DNREC Premiering New Nature Film ‘Wetlands of Wonder: The Hidden World of Vernal Pools’

‘Wetlands of Wonder: The Hidden World of Vernal Pools,’ a 54-minute nature documentary produced by DNREC in partnership with 302 Stories and filmmaker Michael Oates, will air starting today on DNREC’s YouTube Channel

 

Free Admission Through DNREC’s YouTube Channel

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has partnered with the production company 302 Stories and writer-director Michael Oates to produce and premiere the nature documentary “Wetlands of Wonder: The Hidden World of Vernal Pools.” The 54-minute film features a panoramic voyage into Delmarva Bays called vernal pools, unique wetland ecosystems found in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. The film began airing today on DNREC’s YouTube Channel.

Vernal pools – also known as Coastal Plain seasonal ponds – are small, isolated wetlands that usually emerge in shallow depressions in the ground around forests, seasonally-flooded woodlands or floodplains. Though seasonally inundated, these ecosystems seldom hold water year-round, yet provide important habitat for amphibians and invertebrates, particularly for breeding purposes. Vernal pools, like other wetlands, also provide critical benefits to water quality and function for sustaining fauna and flora across the Delmarva Peninsula.

“Vernal pools are typically small in size, but provide enormous ecological value to a wide variety of species,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “This film captures the uniqueness of this little-known wetland type, by putting audiences in contact with rare species found in and around forests, woodlands, floodplains and even underwater.”

The film features a journey through the seasons in vernal pools spanning a year in the life of the species that call these habitats home. Filmmaker Oates and partners including DNREC’s Wetland Monitoring and Assessment program and DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife staff provide up-close views as well as rare underwater footage of the daily behavior of species that inhabit vernal pools. Included in this hidden world are some of Delaware’s rare and endangered species, such as the Eastern tiger salamander and the barking tree frog, and from the plant world yellow-eyed grass and bog button.

Also featured in the film are monitoring efforts by DNREC scientists and biologists to track environmental changes that impact the function of animal and plant species in these natural areas. “Wetlands of Wonder” also boasts interviews with a range of environmental staff and students from across Delmarva who work to improve research that can lead to a better understanding of this rare natural resource.

Additional production partners for the film include the Delaware Forest Service, University of Delaware, Delaware Nature Society, Eastern Mennonite University and Virginia Vernal Pools, LLC. Funding to produce the documentary was provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through DNREC.

More information about “Wetlands of Wonder: The Hidden World of Vernal Pools” can be found at 302stories.com. The full-length documentary is available from today on DNREC’s YouTube Channel.

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 DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship develops and implements innovative watershed assessment, monitoring and implementation activities. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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DNREC to Present Texas Living Shoreline Webinar Aug. 25

A living shoreline installed by the Galveston Bay Foundation near the Port of Houston.

 

The Galveston Bay Foundation and managing living shorelines in a Texas estuary are the topic of a free webinar at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, presented by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, in partnership with the Delaware Living Shorelines Committee. The webinar speaker is Hallie Leija, habitat restoration manager for the Galveston Bay Foundation.

Leija will provide an overview of living shoreline projects in Galveston Bay, the largest estuary in Texas. The presentation will showcase how the wetlands and coastal areas in Galveston Bay have experienced a multitude of impacts from subsidence, hurricanes, and floods. The webinar will also highlight shoreline challenges associated with the shipping industry at the Port of Houston, one of the country’s largest ports. The webinar presenter will focus on how the Galveston Bay Foundation works with local partners and private landowners to install natural erosion control systems while also restoring important coastal habitat. Additionally, the lecture will review protection and restoration projects in intertidal marshes and shorelines.

The webinar is part of an ongoing virtual series offered by the Delaware Living Shorelines Committee, a workgroup dedicated to facilitating the understanding, peer review and implementation of living shoreline strategy within the state. DNREC’s participation is represented by the DNREC Wetland Monitoring and Assessment program and the DNREC Coastal Training program.

For more information, visit DelawareLivingShorelines.org. Registration for the webinar can be found at de.gov/DNRECmeetings.

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 DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship develops and implements innovative watershed assessment, monitoring and implementation activities. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov


DNREC Brandywine Watershed Report Details Wetland Health and Management Recommendations

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has released a report and educational report card on the health of wetlands within Delaware’s portion of the Brandywine watershed, with wetlands earning a C+ grade with recommendations for improvement. Published by the DNREC Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program (WMAP), the report covers the Brandywine watershed, a combination of eight sub-watersheds. The Delaware part of the watershed resides in New Castle County, where it encompasses 72,969 acres (114 square miles) of land.

This northernmost watershed in Delaware is part of the Piedmont region and extends farther north into Pennsylvania. During the summer of 2019, environmental scientists from the DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship collected data on the plants, hydrology and wetland buffer disturbances from 68 random sites within the Brandywine watershed. Using wetland stressor checklists and biological metrics, they determined the wetlands in the watershed to be in moderate condition, falling in the lower end of Delaware watersheds previously rated by DNREC. The WMAP scientists found the most common stressors to the Brandywine were fill, structures interrupting waterflow, and invasive species, development, roads and mowing in the surrounding landscape. More details about DNREC wetland health assessments can be found at de.gov/watershedhealth.

The report found approximately 3% of the land area of the Brandywine watershed is currently covered by wetlands. WMAP performed freshwater assessments in 14 flat wetlands, 24 riverine wetlands, 11 depression wetlands, and 19 seep wetlands using the Delaware Rapid Assessment Procedure (DERAP) Version 6.0, a data collection method created by DNREC environmental scientists, which is now available for use by professionals and the public. No tidal wetlands were assessed because there were very few tidal wetlands in the watershed, and those that were present occurred only in a couple of small areas. The watershed also contained some Category One wetlands, which are rare, unique, freshwater wetland types in Delaware.

DNREC’s data was used to create a technical report and a more user-friendly “watershed report card.” The technical report summarizes not only the health of the Brandywine watershed’s wetlands, but also examined the change in wetland acreage in recent decades; what value the wetlands provide; and how recent changes in land use will impact wetlands in the future. The report card condenses general information on the watershed, summarizes environmental indicators of wetland health, and showcases what the general public can do to help the future of the Brandywine watershed’s wetlands.

Brandywine Watershed Map
Brandywine Watershed Map

Mapping analysis estimated that by 2017, 26% of historic wetland acreage in the watershed had been lost, mostly due to human impacts such as development. On-the-ground assessments were used rate the health and function of remaining wetlands. Impacts to wetland health reduce a wetland’s ability to perform fully, diminishing its valuable role in controlling flooding and erosion; improving water quality; storing excess rainwater; and providing ecosystem services for both people and wildlife. In this watershed, wetlands overall received a C+ grade. Forested flats and groundwater seep wetland types received a class grade of B-, while riverine and depressions both received C grades, based on impacts mostly to the buffer habitat surrounding wetlands.

Based on the results of this study, DNREC made recommendations targeting scientists, public decision makers and landowners toward improving and enhancing the future health of Delaware’s wetlands. These recommendations included maintaining adequate wetland buffers, restoration activities, increasing education and outreach, using best management practices, suggesting that landowners protect wetlands on their property, and improving the protection of the watershed’s non-tidal wetlands for the future.

The DNREC Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program, funded by the U.S. EPA’s Region 3 Wetland Program Development grants, prepares wetland health reports for Delaware watersheds. Those reports, including the report for the Brandywine watershed, are found at de.gov/watershedhealth.

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 DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship develops and implements innovative watershed assessment, monitoring and implementation activities. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov


DNREC to Present Living Shoreline Social Marketing Webinar June 16

Rachel Felver, Communications Director of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

 

A social marketing strategy to improve shoreline management is the topic of a free webinar at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 16, presented by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, in partnership with the Delaware Living Shorelines Committee.

The webinar speaker is Rachel Felver, the communications director of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, who will provide an overview of the strategy involving a community-based social marketing campaign.

Felver’s presentation will showcase how the campaign influences environmentally sensitive actions in relation to shoreline management, specifically with living shorelines. The webinar will highlight how shoreline degradation has a direct and negative impact on water quality, while natural shoreline protection provides more resilience against climate change. The webinar presenter will focus on the materials, preparation and outcomes of the Chesapeake Bay specific marketing strategy. Additionally, the lecture will review the project findings, share the toolkits created, and ask for assistance in helping identify the best methods to put this information into the hands of those who could use it.

The webinar is part of an ongoing virtual series offered by the Delaware Living Shorelines Committee, a work group dedicated to facilitating the understanding, peer review and implementation of living shoreline strategy within the state. DNREC’s participation is represented by the DNREC Wetland Monitoring and Assessment program and the DNREC Coastal Training program.

For more information, visit Delaware Living Shorelines. Registration for the webinar and more information about it are also available on the DNREC events and meetings calendar at de.gov/DNRECmeetings.

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 DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship develops and implements innovative watershed assessment, monitoring and implementation activities. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov


DNREC Inland Bays Wetland Strategy Details Restoration Plans for Wetlands and Submerged Aquatic Vegetation

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has finalized a strategy to address several specific wetlands and aquatic vegetation issues in the Inland Bays watershed. Published by the DNREC Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program (WMAP), the Inland Bays Wetland Restoration Strategy plan covers the Inland Bays watershed, which drains 210,064 acres of land in southern Delaware. According to Delaware’s 2017 Statewide Wetland Mapping Project, 58,906 acres of the basin are wetlands. This acreage represents 20% of all of Delaware’s wetlands.

The primary purpose of this strategy is to identify key tactics for addressing issues affecting tidal wetlands, non-tidal wetlands, and submerged aquatic vegetation in the Inland Bays watershed, while also identifying priority areas on public land where the tactics could be implemented. WMAP used past wetland health assessments, documented changes in wetland acreage in the recent decade, and interviews from more than 12 conservation organizations to compile the strategy. WMAP also used spatial analysis methods to identify optimal tidal and non-tidal wetland restoration opportunities on public protected lands in the Inland Bays.

The Inland Bays Wetland Restoration Strategy plan contains a comprehensive overview of major issues faced by wetlands and submerged aquatic vegetation, such as sea level rise and invasive species, in the Inland Bays and the diverse tactics that can be used to address the problems. The tactics and tasks outlined align with seven major themes from Delaware’s 2021-2025 Wetland Program Plan: mapping, monitoring, climate adaptation, restoration, collaboration, conservation, and education.

The DNREC-produced plan can be cited by conservation groups and organizations to prioritize projects and justify funding requests for wetland or submerged aquatic vegetation restoration projects in the Inland Bays. The plan also supports wetland management goals of several entities, including the Delaware Wildlife Action Plan created by DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). As other conservation groups working in the Inland Bays may not have a concrete wetland and submerged aquatic vegetation-related strategy, the Inland Bays Wetland Restoration Strategy also could serve as a starting point for understanding current Delaware wetlands and aquatic vegetation issues, while encouraging collaboration toward resolving them.

For more information about DNREC’s Inland Bays Wetland Strategy, visit dnrec.delaware.gov.

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 DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship develops and implements innovative watershed assessment, monitoring and implementation activities. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov; Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov