DNREC, City of Lewes to erect fencing at Lewes Beach primary dune beginning first week of November

DOVER – DNREC’s Shoreline & Waterway Management Section and the City of Lewes will begin erecting fencing along the bay side of the primary dune at Lewes Beach during the first week of November. The fencing is designed to help protect the dune’s fragile habitat, and act as a deterrent to area residents leaving personal effects and items on the dune that can damage it. The dune-fencing project is expected to take two weeks for completion, depending on weather conditions.

In August, the Shoreline & Waterway Management Section within DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship distributed flyers by mail to area residents asking them to remove any items, such as bikes, boats, kayaks and other water sports equipment from the dune before the fencing project began. Any such personal property remaining on the dune at the start of the project will be removed by DNREC staff.

Earlier this summer, DNREC also placed signage at Lewes Beach reminding beachgoers to stay out of the dune. Lewes Beach residents and visitors were advised to use only existing pathways through the dune when crossing it.

The Shoreline & Waterway Management Section notes that for a dune to best provide protection for coastal communities, a continuous dune line must be maintained. Structures and recreational equipment illegally placed in the dune area, along with heavy use of dunes by pedestrians for access to the beach, can destroy vegetation, and lower the elevation of the dune, thereby reducing the dune’s protection capabilities.

Illegally-stored items also smother and kill the beach grass that supports and helps sustain the dune. Without beach grass, windblown sand is not trapped in the dune, creating weak spots that can be breached by flood waters during coastal storms.

For more information on dune protection, please contact DNREC’s Shoreline & Waterway Management Section at 302-739-9921 or the City of Lewes at 302-645-7777.


DNREC, City of Lewes launch outreach campaign to clear Lewes dune of illegally-stored personal items such as kayaks

Items stored on the dune can damage it, and the vegetation that helps hold it together.

DOVER – Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the City of Lewes will launch an awareness campaign next week aimed at clearing the Lewes dune of personal effects such as boats and kayaks that are stored illegally on the dune – not only causing harm to the dune but preventing it from protecting coastal properties and from providing natural habitat for native wildlife.

Lewes Dune Protection FlyerIn collaboration with the city, DNREC’s Shoreline & Waterway Management Section within the Division of Watershed Stewardship will distribute a flyer advising against storing items such bikes, boats, kayaks and other water sports equipment on the dune. DNREC is mailing the flyer as a reminder to all Lewes property owners seaward of the canal in Lewes Beach – property owners within walking distance to the dune – that storing items on the dune is breaking the law in Delaware.

A second reminder to property owners and their guests is obeying another state law limiting pedestrian access and vehicle traffic on the dune. This law prohibits operation of motorized vehicles, transportation or storage of any type of boat, and pedestrian traffic across or on the primary dune on any state-owned or state-maintained public beach, except at dune crossing locations approved by DNREC.

The Shoreline & Waterway Management Section notes that for a dune to provide best protection for coastal properties, a continuous dune line needs to be maintained. A low spot in the dune can allow storm tides and waves to create a dune breach, exposing properties behind the protective dunes to storm waves. Structures, cars, trucks, bikes, boats, and other equipment placed in the dune area and heavy use of dunes by pedestrians for access to the beach can destroy vegetation and lower the elevation of the dune, thereby reducing the dune’s protection capabilities. Illegally storing manmade items, such as kayaks, boats or beach chairs smothers the beach grass that supports and helps sustain the dune. Without beach grass, sand is not trapped in the dune – and when sand is not trapped, it can be blown away by the wind, creating weak spots in the dune that can be breached by flood waters during coastal storms.

DNREC also has begun placing signage at Lewes Beach to remind beachgoers to stay out of the dunes, and will begin installing sand fencing in the same area where the signs are erected later in the season. For more information on dune protection, please contact DNREC’s Shoreline & Waterway Management Section at 302-739-9921 or the City of Lewes at 302-645-7777.

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

Vol. 49, No. 210


DNREC introduces Delaware Living Shorelines Monitoring Framework to help gauge success of shoreline restoration projects

DOVER – The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Watershed Stewardship in partnership with public and private environmental organizations have introduced the Delaware Living Shorelines Monitoring Framework, a tool to help landowners, professionals, and scientists develop plans for gauging the success of living shoreline projects installed throughout the state.

Living shorelines are a natural and effective way to stabilize a shoreline, reduce erosion, and provide beneficial habitat in coastal environments. Living shorelines provide a natural alternative to hard shoreline stabilization methods such as bulkheads and riprap, with the “softer” alternatives offering numerous benefits over hard stabilization options, including providing wildlife habitat and runoff remediation.

The monitoring framework was created by the Delaware Living Shorelines Committee, comprising professionals from DNREC, National Estuary Programs, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, and private engineering and consulting companies. The committee provides practitioners and researchers the opportunity to discuss current living shoreline projects in Delaware, along with upcoming projects, and enables them to stay informed on new policies or techniques.

“Living shorelines are the foundation of a unique, natural environmental strategy to counter erosion. As the strategy for installing these evolves, the monitoring methodology created by the Delaware Living Shorelines Committee will help ensure the creation of more effective and resilient shorelines in the future,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin.

The Living Shoreline Monitoring Framework outlines how to identify and prioritize living shoreline project goals – such as shoreline stabilization, habitat creation, and water quality improvement – and other objectives. The step-by-step framework helps a user assess whether a living shoreline is developing correctly for each goal, and how to manage a site better if the living shoreline’s performance is lagging. For example, if vegetation is not growing as it should, the framework spells steps that can be taken to improve growing conditions.

The monitoring framework can be found on the Delaware Living Shorelines website, under “Additional Resources – Research.” The document allows for varying levels of expertise, technology, expense, and effort to create a custom monitoring plan based on the goals of each project or site. The resulting monitoring plan will tell a user what information to collect about a project, and how and when to collect it throughout the year.

To learn more about living shorelines, or information on how to join the Delaware Living Shorelines Committee, or to learn if your property is suitable for a living shoreline, please visit https://www.delawarelivingshorelines.org/ or contact Alison Rogerson, DNREC Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program, at Alison.Rogerson@delaware.gov or Danielle Kreeger at dkreeger@delawareestuary.org.

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

Vol. 49, No. 8


DNREC produces wetlands report card and management recommendations on the Smyrna River Watershed

DOVER – A new “wetlands report card” for the Smyrna River Watershed is now available from DNREC’s Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program – the ninth in a series of watershed-specific wetland health reports produced by the Department. The Smyrna River Watershed extends into both Kent and New Castle counties, where agriculture (46 percent) and wetlands (27 percent) primarily dominate the landscape. The wetlands report card indicates that wetlands in the Smyrna watershed were in better-than-average condition when rated against other previously assessed Delaware watersheds, earning an overall B-minus grade.

Nearly half (47 percent) of the wetlands found in the Smyrna River Watershed were the saltwater tidal variety. Other dominant wetland types include freshwater forested flats, riverine, and depressions. Saltwater tidal and freshwater flat wetlands were in the best health of the four types evaluated. Both received a B- grade, mostly as a result of invasive plant species and development closely surrounding the wetlands. Tidal wetlands in this area were in better health compared to most in Delaware due to a lack of man-made ditches.

Teams of wetland scientists from DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary gained permission to visit a total of 122 randomly-selected sites within the Smyrna River Watershed. Using condition assessment checklists and biological metrics, they found that wetlands in the watershed were in fair condition, and that the most common stressors were invasive plants; the digging, filling, and/or ditching of wetlands; and agriculture or development in the buffer area closely surrounding the wetland.

DNREC’s data were used to create a technical report and a more user-friendly report card that summarized not only the health of the Smyrna River Watershed’s wetlands, but also examined the change in wetland acreage in recent decades, what value wetlands provide, and how recent changes in land use will impact wetlands. Already, 32 percent of this watershed’s original wetlands have been lost, primarily due to conversion to development and agriculture. Meanwhile, in their ongoing preservation work, DNREC’s Wetland Monitoring and Assessment program continues to emphasize how wetlands are beneficial resources for both people and wildlife, and that impacts to their health reduce a wetland’s ability to perform and diminish fully, minimizing its valuable role in controlling flooding and erosion, improving water quality, and providing beautiful habitats for us all.

Based on results included in the report, DNREC made recommendations to scientists, decision makers, and landowners to improve the future health of the Smyrna River Watershed’s wetlands. These included: encouraging planting buffers around streams and wetlands; promoting restoration of degraded wetlands; improving protection of non-tidal freshwater wetlands; using best management practices in agricultural operations, and exploring innovative shoreline protection techniques such as living shorelines.

The wetland reports and the work of the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program are made possible by EPA Region 3 Wetland Program Development funding. To view more details on the Smyrna River Watershed or for more information on assessment methods, please visit de.gov/watershedhealth.

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

Vol. 48, No. 206