Cape Henlopen State Park campground closed to make way for improvements

LEWES – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation announced today that the popular Cape Henlopen State Park campground has closed to make way for a third and final phase of improvements. Over the past three years, campground improvements have included new bathrooms and additional cabins. When the campground re-opens in June 2017, campers will see new electric hookups, a central path for pedestrian access, new walk-in sites, improved roadways and a new camp store, projects most requested by campers in recent surveys.

The total cost for this final phase is $3.5 million, half of which is covered by a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant. The remainder comes from 2017 state bond bill funds.

“With the aid of the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant, the division is in the home stretch for completing significant upgrades to all of our state park campgrounds,” said Delaware State Parks Director Ray Bivens. “This concentrated, three-year effort has brought modern bathrooms, extremely popular cabins and fewer paved surfaces to the campground, making it more eco-friendly.

“When Cape Henlopen’s campground re-opens next spring, campers can enjoy numerous improvements and amenities,” Bivens said. “Wide asphalt roads currently used for RV setups will become one lane with one-way circulation, and concrete pads added for RVs. New walk-in sites will be constructed for campers, similar to those at other popular sites including Trap and Killens Pond state parks, and a limited number of newly-constructed pull-through and drive-in campsites will include electric and water hookups. And the new camp store is an amenity that campers have long requested.”

After multiple years of construction in Cape Henlopen, Lums Pond and Killens Pond state parks, Bivens said the division is prepared to meet the wide array of needs of today’s tent, cabin and RV campers. From primitive camping with no campsite amenities, to three-point hook-up service at 70 sites in Lums Pond Pond State Park, 88 campsites with full hookup service at the North Inlet of Delaware Seashore State Park, upgrades to electric with 50-amp service in two loops at Killens Pond State Park and bathhouse renovations at Trap Pond State Park, state park campgrounds have been modernized to service the camping public.

As construction continues through the fall and winter, parks officials encourage campers to enjoy the state parks system’s other 811 campsites and 32 cabins. The variety of camping experiences in state parks runs the gamut from primitive tent camping to luxury cottages. Delaware State Parks also feature more than 100 miles of trails for hiking and biking, rivers and lakes for boating, and historic and recreational programs.

Fall foliage is especially spectacular in state parks. Campers and other parks visitors can hike the trails or kayak in Trap Pond State Park to capture a stunning spectrum of red and orange colors from the bald cypress, red maple, tupelo and sassafras trees that dot the shoreline and forests. At Killens and Lums Pond state parks, it’s the golden and red hues of the hickory, red maple and black gum that transform the woods into flames of color throughout the month of October. It’s also a great time of year to walk the coastal trails at Delaware Seashore and Cape Henlopen state parks. Campers can also enjoy walking the trails at nearby Burtons Island, Thompsons Island and Fresh Pond.

As DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation celebrates its 65th anniversary, and its winning the 2016 National Gold Medal award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, the division has measured a 19 percent increase in overnight visits from 2014 to 2015, as camping has become more popular for vacationing.

Delaware State Parks offers a list of events as well as promotional opportunities available throughout the year with weekly and seasonal discounts for campers. To take advantage of these special offers, visit destateparks.com and look for instructions to sign up for the monthly e-newsletter and weekly promotional offers. In addition, visit the website to make a reservation or call the state park call center at 1-877-98-PARKS.

Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 337


Pawpaw Folk Festival set for Aug. 20 at the Blue Ball Barn

The fruit of the Delaware native pawpaw tree.
The fruit of the Delaware native pawpaw tree. DNREC photo.

WILMINGTON – The Blue Ball Barn at Alapocas Run State Park will host its fifth annual Pawpaw Folk Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20. Admission to the festival is free with paid park admission.

The festival is a family-friendly day filled with fun activities. The star of the festival is one of Delaware’s native trees, the pawpaw. Alapocas Run State Park has the perfect habitat for the tree, which is the only food source for the caterpillars of a native butterfly, the zebra swallowtail.

Festival activities include storytelling, folk art vendors and demonstrations, guided hikes, live music and a special guest lecture with Ron Powell from the North American Pawpaw Growers Association. WiLDWiCH Gourmet Sandwiches, UDairy Creamery and Papa Smurfs BBQ will have food available for purchase. Visitors will also have the opportunity to taste pawpaw fruit.

This event is made possible by support of Delaware State Parks, Friends of Wilmington Parks, the Delaware Humanities Forum, Delaware Division of the Arts, Delaware Solid Waste Authority and WDSD 94.7 FM.

Alapocas Run State Park in Wilmington features a multi-use trail that connects to the Northern Delaware Greenway, the Can-Do Playground and the historic the Blue Ball Barn. The Blue Ball Barn, 1914 West Park Drive, Wilmington, DE was built in 1914 by Alfred I. DuPont. The barn is named after the Blue Ball Tavern, an inn and meeting house that was once located near the property.

The Blue Ball Barn is now the home of the Delaware Folk Art Collection, which reflects local cultures of Delaware. The facility is available to rent for meetings, conferences, formal functions, casual luncheons and more. Additional information about Alapocas Run, Blue Ball Barn, Wilmington State Park programs and programs throughout Delaware State Parks is available at destateparks.com.

Contact: Elizabeth Androskaut, Interpretive Programs Manager; or Elizabeth Drummond, Alapocas Run and Wilmington State Parks, 302-577-7020.

Vol. 46, No. 303


Repairs will temporarily close Post Road in Cape Henlopen State Park

Map of section of Post Road, in Cape Henlopen State Park, that will be closed.LEWES – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation announced today that Post Road in Cape Henlopen State Park will be closed for repairs July 11-12. The initial milling and pothole repair work on July 11 will prepare the roadway for repaving on July 12. The work, performed by contractor Peninsula Paving, will be concentrated on a section of Post Road that extends from the Point Comfort Station parking area, south to the Post Road/Officer’s Road intersection.

For questions about the project and up-to-date information, please contact Cape Henlopen State Park Superintendent Paul Faircloth at 302-645-8983.


Piping plover pair renests at Gordons Pond

Three chicks take flight on the Point at Cape Henlopen

LEWES – A pair of piping plovers that lost their nest at Gordons Pond in Cape Henlopen State Park has regrouped and nested again within the park, with three eggs observed so far, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announced today. Another nest is still being incubated on the Point, with hatching expected over the next few days.

Three broods of piping plover chicks are continuing to forage on the Point, with one of the broods having fledged three chicks earlier this week, according to Division of Fish & Wildlife Biologist Matthew Bailey.

In other beachnesting bird news, the American oystercatcher nest on the Point is due to hatch this week, and least terns continue to defend their colony at Gordons Pond, Bailey added.

For more information about beachnesting birds and monitoring efforts, please contact Matthew Bailey at 302-382-4151 or email matthew.bailey@delaware.gov.

About the piping plover
The piping plover was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1986, and the Division of Fish & Wildlife is responsible for its protection in Delaware. Under a binding agreement and species management plan that DNREC made in 1990 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) – the federal agency with oversight of this ESA-protected species – piping plover nesting areas at Cape Henlopen State Park are closed annually to the public to protect the shorebirds from disturbance during their nesting season from March into September. The closure, which includes the Point and smaller areas around Gordons Pond and with both feeding habitat and nesting areas protected, has been successful, increasing the number of piping plover nesting pairs from a low of two pairs to a high of nine pairs. Piping plovers feed on small invertebrates that inhabit the intertidal zone near their nesting territories. Chicks are not fed by their parents, but rather are led to the shoreline to forage while the adults keep watch for potential threats. Allowing pedestrian traffic in the intertidal zone adjoining nesting areas would disturb the vital link between nesting and foraging habitat, and risks adverse stress or mortality to the chicks.

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 237


Killens Pond State Park waterpark to close Thursday, June 30, for final preparations on new water slides; will re-open Friday, July 1

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation announced today that the Killens Pond State Park waterpark will be closed to the public on Thursday, June 30, for final preparations of its new water slides in advance of the July 4th holiday.

The waterpark will re-open at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 1.

Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 235