate Bill 328, renaming the Blackbird State Forest’s Meadows Tract the “Bruce C. Ennis Tract” in honor of Senator Bruce C. Ennis. The Ennis Tract covers 456 acres with open meadows, forested trails, and three ponds, and includes one of Delaware’s two forest education centers. This tract of state forestland is part of an ecologically critical zone connecting the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. The Blackbird State Forest is managed by the Department of Agriculture and is a popular destination for hiking, horseback riding, nature watching, camping, and hunting.

“There are a lot of people that work hard to make our state a better place and Senator Bruce Ennis continues to do so in such a humble way,” said Governor John Carney. “On behalf of the people of this district and the people of our state, for a great tribute to a man who has given so much to our state. What a way to celebrate the service of Senator Ennis, by renaming this beautiful meadow and piece of property in his honor.”Senator Ennis with his family at Blackbird State Forest around the new Ennis Tract sign

About 50 people were in attendance for the bill-signing event, including Senator Ennis’ family, and members of the General Assembly and the Governor’s cabinet. The renaming of the Meadows Tract in honor of Senator Ennis reflects Delaware’s appreciation for Senator Ennis’ legacy, who has served 40 years in both legislature and public safety. Senator Ennis will be retiring in November.

Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long shared that “Today we stand in a beautiful, peaceful location celebrating a man who really fought to make Delaware a safe, wonderful place to live.” She added that Senator Ennis is “truly a statesman” and has always been an avid supporter of “open space, natural resources and agriculture.”

Delaware Forest Service educator Ashley Melvin and Senator Ennis’s granddaughter had the honor of unveiling the new tract sign that will be placed on Blackbird Station Road at the entrance to Ennis Tract.

Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse stated, “Senator Ennis has worked tirelessly to improve everyone’s quality of life. He’s made sure that we have natural resources protected and preserved for future generations. This means a lot to me personally, and a lot to the Department. I can think of no better tribute to a man who has done so much for his state.”

Blackbird State Forest, managed by the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, located on the border of New Castle and Kent Counties, is Delaware’s northernmost state forest. It has ten tracts totaling over 6,000 acres and contains of mixture of oaks, yellow-poplar, maple, gums, and hickories.

More photographs are available on Flickr, https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjA7QDa

Delaware Sends Wildfire Crew to Northern California

The 2022 DES1 Diamond State Wildfire Crew photo taken at Blackbird State Forest before mobilizing to northern California
The 2022 DES1 Diamond State Wildfire Crew: (Left to Right, Front to Back): Dave Pro of Newark and Bill Seybold of Dover; Adam Keever of Newark, Eddie Boyer of Frederica, Justin Sauble of Smyrna, Sam Topper of Federalsburg, MD, and Jim Charney of Felton; Erich Burkentine of Milton, Derek Coss of Berlin, MD, Hunter Melson of Middletown, Zachary Veasey of Millsboro, Eric Brown of Rehoboth Beach, Zach Brown of Millsboro, and Tom Hairgrove of Townsend; Ben Schnatterly of Dover, Noah Jackson of Delmar, Nate Shampine of Hockessin, Jeff Wilson of Clayton, and Scott Veasey of Millsboro


SMYRNA, Del. (August 9, 2022) –The Delaware Forest Service mobilized a 19-person wildfire crew from Blackbird State Forest to northern California today. The crew will travel cross-country to join other wildfire crews to battle blazes as the number of wildfires in the area continue to grow, sparked by hot, dry, and windy weather combined with an unstable atmosphere, creating lightning-caused fires.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 66 large fires and complexes have burned 1,694,298 acres in 14 states. More than 12,300 wildland firefighters and support personnel are currently assigned to incidents across the country.

Delaware has trained more than 600 firefighters since 1996 and battled wildfires in numerous states, including Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, California, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. https://de.gov/wildfire.

For more information, contact Kyle Hoyd at kyle.hoyd@delaware.gov

More photos and videos are available at: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjA2pY6

“Saluting Branches” – Arborist Day of Service

Dozens of tree care professionals volunteered at the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Millsboro for the 7th Annual “Saluting Branches: Arborist United for Veteran Remembrance” event.

MILLSBORO, Del. — Dozens of arborists and professionals from three Delaware tree care companies volunteered for the 7th Annual “Saluting Branches” event by devoting a day to trimming, shaping, and removing hazardous trees from the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Millsboro. The Delaware site was one of 40 sites throughout the United States that participated in the event, which attracted more than 3,000 volunteers. Workers from Tri-State Tree Care, Complete Tree Care, and Cypress Tree Care spent their entire day as a way to pay tribute to the veterans and their service.

Jay Ashby, who runs Cypress Tree Care and also serves as Chair of Delaware’s Community Forestry Council, called it a “Great day of service for our resting veterans.”

Joe Shoup from Cypress Tree Care was glad to be back after participating in 2019 but having last year’s event canceled because of COVID-19.

Joe Shoup and Frank Silva
PHOTO: Joe Shoup of Cypress Tree Care with Frank Silva Jr., grounds foreman at the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Millsboro.

“There was a lot of hazard work. They had a lot of dead wood and a lot of dead trees that needed to be taken down. That first year we were able to get a big chunk of work done and as such the trees looked a lot nicer but they were also a lot safer,” Shoup said. “This year… we’re able to do a lot of reduction pruning on these older, more mature oak trees… If we can get here for the next two, three years in a row, we should have this place up to snuff and there shouldn’t be any more hazards left.”

Frank Silva, Jr., who serves as the grounds foreman for  Delaware’s Office of Veterans Services, is extremely grateful for the professional expertise and dedication that the workers provide.

“These huge old oaks that are several hundred years old, they’re too large for us to take care of. We don’t have the equipment or the manpower to take care of that and we’re not professional arborists,” Silva said.

“It’s very important to us to keep the place looking pretty good as you can see,” he continued. “It’s a place of honor and respect. We’re all veterans… everyone who works for this commission is a veteran, so it’s an important job to us. And all the work that they do really helps out.”

Tree care worker and large oak tree
PHOTO: A tree care professional works on a large oak tree at the Delaware Veterans Cemetery in Millsboro. Workers from three Delaware companies volunteered for the annual “Saluting Branches” event as a day of service to America’s veterans.

Silva estimated that almost 6,000 Delaware veterans and spouses are currently interred at the cemetery, which is why it’s so important they and their families continue to have a well-maintained place of honor and respect when they are laid to rest. The Millsboro veterans cemetery covers about 65 acres, of which about 25 acres is currently in use for burials and interments. The site is expected to grow in the years ahead to accommodate future applications.

Saluting Branches event at Veterand Cemetery in Millsboro

Delaware Wildfire Crew Battles Blazes In The West

PHOTO: From left, Dave Pro of Newark, Jeff Wilson of Clayton, Eddie Boyer of Frederica, and Bradley Melson of Milford are part of the Delaware wildfire crew battling the Harris Mountain Fire south of Cascade, Montana.


CASCADE, Mont. (August 4, 2021) — Delaware’s wildfire crew continues to battle the Harris Mountain Fire in the steep, rocky and mountainous terrain south of Cascade, Montana. The 31,345-acre blaze is currently 20 percent contained, with almost 300 personnel under a Type 2 Incident Management Team from the Northern Rockies to bring it under control

According to crew boss Sam Topper, Delaware’s 20-person Type 2IA crew has been constructing hotline on a critical piece of Division Z and has been working to keep the fire out of the head of Novak Creek. The crew has only four more shifts remaining before returning to the First State next week. The group departed Blackbird State Forest on July 21 and is serving a 14-day assignment.

Delaware also has a new Type 6 engine crew fighting the Cedar Creek Fire, currently 52,030 acres and 25% percent contained, located in Washington’s Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.  The team of three firefighters is led by the Delaware Forest Service’s Todd Gsell and includes Todd Shaffer of Maryland and Andy Ney of Felton.

More photos at the Delaware Forest Service Flickr page

Contact: Kyle Hoyd, Delaware Forest Service, 302-698-4548 or kyle.hoyd@delaware.gov

Dave Pro of Newark
PHOTO: Dave Pro of Newark works the chainsaw to construct a line to slow down the Harris Mountain Fire south of Cascade, Montana. The fire is currently 31,345 acres and 20 percent contained. Delaware’s Type 2IA crew has been constructing hotline on a critical piece of Division Z. The area is extremely rough with steep and rocky terrain. The crew has four more shifts including today.


DES Engine Crew
PHOTO: Delaware’s new Type 6 engine crew, staffed by (from left) engine boss trainee Todd Shaffer, engine boss Todd Gsell, and firefighter Andy Ney, is holding the line, patrolling, and mopping up on the Cedar Creek Fire near Winthrop, Washington. The fire is currently 52,030 acres and 25 percent contained.