Natural Resources Update

Dear Neighbor,

You’ve expressed interest in environmental issues in Delaware, so as chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, I would like to share some interesting news and updates with you.

Although Delaware was spared from the brunt of Hurricane Sandy, we still suffered some damage and learned many important lessons for weathering future storms. Governor Markell has requested $143 million both for repairing damages incurred by Hurricane Sandy and for protecting our state in the future.

One area badly affected was the Indian River Bridge along Route 1. Moving forward, DelDOT will need to control water flow in and around the mouth of the Indian River Bay.

In addition, dunes were breached around Fowler Beach, leading to sea water entering the fresh-water marshes of Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. As a part of the recovery, a major coastal marsh restoration project is being implemented in the Prime Hook area and surrounding beaches.

After Sandy, Delaware beaches saw increased levels of pollutants on the coastline due to debris flows in other areas of the Delaware Bay. The debris was a larger problem along the Long Island Sound, but the state will need to work with New Jersey and Pennsylvania going forward to ensure the environmental health of our waterways.

Sandy aid will also be needed in northern parts of the state. In particular, Delaware will need to repair dikes along the New Castle- and Delaware City-area shorelines.

I will keep you informed of our progress on these important projects as they move forward.

Additionally, as Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, I work closely with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). I’ve included information on recent DNREC projects below.

Best,

Debra Heffernan
Natural Resources Comittee, Chair
State Representative, 6th District

Grant Funding Available for Sea Level Rise Adaptation Planning and Research

Grant funding is now available for local and state governments and non-profit organizations to increase Delaware’s coastal resiliency through sea level rise adaptation planning and research. The grant program, through DNREC’s Delaware Coastal Programs, provides funding to plan for and reduce the impacts of coastal hazards related to sea level rise, coastal storms and climate change. 

With these competitive grants, Delaware Coastal Programs will provide financial and technical assistance by implementing adaptation options identified by the Delaware Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee, such as the development of ordinances, comprehensive land use plans, and infrastructure capacity and improvement planning.

Proposals are due to the Delaware Coastal Programs Office no later than 3 p.m., Friday, March 15.  Additional information, including the Request for Proposals and application cover page, are located at http://de.gov/coastalgrants.

For more information, please contact Bonnie Arvay (Bonnie.Arvay@state.de.us) or Robert Scarborough (Bob.Scarborough@state.de.us), Delaware Coastal Programs, 302-739-9283.

Children in Nature Initiative Kicks Off

A new report was released in October that provides recommendations to connect Delaware’s children with the outdoors. DNREC held an event featuring nationally renowned author Richard Louv, (left) who penned “Last Child in the Woods,” which has stimulated an international conversation about the relationship between children and nature.

“In its public support of connecting children to nature, Delaware is setting an example for much of the country and the world,” said Louv. “New recommendations from Delaware’s Children in Nature/No Child Left Inside Task Force will encourage all of us to take the next steps. All children need nature. Not only the only the ones whose parents love the natural world. All children.”

The mission of the task force was to formulate a plan to create opportunity for all Delaware children to participate in outdoor experiences, improve environmental literacy, promote healthy lifestyles and provide better access to green space through formal and informal outdoor experiences. The task force has researched and developed the report’s recommendations and actions in education, access, community, health, plan implementation, marketing and policy and legislative support.

Town of Ocean View Dedicates Solar Carport

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper recently joined DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara, Ocean View Mayor Gordon Wood and other town officials and residents to dedicate the town’s new 68.4 kilowatt carport-mounted solar array that covers a portion of the Ocean View municipal building’s parking lot.

The 260-foot-long, 24-space solar carport and an energy-efficient lighting upgrade to the Wallace A. Melson Municipal Building were made possible by two federal grants awarded through Delaware’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, administered by DNREC’s Division of Energy and Climate.

The array is expected to produce more than 81,000 kilowatts of electricity, enough to handle about 80 percent of the 16,000-square-foot municipal building’s annual power consumption. It will reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by about 61.4 metric tons – equal to taking 12 cars off the road for a year or planting nearly 1,500 trees.

DNREC’s Phragmites Control Program Treats Thousands of Acres

Last year, DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife Phragmites Control Program treated more than 6,700 acres statewide by helicopter with EPA-approved aquatic herbicides, including 5,720 acres in the Delaware Bayshore Initiative project area between Delaware City and Cape Henlopen.

A helicopter breaks up strands of invasive phragmites with herbicides.

The targeted plant, Phragmites australis, is a non-native, fast-growing, extremely hardy invasive species. The tall reed with its familiar feathery seedhead has taken over large areas of Delaware wetlands, displacing native plants that provide better food and cover for wildlife. Breaking up stands of invasive phragmites helps restore wetlands by encouraging greater diversity of both plants and wildlife and supporting the reestablishment of native plant species.

For more information on Delaware’s Phragmites Control Program, including the cost-share program, click here.