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.


DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation announces the Point at Cape Henlopen to Reopen

LEWES (Aug. 29, 2019) – The Point at Cape Henlopen State Park will reopen today, August 29, DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation announced. The area to reopen includes a stretch of ocean beach and dunes that was previously closed on March 1 to benefit more than 30 species of shorebirds including up to 11 species of terns, six species of gulls, the brown pelican, and the double-crested cormorant as well as threatened and endangered species such as red knots, piping plovers, least terns, oystercatchers, and others.

Piping plovers, least terns and oystercatchers nest on the upper portion of the beach between the high tide line and the toe of the dunes and on large flat areas known as “washover flats” created by storm waves. The flat areas with no or little vegetation are attractive to these species because they provide direct access to the bay where waves are smaller, and feeding is easier.

Oystercatchers use their long bills to probe into the substrate and feed on bivalve mollusks and invertebrates. Piping plovers east small invertebrates like worms, mollusks and crustaceans gleaned from the surface of wet sand of mud. Various breeds of terns exclusively feed on the fish caught by diving into the water. Other migratory birds feed on invertebrates and by overturning rocks, shells, and debris to catch creatures seeking shelter underneath.

The bayside closure remains in effect until October 1 for use by shorebirds migrating south for the winter. Piping plovers migrate to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States; least terns migrate to coastal areas of South America and Central America; oystercatchers typically migrate to the Florida coast and Gulf of Mexico.

DNREC’s Divisions of Parks & Recreation, Fish & Wildlife, and Watershed Stewardship have been working together since 1990 to implement a management plan to halt the decline of beachnester and migratory shorebird populations. The Point has been closed annually since 1993 and is the only undisturbed beach habitat along the Atlantic coast of Delaware.

For more information, contact Cape Henlopen State Park at 302-645-8983.

DNREC’S Division of Parks & Recreation announces changes in lifeguard hours at state park ocean swimming beaches

DOVER  – Hours and locations for lifeguarded ocean swimming beaches in DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation’s state parks have changed effective today, August 26.

On Monday, Aug. 26 through Friday, Aug. 30, Delaware Seashore State Park’s Tower Road beach will be unguarded during the week, but will remain guarded on weekends including Labor Day.

Beginning Monday, Aug. 26 through Friday, Aug. 30, Fenwick Island State Park’s Fenwick Lot will be unguarded during the week, but will remain guarded on the weekends including Labor Day.

All other state park guarded swimming beaches, including the main beach at Cape Henlopen State Park, and the South Indian River Inlet side of Delaware Seashore State Park, will be guarded every day through Labor Day with limited staff. Smaller or limited guarded swimming areas will be available through Labor Day.

Lifeguard hours will not change, and will be 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.

Reductions in hours are a result of lifeguards leaving the area to return to high school, college, and school sports camps.

For more information, call the Division of Parks & Recreation’s Operations Section at 302-739-9200.

Media Contact: Jayme Gravell, DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation, 302-739-9112


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