2021 State Conservation Poster Contest Winners Announced

State winner, grades 4 to 6, Samuel Vasquez Ortiz, Gallagher Elementary


The Delaware Association of Conservation Districts, in partnership with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, today announced the winners of its annual conservation poster contest, which provided students with an opportunity to convey their artistic impressions about soil, water and related natural resources based on the 2021 theme, “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities.”

The 2021 theme, “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities,” encouraged people to protect existing trees and plant new ones, as well as to advocate and educate about trees and forest conservation within their communities. As the biggest plants on the planet, trees are a vital resource, as they absorb carbon from the atmosphere, stabilize the soil, filter water, provide healthy habitat for wildlife and offer many other benefits.

First place winners from New Castle County are:

  • K to 1: Lawrence Xun*, North Star Elementary
  • 2 to 3: Christine Alex*, Gallagher Elementary
  • 4 to 6: Samuel Vasquez Ortiz*, Gallagher Elementary
  • 7 to 9: Rishitha Guddapalli*, Cab Calloway School of the Arts
  • 10 to 12: Eason Li*, Tower Hill School

First place winners from Kent County are:

  • K to 1: Jade McWaine, Academy of Dover
  • 2 to 3: Zahara Odige, Academy of Dover
  • 4 to 6: Leah Randall, Academy of Dover
  • 7 to 9: Jemma Byrd, Magnolia Middle School
  • 10 to 12: Evan Shane, Smyrna High School

State winner, grades 7 to 9, Rishitha Guddapalli, Cab Calloway School of the Arts
State winner, grades 7 to 9, Rishitha Guddapalli, Cab Calloway School of the Arts

*Denotes state winning posters. No entries were submitted in 2021 from Sussex County.

Posters were judged on good use of color, good attention to detail, an easy to understand conservation message, originality and creativity, along with correct use of the conservation theme. First, second and third place winners in each grade category received gift cards for $50, $25 and $15, respectively, from their local Conservation District office. The first place state winners received $50 from the Delaware Association of Conservation Districts.

State winning posters by Lawrence Xun, Christine Alex, Samuel Vasquez Ortiz, Rishitha Guddapalli and Eason Li have been entered into the national poster contest sponsored by the National Association of Conservation Districts Ladies Auxiliary. National winners will be announced at the NACD conference being held Feb. 12 to 16 in Orlando, Fla.

Delaware’s poster contest also includes a category for computer generated/graphic arts posters. Entries were received from two schools in New Castle County. The winners were:

  • First place: Langley Grace Marvel, Del Castle Vo Tech High School
  • Second place went to Noelle Evans also of Del Castle Vo Tech High School
  • Third place: Vicken Karakashian, Appoquinimink High School

Each year, the poster contest follows the annual Soil and Water Stewardship Week theme sponsored by the National Association of Conservation Districts. The 2022 poster contest will focus on the theme “Healthy Soil, Healthy Life.” Healthy soils are vital to food production and also contribute to clean air and water, plentiful crops and forests, diverse wildlife and beautiful landscapes. The theme encourages people to recognize where food comes from and the farmers who are dedicated to using responsible land-management practices to ensure a sustainable food supply and healthy land and soil for future generations.

More information about the poster contest can be found at www.nacdnet.org under the Stewardship and Education page.

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 Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Youth Academies graduate 59 students

DOVER – This year’s DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Youth Academy program was a huge success, with 59 students completing the academies’ curriculum the past summer. Now in its fourth year, the popular program is geared to students ages 12 to 15 with an interest in natural resources and law enforcement, with a focus on acquiring or enhancing boating, fishing, and hunting skills.

Sessions for the Basic Youth Academy were held at the DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Little Creek Hunter Education Training Center near Dover and Ommelanden Hunter Education Training Center near New Castle. In addition to introductory boating, fishing, and hunting skills, the students were exposed to various aspects of a Natural Resources Police officer’s daily routine. For patrol work, students completed field scenarios that included checking deer stands and duck blinds, using a decoy deer to nab poachers in the act, and making contact with visitors to Delaware’s wildlife areas managed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife. They were also given instruction in the safe operation of boats and learned about on-the-water enforcement activities.

Students who completed the Kent County Basic Youth Academy were: Michael Atchley of Frederica, Nathaniel Atchley of Frederica, Jaden Azato of Lewes, Aaron Bartsch of Townsend, Ben Barwick of Georgetown, Logan Boyer of Magnolia, Ethan Couch of Laurel, Kenzey Curran of Smyrna, Justin Didden of Dover, Aiden Dill of Camden, Aiden Durham of Camden-Wyoming, Sean Jones of Wyoming, Joshua Kenton of Harrington, Elizabeth Krajewski of Lewes, Jamieson Martin of Clayton, Faith Mitchell of Milford, Kieran Morris of Middletown, Victoria Pedigo of Camden-Wyoming, Samuel Pluta of Carlisle, PA, Rhett Robbins of Frederica, Carissa Towery of Dover, Olivia Tryon of Harrington, Benjamin Warren of Dagsboro, and Walker Weiss of Selbyville.

Students who completed the New Castle County Basic Youth Academy were: Rachel Antonio of New Castle, Gavin Bradley of Middletown, Tyrone Brown of Middletown, Cayleb Catherman of Middletown, Edward Cobb of Newark, Bradyn Coleman of Newark, Jimmy David of Middletown, Vinny Helms of Townsend, Kolin Kaiser of Middletown, Hunter Landry of Magnolia, Harry Long of Wilmington, Gabrielle Marrero of Bear, Chris Napolin of Townsend, Isabella Poore of New Castle, Dawlat Refaie of Wilmington, Walter Samuels of Middletown, Justin Saylor of Wilmington, Makenzey Stephenson of Newark, Maddison Stubblebine of Newark, and Sawyer Wilkins of Landenburg, Pa.

In addition to the Basic Youth Academy students being presented their boating and hunter education certificates at graduation, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police instructors presented awards to five students in each class. For the Kent County class, awards were presented to Michael Atchley for leadership, Jamieson Martin for sportsmanship, Aiden Durham for sharpshooting, Sean Jones for archery, and Ethan Couch for fishing skills. For the New Castle County class, award recipients were Tyrone Brown for leadership, Walker Weiss for sportsmanship, Kolin Kaiser for sharpshooting, Walter Samuels for archery, and Harry Long for fishing skills.

At the Advanced Youth Academy, students acquired skills for camping, fishing, and hunting, and were exposed to various aspects of a Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officer’s daily routine. Students obtained their turkey hunter certification, assisted wildlife biologists with capturing and banding mourning doves, assisted fisheries biologists with pond seining, participated in shotgun and rifle target shooting, a fishing derby and bird watching, and camped at Lums Pond State Park’s primitive campground. To finish up the camp, students participated in a public outreach event with officers displaying the Operation Game Theft trailer at Cabela’s in Newark.

Students who completed the New Castle County Advanced Youth Academy were: Aaron Bartsch of Townsend, Brooke Boileau of Middletown, Gavin Bradley of Middletown, Bradyn Coleman of Newark, Zoe Given of Middletown, Kolin Kaiser of Middletown, Hunter Landry of Magnolia, Harry Long of Wilmington, Gabrielle Marrero of Bear, Kieran Morris of Middletown, Domenick Rathoff of Bear, Harrison Rathoff of Bear, Emily Scott of Middletown, Heather Scott of Middletown, and Walker Weiss of Selbyville.

In addition to the Advanced Youth Academy students receiving their turkey hunter education certificate at graduation, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police instructors presented awards to Walker Weiss for sportsmanship, Aaron Bartsch for sharpshooting, and Zoe Given for fishing skills as well as leadership.

DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police thank the following sponsors who helped make this year’s youth academies possible: Cabela’s, Freemire & Associates of Camden, PSC Contracting, Inc., Safari Club International – Delaware Valley Chapter, and Logo Motive Custom Apparel.

To learn more about Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police and the Youth Academies, please visit http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Pages/Enforcement.aspx.

Contact: Sgt. Brooke Mitchell, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913 or 302-382-7167, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902


DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation earns the 2019 National Association of State Park Directors Innovation Award

YORKLYN – DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation has been selected to receive the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) President’s Award for Innovation at the annual conference in Rogers, Arkansas. The award is in recognition of the establishment of a public-private partnership and the collective efforts to convert the abandoned National Vulcanized Fiber (NVF) plant into a destination where the public is able to recreate and enjoy preserved historic and cultural resources.

After declaring bankruptcy in 2009, the NVF plant closed and left behind hazardous and abandoned buildings as well as contaminated water and soil. Around the same time, Delaware State Parks acquired 192 acres of conservation and cultural resource lands, to include a historic mansion and the largest operational Stanley steam car collection in the country. Delaware State Parks, in collaboration with state and federal agencies and private developers, was able to purchase and rehabilitate the abandoned NVF properties. This property, in addition to the mansion and car collection, became Delaware’s newest state park: Auburn Valley State Park, which spans across the historic Red Clay Valley.

The goals of the public-private partnership were to clean up the contaminated watershed, expand recreational opportunities, and create a vibrant and thriving community with residential, commercial and parks amenities. Since beginning the project, the partners have:

  • Removed 277,490 pounds of zinc chloride, 6,740 pounds of sodium hydroxide, 5,182 pounds of acid waste, 10 pounds of mercury containing waste, 23,460 pounds of soda ash, and 750 cubic yards of asbestos (34 trillion fibers).
  • Taken aggressive measures to remove approximately 80,000 pounds of zinc via the ground-water treatment system and another 170 tons of zinc, lead and hazardous levels of PAHs through the wetland project.
  • Restored a stream and created wetlands to abate flooding and provide a wildlife habitat. This stream was recently stocked with trout for the first time in decades.
  • Removed the majority of non-permeable surfaces to foster better drainage.
  • Created miles of accessible trails that include four historic bridges to provide new access across the scenic Red Clay Creek and extend across the state line into Pennsylvania.

“To be recognized by the NASPD as the most innovative state park in the nation is quite a high honor,” said Shawn M. Garvin, Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. “Nearly every DNREC division worked on this project and I’m proud of the partnerships that collaborated to remediate the Yorklyn site into a vibrant new state park. We’re excited to offer improved outdoor recreational activities while protecting and enhancing cultural and natural resources.”

In addition to improving the environmental health and increasing outdoor recreation opportunities for the public, efforts to redevelop NVF are creating a substantial economic impact. Upon buildout, an economic analysis determined that activities at the site are expected to generate $4.5 million in revenue on-site and approximately $237,000 annually to the state park. Construction projects will generate 400 direct, indirect, and induced jobs and 300 full and part-time jobs will be created after construction is complete. $300 million in total economic output is expected in the first 10 years of operation with local tax impacts of $15 million.

The National Association of State Park Directors is devoted to helping state park systems effectively manage and administer their state park system. The mission of the Association is to promote and advance the state park systems of America for their own significance, as well as for their important contributions to the nation’s environment, heritage, health and economy.


DNREC announces finalized Coastal Zone Conversion Permit regulations, which become effective Sept. 11

DOVER – Final amendments to the Regulations Governing Delaware’s Coastal Zone, approved Aug. 26 by the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board (CZICB), have been published in the September Register of Regulations and become effective Sept. 11, 2019, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn M. Garvin announced today.

HB190, signed into law by Governor John Carney on Aug. 2, 2017, authorized the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) to issue permits for construction and operation of new heavy industry uses at 14 existing heavy industry use sites within the state’s Coastal Zone. Like standard Coastal Zone permits, conversion permits require an assessment of the environmental and economic impacts of the proposed conversion.

To begin the process of developing regulations, DNREC Secretary Garvin convened a Regulatory Advisory Committee (RAC), comprising various stakeholder groups and chaired by retired Delaware Supreme Court Justice Randy Holland. The committee provided recommendations on a number of issues, including a Sea Level Rise and Coastal Storms Plan, an Environmental Remediation and Stabilization Plan, and evidence of financial assurance. DNREC then held public workshops to gather input on developing regulations for issuing permits.

The committee’s work and recommendations were presented at open houses, where public comments were received. Comments also were submitted to DNREC during a public comment period. The Secretary’s draft regulations and amendments were also presented to the CZICB for approval, as mandated by the Coastal Zone Conversion Permit Act.

“From the start of the process, DNREC has been committed to developing the regulations governing Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act Conversion Permit, consistent with the law, in a transparent manner that facilitated and encouraged public input and involvement,” Secretary Garvin said. “The new regulations incorporate recommendations from the RAC, technical experts, and the public that were received throughout the process.”

The regulations provide for Coastal Zone Conversion Permits to return industrial sites to active or more productive use while ensuring the protection of natural resources.

The new Regulations Governing Delaware’s Coastal Zone can be found online at Delaware’s Register of Regulations.

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

Vol. 49, No. 229


DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation recognizes members of the Veterans Conservation Corps

DAGSBORO – At an event at Holts Landing State Park in Dagsboro, the DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation recognized 13 members of the Veterans Conservation Corps (VCC) for their commitment to preserving Delaware’s natural resources over the past 11 months. Since October 2018, the men and women involved in the VCC completed nearly 13,000 hours of service to DNREC to include the removal of invasive species spanning 1,000 acres, planting over 2,000 trees, and maintaining 173 miles of trails.

The Veterans Conservation Corps is an AmeriCorps National Service Program that enables military veterans and their family members to learn and perform environmental stewardship and trail maintenance throughout Delaware State Parks. VCC participants gain certification, education, and hands-on skills training in preparation for a career in the natural resources field.

“I sincerely thank the members of the Veterans Conservation Corps for their service to our country and for bringing their talents to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control,” said DNREC Deputy Secretary Lisa Borin-Ogden. “Their time with us has concluded, but their contributions to the State of Delaware have made a long lasting impact.”

Applications for the 2019/2020 Program Year are now being accepted. This opportunity is available for military veterans, recently retired veterans, active guard and reserve members, military spouses and immediate family members. Interested candidates are encouraged to contact Karen Minner, VCC Program Director, at 302.739.9208.

Media Contact: Jayme Gravell, DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation, 302-739-9112 or jayme.gravell@delaware.gov