Collaboration leads to largest round of Delaware farmland preservation in four years

DOVER, Del. — More than 127,000 acres of Delaware farmland are now permanently preserved for future generations, with the purchase of the development rights of 41 farms totaling 3,534 acres. This is the 22nd consecutive year of easement selections by the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation. Many of the farms in this round would not have been preserved without matching funds from multiple sources, including the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), Sussex County Council, and Kent County Levy Court.

“I am proud to announce the largest round of Delaware farmland permanently preserved through the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Program in the last four years. This is a result of federal funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and funding from both Sussex County and Kent County,” said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “It is because of the importance that the General Assembly and the Governor’s office have placed on this program and the commitment of our partners in preserving farmland, that we can make it possible to keep Delaware land in agriculture.”

In this round of easement selections, there was one farm in New Castle County, thirty in Kent County, and ten in Sussex County preserved.

The Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation selects those farms approved for easement purchase using an impartial discounted ranking system that maximizes benefits for taxpayers. The Foundation does not own the land, but rather purchases landowners’ development rights and places a permanent agricultural conservation easement on the property. Landowners must first voluntarily enroll their farm into a 10-year preservation district before they can sell an easement. In addition to over 127,000 acres in permanent easements, Delaware’s Aglands Preservation Program has over 45,000 acres of land enrolled in farmland preservation districts.

This year the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is celebrating 25 years of conservation easements, including wetland and agricultural easements. In Delaware, NRCS has provided more than 50 million dollars of funding to help preserve 302 farms and more than 40,300 acres since 1997.

County governments can choose to partner with the state program and add county funds to select properties in their areas, leveraging state resources for the greatest impact. In the round announced today, both Kent and Sussex County governments provided funding to assist with the purchase of development rights for farms in their respective counties.

“Kent County is thrilled to partner once again with the Delaware Department of Agriculture in the preservation of significant productive farmland in Kent County” said County Administrator Mike Petit de Mange. “Through this partnership we are preserving an additional 1,273 Acres of high quality working land in support of our number one industry in Central Delaware. The Levy Court is grateful to our local farmers for their commitment and contributions to the economy and quality of life in Kent County and to their commitment to the Agland Preservation Program.”

Delaware’s statewide program made its first round of easement purchases in 1996, and has since preserved 22 percent of New Castle County farmland, 38 percent of Kent County farmland and 16 percent of Sussex County farmland.

“Sussex County supports the agriculture sector and is excited to partner with the State to help preserve our number one industry,” said Sussex County Administrator Todd F. Lawson. “Because of these efforts, ten farms representing 780 acres will be preserved in Sussex County, ensuring the long-term viability of agriculture in our State.”

The Foundation’s Board of Trustees includes representatives from agriculture and state agencies. Trustees are: Bob Garey, chairman; Bill Vanderwende, vice-chairman; L. Allen Messick Jr., treasurer; William H. “Chip” Narvel Jr., secretary; Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse; State Treasurer Ken Simpler; Secretary of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Shawn Garvin; Peter Martin; Theodore P. Bobola Jr.; Robert Emerson; and Janice Truitt.

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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, 302-698-4542, stacey.hofmann@delaware.gov


Collaboration leads to largest round of Delaware farmland preservation in several years

 

Media: 2017 Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Program Round 21 Map

2017 Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Program Round 21 Selection List

DOVER— More than 124,000 acres of Delaware farmland are now permanently preserved for future generations, with 3,039 acres of easements selected into the state’s preservation program. This is the 21st consecutive year of easement selections by the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation. Many of the farms in this round would not have been preserved without matching funds from multiple sources, including the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), New Castle County, and Kent County Levy Court.

“I am proud to announce the largest round of Delaware farmland permanently preserved through the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Program in the last several years. This is a result of federal funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and funding from both New Castle County and Kent County,” said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse. “I want to thank the state Natural Resources Conservation Service staff, as well as the Washington, D.C. staff in helping us to obtain funding that we haven’t had for several years. I also want to thank New Castle County and Kent County for their contributions and commitment to preserving farmland. It is because of the importance that the General Assembly and the Governor’s office have placed on this program and through the cooperation of our partners, that we can make it possible to keep Delaware land in farming.”

In this round of easement selections, there were three farms in New Castle County, eighteen in Kent County, and thirteen in Sussex County preserved.

“Farmland preservation is vital to protecting open space while supporting our thriving agricultural economy,” New Castle County Executive Matthew Meyer said. “New Castle County is proud to collaborate with the state’s farmland preservation program for the first time in five years and to work alongside federal, state, local and nonprofit partners to accomplish this shared goal in the most cost-effective manner. Today’s announcement demonstrates the impact we are having together to preserve the most land at the best value for taxpayers.”

The Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation approves all applications, using an impartial discounted ranking system that maximizes benefits for taxpayers. The Foundation does not own the land, but rather purchases landowners’ development rights and has a permanent agricultural conservation easement placed on the property.

Delaware’s statewide program made its first round of easement purchases in 1996, and has since preserved 21 percent of New Castle County farmland, 37 percent of Kent County farmland and 16 percent of Sussex County farmland.

“We are very pleased to once again partner with the Delaware Department of Agriculture in the preservation of significant working farms in Kent County” said County Administrator, Mike Petit de Mange. “This year, our collective efforts will permanently preserve 10 additional farm properties involving over 600 Acres for Agriculture. We see this as a wise investment in the future of our number one industry in Central Delaware.”

County governments can choose to partner with the state program and add county funds to select properties in their areas, leveraging state resources for the greatest impact. In the round announced today, New Castle County contributed $194,389 to help purchase development rights on one farm, while Kent County contributed $101,232 to partially purchase development rights on ten properties.

Delaware also has more than 53,000 acres of farmland in preservation districts, voluntary agreements in which landowners agree to only use their land for agriculture for 10 years. Farmers must enroll in a preservation district before they can sell an easement.

The Foundation’s Board of Trustees includes representatives from agriculture and state agencies. Trustees are: Bob Garey, chairman; Bill Vanderwende, vice-chairman; L. Allen Messick Jr., treasurer; William H. “Chip” Narvel Jr., secretary; Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse; State Treasurer Ken Simpler; Secretary of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Shawn Garvin; Peter Martin; Theodore P. Bobola Jr.; Robert Emerson; and Janice Truitt.

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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, 302-698-4542, stacey.hofmann@delaware.gov


Kent County sewage spill suspends Delaware Bay shellfish harvest, prompts DNREC caution for recreational use of St. Jones River

Public advised to avoid length of river from Dover to Bowers until wastewater spill dispersed

DOVER – DNREC Secretary David Small issued an emergency order today suspending commercial and recreational shellfish harvest of oysters, clams and mussels in the Delaware Bay after a spill from a Kent County sewage pump station in Dover discharged hundreds of thousands of gallons of untreated wastewater into the St. Jones River which empties into the bay. The harvest closure will be in effect for 21 days after the county’s wastewater discharge has been halted.

While the spill continues, DNREC also advised residents and recreationalists not to use the St. Jones River from its upper reaches of Silver Lake in Dover to Bowers, where it flows to the bay. DNREC also ordered Kent County’s public works department to increase its monitoring of the river for bacteria and organics until water quality returns to pre-spill conditions. Kent County continues to make repairs as quickly as possible, and has been cooperating fully with DNREC and working with water users to try and reduce flows from the sanitary sewage system during repairs.

The spill – which occurred when repair of a force main near Magnolia in Kent County’s sanitary sewer system caused an overflow at the Dover pump station – was reported today to DNREC by Kent County’s public works department. An earlier but smaller spill reported last week occurred in conjunction with the same force main repair. The current spill continued into the evening as an unknown but “significant amount of untreated wastewater” was carried downstream by an outgoing tide.

The DNREC emergency order noted that “Due to the health risks associated with untreated waste water, the Delaware Bay will be placed under an emergency shellfish harvesting closure to protect public health.” The order also advised that “This shellfish closure only impacts the harvest of bivalve molluscan shellfish (clams, oysters and mussels), and does not affect the legal harvest of other shellfish species such as crabs and conchs,” concluding that “Currently there is no commercial oyster harvest occurring in the Delaware Bay and little-to-no recreational harvest occurs this time of year.”

The emergency Secretary’s Order about suspending shellfish harvest in the Delaware Bay can be found on the DNREC website at http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Info/Pages/SecOrders_Regulations.aspx For more information about the Kent County wastewater spill, please contact Kia Evans, Kent County Levy Court, at 302-744-2304.

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

Vol.47, No. 30

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Governor Jack Markell to Announce the Delaware Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness: May 4, 2015

Where/When: American Legion Post 2, 835 South Bay Road, Dover, DE 19901 on Monday, May 4, 2015 @ 10:00.

Governor Jack Markell to Announce the Delaware Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness in 2015.

At 10:00 AM on Monday, May 4th, at American Legion Post 2, Dover, DE, Governor Markell will gather state and local leaders together to announce the Delaware Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness in 2015. This is one of the goals the Governor included in his State of the State Address on January 21, 2015.

The Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness is an initiative begun at the suggestion of First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Jill Biden and organized under the auspices of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). USICH, in cooperation with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), developed the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness in 2015, challenging mayors and community leaders throughout the nation to create new local initiatives to reach the goal of ending veteran homelessness in their communities. Since then, local initiatives have become active across the nation.

In October, 2015, Mayor Christiansen of Dover officially accepted the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness and he formed a working group of local volunteers to begin working toward the goals of outreach to identify homeless veterans; prevention of homelessness by promoting stable housing solution; and diverting veterans from temporary shelters to alternative housing arrangements and supportive services leading to permanent solutions. Mayor Christiansen asked the Vice Chairman of the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs to lead the efforts of the working group. In collaboration with HUD, VA, Delaware State Housing Authority, Dover City Planner, Dover Housing Authority, Kent County Levy Court and a host of other federal, state and local agencies as well as local private shelters, veteran service organization, businesses and interested individuals, the Dover Working Group brought together volunteers for a training program based upon strategies being successfully employed in various locations throughout the country. Through that effort the volunteers organized the Dover Veterans Welcome Home Team with the specific goals designed to end veteran homelessness in Dover in 2015. The team meets regularly to review the status of cases for veterans they are assisting.

From this initiative, the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs and the Delaware State Housing Authority in conjunction with the Delaware Joining Forces Coalition have developed the Delaware Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness in 2015 and to assist local communities throughout the state to create their own local goals and initiatives to end veteran homelessness.

On May 4th, Governor Markell will officially challenge state and local leaders to join the effort to end veteran homelessness in 2015.