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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DNREC state parks, wildlife area visitors must bring masks starting Friday

DOVER, Del. – The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced that starting Friday those aged 13 or older are now required to bring a face mask with them to enter state parks, wildlife areas and reserves, and should wear them when they cannot maintain social distancing from other visitors. Those who do not bring face masks when visiting these areas may be required to leave by officers or staff.

This decision is in accordance with Governor John Carney’s thirteenth modification to his State of Emergency declaration, which requires Delawareans to wear face coverings in public settings. Visitors to DNREC parks and areas must wear a face covering where social distancing is difficult, such as on boat ramps, narrow trails, and when they encounter anyone not in their household including other visitors and staff. Masks are required at all times at the Ommelanden shooting range.

“In order to keep our outdoor public spaces for all members of the public to enjoy, visitors to state parks, wildlife areas and reserves must heed social distancing and mask requirements,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “We need our visitors to do their part to help keep these areas safe for everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Visitors are also asked to be mindful of the length and frequency of their visits, and to avoid peak times. The safest way to enjoy state parks is sparingly, as needed, and during off-peak times: before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. daily.

While most state parks, wildlife areas and reserves continue to stay open for Delawareans during the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” emergency order from Governor John Carney, DNREC has a few guidelines for visitors to stay safe:

  • Bring a mask and wear it when needed. Parks and wildlife areas are becoming increasingly crowded as the weather warms so it is now required to have a mask to put on when you are near others not from your home.
  • Plan ahead. Many amenities are closed, including all public restrooms.
  • Be prepared. Bring your own soap, water and hand sanitizer with you.
  • Stay close to home. This period is not the time to travel for outdoor adventure. Out-of-state visitors must observe a 14-day quarantine before entering a park, wildlife area or reserve.
  • Keep your group small. Make sure to enjoy the outdoors with your immediate household members only. You should not attend or host any gatherings like barbeques or birthday parties.
  • Avoid close contact activities. Instead, choose outdoor recreation like fishing, hiking or bike riding.
  • Practice social distancing. Keep six feet between you and others. Warn others of your presence and give them enough space to pass on boat ramps, paths and trails. Leave at least one parking space between your vehicle and the vehicle next to you. Areas may be closed if it is determined based on observation of parking lots or groupings of people that lack of responsible social distancing has become an issue.
  • Leave no trace. Even during normal operations, parks are carry-in/carry-out with regards to trash. Trash you take into the park or area, including disposable gloves and masks, you must take with you. Our staff resources are limited, and we need your help collecting trash.
  • If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t visit our parks, wildlife areas or reserves if you or any member of your household is not feeling well.

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 can constitute a criminal offense.

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.

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 Contact: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov

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St. Jones Reserve trail reopened

A small greenhouse was destroyed in the April 13 storm. DNREC photo.

Repairs after April 13 storm completed

DOVER, Del. – The trail at the St. Jones component of the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) near Dover has reopened, with repairs to the trail and boardwalk completed following storm damage to them earlier this month.

The trail was closed past the first marsh walk April 13 after a storm downed trees and damaged the boardwalk. A small greenhouse on the reserve was also destroyed by a fallen tree. The weather station operated by DNERR measured a peak wind gust of 67.9 miles per hour just before 4 p.m. the day of the storm. Numerous trees also fell across sections of the trail that connects to the adjoining Ted Harvey Conservation Area.

“The St. Jones Reserve trail is a popular place with visitors,” said Dayna Cobb, Director of DNREC’s Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy. “Our staff worked hard to get the trail reopened for the public’s use.”

In addition to the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve’s trails at St. Jones in Dover and Blackbird Creek Reserve in Townsend, state parks and wildlife areas remain open. Many amenities, however, 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. The Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy uses science, education, policy development and incentives to address Delaware’s climate, energy and coastal challenges. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Michael Globetti, Michael.globetti@delaware.gov, or Jim Lee, JamesW.lee@delaware.gov

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DNREC to limit number of people allowed in state parks and wildlife areas, which may close for periods

Reminder: Bathrooms closed in public areas; out-of-state travelers must self-quarantine before visiting state properties

DOVER, Del. – The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today it will take steps when necessary to limit the numbers of visitors within state parks and wildlife areas, following crowding and public health concerns.

Starting Friday, April 10, administrators of parks and wildlife areas will recommend to DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin that vehicle access be limited at times when visitor usage is observed to be cause crowding and prevent safe social distancing. These limits will be implemented by DNREC’s Natural Resources Police.

“As the days have gotten nicer and the stay-at-home period endures, we have been increasingly concerned to see the behavior of some visitors to our state parks and wildlife areas, with full parking lots and increasingly crowded trails,” said Secretary Shawn Garvin. “Limiting the number of people when we see too much crowding will allow us to keep these public spaces open for individuals who need a break and fresh air, but to keep everyone safe.”

DNREC provided the following tips and guidance for visiting parks and wildlife areas at this time:

  • Parks or wildlife areas may be restricted, or areas may be closed if it is determined based on observation of parking lots or groupings of people that lack of responsible social distancing has become an issue.
  • While parks and wildlife areas are large, many visitors use the same amenities. Visitors should try to spread out from others within these areas.
  • Visitors to parks and wildlife areas are urged to limit the time of their visit so the overall number of people in each area is reduced.
  • Consider visiting parks and wildlife areas in off-peak times. For overall visitation, sunnier and warmer days are more popular than cloudier or cooler ones. In many parks, visitors pick up mid-afternoon.
  • Bathrooms remain closed in all parks and wildlife areas and at boat ramps.
  • Beaches are closed except for exercise, dog-walking and some vehicle surf-fishing under restricted conditions.
  • Out-of-state visitors must observe a 14-day quarantine before entering a park or wildlife area.
  • Responsible social distancing practices should always be maintained, even while outside.
  • All currently allowable activities are subject to change.

These provisions all come under the authority of the Governor’s state of emergency declarations and have 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 can constitute a criminal offense.

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.

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 Contact: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov

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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.

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: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov

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