DuPont Nature Center to Reopen May 1

Visitors will be welcomed at the DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor Reserve when it reopens for the season Saturday, May 1. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control facility will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and is closed Mondays.

COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place, including an indoor visitor capacity of 15 individuals in addition to social distancing requirements. All visitors age kindergarten and above will be required to wear a face covering while in the center or enjoying the center’s deck.

In the spring, the center’s large deck overlooking the harbor offers wildlife watchers an unparalleled view of the spectacle of spawning horseshoe crabs and migrating shorebirds, including federally-listed threatened red knots that depend on horseshoe crab eggs to help fuel their 9,000-mile journey. More information on horseshoe crab and shorebird viewing can be found on the DuPont Nature Center website. Indoor freshwater and saltwater tanks allow a close-up look at a variety of aquatic species, from horseshoe crabs to diamondback terrapins.

The center also offers live views of nesting osprey and wildlife visiting the area through its osprey cam and Mispillion Harbor cam. The live cams can be viewed on the DuPont Nature Center website.

Managed by the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife, the DuPont Nature Center is located in the heart of Delaware’s Bayshore Region at 2992 Lighthouse Road, near Slaughter Beach, east of Milford. Admission to the center is free and open to the public. For general information about the center, please call 302-422-1329 or visit DuPont Nature Center. For inquiries about the center’s programs and operations, please email lynne.pusey@delaware.gov or call 302-422-1329.

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 Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 65,000 acres of public land. 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

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DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife DuPont Nature Center to host Peace, Love & Horseshoe Crab Festival May 18

SLAUGHTER BEACH – The DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor Reserve, a DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife facility, will host its 10th annual Peace, Love & Horseshoe Crab Festival from noon to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 18, to celebrate the spring arrival of spawning horseshoe crabs and migrating shorebirds. The center is located near Slaughter Beach at 2992 Lighthouse Road, Milford, DE 19963. Admission is free. The festival will be held rain or shine, except in the case of severe weather or coastal flooding.

Visitors will enjoy fun festivities and educational activities, with food available for purchase. Youth and families attending the festival will receive an Estuary Eco-Challenge passport to be stamped as they participate in a series of Eco-Station activities. The Eco-Stations will provide visitors with opportunities to identify shorebirds, get close to live horseshoe crabs and other aquatic species, create a craft, learn about aquatic species that live in the Delaware Bay, and much more.

Visitors will have great viewing opportunities from the center’s large deck to see the interaction between horseshoe crabs and migrating shorebirds, including federally-listed threatened red knots, which depend on horseshoe crab eggs as food to help fuel their long journey from South America to their Arctic breeding grounds. DNREC’s Delaware Shorebird Project Team members will be on hand to identify the shorebirds along the shoreline surrounding the center.

Ample parking for the Peace, Love & Horseshoe Crab Festival will be available at the nearby Lacy E. Nichols Jr. Cedar Creek Boating Access Area located on Lighthouse Road, with a shuttle running to and from the center throughout the day.

Located on the edge of Mispillion Harbor at the intersection of the mouths of the Mispillion River and Cedar Creek, the DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife’s DuPont Nature Center regularly offers a variety of interactive exhibits, school tours, and weekly educational programs. To view upcoming educational programs, visit de.gov/dnc. Spring and summer hours from May 1 through Aug. 31 are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information about the Peace, Love & Horseshoe Crab Festival, or about the DuPont Nature Center and its programs, please visit de.gov/dnc or call 302-422-1329.

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

Follow the Division of Fish & Wildlife on Facebook, www.facebook.com/DelawareFishWildlife.

Vol. 49, No. 120

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DNREC, federal, local and conservation partners gather to celebrate completion of Mispillion Harbor restoration

MISPILLION HARBOR – Against a backdrop of migrating shorebirds and spawning horseshoe crabs on the beach at Mispillion Harbor, DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin was joined by U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester to celebrate the completion of the Mispillion Harbor restoration. The three-year project restored the area in the wake of damage inflicted by a series of coastal storms including 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, and built resiliency against future storms impacting this vitally important habitat. Also joining the Secretary and the Congressional Delegation were U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Northeast Regional Director Wendi Weber, and National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Vice President of Conservation Programs Eric Schwaab.

Who is in the Photo?
Located east of Milford within the Milford Neck Wildlife Area, Mispillion Harbor is globally significant for the high numbers of migrating shorebirds that stop there each spring to refuel by feeding on the eggs of spawning horseshoe crabs, with both species favoring the harbor’s sheltered sandy beaches and calm waters than other less-sheltered sites along Delaware’s Bayshore. Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) led the task of restoring balance to this critical habitat, as well as planning the restoration of the surrounding Milford Neck tidal marsh, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), The Nature Conservancy, and Delaware Wild Lands, with support from other conservation partners and local community members.

Federal funds totaling $5.8 million through USFWS and NFWF were paired with $2 million in state matching funds to complete restoration of Mispillion Harbor and to create a longer-term plan for restoring the integrity of Milford Neck’s marshlands and forest habitat.

“I want to commend everyone involved – the Congressional Delegation, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and all of our other conservation partners – for their support in bringing this important project to completion,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “Through this partnership, we have restored one of the Delaware Bayshore’s most extraordinary places. Mispillion Harbor can now continue to provide safe haven to migrating shorebirds, including the threatened red knot, and to the spawning horseshoe crabs whose eggs fuel their long journey, as well as drawing visitors from around the world to observe the vital interaction of these species.”

“The funding that the congressional delegation worked hard to acquire for Delaware projects after Hurricane Sandy not only saved this area, but saved a part of Delaware’s tourism economy,” said Senator Tom Carper, ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee in the U.S. Senate. “That money was put to good use. We didn’t just fix the damage, we created a long-term plan to mitigate damage from future storms. Some people say we can’t have a strong economy and healthy environment at the same time, but I believe this project is a great example of how we cannot have one without the other.”

“Delaware’s wetlands and coastal habitats are not only beautiful, they’re also unique parts of our ecosystem and critical to our economy,” said Senator Chris Coons. “In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, these wetlands were truly at risk, and I’m so proud of everyone at the state, federal, and local level who came together to protect the Mispillion Harbor Reserve, the Milford Neck conservation area, and all the creatures who call these places home.”
“This vital conservation project is a great example of steps we can take to restore ecological balance along our coast. With the completion of the Mispillion Harbor Restoration, horseshoe crabs now have a new beach to spawn their young, red knots have a place to refuel on their journey north, and Delaware is revitalizing its pristine coastline,” said Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester. “It’s only through the continued efforts of local, state, and federal collaborators that we can both save endangered species and preserve the First State’s beauty for all to enjoy.”

In Mispillion Harbor, habitat restoration work began in 2016 and was completed this spring, including:

  • The existing rock structure – originally constructed in the 1980s to protect the harbor – was raised by an average of 3.5 feet to a height of 6 feet over a distance of 2,300 linear feet, and was extended westward by an additional 400 feet, tying into the existing dune. To increase stability, the base of the structure also was broadened by 18 feet.
  • Sandy beach areas were expanded by adding 40,000 cubic yards of sand along the inside of the rock structure between the north groin and south groin, and on the south side of the south groin.
  • Five new groins ranging from 80-150 feet were constructed perpendicular to the rock structure to hold the sand in place.
  • Swains Beach was restored by adding 500 cubic yards of sand, after removing materials used as riprap by a previous owner, including: concrete waste, two truckloads of old tires, two truckloads of metal debris and other waste. Also, volunteers planted 5,000 beach grass plugs to help hold the sand in place.

For the Milford Neck conservation area, hydrodynamic modeling, restoration alternatives, and a restoration plan were collaboratively developed by DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy and Delaware Wild Lands, who collectively own 10,000 acres of Milford Neck, including the state-owned Milford Neck Wildlife Area.

“The success of this collaborative restoration effort has played out this spring on the shoreline of Mispillion Harbor, with horseshoe crabs spawning on the beaches and shorebirds eating their fill of eggs,” said Regional Director Weber, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “This project truly exemplifies the power of partnerships. When we combine our investments, energy, and innovation to restore Mispillion Harbor and build a stronger Atlantic Coast, we can accomplish far more for wildlife and people than any single agency or organization can accomplish alone.”

In addition to supporting the recovery of the federally-listed threatened red knot by helping provide a stable food source for shorebirds in a protected area, and offering a safe haven for spawning horseshoe crabs, the work at Mispillion Harbor, Milford Neck, and associated navigable waterways also benefits local residents and visitors.

Restoration work to protect Mispillion Harbor and to maintain tidal flow through coastal marshes, supports local communities and enhances recreational and commercial boating and fishing access, as well as other outdoor opportunities in the area, including:

  • Public boat ramps at Cedar Creek a half-mile upstream from the harbor and on the Mispillion River in Milford 10 miles upstream;
  • The DuPont Nature Center, which overlooks the harbor with its deck offering a sweeping view of the spring spectacle of shorebirds and horseshoe crabs, is owned and operated by DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife, and attracts thousands of local, regional, national, and international visitors each year;
  • Local businesses near the harbor – Cedar Creek Marina, a commercial marina and dry-dock facility, and Delaware Bay Launch Services, which operates a fleet of boats servicing ship and barge traffic on the Delaware Bay and River headed to ports in Philadelphia, Trenton, Camden, and Wilmington; and
  • Farmlands and residential areas, notably the nearby Town of Slaughter Beach, which has more than 350 homes, a volunteer fire company, and public recreation facilities including beach access, a picnic pavilion, public restrooms, and interpretive signs. The town serves the region by supporting school and nature center programs, fishing, wildlife viewing, kayaking, and other recreational uses of the beach and bay.

Restoration work planned for Milford Neck will expand on the benefits from the Mispillion Harbor restoration, further facilitating movement of storm and spring tide waters throughout the tidal marsh system woven into the area of Slaughter Beach, Milford Neck, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, and other state and conservation partner-owned properties as well as residential and agricultural areas.

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


DNREC’s DuPont Nature Center to host Peace, Love & Horseshoe Crab Festival on May 20

SLAUGHTER BEACH – The DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor Reserve, a DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife facility, will host its eighth annual Peace, Love & Horseshoe Crab Festival, celebrating the spring arrival of migrating shorebirds and spawning horseshoe crabs, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 20 at the center, located at 2992 Lighthouse Road, east of Milford, DE 19963, near Slaughter Beach. Admission is free.

Visitors will enjoy fun festivities and educational activities, with food available for purchase. Everyone attending also will receive an Estuary Eco-Challenge passport to be stamped as they participate in a series of Eco-Station activities. The Eco-Stations will provide visitors with opportunities to identify shorebirds, get close to live horseshoe crabs and other aquatic species, learn how to cast a fishing rod, learn about food webs, and much more!

Visitors also will have great viewing opportunities from the center’s large deck to see the interaction between horseshoe crabs and migrating shorebirds, including federally-threatened red knots, which depend on horseshoe crab eggs to help fuel their long journey from South America to their Arctic breeding grounds. DNREC’s Delaware Shorebird Project Team members will be on hand to identify the shorebirds along the shoreline surrounding the center.

Parking will be available at the Lacy E. Nichols Jr. Cedar Creek Boating Access Area’s public boat ramp, with a shuttle running to the center throughout the day. The festival will be held rain or shine, except in the case of thunderstorms, coastal flooding or storms with high winds and heavy rain.

Located on the edge of Mispillion Harbor at the intersection of the mouths of the Mispillion River and Cedar Creek, the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s DuPont Nature Center regularly offers a variety of interactive exhibits, school tours and educational programs. Spring and summer hours from May 1 through Aug. 31 are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information about the Peace, Love & Horseshoe Crab Festival, or about the DuPont Nature Center and its programs, please call 302-422-1329, or visit DuPont Nature Center.

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

Vol. 47, No. 112

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New DNREC YouTube Channel video tells story of Mispillion Harbor Restoration

NEAR SLAUGHTER BEACH – A new video premiering on DNREC’s YouTube Channel offers a look at ongoing beach restoration work to restore and protect vital wildlife habitat along the shoreline at Mispillion Harbor on Delaware’s Bayshore east of Milford.

The video tells of crucial ecological work done to perpetuate an annual internationally-known Delaware spectacle that also is unique to North America. Every spring, Delaware’s central Bayshore, with the Mispillion Harbor as its epicenter, hosts thousands of migrating shorebirds – including the threatened red knot – stopping to refuel on their long journey to their Arctic breeding grounds. Their arrival coincides with another annual rite of spring: thousands of spawning horseshoe crabs coming ashore to lay their eggs on Bayshore beaches. These eggs serve provide the feast for the hungry shorebirds before continuing their flight.

Hurricane Sandy and other coastal storms have taken a toll on the beaches where these two species meet, eroding away critical habitat. To rebuild these beaches at Mispillion Harbor and to protect this area from future storm events, DNREC’s restoration work includes construction of a 1,700-foot-long stone dike to absorb erosive wave action and adding 30,000 cubic yards of sand to restore the beaches tucked behind it.

View “Mispillion Harbor Restoration” and other DNREC videos on DNREC’s YouTube Channel.