DNREC produces wetlands report card on Leipsic River Watershed’s health and management recommendations

DOVER – DNREC’s Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program announced that its final report on the health of wetlands located in Kent County’s Leipsic River Watershed and Little Creek area – the eighth in a series of watershed-specific wetland health reports – has been given a C+ grade for their current condition, with opportunity for improvement. Tidal wetlands in the watersheds were in the best health of the four types evaluated, and received a B- grade overall, mostly as a result of a lack of grid ditching and undeveloped buffers.

The Leipsic River Watershed

In the summer of 2013, teams of wetland scientists from the program visited a total of 128 randomly-selected sites within the Leipsic River Watershed. Using condition assessment checklists and biological metrics, they found wetlands in the watershed were in fair condition, and that the most common stressors to them were invasive plants; digging, filling, and/or ditching of wetlands; and agriculture or development in the wetlands’ surrounding buffer area.

DNREC’s data was used to create a technical report on the Leipsic River Watershed that summarized not only the health of these wetlands, but also examined how wetland acreage has changed in recent decades, what value wetlands provide, and discussed how trends in land use have and will impact wetlands across the watershed. Land use in the watershed is dominated by agriculture and wetlands, nearly three-quarters of which are saltwater wetlands that act as beneficial resources for both people and wildlife. Impacts to wetland health can diminish a wetland’s ability to perform at full capacity to minimize flooding, control erosion, improve water quality, and provide a biologically rich habitat for plants and animals.

“Unfortunately, approximately 21 percent of this watershed’s wetlands have already been lost due to human conversion into development and agriculture, and more recently natural conversion to open water along the coastline,” said Alison Rogerson, DNREC environmental scientist and program lead for the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program. “But this opens an opportunity for citizens and landowners to benefit from restoring and protecting local wetlands by taking small steps.”

Based on assessment results, DNREC made 12 specific management recommendations targeted at scientists, decision makers, and landowners. These included increasing citizen education and involvement through outreach, encouraging vegetated buffers around streams and wetlands, promoting protection and restoration of wetlands, updating decades old tidal wetland maps, and exploring innovative restoration techniques such as living shorelines.

The Leipsic River Watershed is composed of two sub-watersheds that flow into the Delaware Bay: the Leipsic River, which originates in Kenton and flows approximately 19 miles eastward through Bombay Hook National Wildlife National Wildlife Refuge; and Little Creek (also known as Little River), which flows for approximately eight miles through the town of Little Creek.

The wetland reports and the work of the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program are made possible by EPA Region 3 Wetland Program Development funding. To view the full report on Leipsic and Little Creek, the wetlands report card, and more information on assessment methods, please visit http://de.gov/leipsicwetlands.

Media contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Vol. 47, No. 144

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Latest installment in ‘Wetlands 101’ video series – ‘Freshwater Wetlands’ – now available on DNREC’s YouTube Channel

DOVER – The seventh installment of DNREC’s “Wetlands 101” video series – “Freshwater Wetlands” – is now available for viewing on DNREC’s YouTube Channel. The series is produced by the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program within DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship to educate Delawareans about wetlands, while promoting the idea that everyone can make a difference in the continuing challenge of wetland preservation.

In Delaware, freshwater wetlands make up roughly 75 percent of all wetlands, cleaning and replenishing our drinking waters, reducing flooding and providing food and shelter for all sorts of plants and animals. Most freshwater wetlands are forested and come in many different shapes, sizes and types.

The new “Freshwater Wetlands” video addresses just three of these types of freshwater wetlands found in Delaware: Bald cypress swamps, Coastal Plain ponds, and freshwater tidal marshes while distinguishing the difference between freshwater wetlands and their brackish or saltwater cousins. It also emphasizes that not all wetlands look like “wetlands” due to their ever-fluctuating nature where water levels rise and fall throughout the changing seasons.

There are many simple choices Delawareans can make to help preserve the state’s remaining freshwater wetlands and they include avoiding wet areas when building new construction or clearing land for agriculture, planting native plants and removing invasive ones, or leaving a planted buffer between open land and large ditch or waterway. For more information about Delaware’s wetlands, please visit de.gov/delawarewetlands.

In addition to the “Wetlands 101 Series,” the DNREC YouTube Channel offers more than 50 fun, interesting and educational videos, taking viewers from the unique steam car collection at Auburn Heights Preserve to the trails and pathways of Cape Henlopen State Park, and from the Delaware Bayshore to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and many of the First State’s great outdoors places and spaces in between. Most of these videos are written and produced by DNREC’s Public Affairs Section.

To view “Freshwater Wetlands” and other DNREC YouTube Channel videos, please visit youtube.com/delawarednrec.

Media Contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 430