New Limits Set for Beaches at Delaware State Parks Starting This Weekend

Two Park Lifeguards Test Positive for COVID-19

In accordance with Gov. Carney’s goal of limiting interactions among people in Delaware’s beach areas to reduce transmission of COVID-19, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced the following restrictions to be imposed starting on Friday, July 3 and lasting until further notice:

  • The number of vehicles allowed in Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island State Parks will be limited to approximately 60% of the parking capacity. When the 60% capacity is reached, all vehicles will be turned away until vehicle volume within the parks is reduced. Vehicle restrictions may be lifted periodically as volume levels are noticeably reduced within the parks. These limits, which will be enforced at park entrances by DNREC Natural Resources Police, will not be managed based on a “one-in, one-out” policy that would encourage lines of waiting vehicles and people.
  • At Cape Henlopen, when the main gate is closed to additional vehicles based on parking lot capacity, the closure will include vehicles that have arrived at the park for drive-on surf fishing as well.
  • At Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island surf fishing beaches, NRP officers will monitor the number of vehicles on the beach and will close drive-on beach entrances if vehicles fail to maintain the 20-foot distance between vehicles currently mandated by the Governor’s emergency order.
  • Masks or face coverings are required in bathhouse and concession areas at all three parks and strongly encouraged on the beach as well.
  • Campgrounds and cabin rentals will continue.

“Last weekend, we saw all our ocean parks go to capacity, we saw a number of people not wearing masks in bathhouse and concession areas where they were around others, and we saw groupings of people and activities on our beaches, including in surf fishing areas, that clearly violated the requirements of social distancing,” DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin said. “This limit on visitors to our beach parks is another measure to try to stop the spread of coronavirus.”

DNREC also reported Tuesday that two of its Delaware State Parks beach lifeguards have tested positive for COVID-19 and are now isolating at home. DNREC is working closely with the Division of Public Health to notify any other employees or individuals who may have had close contact with the affected lifeguards. Our lifeguards perform a crucial role in protecting visitors at our beaches at Delaware State Parks. DNREC continues to follow recommended best practices to minimize health risks to park-goers and our Beach Patrol team, including a strict cleaning protocol for public spaces and sanitizing of staff workstations.

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

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Delaware surf-fishing permits are sold out after reaching annual cap

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today it has reached its cap of 17,000 Delaware surf-fishing permits issued for the calendar year. With the cap figure attained, no more surf tag permits will be issued until December.

In 2019, the Delaware’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Council established a 17,000 cap on annual surf-fishing permit sales. The Division of Parks and Recreation implemented a first-come, first-served cap on the number of permits issued as the most equitable way to serve all beach users, and to manage a limited resource, while also protecting against overcrowding of parks beaches. This plan aligns with DNREC’s priority to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors to Delaware’s state parks system.

While surf fishing permit sales have ended for 2020, novice surf anglers are encouraged to view the “Surf Fishing at Delaware State Parks” informational video that explains surf-fishing rules and regulations in Delaware, what equipment is needed, how to drive on the beach and what to do if a vehicle gets stuck in the sand. There are no current restrictions for non-vehicle, walk-on fishing for those with a valid Division of Fish and Wildlife fishing license. Walk-on surf anglers should only use pedestrian foot traffic access points to access surf-fishing beaches and should use caution near drive-on access points.

Surf-fishing permits also serve as a Delaware State Parks Annual Pass that provides access to all 17 state parks. Park user fees, including surf-fishing permit fees, provide 65% of the Division of Parks and Recreation’s funding, and are used to operate and maintain the parks.

To learn more about fishing in Delaware State Parks, visit destateparks.com/Adventures/Fishing.

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. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Shauna McVey, shauna.mcvey@delaware.gov, Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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Herring Point, beaches at Cape Henlopen State Park closed to surfing, swimming due to possible shark bite

12-year-old boy transported to local hospital with bite mark

DNREC officials have closed Herring Point to surfing and swimming Thursday afternoon until further notice following a biting incident reported just before 1 p.m. Beach goers are also restricted to knee-deep waters around the Cape Henlopen bathhouse.

A 12-year-old boy surfing off Herring Point sustained puncture wounds to one of his legs and was transported by ambulance to Beebe Hospital in Lewes. While initially reported as a shark bite, the appearance of the bite mark is being reviewed by state and fisheries experts to determine if it was from a shark or potential other creature.

DNREC Natural Resource Police Park Rangers and lifeguards are patrolling the beach area to warn surfers and other beachgoers to stay in shallow water.

Shark attacks are rare. The only known shark bite at a Delaware State Park beach occurred in June 2014.

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. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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Fees, passes required at state parks, wildlife areas starting Friday, May 8

Reduced cost state park pass available for those on state assistance, including unemployment

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today that it will reinstate entry fees and park pass requirements at all Delaware State Parks and require a Conservation Access Pass to enter state wildlife areas starting Friday, May 8.

DNREC also announced that those receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits can receive an annual park pass for $10, and those passes can be purchased online for those on unemployment as well as other state or federal assistance. The Assistance Pass Program was already available to those on General Assistance, Medicaid, Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant and Children (WIC) or Purchase of Care, but was only available with an in-person application.

On March 16, DNREC suspended entry fees, park passes and access passes until April 30 to allow Delawareans to be active outdoors and to provide space for activity, and the free period was then continued.

For the safety of the public and for employees, a number of limitations and requirements will remain in place in parks, wildlife areas, fishing areas and boat ramps, including:

  • Entrance booths at parks will not be staffed, so visitors without a park annual pass will pay the daily fee via automated credit card machines or the self-registration envelopes at park entrances.
  • Bathrooms will remain closed or unavailable at parks, wildlife areas, fishing areas and boat ramps.
  • Beaches remain closed except for exercising, dog-walking and surf fishing under very limited conditions, per the Governor’s state of emergency orders.
  • Playgrounds, campgrounds and park offices continue to be closed and tours and other activities in parks will not yet resume.
  • Visitors to parks, wildlife areas, fishing areas and boat ramps must have masks with them, and must wear them when social distancing from others cannot be maintained.
  • The Governor’s requirement that out-of-state visitors must quarantine for 14 days upon entering Delaware before visiting parks, wildlife areas or other public spaces remains in effect.

“As the state’s businesses take small steps toward reopening on Friday, we will start our delayed fee season for parks as well, since 65 percent of the funding that runs our state parks system comes from visitor fees. And we are extending our discounted Assistance Program annual pass to those on unemployment for the first time ever,” DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin said. “Like businesses, we still need some limits out of concern for health and safety, so we will not yet back to full operations but hope to take more steps soon.”

Delaware State Parks

State park entrance fees for vehicles registered in Delaware are $4 at inland parks and $5 at ocean parks. Fees for out-of-state vehicles are $8 at inland parks and $10 at ocean parks. Entrance fees will remain in effect through Nov. 30, which is the normal fee season end date.

Annual passes and surf fishing permits may currently only be purchased online, as all state park offices remain closed to the public, with annual passes for Delaware vehicles at $35 and for out-of-state vehicles at $70, with discounts for seniors, military and others. Those who purchase an annual pass before June 1 may place their receipt of purchase in the window of their vehicle to use state parks while waiting for the pass to arrive via mail. For information on pass and permit fees, go to www.destateparks.com/Know/PassesTagsFees, which includes a link to apply for the reduced cost Annual Pass Assistance Program for those on state and federal assistance, including unemployment.

Delaware Fish and Wildlife areas

A Delaware Conservation Access Pass is required for any registered motor vehicle that’s used to access most of state wildlife areas. Conservation Access Passes are available as annual passes, which may be used from July 1 through June 30, or as three-day passes, which may be used for three consecutive days. The conservation pass provides needed funding to help the Division of Fish and Wildlife maintain and improve public access, facilities, and wildlife habitat on state wildlife areas. Conservation Access Passes may be purchased and more information is available online at https://dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/fish-wildlife/conservation-access-pass/.

For the latest information on COVID-19 in Delaware, visit de.gov/coronavirus.

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. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts:
Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov
Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov
Shauna McVey, shauna.mcvey@delaware.gov


St. Jones Reserve trail in Dover temporarily closed due to storm damage

Trails in parks, wildlife areas and DNERR’s Blackbird Creek Reserve remain open

DOVER, Del. – The trail at the St. Jones Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) near Dover is temporarily closed past the first marsh boardwalk as a result of damage caused by Monday’s severe storms.

A University of Delaware-operated weather station at the reserve measured a peak wind gust of 67.9 miles per hour just before 4 p.m. Monday. Numerous trees fell across the trail that connects to the adjoining Ted Harvey Conservation Area. Staff have worked to clear the trees and will need to perform repairs to the boardwalk, which could take a few weeks. A small greenhouse on the reserve was also destroyed by a fallen tree.

“Many people enjoy getting out and walking the trail at St. Jones, especially lately,” said Dayna Cobb, Director of DNREC’s Division of Climate, Coastal & Energy. “But the safety of visitors is our primary concern, and so much of the trail will be closed until repairs are completed.”

For those looking for alternatives, state parks and wildlife areas remain open, as well as the trails at DNERR’s Blackbird Creek Reserve near Townsend.

While most state parks, nature and wildlife areas continue to stay open for Delawareans, many amenities, including restrooms, are closed. Individuals who visit state properties are required to engage in responsible social distancing practices, avoiding groupings of people.

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. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov

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