DNREC Closes Park and Wildlife Area Amenities; Limits Outdoor Recreation Activities at Beaches

Out-of-state travelers must self-quarantine before visiting state properties

DOVER, Del. – While most state parks, nature and wildlife areas continue to stay open for Delawareans during the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” emergency order from Governor John Carney, many amenities are closed. Current closures include campsites, cabins, cottages, yurts and playgrounds, and now, public restrooms will be closed.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will close its public restroom facilities, including bathrooms, bathhouses and portable toilets, in state parks, wildlife areas and state boat ramps at the end of the day April 3. All amenities will remain closed until May 15, or until the public health threat has been eliminated. Those who plan to visit any state park, wildlife area or boat ramp should plan accordingly as these amenities will not be available.

“We made the decision to close restrooms, which have multiple public touch points,” Secretary Shawn Garvin said. “Our staff has worked tirelessly to maintain the cleanliness of our restroom facilities, but hand sanitizer and soap has been stolen. It has become more difficult to maintain not only the cleanliness, but the social distancing in the facilities. It is no longer safe for our staff or the public to continue this service.”

The closures come after Governor Carney signed a series of amendments to his State of Emergency declaration this week to slow the spread of COVID-19. These orders include:

  • Anyone who enters Delaware from another state must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. The order applies to individuals who would like to fish, hunt or intended to visit state parks and wildlife areas, including the state’s golf courses.
  • The use of beaches, including those at state parks, has been restricted to exercising, walking dogs, and surf fishing under severely restricted conditions. Some municipalities have further restrictions.
  • Surf fishing is limited to those with a current surf fishing permit with the following restrictions: Only fishing from vehicles will be allowed, only two persons from the same household may accompany the vehicle and both persons must be actively fishing at all times, with distance between vehicles on the beach of 20 yards.

“The more activities that are allowed, the more crowded our beaches will be, which is contrary to the public health imperative at this time,” Garvin said. “We want to be clear that the following activities are not allowed from beaches: boating, surfing, sea kayaking, skim boarding, fishing from the beach not from a vehicle, football, volleyball and any other activity that would add more people to the beach.”

Although services are limited, outdoor recreation is still available in compliance with site rules, to include:

  • birding
  • cycling
  • disc golf
  • dog walking
  • fishing in bays, ponds, rivers and streams
  • drive-on surf fishing with restrictions
  • hiking
  • hunting
  • jogging or running

The amenities not available, open and/or permitted include, but are not limited to:

  • basketball courts
  • camping
  • gatherings of 10 or more people
  • guided tours, events and programs
  • playgrounds
  • pavilions
  • public park buildings: state park offices, nature centers
  • restrooms
  • rock climbing
  • surfing and skimboarding
  • walk-on surf fishing
  • sea kayaking from the beach
  • sunbathing on the beach
  • Go Ape Course at Lums Pond
  • The Brandywine Zoo

Anyone visiting a state park, wildlife area or boat ramp is required to engage in responsible social distancing practices, avoiding groupings of people. All conditions are subject to change.

DNREC Natural Resources Police officers are conducting routine patrols of state beaches, parks and wildlife areas on foot and with marked patrol vehicles throughout the day. Anyone concerned about an individual or group in any state park or wildlife area may contact DNREC’s Natural Resources Police via Tip411, DNREC’s smartphone app, or by calling the 24-hour DNREC Dispatch Center at 302-739-4580. Tip411 allows the public to easily report concerns. The app is available for free download by searching DENRP via the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store.

Each of the governor’s orders has the force and effect of law. Any failure to comply with the provisions contained in a Declaration of a State of Emergency or any modification to a Declaration of the State of Emergency constitutes a criminal offense.

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


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: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov


DNREC Campgrounds and Playgrounds to Close March 24

DOVER, Del. – As part of precautions against the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will close its Delaware State Park campgrounds and playgrounds Tuesday, March 24, and cancel campground reservations scheduled through May 15. Full refunds will be issued for reservations scheduled during that time.

While state parks and wildlife areas are currently open, all state park campsites, cabins, cottages, yurts and playgrounds will close at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24.  Buildings such as park offices and nature centers remain closed, and programs and tours are canceled. Additionally, beach access from within Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks is prohibited at this time. Parking and fishing at the Indian River Inlet within Delaware Seashore State Park is permitted at this time. All conditions are subject to change.

Anyone visiting a park or wildlife area is encouraged to engage in responsible social distancing practices, avoiding groupings of people.

Refunds and reservation cancellations will be processed by the Delaware State Parks reservation vendor. Additional questions can be handled at the call center at 1-877-98 PARKS (1-877-987-2757).

Governor John Carney on Sunday issued the fourth and fifth modifications to his State of Emergency declaration, ordering Delawareans to stay at home whenever possible and closing all non-essential businesses in Delaware to help fight the spread of COVID-19. The orders go into effect Tuesday, March 24, and will remain in effect until May 15 or until the public health threat is eliminated.

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

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages 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.

Contact: Shauna McVey, shauna.mcvey@delaware.gov



DNREC to close The Point at Cape Henlopen March 1 for 2020 for beach nesting season

LEWES – The Point at Cape Henlopen State Park, including a stretch of ocean beach and dunes, and a half-mile along the bay shoreline, will close Sunday, March 1, for the benefit of threatened and endangered beachnesters and migratory shorebirds, including red knot, piping plovers, oystercatchers, least terns, and other species.

The Point’s nesting habitat on the ocean side will reopen Sept. 1. The bayside beach will remain closed until Oct. 1 for use by shorebirds migrating south for the winter.  

DNREC’s Divisions of Parks & Recreation, Fish & Wildlife, and Watershed Stewardship have worked 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. 

For more information, contact Cape Henlopen State Park at 302-645-8983 or stop by the Park Office.

Media Contact: Shauna McVey, DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation, shauna.mcvey@delaware.gov.


DNREC breaks ground on Brandywine Zoo Madagascar exhibit that will house endangered lemurs, tortoises

The Madagascar Exhibit is part of the Brandywine Zoo’s recently approved Master Plan and will be 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.

“This exhibit will increase the sustainability of the zoo and the endangered species we care for,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “The Madagascar Exhibit and other planned upgrades will bring our guests close to rare animals and provide crucial lessons about how humans can lessen their impact on species extinction.”

The zoo will be closed to the public throughout the winter months during the initial stages of construction.

Brandywine Zoo Director Brint Spencer said combining three species of lemurs and the Radiated Tortoise into one exhibit will create a more active space.

“Having multiple animals sharing a habitat provide natural social enrichment for the animals as they interact with each other and make the exhibits more interesting for the visitors as they watch these interactions,” he said.

“Ninety-four percent of lemur species are endangered or critically endangered,” he said. “It is wonderful to see the Brandywine Zoo participate in these Species Survival Plans to help maintain an insurance population for generations to come.”

Zoo Re-imagined Capital Campaign

To help support the new exhibit with additional habitat and facility updates, the Delaware Zoological Society just launched a three-year, $5 million Zoo-Re-imagined Capital Campaign alongside the Madagascar Habitat construction.

The Zoological Society capital campaign will help fund an entryway, updated exhibits, and a wetlands exhibit. Most of the new habitats, buildings, and viewing areas are available for sponsorship.

For more information about or to donate to the Zoo-Re-imagined Capital Campaign, visit brandywinezoo.org/reimagined, email reimagined@brandywinezoo.org, or call 302-571-7788, extension 206.

or call 302-571-7747.


DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation hosts First Day Hikes across Delaware

New Year’s Day is a great time to kick the 2020s off on the right foot with one of 18 First Day Hikes hosted by DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation. First Day Hikes is a national movement sponsored by America’s State Parks to encourage the celebration of fitness in the nation’s great outdoors.

There’s no need to register for any of the hikes listed below; just show up prepared to walk! Items hikers may want to bring along include comfortable hiking/walking shoes, a camera, a bottle of water, appropriate layers for the weather, a hat, sunglasses, a backpack, and snacks. Some hikes may require water-resistant shoes, or have age or pet restrictions. Not all hikes are suitable for strollers.

Check out one of the following hikes to celebrate the New Year at a Delaware State Park.

• 10 a.m. – Alapocas Run State Park, Wilmington – 2 to 3 miles – Easy/Moderate
Meet at Blue Ball Barn. Leashed, well-behaved dogs welcome.

• 10 a.m. – Fort Dupont State Park, Delaware City – 1.1 miles – Easy
Meet at the parking lot closest to the river, at the end of Wilmington Avenue/Old Battery Lane.

• 10 a.m. – Trap Pond State Park, Laurel – 2 miles – Easy
Meet at Baldcypress Nature Center.

• 11 a.m. – Cape Henlopen State Park, Lewes – 1.5 miles – Moderate
Park in the Point Comfort Station Parking lot and walk north to the Point parking lot. Minimum age: 7 years old with an adult.

• 12:30 p.m. – Brandywine Zoo, Wilmington – 1/4 mile – Easy
Meet at the gift shop.

• 12:30 p.m. – Fort Miles Museum and Historical Area, Lewes – 1.7 miles – Easy
Meet at Fort Miles Parking Lot. Minimum age: 7 years old with an adult

• 1 p.m. – Bellevue State Park, Wilmington – 1.5 to 3 miles – Easy
Meet at Bellevue Arts Center. This hike is for all ages and is stroller friendly.

• 1 p.m. – First State Heritage Park, Dover – 1/4 mile – Easy
Meet at the John Bell House.

• 1 p.m. – Holts Landing State Park, Bethany Beach – 1.7 miles – Easy
Meet at Holts Landing Picnic Pavilion.

• 1 p.m. – Killens Pond State Park, Felton – 1 to 3 miles – Varying Difficulty
Meet at the Nature Center.

• 1 p.m. – Lums Pond State Park, Bear– 2.5 miles – Easy/Moderate
Meet at Area 1 Pavilion/. Pets are permitted but must be on a 6-foot leash.

• 1 p.m. – Auburn Valley State Park, Yorklyn – 1.1 miles – Moderate
Meet at 1516 Snuff Mill Road Trail lot.

• 1 p.m. – Brandywine Creek State Park, Wilmington – 2-2.5 miles – Moderate
Meet at the Nature Center.

1 p.m. – White Clay Creek State Park, Newark – 1 to 2.5 miles – Multiple Difficulties
• 1.3 miles – Moderate – Millstone Pond Trail. Meet at Carpenter Recreation Area.
• 2 miles – Moderate/Difficult – Arc Corner Monument Loop. Meet at Nature Center.
• 2 miles – Moderate – PennDel/Pomeroy Trail. Meet at Nature Center
• 2.5 miles – Moderate/Difficult – Twin Valley Trail. Meet at Carpenter Recreation Area.

• 3:30 p.m. – Auburn Valley State Park – Easy – 1 mile
Meet at the Paper Mill Parking Lot on Benge Road.

For more information about the Delaware State Parks First Day Hikes and to see maps of the park trails beforehand, go to https://destateparks.com/firstday or call 302-739-9220.