DNREC Opens Brandywine Zoo Madagascar Exhibit

Cutting the ribbon, left to right: State Senator Sarah McBride, former State Senator Harris McDowell, Delaware Zoological Society President Arlene Reppa, DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin, Governor John Carney and Brandywine Zoo Director Brint Spencer. DNREC photo.


View Endangered Lemurs, Tortoises

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control cut the ribbon on its new Madagascar exhibit Nov. 19, and officially welcomed its new tortoise and lemur inhabitants. This new exhibit is home to radiated tortoises and three species of lemurs. The public will be able to visit the habitat starting Friday, Nov. 20.

Governor John Carney and DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin hosted a small group for a first look at the newcomers as they interacted in the exhibit, along with several who are still in quarantine. The event was also live streamed for the public and zoo fans on the Delaware State Parks YouTube page.

“I grew up coming to the Brandywine Zoo and it has come a long way since then. I am thrilled we were able to revive this habitat space as one of many upgrades in DNREC’s Wilmington parks,” said Governor Carney. “As one of few zoos managed by a State Park system, we are proud of the work the staff does here and grateful for those who brought this habitat to life.”

The animals include three radiated tortoises, four Ring-tailed lemurs from the Bronx Zoo, two Black and White Ruffed lemurs from the Duke Lemur Center; and one male and one female Crowned lemur from the Duke Lemur Center, who came as a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“We are thrilled to welcome these animals to their new home and unveil this beautiful space to the public,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “Not only will the Madagascar exhibit provide a safe habitat for the animals, it will also provide an enriching environment where our visitors can learn about how humans can reduce our impacts to endangered species such as these.”

The Madagascar exhibit is part of the Brandywine Zoo’s recently approved master plan and is the largest capital improvement in the zoo’s history. The master plan focuses on improved animal welfare and guest experiences, species of conservation concern and the inclusion of more mixed-species exhibits.

At nearly 4,000 square feet, the Madagascar exhibit is one of the zoo’s largest display habitats. It includes interactive features and information about conservation concerns in Madagascar. The project took approximately 10 months to complete and cost $3.5 million, funded by the State Bond Bill with a matching Land and Water Conservation Fund grant. Since 1967, the LWCF has provided nearly 200 grants totaling almost $40 million dollars for projects in Delaware, including 73 grants to the DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation alone.

As part of the Crowned lemur survival plan, a male and a female will be paired for breeding at the zoo; just 30 of the species exist in the Americas, 18 males and 12 females. Brandywine Zoo will become the 12th location on the entire North American continent where Crowned lemurs can be viewed by the public.

The Madagascar animals will be in their habitat for public viewing when temperatures are above 45 degrees. Because they are native to a subtropical climate, the animals will be brought inside the Brandywine Zoo’s new holding area once temperatures fall below 45 degrees.

In efforts to support social distancing, the Brandywine Zoo is offering three timed sessions each day. Zoo admission is $7 for adults and $5 kids (3 and older); admission is free for zoo members children ages 3 and younger. All visitors must register online at https://brandywinezoo.org. Masks must be worn by all guests ages 5 and older, and are strongly encouraged for children older than 2.

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 Division of Parks and Recreation oversees more than 26,000 acres in 17 state parks and the Brandywine Zoo. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Shauna McVey, shauna.mcvey@delaware.gov; Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov


Delaware Seashore State Park to host “Big Truck Day” Saturday, Oct. 5

INDIAN RIVER INLET – Delaware Seashore State Park will be hosting its first-ever “Big Truck Day” on Saturday, Oct. 5. This free family-friendly event will take place at the Indian River Marina from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Children of all ages will have the opportunity to get up close to some of the park’s heavy equipment and special use vehicles. DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation enforcement, education, maintenance and marina staff will all be present to greet visitors and answer questions. Children will even be able to climb in the drivers’ seats for photo opportunities. 

Among the various vehicles on display are a beach sweeper, front-end loader, minibus, DNREC dump truck forklift, a Delaware Natural Resources Police vehicle, and an ocean rescue truck. If conditions allow, U.S. Coast Guard Station Indian River will dock at the marina with one of their vessels. In addition, there will be a demonstration of specialized marina equipment in action, hauling and moving large boats in the boatyard. 

 An added bonus to the event is a car seat check station.  A certified car seat safety technician will be present at the event to do free car seat safety inspections. For more information, please call (302) 227-6991 or visit destateparks.com

DNREC invites public to Oct. 2 open house on Fenwick Island State Park improvements

FENWICK – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation will host a public open house from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2 to review potential improvements to Fenwick Island State Park as part of a public-private partnership. The open house will take place at the Fenwick Island Town Hall, 800 Coastal Highway, Fenwick Island, Delaware 19944.
A display of existing conditions, proposed improvements, and maps will be available for the public to view. Recommended improvements include methods for increasing public safety and relieving traffic congestion, upgraded infrastructure, and the addition of new recreational amenities, which will meet the needs of increased visitation. Members of the community are encouraged to attend to share thoughts, ask questions, and leave comments.
For more information on the open house, please visit destateparks.com/FenwickImprovements or call Matt Ritter at 302-739-9187.

Gordons Pond Trail at Cape Henlopen State Park to close temporarily Monday, Sept. 16 for maintenance work

LEWES  – The Gordons Pond Trail at Cape Henlopen State Park will close at 7 a.m. Monday, Sept. 16 for routine trail maintenance and invasive species control. The area will remain closed until Division of Parks & Recreation staff have completed the necessary work on the trail.

The invasive species that will be treated is known as phragmites. Phragmites is an aggressive wetlands grass which outcompetes native plants. The treatment of this species will help create a better environment for native plants as well as improve the view-shed for trail users.

DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation thanks trail users for their patience and understanding as the area is undergoing maintenance. All work is weather dependent.

Media contact: Jayme Gravell, DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation, 302.739.7112


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.